Snowshoe, West Virginia
Its 11,000-acre playground is nestled nearly a mile high in the Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia. And Snowshoe Mountain is more than just great skiing and snowboarding. Adventure is endless with its backcountry trails and spectacular scenery unmatched anywhere in the East. Strap on snowshoes or cross-country skis and escape into a snowy solitude. Or, hop on a snowmobile or horse drawn sleigh for a unique mountain journey.
In summer, explore a million acres of unspoiled national forest. Experience seemingly endless trails for hiking, backpacking and mountain biking. Enjoy real Appalachian history as you relax over lunch while listening to bluegrass.
Carved into the foothills of Snowshoe Mountain, the Raven Golf
Club attempts to tame the rough and rugged mountains of West Virginia.
Meticulously designed by golf legend Gary Player, this challenging,
yet fair, course layout offers an incomparable mountain golf experience.
While in Snowshoe
The Red Fox, with its rich variety of regional cookery in an elegant European-style atmosphere, is typically fully reserved on weekends. Gourmet, Bon Appétit and Southern Living magazines have all sung its praises. Reservations are recommended; call (304) 572-1111.
The Snowshoe Institute, modeled after the renowned Chautauqua Institution in New York, offers a kaleidoscope of cultural, educational, recreational and social activities in conjunction with the Marshall and West Virginia Universities.
The Cass Scenic Railroad is one of West Virginia's most popular attractions, located only a few miles from Snowshoe. Dating back to the turn-of-the-century when it served West Virginia¹s logging industry, Cass features some of the last remaining Shay and Heisler-type steam locomotives in the world. These historic trains will take you to the summit of Bald Knob, one of the highest points in the state.
Ask anyone in Snowshoe what the area is famous for and they will all say "the skiing here is great". But there's much more to Snowshoe than great snow. Snowshoe is a true four-season resort with a wide range of warm weather activities, and some of the most beautiful countryside is from a turn of the century steam locomotive.
Nestled in the mountains of West Virginia, a short drive from Snowshoe, Cass Scenic Railroad State Park offers an excursion that will transport you back in time and let you relive an era when steam-driven locomotives were an essential part of everyday life. The excitement begins when you set foot on an original steam train. It builds as you travel up and through the mountains, visiting old ghost towns and restored heritage sites, while taking in some of West Virginia's most breathtaking views.
Rail buffs are in for the time of their life. As the carefully restored pistons of the Shay locomotive start pulsing, and the gears begin turning, the 90-ton steam locomotive begins to move. With the steam building the train pulls away from the station and heads into the mountains.
The train passes the Cass Shop, where the locomotives are serviced
and repaired, then continues along a graveyard of antiquated but
fascinating equipment, before the train makes its steep ascent.
As the pressure builds, the locomotive is driven at full steam,
and the laborious journey up the mountain toward the two switchbacks
begin. The loud huff of the stack, the clank of gears and pistons,
the furious scream of the whistle and the crossings, and the ever
present clackety-clack of the rails will make you feel as if you
have been transported back in time.
The train soon passes through the first switchback, reverses up a steep grade, and ascends to the second switchback where the process is repeated, and then finally into open fields and Whittaker Station (1.5 hours). The switchback process allows the train to gain quick altitude, and in this instance, the train is traversing a grade of 11 percent, or 11 feet in altitude for each 100 feet of track. A two percent grade on conventional railroads is considered steep! So hang on and be sure to take in the spectacular views along the way.
Want to go higher? Then schedule the trip to Bald Knob (4.5 hours) where you will stope to take on water at a natural spring. When you reach Bald Knob at an altitiude of 4,842 feet, West Virginia's second highest point - your vantage point will allow you to overlook two states.
Cass Scenic Railroad State Park is open year-round with trains operating from May to October, including special holiday dinner trains.