An evergreen ride that’s perfect for winter

Ever wanted to fly above a snowy forest? The New River Gorge’s hemlocks and ziplines can help you out.

Wild, wonderful hemlocks

Meet the relative of your Christmas tree. Stately and majestic, eastern hemlocks can grow more than 100 feet tall. They also live for centuries if conditions are right.

That’s what makes the New River Gorge so special; the steep terrain, sandstone crannies, and river especially appeal to hemlocks. Ever seen one? Like most conifers, these grow into rough pyramids. Hemlocks also have distinctive double-row needles: dark on top, pale green on the bottom. Still not sure? Take a look at the bark; hemlocks have gray-red trunks that grow in elongated ridges.

Striking looks aside, these trees benefit the environment. In fact, hemlock forests lower surrounding temperatures in summer; their massed canopies provide lots of shade. They also shelter animals in winter. If you look carefully, you might see deer resting beneath their branches. Birds— from turkeys to warblers— like to roost in conifers, too.

And in the New River Gorge, you can get to know these trees as well!

Winter ziplines

Outdoor recreation never goes out of season in West Virginia. “Zipping” is just one example. The New River Gorge has several rides that you can enjoy— even if it’s snowing. In fact, fresh powder makes flights even better.

Here’s where you can fly among the hemlocks:

TreeTops Zip Line Canopy Tour
Lansing

Adventures on the Gorge likes to keep nature wild, and its TreeTops Zip Line Canopy Tour really heightens that illusion. Old-growth hemlock forests surround you like evergreen skyscrapers. It’s easy to think you’re almost as high, too; some tree platforms rest 80 feet above the ground.

Of course, aerodynamics add to the thrill. The canopy tour features 10 ziplines of varying lengths and speeds, plus 5 sky bridges and a rappel station. It covers lots of acreage, too. Most riders finish the course in 2-3 hours, so dress warmly if you’re going to ride in winter.

Zip-Line Canopy Tour
Oak Hill

ACE Adventure Resort’s zipline course swings through spectacular New River Gorge scenery— some of the region’s best.

In fact, you’ll get to see a spectacular hemlock during the Zip-Line Canopy Tour. Part of the course swoops past Graybeard, an ancient conifer that rears above a sandstone ridge. You’ll see “him” on “Sunshine,” one of the 9 zips available.

Other favorites include “Rigor Mortis,” a 40 mph ride that’s 100 feet above the ground. You can also duel with a friend on “The Racer”; it’s the only zip in West Virginia that you can ride forwards or backwards. Need to catch your breath? Lofty sky bridges let you pause and drink in the glorious New River Gorge.

Have you ever gone on a winter zipline?

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Walking in a winter wonderland…876 feet up!

Try this for your New Year’s resolution: a catwalk tour on the New River Gorge Bridge. They’re unlike anything else in America! Winter makes these unusual hikes even more spectacular.

Record-breaking walks

Elegant yet sturdy, the New River Gorge Bridge is a West Virginia icon. It’s also famous. At 876 feet high and 3,030 feet long, the steel span ranks as America’s third tallest bridge and the Western Hemisphere’s longest.

Want a piece of the action? Take a Bridge Walk! These tours go on the catwalk, a 2-foot-wide span with safety harnesses. It’s a heady experience. You’ll see foaming rapids, distant forests, and even the occasional train, far, far below your boots. At that height, everything looks like a miniature toy. But it’s very real.

Don’t let the heights scare you away – Bridge Walk tours are very secure. In fact, it has the world’s longest continuous safety system! Your guide will go at a slow pace, share facts about the gorge, and give you plenty of time for photos.

Winter Bridge Walks

Open daily (Thanksgiving and Christmas excepted), Bridge Walk tours in Lansing offer Instagram-worthy experiences all year. January and February are especially photogenic. Winter transforms the New River Gorge into a sugared world, textured with frosty pines and cliffs. It’s still and silvery and silent.

If you’ve ever wanted to capture magical landscape photos for yourself, then now is the time. Grab that camera and book a tour!

Here are some winter tips:

  • Wear layers and dress warmly. Bridge Walk tours are 3 hours long.
  • Tours operate in all weather. You’ll get a special umbrella if it rains.
  • The catwalk is flat. However, expect to cover 1.25 total miles, including a brief hike to the bridge.

Special winter deals

Wondering when to go? Bridge Walk has discounts throughout the year. Winter is no exception.

Score deals on 2018 specials like:

  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day: tours are $54 a person on Jan. 15.
  • Groundhog Day: tours are $54 a person on Feb. 2.
  • Valentine’s Day Special: tickets are two for the price of one on Feb.14.
  • President’s Day Special: tours are $54 a person on Feb.19.
  • Daylight Saving Time: it’s easier to wake up on March 12 when tickets are $54 each!
  • St. Patrick’s Day: tickets are $54 each on March 17.

For the latest deals and events, follow Bridge Walk on Facebook. Still can’t get enough? Request an annual pass! You’ll get unlimited tours, gift shop discounts, and incentives for family members.

Have you ever gone on a winter Bridge Walk? If so, what did you like most about it?

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Ever ridden a bike through snow? Here’s how.

Why hibernate when you can play outdoors instead? This winter, give “fat bikes” a spin!

Reinventing the wheel

As you might have guessed, not every bicycle can handle snow. You’ll need a fat bike.

Don’t let the name fool you. Goofy monniker aside, these beasts are pretty tough. They resemble mountain bikes in every way, with the exception of the tires. Wide and textured, “fatties” are hard to miss. Some are twice the size of a typical mountain bike tire. Their eccentric looks aren’t just for show, though. Fat bikes have lots of perks.

Traction is their biggest benefit. They have superior grip— just what you need for snow, slush, and ice. What’s more, wide tires don’t “sink” as much as narrow ones. You’ll feel like you’re floating above the terrain instead.

Fat bikes are also versatile. Snow aside, you can take them over sand, rocks, and mud. If speed isn’t a priority, you might be tempted to keep these machines going all year!

Oh what fun it is to ride

Snow and bikes? The combination seems unlikely. But in the past few years, winter riding has gained lots of traction.

For one thing, snow makes old paths seem new. Favorite summer trails transform into magical winter wonderlands, seemingly overnight. There’s nothing like pulling over and savoring the silence of a frosted meadow or forest.

For another, low-pressure fat tires make riding fun. They’re bouncy and floaty— and much more entertaining than cycling at the gym. If you’re looking for a refreshing alternative, this is a great option.

Saddle up

You can easily write a book about riding techniques. However, if you’ve never ridden in snow before, these rules of thumb will help.

  • Keep your hips slightly behind the saddle and your heels down. That way, it’s harder to tumble forward if the front wheel slips.
  • Extra weight over the back wheel improves traction. When possible, try to remain in the saddle.
  • When approaching a curve, keep your knees loose. Doing so improves reaction time if your bike loses traction.

Handy gear

Old Man Winter is cold. You know that. Still, riding through snow can be miserable if you’re not prepared.

Here are some tips to get started:

  • Wear layers
  • Get wind-blocking gloves and foot covers
  • Stock up on air-activated warmers for hands and feet
  • Prevent snow glare with a pair of sunglasses
  • Replace metal pedals with plastic; it’s harder for ice and snow to accumulate on them

For long backcountry rides, bring a friend and emergency equipment. A pocket knife, lighter, and space blanket are essential. Of course, these suggestions are just starting points. Do all the research you can before hitting the trail.

Ask the experts

Now for the fun part: shopping! The New River Gorge, renowned for its spectacular trails and outdoor recreation, has lots of resources. Check out Marathon Bicycle Company and Arrowhead Bike Farm in Fayetteville; both have everything you need to get riding. Once you’re outfitted, hit the Arrowhead Trails for a fun-filled ride!

Good luck and have fun!

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Eat, drink, and be merry: your indoor adventure guide

Need a little break between hikes? Jump off the couch and join us for edible, drinkable, and “cosmic” exploration!

A slice above the rest

There’s pizza, and then there’s artisan pizza. Pies & Pints in Fayetteville cooks with style— and the results are not only innovative but also delicious.

Bite into a slice of:

  • Cuban Pork: an exotic pizza with slow-roasted pork, caramelized onions, fresh pineapple, jalapenos, feta, cilantro, and creme fraiche
  • Grape & Gorgonzola: a sweet-and-salty pie with red grapes, fresh rosemary, and Gorgonzola cheese
  • Black Bean: a bold, vibrant pizza with seasoned beans, jalapenos, cheddar, salsa, cilantro, and creme fraiche
  • Sriracha Shrimp: a festive creation with sriracha-marinated shrimp, garlic, red onions, fresh pineapple, scallions, basil, mint, cilantro, and sriracha aioli

That’s just the beginning. Fancy ingredients don’t hide flavorless crusts, either; homemade dough gives every pie a solid foundation. Dig in!

Bridge Brew Works

WV beer

With nature as your muse, why settle for business as usual? That’s the spirit behind Bridge Brew Works, a Fayetteville microbrewery with bold, memorable IPAs, stouts, and lagers.

For an adventurous twist to your day, visit the brewery! As you’ll discover, most beers are inspired by the New River Gorge. The names might escape you unless you’re a local, though, so here’s a guide:

  • The Blunt: named after a trick performed on whitewater waves, this amber ale splashes the palate with hints of Spanish cedar. Bottles only.
  • Long Point Lager: a hoppy, crisp brew named after a popular New River Gorge trail. Available all year. Draught only.
  • Crux Kölsch: a “crux” is the most difficult part of a mountain climb, and the Gorge’s sandstone cliffs have plenty of climbing routes! This German-style beer has a spicy finish. Seasonal.
  • Black Diamond Lager: inspired by the region’s challenging ski slopes, this dark beer tantalizes your senses with hints of chocolate. Seasonal (draught only).
  • 3 River Tripel: a creamy, slightly fruity brew that commemorates the Gorge’s rivers: the New, Gauley, and Bluestone. Limited availability.

Bridge Brew Works has more brews in its lineup, too. The brewery is open Tuesdays-Thursdays from 1-5 p.m. and Fridays-Saturdays from 1-6 p.m.

Secret Sandwich Society

Think sandwiches are only for lunchboxes? Fayetteville’s popular eatery is a transformative experience. Using homemade, fresh ingredients, cooks at Secret Sandwich Society glamorize this humble meal.

Look forward to creations like:

  • Eagle: a burger layered with an over-easy egg, mortadella, garlic mayonnaise, pickles, crispy onions, and American cheese.
  • Washington: a toasted baguette with ham, green apples, white cheddar, and rosemary mayonnaise.
  • Fillmore: a savory fried eggplant sandwich with onions, spicy cherry peppers, provolone, garlic mayo, and greens on a toasted baguette.

Secret Sandwich Society makes all of its sauces— including ketchup and mayonnaise— on site, too.

Pinheads

If there’s such a thing as fancy bowling, this one qualifies. Pinheads in Oak Hill is sleek, bright, and modern. Even the meals are surprising; you can order Southwest chicken eggrolls, pizzas, and calzone-style “muffins,” among others. Thirsty after a duel with your buddies? Pinheads has an enormous selection of bottled beer— almost 100 options. They also serve beer on tap, soda, and refrigerated drinks.

But if there’s one thing that makes Pinheads stand out, it’s cosmic bowling. Every Friday and Saturday night, the lanes glow in the dark. Separate times for families and adults ensure everybody has a good time, too.

Epic Escape Game: New River Gorge

Fayetteville’s “locked-room” adventures will keep you entertained through winter. In fact, you’ll probably need to come back multiple times— the plots are that engaging!

Here’s what’s happening at Epic Escape Game: New River Gorge:

  • Runaway Train (easy): your speeding locomotive is running out of track. Can you find all the clues and stop the train before time’s up?
  • Mothman (intermediate): a storm traps you in the legendary monster’s lair. You have an hour before the Mothman returns.
  • Brave New World (hard): a nuclear missile is fueling, and it’s pointed at the United States. Fortunately, your friend has the cancellation codes in his cabin. Locate them before disaster strikes— literally!

You don’t need any experience to play these games. Just bring your wits (or your smart buddies) and let the countdown begin!

Have fun! What indoor adventure are you going to try this winter?

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Stay in shape for the holidays, the fun and scenic way!

Do you feel stuffed from too much Thanksgiving stuffing? Wondering how to prepare for Christmas feasts and upcoming holiday celebrations? Here’s what you can do to burn off those extra treats.

Hikes

Let’s face it: neighborhood walks get pretty boring. But in the mountains, there’s always something to explore. Changing seasons and terrain make exercise engaging, too. Intrigued? You won’t go wrong with New River Gorge’s nationally acclaimed trails.

Top favorites include:

Nuttallburg Trails

  • Keeney’s Creek Rail Trail (easy): a 3-mile venture that combines manmade intrigue with natural beauty. Look forward to historic trestle bridges, picturesque forests, and streams.
  • Headhouse Trail (moderate): this hike’s claim to fame is a historic coal conveyor, which stretches more than 1,000 feet long. Expect steep terrain and a total distance of 1.25 miles.
  • Conveyor Trail (hard): twisting paths, uneven terrain, and steep sections make this path a workout. But the 0.8 mile trail rewards you with lovely views of the gorge and mine.

New River Gorge Trails

  • Fayetteville Health Trail (easy): accessible from downtown Fayetteville, this 1.1-mile path loops through a local park and tranquil forest.
  • Hawks Nest Rail Trail (easy): located at the state park in Ansted, this scenic 1.8-mile path traces along Mill Creek. Waterfalls and mining remnants line the route.
  • Oak Hill Rail Trail (easy): this flat 7.8-mile path takes you through quiet forests and occasional neighborhoods. It’s popular with bike riders, too.
  • Endless Wall Trail (moderate): winner of multiple national awards— including USA Today’s “Best National Park Hike” for 2015— this 2.4 mile-long trail is famous for its breathtaking vistas. The clifftop ridgelines and river views are sublime.
  • Kaymoor Miners’ Trail (hard): this mile-long path has vigorous twists and turns. Hang in there for fascinating mining remnants, including old signs and stone foundations. If you need to burn off extra calories, descend 821 steps deeper into the gorge, where you’ll discover coke ovens and a coal processing plant.

Bike trails

  • Arrowhead Trails: this award-winning stacked-loop system has paths for all types of riders. There are scenic workouts for beginners and twisty turns for experts.
  • Craig Branch Trail (easy): glimpse outstanding views of the gorge along this 2.4-mile (one way) path. Add the Kaymoor Trail if you want to explore a historic mine!
  • Kaymoor Trail (moderate): this 8.6-mile path keeps you motivated with exhibit signs, mining artifacts, and lovely woods. It also connects to other trails.

Winter sports

Winterplace, WV

Skiing at Winterplace

True fact: you burn more calories when it’s cold outside. That’s because your body needs lots of fuel to keep warm. And at Winterplace Ski Resort in Ghent, it’s easy to stay outdoors all day. Mountain slopes, terrain parks, and snowtubing lanes entertain you from dawn to dusk. Who knew “exercise” could be so much fun?

Here’s what you can do:

  • Skiing: with a top elevation of 3,600 feet, Winterplace has lots of wild, wonderful room to roam. There are 27 trails for beginners and experts alike. You can even ski at night!
  • Snowboarding: Winterplace boasts 2 terrain parks with obstacles. You’re also free to glide down the trails.
  • Snowtubing: don’t want to ski? Try West Virginia’s largest snowtubing park— all 18 lanes of it! No experience required. For extra winter magic, play at night.

Winterplace makes snow, too. That way, you can play even when Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate. Other perks include equipment rentals, lessons, restaurants, and lodging.

The resort is open from December through March, weather permitting.

How do you like to stay trim during the holidays? Share your ideas!

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