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

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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Adventure’s on the Gorge’s best summer family trips

Looking for a one-stop family vacation? Paddle, soar and explore with one of West Virginia’s most popular resorts.

Adventures on the Gorge (AOTG) in Lansing has summer thrills for folks of all ages. Just pick your element: water, air or earth. Then plunge in and make those family memories!

The wet zone

Adventures on the Gorge rafting

Did you know that the New River Gorge is a top whitewater destination? Whether you’re a beginner or confident rafter, the New and Gauley rivers have the diversion you crave.

So does AOTG. Their professional guides can take you on trips like:

  • Upper New River: an easy family outing with Class I-II rapids. Kids 6 and up are welcome!
  • Lower New River: a more dramatic section. Kids 12 and up are welcome to try the Class IV rapids on this full-day expedition.
  • Family Lower New: if your family has rafted before, sign up for this rambunctious trip. Kids 9 and older can join the fun if water levels are just right.
  • Dueling Rivers 2-Day: tackle the Lower New then gear up for the untamed Gauley! Rapids go from Class III-V, so you must be 15 or older.

AOTG has many more river trips, including overnight experiences.

The resort also has relaxing jaunts to the “Little Bahamas of the East.” AOTG’s Lake Multi-Sport Adventure in Nicholas County takes you to the clearest, bluest water east of the Mississippi. Against this stunning backdrop, you can kayak and even go rock climbing.

stand-up paddleboardingStand-up paddleboarding (SUP) is a tranquil alternative to rafting. AOTG has delightful lessons for the whole family at Summersville Lake and— for more experienced folks— the New River. Imagine paddling your way through West Virginia rapids!

Flights through the forest

These aren’t your ordinary zip lines. AOTG sweeps you high above treetops— acres of them, as far as your eye can see.

TreeTops Zip Line Canopy Tour lets you explore the old growth hemlock forest canopy from a series of zip lines, sky bridges, hikes and a rappel.

Gravity Zip Lines bullets you along at highway speeds 200 feet above the ground. The tour highlight is Adrena-Line, a ride that often hits 65 mph. But that’s just one of many. Altogether, you’ll cover 1.5 miles of airspace. Sounds more fun that running a mile, right?

Timbertrek Adventure Park is a blast, too. It’s an aerial obstacle course that advances in difficulty as you progress. Shaky bridges and sky-high platforms are just some of the challenges you’ll face. Not everything is what it appears to be, either. Use your smarts to find the most efficient way through the course! Or play at night if you’re especially daring.

Land roving

There’s casual pedaling through the neighborhood, and then there’s mountain biking. Let AOTG show you the difference.

A Fat Kat electric tour combines traditional pedaling with mechanical oomph. Quiet but powerful, these motorized bikes are a fun way to blast through the wilderness.

Of course, AOTG also has traditional mountain bikes. The 2-hour evening ride is an easy but scenic tour through the New River Gorge. For something more intense, sign up for the Half-Day Guided Mountain Biking trip. It’s a longer tour, but not necessarily difficult— unless you want to to test out those demanding single-track trails.

Want to make the most out of the Mountain State? Sign up for AOTG’s rock climbing packages. Professional instructors will introduce you to the area’s world-famous sandstone. Classes include evening climbs, full-day trips, and rappelling.

Then, there’s the most traditional way to explore: on horseback. AOTG’s trail rides penetrate the Gorge’s most romantic areas. Ramble to Glade Springs or, better yet, sign up for the blissful evening ride. Summer doesn’t get any better than that!

How do you like to spend vacation time with your family? For more trip ideas and inspiration, visit Adventures on the Gorge for anything from cabins to caving.

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