There’s a lot more to winter than cold days and long nights—clearer skies, better views, quieter trails. It’s a season for reflection, but also adventure. We’ve sourced 38 of the best winter adventures across nine different states to keep your #gooutsideandplay mojo intact till spring (so two months from now, we better not hear that “cabin fever” crap).
Tour the Laurel Highlands by ski or snowshoe.
The Laurel Ridge Cross-Country Ski Center in Rockwood, Penn., grooms 20 miles of trails in the winter when the highlands can receive as much as 41 inches of snow a season. To satisfy your thirst for backcountry pow, check out the North Woods area. It’s a knee-dropper’s dream.
Ditch the slopes at Seven Springs Mountain Resort and tour the mountain à la snowshoe.
It’s a little more of a workout, but you’ll have the trails to yourself and snow-laden hardwood forests to yourself.
Search for vertical at Blue Knob All Seasons Resort.
There are plenty of technical (and unmaintained) glade lines here for skiers and snowboarders looking to avoid the crowds and find a little taste of untouched Mid-Atlantic powder. This part of central Pennsylvania gets an average of 120 inches of snow, with February typically proving to be the most shreddable month.
Lap the Top Yough.
The shuttle is short, the scenery is breathtaking, and the class IV-V rapids are rowdy enough to keep even the best paddlers on their toes. For a longer run, paddle the four miles of flatwater to the put-in of the Upper Yough, another classic example of Mid-Atlantic whitewater.
Learn to skate at Savage River Lodge.
With lake-effect snow, 13 miles of groomed trails, and in-house rentals and lessons, the lodge is an ideal place to school the kids (or yourself) in the art of skiing uphill.
“This is typically accomplished in late winter when there is still snow at the ski area (Wisp), local trails are free of snow, and the rivers are running. I call this the Garrett County Triple Crown. I’ll tele ski groomers in the morning at Wisp, shred trail on my mountain bike at Fork Run, and then paddle the Top Yough in the afternoon. All activities take place within a 10-mile radius of where I live.” —Jeff Simcoe, Recreation Land Manager, Big Bear Lake Trail Center & Ski Patrol, Wisp Resort
Wander the wilderness that is Dolly Sods.
This place packs a lot of unique flora and fauna in its 17,371 acres. When there’s plenty of the white stuff, strap on a pair of snowshoes or simply take a hike on the rugged 47-mile network of trails.
Summit Bald Knob by cross-country ski or snowshoe.
White Grass Touring Center has rentals for both, not to mention well-groomed trails, free weekend nature treks, and a cheery café that has hella-good food and chaga tea to boot.
Break trails at Coopers Rock State Forest outside of Morgantown, W.Va.
When the snow is good, it’s really good here and you’ll likely have the trails to yourself. Cross-country ski rentals are available at West Virginia University’s Outdoor Recreation Center.
“My favorite winter adventure is one that involves no driving, small crowds, and a multitude of activities. Pedal the Blackwater Falls access road just across the Blackwater River in Davis, W.Va. Your destination is the Blackwater Falls State Park cross-country ski and sledding lodge. Once in the park, head out Yellow Birch Trail to the Red Spruce trailhead. When sufficient snow is on Red Spruce, the trail is professionally groomed all the way to the sledding hill, an absolute blast to ride! Now it’s onto some cross-country skis. For a nominal price, rent cross-country gear from Roger at Blackwater. You can make some turns down the sled hill and, if weather permits, you can take a ski out to Lindy Point to take in the views. It’s back on the bike by road or trail for Davis and the warmth of the fire at Stumptown Ales.” —Brian Sarfino, Marketing Manager, Tucker County Convention & Visitors’ Bureau
“My favorite winter adventure is paddling in the icy rivers and creeks of northern West Virginia, such as Blackwater Canyon or Big Sandy Creek. The margin for error is thin, with the frigid water, undercut ice shelves, and sometimes huge floating chunks of ice bobbing down the rapids with you. But the reward is the unmatched scenery and solitude of the river, with ice caps on the rocks and frozen side-stream waterfalls. A drysuit, pogies, a solid survival kit, and an unfailing roll are all highly recommended for this type of paddling.” —Jack Ditty, three-time Green River Games Silverback Champion
“Ideal snow day would be morning ski right from town, on Craig’s Branch Road, a mix of cross-country with some turns and downhill runs tossed in. Go home. Switch from skis to fat bikes and ride from town hitting all of the Arrowhead trails and finishing up with a pedal out of Fayette Station. If the moon is full and there is snow, then you really can’t beat a light-free, all night bike ride. The New River Gorge seems to do a great job capturing light!” —Andy Forron, Owner, New River Bikes