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Top Ski Runs on the Southern Slopes

snowshoe mountain resort

As winter approaches, we’re keeping our fingers crossed for cold temperatures and big powder dumps. For those days when the conditions are just right, we’ve compiled a sampler of the South’s longest and most fantastic ski and snowboard runs. Some are gnarly shredders. Others, easy-breezy like riding a snowy lazy river. All provide big fun when you’re ready to carve some turns across the Blue Ridge. 

High Country Highs at Beech

Beech Mountain is home to both the highest town and ski run in the Eastern United States. And its location is convenient: About 100 miles west of Winston-Salem, 80 miles north of Asheville, and just 22 miles from Boone. 

A base elevation of 4,700 feet and a state-of-the-art, full-mountain snowmaking system brings long seasons and great coverage on the resort’s 17 trails. Additional factors like average annual snowfalls of around 80 inches, peak elevations of 5,500-plus feet, and 830 feet of vertical drop make the resort in the North Carolina High Country a pinnacle of southern skiing.

The resort offers a quartet of black diamond trails for advanced riders. White Lightning and Southern Star are sure to thrill. Each is divided into an upper and lower segment. Combining Southern Star with Lower Powder Boat (a blue run) delivers a mile of shredtastic fun. 

Pro tip: Don’t miss the summit’s slope-side Skybar. Accessible only by lift and surrounded by windows, it’s a killer spot for adults to enjoy beverages and views galore.

Skiers at Sugar Mountain Resort
Skiers at Sugar Mountain Resort. Photo courtesy of the resort

Steep and Sweet at Sugar

Sugar Mountain Resort is located in Banner Elk about 10 miles south of Beech Mountain. Its snowmaking system offers 100 percent coverage for 125 skiable acres across 21 trails. Excellent amenities, a wide variety of terrain, peak elevations of 5,300 feet, and 1,200 feet of vertical drop have helped it win a reputation as a hot spot for Southern skiing. 

Three black-diamonds and the double-black Whoop-de-doo provide a sweet playground for advanced downhillers. The latter is famous among enthusiasts for its sustained 31.21-degree pitch—the steepest in North Carolina. The quartet is surrounded by a treasure trove of fun and fast blues. 

Black diamonds like Tom Terrific and Boulder Dash can be combined with crossovers and intermediate-level routes to build thrashing runs upward of 1.5 miles long.

A snowboarder at Snowshoe Mountain Resort.
A snowboarder at Snowshoe Mountain Resort. Photo courtesy of the resort.

Get Speedy at Snowshoe 

West Virginia’s Snowshoe Resort boasts a whopping 57 trails and 245 acres of skiable terrain. With Colorado-style amenities, 180 inches of annual natural snowfall, and a recently upgraded snowmaking system, it’s widely regarded as the Mid-Atlantic’s top destination for snow sports. 

The resort village rests atop a 4,800-foot mountain surrounded by Appalachian red spruce forests and huge swaths of the Monongahela National Forest. The downhill fun gets spread across three distinct ski areas, each catering to different skill sets. 

The Western Slope is a mecca for experts. It offers a trio of lengthy black diamonds and a steep, plunging double-black peppered with moguls. Riders with a speed jones will delight in Shay’s Revenge and Cupp Run, both of which drop 1,500 vertical feet over the course of an epic 1.5 miles.

snowboarder at timberline resort
A rider at Timberline resort, which recently re-opened under new ownership. photo by brian sarfino

Timberline Revival

Timberline got an $11 million facelift after being purchased by Indiana’s Perfect North Slopes two years ago. The resort located near Davis, W.Va., closed for the 2019-20 season so the company could focus on overhauling trails, adding high-speed lifts, updating snowmaking systems, and more.  

Their mission? To put Timberline in the running for the best Mid-Atlantic ski destination. 

The massively renovated resort gets about 150 inches of snow a year and now features 40 trails over 91 skiable acres. About 34 percent are black-diamond level or above. 

While Salamander isn’t very tough, it does offer two miles of thigh-burning corduroy—making it the longest ski trail in the Blue Ridge region. The run starts at Timberline’s 4,268-foot summit and drops 1,000 vertical feet through red spruce and hemlock forests. Along the way you’ll catch numerous—and staggeringly beautiful—views of the Canaan Valley.

Wintergreen Resort holds steep runs on its 129 skiable acres, with more than 40 percent of slopes rated for advanced skiers. Photo courtesy of the resort

Big Variety at Wintergreen 

Wintergreen is located within an hour’s drive of Charlottesville, Va., near Shenandoah National Park—and just four miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway. The 10,000-acre resort has a peak elevation of 3,500 feet and features 27 trails spread across two distinct areas with a total of 129 acres of skiable terrain. 

It’s true Wintergreen doesn’t get much natural snow—just 34 inches annually. But recent big investments in state-of-the-art snowmaking technology ensure trails open early and stay open for most of the season.

For a resort of its size, Wintergreen is home to a surprising array of black diamonds: More than 40 percent of slopes cater to advanced skiers and boarders.  

The Highlands area is like an exquisite playground for experts. A highspeed six-chair lift and skills-based accessibility make for short lines. The Outer Limits trail offers some of the most intense moguls this side of Vermont. And the Upper and Lower Cliffhanger can be combined for a mile-long run of steep black and double-black diamond terrain with 1,000 feet of vertical drop.

Let It Snow at Seven Springs 

Seven Springs pioneered the art of manufacturing snow in 1960—and subsequently launched HKD Snowmakers (currently North America’s largest snowmaking company). The Pennsylvania resort is located about an hour south of Pittsburgh. Its 285 acres of skiable terrain make it the keystone state’s largest ski area. 

Thirty-three trails carve through Alleghany Mountain forests dropping 750 vertical feet from 3,000-foot summits in the Laurel Hill range. Annual snowfalls of 135 inches or more bring significant fresh powder. And they’re supplemented by one of the world’s most technologically advanced snowmaking systems. 

Expert downhill skiers and boarders will delight in Seven Springs’ North Face area, which features a quartet of designated double-black-diamond glade areas and seven single-black trails. The resort’s longest run, Lost Boy, carries riders down a breezy, 1.5-mile slope from the Tahoe Lodge to the North Face base area. 

Cover photo: The aerial view of Snowshoe Mountain Resort in West Virginia. Photo courtesy of the resort

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