Royally rugged West Virginia comes dominated by the Allegheny Plateau and the Allegheny Mountains of the Appalachian Plateaus Province and the Valley-and-Ridge Province (and a bit of the Blue Ridge) to the east. This mountainous scaffold gives the state that highest average elevation—about 1,500 feet—of any east of the Mississippi. In winter, West Virginia’s mountain ridges and extensive high plateaus typically receive generous helpings of snow, and snowshoers find rich pickings along both established winter trails and cross-country routes through Appalachian wilderness.
Armed with a pair of aluminum or Eva Foam snowshoes from Crescent Moon, you’ve got some of the grandest scenery in the East to tromp through in wintry West Virginia. Here’s a look at some top-draw destinations!
Canaan Valley & Surrounds
The elevated basin of the Canaan Valley, the bogs and forests of which evoke boreal country much farther north, receives impressive winter snowfalls on the order of 180 annual inches or so, translating—together with the surrounding Allegheny high country—to some of the best snowshoeing opportunities in West Virginia. Two of the state’s most popular state parks are in the Canaan Valley vicinity, and both are great places to float over the drifts in your Crescent Moons. Canaan Valley Resort State Park encompasses more than 18 miles of trails open to snowshoers, while numerous beginner-friendly routes also await you at Blackwater Falls State Park, including one up to the incredible overlook of the deep-cut Blackwater Canyon at Lindy Point.
Snowshoers can also roam the winter trails—including several snowshoe-only ones—of the White Grass Touring Center, which additionally provides access to the amazing Allegheny Plateau heights of the Dolly Sods Wilderness, a thrilling place for experienced winter trekkers to explore.
Across the valley from the Dolly Sods, the Canaan Mountain Backcountry of the Monongahela National Forest invites yet more snowshoeing adventures.
At nearly 4,900 feet tall, Spruce Knob is the apex of the Mountain State, the Allegheny Mountains, and indeed the larger Appalachian Plateaus Province itself. Part of the Monongahela’s Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area—the first National Recreation Area established in the U.S.—the mountain can be challenging to access in winter, but those prepared for snow-swathed roads and a potentially extended snowshoe trek can enjoy the magic of its lofty forests and summit rock formations.
Other routes in the Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area often ideal for snowshoeing include the Big Run, Spruce Knob Lake, and Allegheny Mountain trails.
Coopers Rock State Forest
Coopers Rock is the largest state forest in West Virginia, encompassing some 12,800 acres of the western Alleghenies above the mighty gorge of the Cheat River. Easily accessible off I-68 near Morgantown, the forest includes a network of more than 50 miles of trails that, in winter, serve as good snowshoeing (as well as cross-country skiing) circuits.
Elk River Touring Center
A stone’s throw (maybe we should say a snowball’s throw) from the high-profile Snowshoe Mountain Resort, the Elk River Touring Center maintains snowshoeing and cross-country skiing trails that range in elevation from about 2,730 feet and 4,750 feet and edge up against the Monongahela National Forest. This area commonly receives more than 150 inches of snow a season.
Snowshoe West Virginia With Crescent Moon
From the Canaan Valley trails of the White Grass Touring Center to the frosty flanks of Spruce Knob, strap on your Crescent Moon snowshoes and experience the Appalachian wonderland they call “Almost Heaven” in wintertime West Virginia!