Exploring Pocahontas County’s Snowy Trails
Located in the mountains of West Virginia, Pocahontas County is home to stunning vistas and untouched wilderness. As winter takes hold and blankets our trails with snow, the area transforms into a mesmerizing wonderland. This season offers the perfect window to explore the county’s natural beauty through hiking and snowshoeing. Here are some of the best spots to experience the magic of Pocahontas County during the snowy months.
Highland Scenic Highway
Stretching 43 miles from Richwood to U.S. Route 219, just north of Marlinton, the Highland Scenic Highway provides access to a variety of winter recreational opportunities. As you traverse this route, witness the landscape transition, with elevations rising from 2,325 feet to over 4,500 feet.
While the Highland Scenic Highway is a scenic route, it’s crucial to note that a 23-mile portion of the highway, designated as State Route 150, is not maintained during the winter months. Due to potential hazards, travel along this two-lane paved road is highly discouraged between November and April. However, near the intersection of the Highland Scenic Highway and U.S. Route 219, there’s a silver lining for those eager to embrace the snowy scenery. A small trail system has been designated for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, offering a serene and immersive winter experience. Access a map of this trail system by visiting the Highland Scenic Highway website.
Cranberry Glades Botanical Area
Known as the southernmost tundra in North America, this unique ecosystem is even more enchanting in winter. The Cranberry Glades Botanical Area protects the largest area of bogs in the state. The half-mile boardwalk features a tranquil setting for winter hiking, with opportunities to spot winter wildlife and admire the snow-covered shrubs.
Snowshoers can explore the Cow Pasture Trail, which offers a nearly flat terrain that’s easy to navigate, even when snow-covered. This trail forms a nearly eight-mile loop around the Cranberry Glades area, taking adventurers through open meadows, forests filled with birch and hemlock trees, and by frozen beaver communities covered in ice.
Greenbrier River Trail State Park
Following the path of the scenic Greenbrier River, this trail provides a wonderful backdrop for winter hiking. Originally a part of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway, the Greenbrier River Trail witnessed the ebb and flow of trains until its abandonment in the late 1970s. Today, the remnants of its railway past are overshadowed by the footsteps, bike tracks and hoof prints of modern-day adventurers. When winter blankets the trail in a layer of snow, a new realm of possibilities emerges. Snowshoers can traverse the snowy 78-mile gentle-grade trail, reveling in the tranquility and beauty of the winter landscape.
Snowshoe Mountain Resort
While primarily a skiing and snowboarding destination, Snowshoe Mountain Resort has a variety of trails suitable for snowshoeing. Explore the expansive backcountry areas or stick to the maintained trails for a day of snowy adventure. Grab a map from the Depot or Mountain Adventure Center in the village to help navigate Snowshoe Mountain’s vast territory.
Tea Creek Meadow
This secluded area, surrounded by the Monongahela National Forest, is a pristine environment for winter exploration. The gentle terrain and open views make it an ideal spot for snowshoeing, with opportunities for wildlife watching and peaceful reflection.
Hop on the Williams River Trail and follow the scenic river for 2.7 miles. The trail follows an old logging railroad grade, which makes for an easy hike, and provides access for anglers. For a better understanding of the ecology of the mountain meadow and wetlands, hike the Tea Creek Interpretive Trail. The 0.6-mile trail travels through Tea Creek Meadow, then descends to a boardwalk that meanders through a small wetland and beaver pond. Interpretive signage and rest benches can be found along the way.
Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park
History meets nature at Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park. During the winter, the park’s trails provide a calm setting for hiking, with interpretive signs detailing the area’s Civil War history. The panoramic views from the lookout tower are especially breathtaking when the Greenbrier River Valley is dusted with snow.
Snowshoe Rentals and Lessons
Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a first-timer, Elk River Touring Center has you covered. Elk River Touring Center offers a comprehensive range of cross-country ski and snowshoe rentals, ensuring you have the right gear for your adventure. The center is located at the base of Snowshoe Mountain and provides lessons tailored to individual abilities.
When exploring Pocahontas County’s snowy trails, always remember to check current trail conditions and dress appropriately for the weather. Request a free copy of our Adventure Guide to help plan your winter escape.