Despite roaming Canaan Valley for decades, Chip Chase learns something new with each adventure. “I still find daily discoveries in my backyard,” says Chase, who owns the Whitegrass Ski Touring Center. Beyond Whitegrass’ 45 groomed trails covering over 30 miles, the outdoor exploration is endless, extending into Canaan Valley State Park, the secluded Dolly Sods Wilderness, Blackwater Canyon State Park, and the huge expanse of the Monongahela National Forest.
Best Backcountry Ski Trail: Dobbin Slashings at the northern end of Dolly Sods is a super open and stark windswept place. It’s the epitome of the wildness of this area—a remote place where you’ll rarely see another person. It’s like another world up there.
Best Snowshoeing Spot: Blackwater Canyon State Park—anything along the edge of the canyon in the state park is really beautiful. You’re skirting this huge canyon while surrounded by an amazing mix of the white snow blanketing green rhododendrons.
Sweetest Summit: Snowy Point—It’s a really remote mountain that overlooks the northern end of the Valley. That’s the undeveloped section, which is predominantly the Canaan Valley Wildlife Refuge. It’s not close to anything, so it requires a long trek to get there, but once you arrive you get an amazing 360-degree view.
Best Backcountry Camping Spot: Weiss Knob is fairly easy to reach, especially from the Canaan Valley State Park ski lift, but it has a lot of secret spots. You can find some nice flat spots for pitching the tent surrounded by beautiful spruce forests. It’s 1,400 feet higher than the Valley, so you get a whole different type of forest. It feels like being in New England.
Favorite Mountain Biking Trail: The Firebreak Trail in Canaan Heights is kind of in between some of the more popular trails. I like this area because it’s filled with some old Forest Service roads that local riders have recently reworked. It’s fun half-track that links into the Plantation Trails near Davis.
Quick Fix: Try the fast and rewarding hike to Bald Knob and back from the Canaan ski area. From there you can easily access Weiss, which is the sister mountain.
Best HangOut in Town: The night scene in Davis and Thomas has matured in this area. Only around 1,000 people in both towns combined, but there is a lively spirit. A perfect night is Hellbenders Burritos for dinner, then catching a show at the Purple Fiddle, and finally grabbing a nightcap at the Mountain State Brewing Company (mountainstatebrewing.com). Don’t pass up a Miner’s Daughter Oatmeal Stout.