Mountain Marvels on the XC ski trails

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The Mountain State is best known for its ski slopes, but the cross-country skiing and snowshoeing terrain is the real winter gem.

Along the trails, you can discover scenic wonders of West Virginia, from glistening frozen waterfalls to sweeping National Forest vistas.

If you’re looking for a scenic trip on the winter trails, here’s a look at what you can uncover:

1. Blackwater Falls

All it takes to tame a wild mountain waterfall is a little winter chill. If temperatures creep low enough, even the nearly 60-foot Blackwater Falls freezes solid, creating a massive, cascading icicle garden. Snowshoe the overlook trail to get a good vantage point of the enchanting scene.

If the snow is high enough, the park’s trails are also great for skiing. For a wondrous winter view of the slopes, trek to Lindy Point, which opens up to a panoramic view straight off into the winding Blackwater Canyon, where stacked, snow-draped mountains rise up from the valley and stretch on for miles. BlackwaterFallsWinter-sjs-04-22. Deer

If you’re sweeping through Canaan Valley Resort State Park, you’ll probably meet a few deer along the way. The graceful creatures are used to sharing the valley with humans, so they aren’t as skittish. While you can’t approach them, you might be able to catch an amazing photo.

3. Highland Scenic Highway

The Highland National Scenic Highway is every bit as stunning in winter, but the road is closed for the season. Luckily, with no traffic to worry about, the path is clear for pedestrians (of sorts). The Elk River Touring Center ski trails criss-cross a section of the rugged highway’s terrain.


The easy Red Spruce Knob Trail will reward you with a view of the Crooked Fork watershed, plus the remains of the old lookout tower. Discover another architectural treat on Props Run, where an arch bridge stretches over the creek. This section of the trails follows right along the vast Monongahela National Forest, so you can slide off into this scenic national gem to explore hundreds of additional miles of trail.

4. Alpine Lake

Acres of winter wilderness fan out from Alpine Lake. Lakeside Loop winds around the water, while Lake View Circle Trail dips closer to the shoreline. If you want an up-close view, the more difficult Seven Bridges Trail cozies up even further to the shoreline, and scoots smoothly along the edge for about a mile.

Tracing further out on the trails a few miles, you can reach Old Firetower Peak, the highest point at the resort.

5. Bald Knob

In the midst of White Grass Touring Center is Weiss Mountain, which used to be a downhill skiing slope. You can still take a cross-country trek up for a view of Canaan Valley. But the best view is from nearby Bald Knob, the 3rd highest point in West Virginia. Even though it can get steep, less experienced skiers can still reach the peak.

The backcountry trails at White Grass also link to the open plains of the Dolly Sods Wilderness. With enough powder, you can barrel over boulder gardens, or even burrow into a snow cave. Take Fido to for a winter walk in the meadows, too: the trail to the sods from White Grass is pet-friendly.


5. Bluestone Canyon & National Park

The ungroomed trails of Pipestem Resort State Park are challenging, but worth it. The Lick Hollow Trail winds to the top of the Bluestone Canyon Rim for a sweeping view of the National Park 1,000 feet below. For a more historic backdrop, look for lingering remains from the pioneer days along the South Side Trail.

Discover more winter beauty and adventure in West Virginia on the Best of Winter map:

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