Four-Season Adventures at Snowshoe Mountain Resort

Melting snow means the adventure—hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding—is just getting started at this Mid-Atlantic hotspot.
The Snowshoe Mountain Bike Terrain Park  (courtesy, Snowshoe Mountain Resort)

West Virginia's Snowshoe Mountain Resort has two things working in its favor: its position in the heart of the Alleghany Mountains, and the fact that it belongs to the network of resorts owned by Intrawest, North America's leading developer of mountain properties. The former affords the resort with the Mid-Atlantic's longest ski and snowboard runs (1,500 feet of vertical in the Western Territories); 11,000 acres of forest-covered laced with four-season trails; access to Shavers Lake, the state's highest body of water; and summer temps that rarely exceed the 80-degree mark. The latter, meanwhile, has let the resort tap the Intrawest association to boost its overall infrastructure—from lifts to snowmaking prowess to an extensive variety of warm-weather distractions—that has elevated Snowshoe to the region's premiere four-season destination.

Most activities stem from the resort epicenter, Snowshoe Village, which sits at the top—not the base—of the mountain, along with the majority of on-site lodging. Kids typically flock to the Outpost Adventure Park, a children's sport-camp playground with skateboard ramps, a climbing wall, an indoor/outdoor aqua center, and more. For the sure-heeled and adventurous, Snowshoe offers guided tours of the region's hiking, horseback-riding, mountain-biking, and ATVing trails. Or you can score a trail map and set out on your own, heading into woodlands, to Shavers Lake, or arrange to bed down at one of the region's backcountry huts.

Those anxious for multi-day hikes in a Brothers Grim-style forest should probably circumvent Snowshoe entirely and head directly for the vast Monongahela National Forest (check out GORP.com's guide), and other dedicated outdoor aficionados may find the resort itself more pedestrian than hardcore. But the lodging—as you'd expect at any resort—is vast, varied, and inexpensive during the off-season, and the resort makes for a wonderful base camp if you want to keep things rugged during the day, and more refined at night.

But to truly experience how adventurous (read: utterly exhilarating, and a bit frightening) Snowshoe can be during the warmer-weather months, the resort offers three simple words: downhill mountain biking.

Gravity is your best friend—and sometimes your worst enemy—when riding a mountain bike, and Showshoe's got over 100 miles of trails (long cross-country, screaming downhill, and gentle cruisers) to acquaint yourself with both sides of that equation. But the downhill really sets Snowshoe apart from other resorts: 18 lift-access trails spread across the mountain, along with two National Off-Road Bicycling Association (NORBA) race courses (with shuttle service); an extensive terrain park with drops, sea-saws, and ladder bridges; a drop park at the top of the Ballhooter Lift; and a planned 1,500-foot-long jump trail. You can (and should) rent full protective gear (body arm and a closed-face helmet) and full-suspension Kona bikes, which cater to all types of riding, from cross-country to freestyle to downhill. You can even get instruction—or just hire a guide to show you the best lines—for $70 for half a day (full day costs $90).

The less extreme cyclists, meanwhile, should pedal out to the Greenbrier Trail, which hugs the wild Greenbrier River as it weaves through wilderness and small towns. The 75-mile packed-gravel trail crosses 35 bridges, zips through two tunnels, cuts through spectacular woodlands scenery, and boasts a truly modest 1-percent grade.

Spring, summer, fall—each warm-weather season has its allure, from springtime wildflowers to the arboreal explosions from late September to mid October (our money's on autumn, as the top-of-the-world perspective makes for an intoxicating vantage point on the surrounding foliage). When in doubt, consider hitting Snowshoe during one of the mountain's festivals, concerts, or events, with activities that vary from watching profession mountain bikers race in the NORBA Nationals to the Brews, Blues, and Barbecue Weekend.

For an up-to-date schedule of events, as well as pricing on all activities, contact Snowshoe Mountain (877.441.4FUN; www.snowshoemtn.com).

Published: 4 Aug 2005 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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