Gliding into Snowshoe

A bountiful winter playground awaits in West Virginia

By Allison Parker

Photos Courtesy of Snowshoe Mountain Resort

With cold weather here, many Charlotteans feel the itch to grab coats and toboggans and head to the mountains. For adventurers seeking downhill thrills or those yearning to feel snowflakes against their skin, Snowshoe, West Virginia, answers the call of winter.

There are 14 lifts at Snowshoe, three of them high-speed quad lifts.

Nestled atop Cheat Mountain in Pocahontas County, Snowshoe is home to Snowshoe Mountain Resort. With an elevation of 4,848 feet and an average winter snowfall of 180 inches, Snowshoe is kissed by the winter wind and blessed by Jack Frost with its unique microclimate. Snowshoe is five to six hours northwest of Ballantyne. The drive time makes it a viable choice for three-day weekends or more extended holiday stays.

Ballantyne resident Kelly Ellis has been enjoying the Snowshoe area with her family for more than a decade. The Ellises first discovered Snowshoe on vacation with Kelly’s sister and her family in 2005. At the time, the Ellis children (Harrison, Cammie and Tate), as well as their cousins, were all under 10 years old.

“We chose Snowshoe because of its great ski conditions and proximity to Charlotte,” Ellis says.

Snowshoe Mountain Resort has 257 acres of skiable area, which includes 60 trails and 14 lifts — three of them high-speed quad lifts (Soaring Eagle Express, Ballhooter and Western Express). There’s nothing keeping adventurers at bay.

With a lift capacity of 23,400 skiers per hour, wait times are usually minimal. The resort also offers a “Snow Guarantee,” whereby your next day of skiing is free if another ski resort in the region provides more skiable terrain.

The Village at Snowshoe offers shops, restaurants even outdoor fire pits.

For new skiers and snowboarders, Snowshoe Mountain Resort offers its Terrain Based Learning. With drop-in classes or ski-school options, Terrain Based Learning is a way to pick up winter sports that include mini half pipes and snow sculptures. It allows guests to learn balance, sliding, stopping and turning more comfortably at a slower speed and gentle incline.

For daring and experienced skiers, Snowshoe’s Western Territory provides a 1,500-foot vertical drop and two black diamond trails, Cupp Run (designed by Olympian Jean-Claude Killy) and Shay’s Revenge. The Western Territory excites and challenges visitors with 1.5 miles of downhill skiing action and a 60% pitch.

The Snowshoe Basin area has an 800-foot vertical drop, 41 trails and seven lifts, including Ballhooter and Soaring Eagle Express. Ski options abound for every level of skiing or boarding. Great slopeside food and drinks are available at The Boathouse, and Hoot’s is a fast-casual restaurant and bar located on South Mountain (via Soaring Eagle lift).

Silver Creek is a favorite with visitors and locals alike as it is the only area to offer night skiing as well as the eight-lane Coca Cola Tube Park. Silver Creek has 18 trails, 12 of which are open to night skiing. It is also home to Silver Creek Ski and Snowboard School, Kid’s World and three freestyle terrain areas. Munchies and drinks are available at Black Run Sugar Shack.

The Woods Escape Room experience includes transportation to the Backcountry Hut in an all-terrain vehicle.
Snowshoe Mountain Resort has 257 acres of skiable area, which includes 60 trails.

Off the Slopes

Snowshoe Resort hosts concerts, food festivals, wine tastings and more in The Village.

For those preferring to stay off skis and boards, Snowshoe offers many other activities. Day and evening snowmobile tours are available for all ages. Split Rock Pools provides an indoor/outdoor heated pool area with a slide, sauna and hot tub.

Kiddos big and small will enjoy the Big Top, a 15,000-square-foot playground open from November to March. It has a climbing wall, bounce houses, movies and more. Adults will appreciate that the snack bar serves beer.

If a little pampering is on the agenda, a visit to The Spa at Snowshoe offers services from massages to haircuts. For those wanting to exercise their cerebral muscle, The Woods Escape Room is an adventure within a hunting cabin setting. It challenges guests to solve clues to obtain the “green light” to leave the cabin. The experience includes transportation to the Backcountry Hut in a four-seater Polaris RZR (all-terrain vehicle) as well as a hearty lunch made on-site.

The Village at Snowshoe Resort also has plenty of shops, restaurants and nightlife options. Two standouts are Old Spruce Brewery and the new Tuque’s Bar and Grill. Free shuttle service within the resort allows guests the convenience of avoiding winter driving while enjoying the area.

Silver Creek's nighttime skiing is popular with visitors and locals alike.

Soaring Eagle Lodge

Avid skiers and snowboarders, the Ellises fell in love with Snowshoe — so much so that in 2006 they purchased a condo at Soaring Eagle Lodge.

Adjacent to the Soaring Eagle Express lift in the South Mountain area of the basin, Soaring Eagle Lodge offers ski-in/ski-out access as well as a locker room for storing gear. The Japanese American restaurant, Zenkei, is on-site. Three outdoor hot tubs and a fitness center with sauna are available for time off the slopes. Also, visitors can park their cars in an underground garage.

Erica Engquist, concierge for the Soaring Eagle Lodge Homeowners Association, shares that Soaring Eagle has a private living room for owners and guests, and live music is played there at different times during the season.

Beyond Soaring Eagle Lodge, Snowshoe offers numerous lodging options. There are six locations on the resort property: Mountain Base, North Mountain, South Mountain, Village Central, Mountain Village and Silver Creek. The luxurious Brigham collection offers studio to eight-bedroom rentals throughout these resort communities.

Family Memories

Kelly Ellis recalls fondly all the memories her family has made over the years at Snowshoe. “My daughter, Cammie, and youngest son, Tate, learned to ski there,” she says. “All the kids learned to snowboard at Snowshoe. We loved the individual lessons as well as the half- and full-day ski schools.”

Though now grown up, the Ellis kids still love heading to the slopes. When asked about the family’s favorite ski or snowboarding run, Ellis says it’s Cupp Run. “We love to stop at the bottom for a hot chocolate or take a lunch break at Arbuckle’s Cabin.”

Whether it’s the moonlit views of a night ski or the Zen of being at a higher elevation, Snowshoe offers many adventures when the snow flies.

Lodging information and reservations:

The Ellis family and their cousins still enjoy skiing together at Snowshoe, many years after the kids first learned to ski and snowboard there. Photo courtesy of Kelly Ellis.