Mid-Atlantic Powder at Canaan Valley Resort
By William Triplett
I’ve skied Canaan Valley Resort in West Virginia only twice. The first time was so long ago, I barely remember anything other than a massive storm swooping in toward the end of the day, dumping a lot of snow and nearly stranding me and my friends. The second time was just a little over a week ago, when a weather system so big it got its own name – Jonas – lumbered in like a steamroller, burying us under almost three feet of white stuff over the course of two days.
Next time I go, I hope to have the meteorological good fortune of arriving after a storm has done its work. When Jonas headed on up the East Coast, the skies were a brilliant blue, conditions magnificent, and we had to leave – it was the end of our stay. But skiing in a blizzard is its own kind of fun. Visibility wasn’t great, but there was no denying the fun of floating through more powder than I’ve seen in a long time in resorts in Utah and Colorado.
Moreover, only a handful of slopes were open when we got there, but Jonas dumped enough snow to drop the cordons from the start of all of Canaan Valley’s nearly 50 trails on the first day of the storm. While not a huge resort, its mountain summit of 4,280 feet, vertical drop of 850 feet, and three chairs make it plenty respectable and readily attractive to skiers like me in the Washington, D.C. area, about a two-and-a-half hour drive away. It’s an easy day trip, but a better weekend getaway.
Also, Canaan recently underwent a pretty thorough renovation. The main lodge has been updated along with the addition of two wings offering a total 160 new rooms. Cabins and cottages are available as well.
I stayed in the lodge, which has a contemporary feel – lots of exposed blond brick, high ceilings, mural-size windows, and gas-burning fireplaces. My room was comfy and spacious. The ski area is maybe a half-mile away, but the lodge runs shuttles to and from regularly. You can also store your gear in a room just off the mainentrance to the lodge, making it very convenient to offload from the shuttle, stow everything, and head to your room.
Even with wind whipping snow in my face I could appreciate the varied terrain, which overall probably appeals more to advanced-intermediates than experts. (Steeper runs are available at nearby Timberline resort.) But there are plenty of drops and tight turns along with big old groomed cruisers to keep things interesting.There’s even a gladed trail. My favorite turned out to be among the tamer ones in terms of pitch, but nicely loping along for more than a mile, occasionally narrowing in places and turning compactly.
Largely because of the storm I didn’t check out other available fun, like ice skating and tubing as well as the nearby town of Davis and its galleries, eateries, and pubs. I’ll have to do that next time – post-storm, with any luck.
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