Real Snow Country – High Altitude Skiing at West Virginia’s Eastern Continental Divide
Nestled in the highest valley east of the Rockies, in a picturesque region of West Virginia’s Allegheny Mountains, lies a high altitude ski area which has become known for its extended season of snow cover. In its position at the Eastern Continental Divide and with an elevation of over 4,200 feet, Timberline Four Seasons Resort receives 150 – 190 inches of snowfall annually on Timberline’s Herz Mountain in large part due to it’s altitude and lake effect snow.
Over the past two years Timberline has significantly increased its snowmaking capacity. This technology combined with the resort’s natural geographic elements allows delivery of large volumes of high quality snow to Timberline’s 100 acres of ski able terrain. Timberline’s unsurpassed snow making capabilities, in addition to its 37 trails, 2 terrain parks, 4 lifts and award winning restaurant, has attracted the attention of the ski industry and its visitors who know Timberline as “Real Snow Country.”
Timberline’s emphasis on snowmaking attracted wide attention during the major winter thaw of January 2007. During this time, skiers from various Mid-Atlantic resorts came to appreciate Timberline skiing when lower altitude resorts where closed. Timberline’s consistency of incline, extensive snowmaking, and base elevation allows for skiing consistently from the beginning of December into early April. The 37 trails are well separated by thick forest and that the terrain is optimally rated a third easiest, a third more difficult, and a third most difficult. The staff at Timberline is recognized for its genuine Appalachian Mountain hospitality.
At Timberline, skiers experience big mountain skiing, snowboarding, tele-marking, and cross-country skiing. The mountain has a consistent 1,000 foot vertical and all major trails descend the full vertical distance. Timberline is also known for Salamander Run, the South’s longest ski trail and probably the longest ski trail in the East, which is complete with snowmaking along its entire length. There are four ski lifts including two triple lifts, a beginner’s lift, and a new surface lift. The surface lift is dedicated to serve one of the two snow park terrains. The 37 slopes and trails are evenly divided among easiest, intermediate and expert runs.
For 16 years Timberline Four Seasons Resort has been hosting the Snowy Luau celebration. During this weekend celebration the 1,000 foot vertical mountain will explode with fireworks set off from its 4268 foot elevation. Then 150 skiers will descend through the darkness from the mountain top holding torches representing lava streams down a volcanic mountain. At the spring skiing celebration people will be singing and dancing and greeting each other with the traditional “Aloha” and dressed in colorful flowered shirts, straw hats and grass skirts. The Snowy Luau has become a tradition and is now the biggest spring celebration of the region. In keeping with the Hawaiian tradition skiers and friends of Timberline will enjoy traditional outdoor roasted pig with Hawaiian music with live entertainment all day and most of the night. Authentic Hawaiian dancers, singers and instrumentalists will appear at Timberline Four Seasons Ski Resort throughout the day.
One of the most rapidly growing sensations at Timberline has become its night skiing. Last year the resort had six trails, one terrain park, and various pathways available for night skiing. With the addition of a new lighting system to the resort’s newly widened trail Upper White Lightning, will bring the total number of trails available for night skiing to seven. Currently under construction the new lighting system consists of fourteen lights that radiate 12-14,000 watts of electricity. The number of lights and electrical output were precisely decided upon to optimize the night skiing experience. “The popularity of night skiing and the newly widened Upper White Lightning trail has grown tremendously,” stated General Manager Tom Blanzy. “Adding lights to Upper White Lightning to make it available for night skiing was an easy decision. And one that I am sure our guests will appreciate.” Night skiing will begin on December 26, 2007 and continue throughout Christmas week from 4:30 pm – 9:00 pm. Night Skiing will continue every weekend throughout the regular season, which will wrap up on March 2, 2008. During the late season from March 3, 2008 through April 5, 2008, night skiing will be offered on Saturday nights.
Interest in the Timberline area has recently been stimulated by the increasing pace of construction of Corridor H, a super highway which will soon link the major metropolitan areas of Northern Virginia and Southern Maryland, as well as the neighboring states to the west, directly into the greater Timberline area. This highway has already been completed to Ohio in the west and currently has already spanned the most rugged mountainous area between the Timberline area and Northern Virginia. The new highway connects into the proximity of Route 66, the major western exit from Northern Virginia and provides access to interstates 81 and 64. The significant effect of Corridor H on the Timberline area was noted recently in an editorial in the New York Times. This article singled out this region for its reputation as a year around resort facility, and for its excellence in winter sports activities and importantly stressed the growth and potential of the Timberline area real estate values. The pace of Corridor H construction has increased recently due to recognition of the need to focus on a major western evacuation route from the greater Washington D.C. area.
Real estate activity in the Timberline area has, as in other upscale areas of the United States, shown consistent growth and appreciation. This parallels the experience reported in other resort areas in the proximity of large metropolitan areas. This real estate activity in this particular area is significantly influenced by the increasing ease of access into this portion of the Allegheny Mountains by progression of Corridor H construction and the affluence and stability of the greater Washington D.C. economy.
Also contributing to the appreciation and favorable real estate sales activity is the success of owners of large upper end homes in leasing their large rental properties. This success is especially apparent in those vacation homes located slope-side at Timberline. Significant occupancy is achieved in these expensive homes during both summer and winter.
Timberline has recently received a number of acclaims for its consistent, spirited growth and its performance as an Eastern high altitude mountain resort. This recognition in regional, state, and national publications is a reflection of the quality of its amenities including its snow-making capabilities and the increasing popularity of the ski area.
Timberline has been named the best ski area in the coveted “Best in Region” award for the past three consecutive years by a poll of readers of the largest regional newspaper of North Central West Virginia. The popularity of the resort has also been expressed in another statewide poll in which Timberline was recently voted, “Best of the Best Places for Wintertime Sports.”
Timberline is dedicated to resort expansion. Construction of the western face of the mountain was begun with Twister, the newest trail, and the current exclusive slope-side community, Winterhaven. All of the first phase of Winterhaven slope-side home sites are sold, and the next phase of 18 slope-side lots located on the resort’s newer trail, Twister, have completed infrastructure. This phase of development will feature twelve slope front sites with spectacular views.
The resort will continue to emphasize more snow, lifts, trails, and lodging. Plans also include a mid-mountain village high on our mountain overlooking the highest valley east of the Rockies nestled between the western ski trails, complete with lodging, summer and winter amenities, and a commercial area within the village. The new Winterhaven development is definitely an integral part of the “Real Snow Country” excitement in the ongoing western slope development.
For more information call 1-800-SNOWING or visit www.timberlineresort.com
(Contents of this update were provided by Linda Kelley of Timberline Resort) – Thanks Linda!