Ride the Epic
Slatyfork is the gateway to one of the International Mountain Biking Association’s Epic Rides. The 37-mile Gauley Headwaters ride moves from open meadows to a maze within the Mon’s tight and technical hardwood forests. A legendary highlight includes the lengthy Tea Creek Mountain descent.
Get Mellow on the Greenbrier
If screaming descents and punishing rock gardens aren’t your thing, try a much more mellow ride on the Greenbrier Trail. The 76-mile rail trail is the longest in the state, running along the river and next to the Allegheny peaks from Caldwell to Cass.
There’s a reason Snowshoe has been called the best skiing option on the East Coast. The resort’s 220 skiable acres holds a total of 60 slopes that see an average of 180 inches of snow per year. Its 1,500 of vertical drop is the highest of any resort in the South. Experts shouldn’t miss the double black diamond Shay’s Revenge in the Western Territory, while novices will enjoy the open space of the Silver Creek area.
In the summer, Snowshoe opens one of the top downhill mountain biking parks in the country with 20 trails full of body rocking drops and freeride stunts.
Elk River Cross Country
The Elk River Touring Center (www.ertc.com) is a well-known authority on adventure in Slatyfork, offering biking tours, fly-fishing, and cross country skiing. In addition to five kilometers of trail regularly groomed on the old farm’s 150 acres, snow hounds can access a connector trail to Props Run (another great MTB option) for a perfect rolling whiteout excursion.
Wild 100 Backcountry Race
Every August Elk River produces this 100-kilometer mountain biking ultamarathon, which not only tests limits of the toughest endurance riders on the adjacent Mon singletrack, but also throws in orienteering to make things more interesting. Bikers have to check in at six different check points (kept secret until the morning of the race) in sequence, always deciding for themselves which trail, dirt fire road, or paved path is the fastest route for the challenge. The entire 100K course has a cumulative elevation gain of nearly 8,000 feet. Depending on weather conditions the race often lasts deep into the night.
There are two reasons to visit Slatyfork—singletrack and snow. The small West Virginia hamlet with a population under 500 is surrounded by the vast Monongahela National Forest, which boasts over 200 miles of accessible trails for fat tire feasting. Favorites like Tea Creek Mountain and Bear Pen have put Slatyfork on the map as the Eastern mecca of mountain biking madness. Then there’s the powder—largely used by cross country skiers and the popular Snowshoe Mountain Resort. This part of the Mountain State gets the soft stuff that most Southerners dream about, thanks to its position within the weather bands of Great Lakes. With no highways and comparatively little development, Slatyfork is a remote piece of adventure paradise.
If you need a morning cup of Joe, head to the Dirt Bean (www.dirtbean.com) in Marlinton. The eclectic coffee/bike shop was opened by professional mountain bikers, who wanted to live in the area to ride. Try one of the popular all-natural Supercookies before you saddle up for a long day on your steel steed. For dinner explore the extensive menu (which includes everything from panied tofu to tenderloin of beef au poivre) at Elk River, which also offers a range of rustic cabins for bunking down. Noshing options are also abundant at Snowshoe Village (www.snowshoemtn.com). Try the Foxfire Grille, where you can score some upscale barbeque and a pint of local Mountain State Brewing Co.’s Cold Trail Ale.