Skiing, Snowboarding, and Snowshoeing
Less than five miles from the house are two great downhill ski resorts and two cross-country ski venues for you to choose from. All provide gear for rent should you not have your own.
Timberline Ski Resort has 36 runs and downhill trails to suit beginners and experts alike, with the longest run measuring two full miles! They also have over 10 miles of cross-country trails. Lighted trails let you keep skiing late into the night. Website: www.timberlineresort.com
Canaan Valley State Park has 39 runs for skiers of all abilities, plus areas for tubing, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. There’s also a skating rink, and a fitness club with sauna, pool and whirlpool spa. Website: www.canaanresort.com/winter-activities
Whitegrass is the home of West Virginia cross-country skiing and one of the best places for backcountry fun on the entire East Coast. Chip and Mikey will ensure you have the gear you need, and lessons are available all day for beginners and experts alike. Try your hand (and knees) at Telemark skiing, wind up through the trees to fabulous views from the top of Bald Knob, or stay low in the snow farm where the drifts are high and are guaranteed to last all season. Relax and warm up after your exertions with a bowl of Laurie’s fabulous chili at the ski barn, then go out and do it all again. Website: www.whitegrass.com/
Blackwater State Park is a great place to take the kids for a fun afternoon sledding or tubing. Hitch a ride on the rope tow to the top of the hill and ride down. Repeat ‘til you drop! They have plenty of groomed cross-country ski trails to keep you occupied too. The really adventurous can even ski the trail to Canaan State Park.
Hiking and Climbing
A-frame of Mind backs on to Monongahela National Forest, so there’s fabulous hiking right outside the door. Just walk up the hill and take the trail through the woods. Join the Appalachian Trail and hike to Maine, or stick close to home and be back by evening in time to hit the hot tub.
Dolly Sods Wilderness Area is just a 15-minute drive away. Part of the Monongahela National Forest, this high elevation plateau is a hikers paradise, covering over 10,000 acres traversed with miles of trails through wild blueberry, heath, sphagnum bogs, and rhododendron, and forested patches of pine, alder, maple, spruce, and mountain ash. Beautiful at any time of year, but spectacular in fall and late spring. Website: www.fs.fed.us/r9/mnf/sp/dolly_sods_wilderness.htm
Seneca Rocks is a unique mountain outcrop just a short drive from the house. Hiking can be light or rigorous, but the views are always spectacular. A favorite for climbers too, this trip will not disappoint. Visit nearby caves for an underground experience to rival the sights above. Website: www.fs.fed.us/r9/mnf/sp/senrcks_txt.html, www.senecarocks.com, or www.senecacaverns.com.
Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge, America’s 500th National Wildlife Refuge, is just down the road from the house, and comprises the largest upland wetland in the Appalachians. Easy, flat hiking on clearly marked trails and an informative visitors’ center make this a relaxing destination for the whole family. Website: www.canaanresort.com
Even if you don’t have your own mountain bike, you can rent one for a few hours or a week from Blackwater Bikes in Davis. Cycle out from Davis to nearby wooded trails, or get some advice from the guys in the store on where to go farther afield. Website: www.blackwaterbikes.com
Canaan Valley Resort's golf course boasts more than 6,000 acres of woodlands, meadows, hills, and streams, providing all the necessary hazards experienced golfers look for in a challenging round of golf. Design by Geoffrey Cornish, the course offers meticulously groomed fairways and lush greens, with eight water hazards and 65 sand bunkers. There’s also a driving range and putting green. The clubhouse has a restaurant and locker rooms, and there’s a pro shop, with golf carts, pull carts, and golf-club rentals. Website: www.canaanresort.com/summer-activities/golf
Kayaking and White-water Rafting
The Cheat River, an hour’s drive from the house, contains the largest uncontrolled watershed in the Eastern United States. The river is a world-class whitewater destination, with 13 miles of back-to-back class III, IV, and V rapids. Hang on to your paddles through the Cheat Canyon and Cheat Narrows, or relax on tube, canoe or duckie trips on the Blackwater. Websites: www.highlandinnandspa.com/whitewaterrafting.htm and www.blackwateroutdoors.com
From spring snow melt through the autumn glow of fall, Canaan Valley provides a beautiful backdrop for a day casting by the river for mountain trout. Or drive up to Mount Storm Lake to fish from shore or boat for bass and walleye. Fly fishing lessons available from Fastwater Flyfishing: www.fastwaterflyfishing.com
Bird and Wildlife Watching
The owners of the A-frame of Mind, Gavin and Cathy, are both keen birdwatchers, and make a special effort to come to Canaan Valley during the spring migration months. The forest behind the Northpoint homes is part of the Monongahela National Forest, recognized by American Bird Conservancy as a Globally Important Bird Area for its populations of Cerulean Warblers and other birds of concern. The forest is great for visiting warblers and other songbirds, while birds of prey including bald eagles and hawks, and wetland birds such as egrets can be seen regularly at the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Be sure to bring your binoculars!
The Dryfork River has a number of fabulous swimming holes where you can swim in the clear, clean mountain waters during high summer. When you come to the house you’ll find directions to Grover’s Hole, a local favorite spot. Take a watermelon and some drinks and sunbathe on the flat rock, then dive in the river to cool off.
Peak fall colors come early to the Valley, so don’t miss them. The best times are from mid-September to early October. Come at the end of September for the Leaf Peepers’ Festival and witness a spectacle of red and golden hues unrivaled in the region. You’ll want an extra memory card for your camera, as no one picture can do it justice. Take the chairlift from Canaan State Park to the top of the mountain for an unforgettable view across the whole valley. Website: www.canaanresort.com
Whatever your ability or comfort level on a horse, there’s a great day out waiting for you with a trek up the mountains around the Valley. Mountain Trail Rides conducts daily tours on well-cared-for horses. Website: www.mountaintrailrides.com
Clear skies and no light pollution make Canaan Valley ideal for stargazing. Every July and August the Perseid Meteor Shower adds an extra dimension to the night, with shooting stars crossing the sky at a rate of one-a-minute. The best place to see all this is from the hot tub, or with a drink in your hand from the upper deck.
Dining and Nightlife
There are plenty of restaurants and eateries to suit all tastes. Siriani’s Pizza and Muttley’s Steakhouse are Davis institutions. Hellbender’s Burritos will fill you up with a range of tasty and novel wraps, and good beer to boot. Talking of beer, there’s two brew pubs nearby: Blackwater Brewing Company in Davis and Mountain State Brewing Company in Thomas. Thomas is also home to the famous Purple Fiddle, where you can enjoy food, drink, and delicious ice cream while listening to world-class bluegrass and other live music nightly. Other worthwhile dining experiences include the Golden Anchor and the Whitegrass Café. Hypnocoffee has moved from Thomas to Davis and is a good place for a caffeine jolt before or after the day’s activities. There’s also a theatre in Thomas with live performances in season.
The shopping experiences in Canaan Valley are improving every year. Be sure to check out Mountainmade, a gallery of West Virginia high-end crafts and artisanal works, and the antique shops along the main drag of Thomas. Website: www.mountainmade.com
All Photos © Gavin G. Shire except Mountain Biker, Downhill Skier, Cross-Country Skier, Golfer, River Rafters and Fisherman by Microsoft