It’s Friday afternoon, March 9, and my group is ready to hit the road and embark on a much-anticipated spring skiing trip to Snowshoe, West Virginia. Snowshoe’s Web site was calling for additional snow, having just gotten some 22 inches of powder from its most recent storm. As we made our way from Baltimore to West Virginia, a light snowfall turned increasingly heavier as we ascended the mountains. The 4,800-foot peaks of Snowshoe had already collected two to three inches by the time we made our way up Snowshoe Road toward the summit, and we were all stoked for what we had heard were some of the best prolonged conditions the Mid-atlantic had seen in years.
After a late dinner at Snowshoe’s Auntie Pasta’s restaurant, we called it a night. Saturday morning revealed a somewhat overcast sky, but sun was in the forecast. A few members of the group needed rentals, so we headed past the Village Center to Shaver’s Center. A healthy crowd was on hand for rentals, and we opted to take the quick drive up to the Top of the World rental facility, where everyone got their gear squared away in just minutes.
By the time we were ready for the trails, we were witnessing a complete bluebird day. Cameras were soon broken out to capture Snowshoe’s exquisite snow-capped treeline and valleys. We started on Snowshoe’s main side, where conditions were excellent. A good number of snow riders were on hand, and the expanse of terrain was more than ample. All 57 trails (including lower mountain’s Silver Creek area) had been open just about all season-a tribute to both the area’s generous snowfall and the resort’s robust snowmaking operation.
We warmed up on a few beginner runs and made our way over to Snowshoe’s newest trail-Yew Pines on the Northern Tract. An expertly designed novice trail, Yew Pines features long and leisurely terrain, with a few good turning opportunities and a smattering of small hills to catch some speed. With a faster ride in mind, we ventured onto some intermediate trails-all well groomed on packed powder.
A free shuttle ride on my reciprocal lift ticket brought me down to Silver Creek, where the trails were wide-open with relatively little skier traffic. Silver Creek’s trails were also in prime shape this afternoon, and the halfpipe seemed to be the main attraction. Over 450 feet long with 10-foot walls, the halfpipe at Silver Creek is unquestionably the Mid-atlantic’s best pipe. Snowboarders have come to expect great things from this pipe, and Snowshoe does a commanding job maintaining it. In addition the halfpipe, riders had several tabletop jumps and a few rail slides thrown in for good measure.
After spending some time at Silver Creek, I hopped back on the bus and jumped off at Snowshoe’s Western Territory-home of the famed Cupp Run and the newer Shay’s Revenge. You’d be hard-pressed not to find a good number of skiers and riders out here on the Western Territory on a beautiful, snow-filled day like this. I took my first turns down Cupp and couldn’t help but smile at the convergence of packed powder conditions, sunshine, and 1,500 vertical feet of speed and turns. Several skiers and riders were catching air on the gulley jump on Lower Cupp. A small line at the base of Cupp moved quickly, and I still appreciate the five-minute ride of Snowshoe’s high-speed detachable quad, which was added a few years ago.
Next on my list was Shay’s Revenge, which runs parallel to Cupp Run. It’s an exhilarating ride to Shay’s halfway-point shelf, where I stopped to check out the bumps on double-black diamond Lower Shay’s. The moguls seemed a bit less daunting than in previous years, but the sustained steepness of this trail is unyielding. I managed a host of bumps before my quads spoke up in defiance, and I settled into the slightly more groomed side of the trail.
After a few hours on the Western Territory, I met back up with my group to finish the day on Snowshoe’s main side. Lower Ballhooter was a thrill ride as usual, and the Spruce Glades featured some small jumps before weaving through the hardwoods.
When Snowshoe’s slopes closed at 4:30, the day had taken its toll on everyone. My wife strolled out to get her scheduled massage, and the rest of us relaxed in the comfortable living room of our slope-accessed Mountain Lodge condo. Nearly all of the resort’s condos, lodge rooms, and townhomes are either ski-in, ski-out or just a short walk to the slopes. Eventually, we managed a late dinner at The Junction-one of Snowshoe’s new restaurants in the Village Center. The Junction offers tasty southern fare in a unique setting, along with the sounds of authentic blues music.
Sunday rolled around and none of us were ready to leave. While the resort is rounding out its season, there are some great deals to take advantage of for those who can make it out before April 2. Those looking for a cost-effective spring ski getaway should look no further than Snowshoe. The resort is hosting its 2nd annual Mountain Top Beach Party on March 23 and 24, and skiers can also find major late-season discounts on lodging and lift tickets. Some of the resort’s 17 restaurants and eateries are closing down for the season, but there’s still plenty to do at the Shoe. Another 7 inches or so of snow has been reported in the last few week, and skiers can expect more incredible spring skiing conditions. Additionally, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and snow tubing are still operating, and the free shuttle service between Snowshoe and Silver Creek areas is still available. Nothing else in the Midatlantic/Southeast compares to the Shoe!
John Phillips is author of Ski & Snowboard America: Mid-atlantic, now in its second edition. He can be found snowboarding the local slopes on most winter weekends.