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Take advantage of some great winter activities

February 13, 2010
Jon Magee

Will this snow ever let up? We have had snowstorm after snowstorm and the white stuff is really piling up in the mountains. With no end in sight, we might as well take advantage of it and enjoy some of the great winter activities in our beautiful snow covered playground. Fortunately, we live in an area where winter recreation opportunities abound. Resorts and state parks offer a little bit of everything to take advantage of the snow and enjoy this winter wonderland.

The ski resorts are really benefitting from all this snow and enjoying some of the best conditions in years with all resorts operating at full capacity. The resorts offer something for everyone, from downhill skiing and snowboarding to sledding and tubing for anyone who wishes to have fun in the snow. Downhill skiing and snowboarding are the most popular winter activities but there are many other activities that are less expensive and easy to learn for people not wishing to hit the slopes, such as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, ice skating, tubing, sledding, and others depending on where you go.

We have some great resorts with excellent terrain but sometimes the resorts are a little too crowded for me and I like to get out on the trails of the National Forest and enjoy the beauty of the untracked snow and solitude of the mountains in their scenic winter dress. The most popular ways to access the snow-draped mountains are cross country skis and snowshoes. These are both fun and enjoyable ways to get into the backcountry and are very easy to learn and great exercise to help beat the winter blues. The numerous trails and snow-covered roads of the forest provide unlimited opportunities for all skill levels and a great place to learn or ski some of the steep terrain in the open meadows and sods.

With skis you can access any of the roads and trails in the National Forest, with so many trails, gated roads, and rail trails there is an option for just about everyone to find what suits them best. Part of the fun of cross country skiing is exploring different routes and trails making your own way to that hidden meadow or glade where the snow is deep and the terrain steep and the only sounds are that of the woods and your skis gliding over the fresh powder.

Snowshoes allow you to venture into the woods anywhere you want and are much easier than walking through all this deep powder. Snowshoes prevent you from sinking in the deep snow allowing you to float higher and walk more easily across the top instead of pushing through the heavy snow. Snowshoes are an inexpensive and easy way to get out, enjoy all this white stuff, and explore some of your favorite areas in the forest when other people are holed up inside waiting for warmer weather and less snow.

These activities are also a great way to introduce kids to the pleasure of winter sports and get them away from the TV and video games. Kids love to play in the snow and allowing them to experience different types of activities will enhance their enjoyment of the outdoors and nature.

Rentals are available at Blackwater and Canaan State Parks as well as White Grass Resort and Elk River Touring Center where you can get the gear you need to experience these great winter activities. Lessons are also available but these sports are easy to learn and a little time getting used to the equipment is all it takes to feel comfortable on cross-country skis or snowshoes.

Whether you prefer the convenience and atmosphere of the resorts or enjoy the solitude and peacefulness of exploring the mountains alone or with family and friends the scenery is always breathtaking, always bring a camera to capture the stark beauty of the winter landscape.

If you have never tried any of the fantastic winter activities available in our area, this is the time to experience something new in our mountain playground taking advantage of this excellent snow Mother Nature has blessed us with this year.



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