The phrase "epic downhill" takes on a whole new meaning at Snowshoe Mountain. Though the resort caters to skiers and snowboarders in the winter, mountain bikers will be pleasantly surprised by the summer terrain and hospitality. The Snowshoe Mountain Bike Park has a full summer program with 40 routes, 1,500-foot vertical descent, and machine-groomed trails. Perhaps most importantly, it also has lift service, meaning trams will haul you and your bike up to the mountain's peak so you don’t have to actually earn your turns. All you have to do is purchase a lift ticket to enjoy fast progression, plenty of loops, and less pedaling. The bike park has competitions regularly, and was even named one of the "Top 5 Best Bike Parks" in the Mid-Atlantic/Southeast by mtbparks.com.
What Makes It Great
Two words: varied terrain. It really is some of the best in the country, attracting people from all over the East Coast. Before whizzing through the thick, wooded forest in a race to Shaver's Lake, or doubling-down on a double-black diamond with manmade jumps and steep terrain, be sure you stop and enjoy the panoramic views of the beautiful Allegheny Mountains along the ride. When you are ready to wrap up your day, grab a bite at Cheat Mountain Pizza or really loosen up at The Spa at Snowshoe. After such harrowing runs, you will have earned it.
Trails are rated similar to ski season. Greens are beginner runs, typically smooth and broad, about 4 to 6 feet wide. Blues are intermediate, with slow jump trails, including one named Skyline, a particular favorite of Snowshoe's acclaimed Western Territory. Blacks are advanced, technical singletrack, often used for downhill races. Unique cross-country trails are more remote, but they are very technical. It is imperative that you have prior experience before hitting these trails, and it’s wise to tackle them with a partner or guide who knows his or her stuff, too.
Snowshoe does not have guided trips or lessons on these backcountry trails, but maps are available. Access points are near the Village of Snowshoe and Silver Creek. The entire resort fully invests in the mountain biking program and caters to riders just as dedicatedly as they do skiers or snowboarders in the winter. Lodging and dining are available on-site. They also have a fleet of rental bikes, but if you prefer to use your own, that is certainly ok.
Keep in mind that Snowshoe is uniquely secluded. In fact, because it’s near the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, the area is known as a National Radio Quiet Zone, where there is little to no wireless interference. That means very limited cell phone service. But, you can take this as an opportunity to unplug and break from reality. If you are in dire need of Internet or phone service, most rooms on the mountain are equipped.
Who is Going to Love It
If you are an expert rider, you will be thrilled with the steep terrain, especially the black and double-black diamond trails. The resort has really invested in their mountain biking program, adding berms, jump lines, and other technical, manmade features along the trails.
Although Snowshoe caters to experts, beginners can still learn here. Easy Street trails are kid-friendly, as long as the little ones are with a parent or guardian. You can also take lessons if you don’t have much downhill experience.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
To reach Snowshoe Mountain, take I-64 to White Sulphur Springs, WV and follow US-219 N for about 128 miles. Turn onto WV-66 and immediately look for Snowshoe Drive. You will see a large entryway with a welcome sign that reads "Forever Wild." Ascend the mountain for about 6 miles until you reach the Village of Snowshoe at the mountain's peak.
Summertime means lodging discounts and plenty of parking, so 3 cheers for being a mountain biker! There are also quality restaurants on-site. But if you plan to stock up on groceries and necessary provisions, it’s easiest do that before beginning your trek to the mountain, although there is a convenience store at the bottom.
Full-suspension bikes with recent safety checks by a qualified bicycle mechanic are ideal. You should also wear a full-face helmet, elbow pads, and knee pads. If you don’t have gear, rent it at the Mountain Adventure Center.