Frozen Fun in Nature’s Mountain Playground
What’s on Your Wintertime Activity Wishlist?
Well, fall has quietly and decisively come to an end here in Pocahontas County, West Virginia. The crisp autumn air is beginning to have a little more of an icy chill to it and the brightly colored leaves, we hurried all about to enjoy just a short time ago, now blanket the forest floor in a slightly muted display of their former beauty. It won’t be long before the first few snowflakes will be delicately dancing about as they make their slow descent from above. And with that first snowfall comes the anticipation of winter activities and snow sports throughout Nature’s Mountain Playground. Our rugged mountains, deep valleys, and picturesque trails, along with resort lodging, hotels and cabin options combine to offer some of the finest winter getaway destinations in the state. If you’re looking for the best in West Virginia skiing, snowboarding, cross country skiing, snowshoeing and more, look no further than Pocahontas County.
When you turn an eye toward West Virginia and think winter fun, Snowshoe Mountain Resort is most likely your first thought. And with good reason. If you’re looking for a wintertime mountain adventure, Snowshoe has just about everything you could want. From skiing and snowboarding to snowmobiling and tubing, Snowshoe Mountain Resort has something for everyone. And not only does Snowshoe provide plenty of ways to enjoy the snow, but they can also provide the snow itself – on those rare occasions when Mother Nature isn’t cooperating. In 2018 Snowshoe made a nearly 4-million-dollar upgrade to their snowmaking and grooming capabilities. This investment resulted in over 150 new snow guns, some of which are the most powerful on the market. What’s all this mean to your wintertime frolicking? A larger number of trails can be opened sooner, and a higher quality snow surface can be maintained throughout the season. Combine this with three unique ski areas, skiable terrain across 244 acres, night skiing, tubing, not to mention world-class dining, and lodging, plus all the rental gear and accessories you need for a day on the powder, and you’re all set for a winter destination experience unlike any other in West Virginia. Snowshoe Mountain Resort kicks off its winter season on November 24, 2021. For further information, visit Snowshoe Mountain Resort’s website.
If you’re looking for a little more of an isolated vibe to your wintertime adventure, how does cross country skiing or snowshoeing just off The Highland Scenic Highway sound? Stretching 43 miles from Richwood to US Route 219, just north of Marlinton, this National Scenic Byway meanders its way through the Allegheny Highlands and Plateau rising from 2,325 feet to over 4,500 in elevation. A 23-mile portion of the Highway (designated as State Route 150) is not maintained in the winter, and while travel along this two-lane paved road is highly discouraged between November and April, near the intersection of The Highland Scenic Highway and US Route 219, there is a small trail system designated for cross country skiing and snowshoeing. A map of this small trail system can be found on the fs.usda.gov webpage by doing a quick search for The Highland Scenic Highway and clicking winter sports at the bottom of the page. While there, you may also notice that snowmobiling is permitted on the State Route 150 portion of the Scenic Highway – just in case you’re looking for an isolated, 23-mile stretch of highway to lay down some first tracks.
Now if you find your wintertime activities wish list falls somewhere between the crowded slopes of Snowshoe and the seclusion of The Highland Scenic Highway, you might want to consider some of the many highly visited trails throughout Nature’s Mountain Playground. And one of the more popular trails in the county is The Greenbrier River Trail. Once part of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway, but abandoned in the late 1970s, the 78-mile-long Greenbrier River Trail is now a popular trail destination for hiking, biking and horseback riding throughout much of the year. But once the snow starts flying, you can add cross country skiing and snowshoeing to the list of happenings seen on the trail. Being one of the longest trails of its kind in West Virginia and (this is my favorite part) at no more than a one percent grade, the Greenbrier River Trail is the perfect choice if you’re looking for an ideal place to strap on those cross-country skis or try out that new pair of snowshoes. Even if you bike or hike the trail during the warmer months, the wintertime views and scenery will undoubtedly make you feel as if you’re visiting the trail for the first time. Be sure to swing by the Marlinton visitor center for a map of the trail. We’ll be happy to help you out.
The Greenbrier River Trail is not the only trail Nature’s Mountain Playground has to offer, however. With more than one-third of the Monongahela National Forest calling Pocahontas County home, you have over 300,000 acres of snow-covered forest to explore. And with more than 500 miles of hiking and biking trails within those 300,000 plus acres, the snowshoeing opportunities alone are just about endless. Trails within Mon. Forest (it’s a local thing and faster to say) ranges from easy to challenging and provides enough variety that you’re sure to find a trail that suits you. For trail information as well as possible wintertime road closings contact the Marlinton Ranger Station at 304-799-4334 or the Greenbrier Ranger Station at 304-456-3335.
There’s no question about it. When the mercury drops and the snow is falling, our mountains, valleys, and trails become a wintertime playground. Whether you’re looking to get out to ski, snowmobile, or snowboard or maybe you just want to lodge somewhere by a warm fire and watch everyone else play in the powder, Pocahontas County has just about every wintertime activity and sport you can think of. So why not suit up and join us this winter for some frozen fun in Nature’s Mountain Playground.