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New Trails and Upgrades at Blue Ridge Ski Resorts You Need to Know About

Powder Progress

With winter settling in, it’s time to dust off the ski and snowboard gear and hit the slopes. Whether you’re looking for a getaway from your backyard go-to or a family vacay at a new resort, some ski areas in the Blue Ridge region have gotten some major upgrades to enhance the experience this winter. From high-speed quad lifts to fresh black diamonds, our guide gives you the info you need to pick a spot—and have some extra fun while you’re there.

BLUE MOUNTAIN RESORT, Pennsylvania 

This well-known Pennsylvania resort, which was added to the Ikon Pass lineup earlier this year, put in a sweet new black diamond in 2022, upping total skiable acres to 171 and trails to 40. Half-mile-long Free Fall plunges from the summit’s Comet quad and feeds into Paradise’s lower segment to offer riders 1,082 feet of vert—the most in the state. 

Last year also saw Blue Mountain’s tubing area expand to 46 lanes and a startling 1,000 vertical feet of drop, making it the biggest park in the U.S. This season brings further improvements, like a new sound system and interactive party lighting.

And the adds don’t stop there: A pair of outdated two-seaters have been replaced with a high-speed six-chair called Main Street Express. The upgrade ferries 3,000 riders per hour up the mountain to significantly boost access to the summit lodge and a cluster of hard-hitting blacks and beginner-friendly greens. 

Snowmaking also gets a big shot in the arm with 79 new stick guns and 26 fully automatic fan units. That, combined with 20,000 feet of new air and water piping, should drastically improve conditions in many areas across the mountain.  

While You’re There 

Should the weather take a warm turn, check out the resort’s new adventure course, Summit Aerial Park. It offers five treetop experiences of various skill levels with nifty swinging logs, wooden towers, platforms, rope ladders, ziplines, and more. Get a fun workout while taking in spectacular views of the surrounding Poconos.

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Snowshoe’s skidder learning area was significantly expanded. Photo courtesy of the resort.

SNOWSHOE MOUNTAIN, West Virginia

Fans of the “Beast of the East” will be delighted to hear the Southeast’s largest ski resort has replaced its Powder Monkey lift, which dated to 1977, with a new high-speed, fixed-grip quad. The upgrade should dramatically improve access to the experts-only Western Slope area, ease congestion at terrain parks, and improve wait times at the oft logjammed central Ballhooter lift.  

But that’s not all. The Skidder learning area also got a significant expansion, with 15 new automated fan guns and a conveyer connecting it and the adjacent Grabhammer lift to the main village, which should further reduce Ballhooter wait times by offering an alt route to Snowshoe’s 4,850-foot summit. The Silver Creek ski area gained 15 fan guns on heavily trafficked slopes and had 20 sticks added to its progression park.  

While You’re There 

Book an offroad all-terrain-vehicle tour. The enclosed, heated four-seaters will carry you deep into the Cheat Mountain backcountry, bringing access to forests, meadows, and vistas that few visitors get to see. 

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Massanutten Resort turned 50 last year. Photo courtesy of the resort.

MASSANUTTEN RESORT, Virginia

Virginia’s oldest ski resort turned 50 last year and has been celebrating with a serious makeover. New online ticketing systems streamline rental processes and bypass ticket windows to offer direct access to slopes through radio frequency identification (RFID) passes and gates. A five-year project to install more than 21,000 feet of snowmaking pipe concludes with connections to nearly 100 new semi and fully-automated snow guns that let snowmakers capitalize on cold temps to rapidly blanket the Nutt’s 82 skiable acres. And lifts have all been upgraded, including a new conveyer in the beginner area and much-needed high-speed detachable quad to the 3,000-foot summit. 

But the best part is the trails: Builders have been working overtime to add five new routes. They include a mile-long signature blue called Mueller’s Mile and the double-black plunge, No Hessitation (a nod to longtime director of operations, Kenny Hess). Also worth noting is Ridgecrest, a breezy ridgeliner connecting the summit to the intermediate-level Upper Mass Transit and Showtime area. 

While You’re There 

The resort is home to a 56,000-square-foot indoor water park. It boasts a wave pool, flow-boarding machine, hot tubs, water fortress, lazy river, five 250-plus-foot waterslides, arcade, and restaurant. 

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HATLEY POINTE, North Carolina

The much-anticipated relaunch of Wolf Ridge has begun, and there’s a lot to get excited about. The resort, which sits just off Interstate 26 about 30 miles north of Asheville, got new owners last year and a serious overhaul for the 2023 season. 

For starters, the main lodge has been totally renovated, adding an “elevated but accessible” full-service restaurant, taproom, bar area, and lounge. Equipment rentals and ticketing enter the 2020s with state-of-the-art gear, online reservations, touchscreen kiosks, and RFID passes and gates. Slopes also see major upgrades with the complete replacement—and beefing up—of existing water pipelines and snow guns across the resort’s primary 55-acre ski area.   

And more improvements are coming soon, including high-speed lifts to the 4,700-foot summit, a rebuilt upper lodge (which burned to the ground in 2014), reopening 20-plus acres of abandoned slopes, more trails, terrain parks, a mountaintop village, and mountain biking. 

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While You’re There 

Take a horseback tour to the peak of 5,500-foot Big Bald Mountain at neighboring Bucktown Stables. Rides last 2-3 hours and carry you to majestic 360-degree views of the ski area and surrounding Pisgah and Cherokee National Forest.  

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North Carolina’s Sugar Mountain Resort has recently increased snowmaking capacity. Photo courtesy of the resort.

SUGAR MOUNTAIN RESORT, North Carolina

One-off visitors to North Carolina’s biggest ski resort—and the one with the most vertical feet of drop—will benefit from an overhauled equipment rental system that streamlines processes through online reservations and touchscreen kiosks. Snowmaking gets a boost from a new compressor that ups overall capacity by more than 20 percent and a dozen fully automated SMI snow guns. The latter are positioned to radically enhance coverage in heavily trafficked beginner areas and intermediate trails like the Upper and Lower Flying Mile. 

The best news, however, is the new lifts: All of Sugar’s half-dozen chairs have been replaced within the past six years. Last season saw the final of these improvements, with a high-speed detachable quad going in on the Oma’s Meadow slope. The new unit streamlines access to mountaintop lodging and slashes ride times from a painstaking nine minutes to just above two.   

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While You’re There 

Bundle up and take a ride on the nearby Wilderness Run Alpine Roller Coaster. The 3,160-foot-long fun machine sits a little over a mile from Sugar Mountain’s main lodge and is one of the few mountaintop coasters in the Southeast. It climbs 770 feet to offer jaw-dropping views of surrounding valleys and highlands, then winds through gorgeous mountain forests to reach family-friendly top speeds of about 27 miles per hour. 

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Cover photo: A skier at SnowShoe Mountain in west Virginia. Photo courtesy of the resort.

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