Canaan Valley, a West Virginia Getaway

Skiing, Rafting, Hiking, and a Waterfall in the Allegheny Mountains

High in the Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia, Canaan Valley has deep snow in winter and cool breezes in summer. It’s an ideal weekend retreat a few hours’ drive from Washington, DC.

Three ski resorts draw skiers and tubers, and rafters will find world-class whitewater nearby. For hikers, Canaan Valley makes a perfect base for exploring the trails of the vast Monongahela National Forest.

Skiing Canaan Valley

Top elevations in Canaan Valley exceed 4,000 feet. As a result, the valley gets over 13 feet of snow in an average year.

Canaan Valley Ski Resort

Canaan Valley Ski Resort has an 850-foot vertical drop and 39 trails and slopes, most of them suitable for beginners and intermediates. In addition to downhill skiing, the resort offers tubing, snowboarding, and the newest craze, air boarding.

Canaan Valley Resort
Canaan Valley State Park Ski Slope

Timberline Four Seasons Resort

Timberline Four Seasons Resort has a 1,000-foot vertical elevation and a greater proportion of intermediate-to-expert terrain. However, the two-mile-long Salamander Run is gentle. Snowboarders enjoy two terrain parks with 30, 40, and 50-foot jumps.

White Grass Ski Touring Center

White Grass Ski Touring Center is popular for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, with 50 kilometers of wooded trails.

Rafting Canaan Valley

The Cheat River offers some of the best whitewater rafting in the East. Advanced rafters can tackle Cheat Canyon, with 13 miles of intense class III–V rapids. For families and beginners, the Cheat Narrows offers a moderate raft trip with class II-IV rapids, along with swimming holes and jumping rocks.

Highland Inn and Spa runs rafting trips on the Cheat that leave from Canaan Valley. Other rafting companies in the area include Blackwater Outdoor Adventures and Cheat River Outfitters.

Hiking Canaan Valley

The valley includes two state parks, Canaan Valley Resort State Park and Blackwater Falls State Park, both with hiking trails. At Blackwater Falls, walkways and overlooks provide easy access to the stunning 63-foot cascade.

Monongahela National Forest

For serious hikers, the 900,000-acre Monongahela National Forest sprawls to the south, offering miles of backcountry trails. The area immediately around Canaan Valley offers some of the most spectacular hiking in “the Mon.”

Monongahela National Forest
Waterfall at Monongahela National Forest

Dolly Sods Wilderness & Scenic Area

The Dolly Sods Wilderness and Scenic Area is a high, tundra-like plateau with sweeping views of the valleys below. Its elevation creates weather and vegetation patterns not unlike Canada’s, with spruce, birch, and maple, blueberries and cranberries, and flowering mountain laurel. It has over 30 miles of hiking trails.

Otter Creek Wilderness Area

Otter Creek Wilderness Area comprises over 20,000 acres of wilderness, with a tumbling creek and 42 miles of primitive, unmarked trails.

Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area

The Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area has the highest peak in West Virginia and some of the best rock climbing on the East Coast. The walkway to the top of Seneca Rocks is well-graded and popular with families.

Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area

Lodging in Canaan Valley

The Valley is dotted with lodges, condos, and cabins. Canaan Valley Resort State Park has a 250-room lodge, 23 cabins, and a campground. Timberline Resort Hotel & Suites offers slopeside lodging. Just up the road, Black Bear Resort rents comfortable pedestal cabins in a serene setting with mountain views.

Other choices include Canaan Village Inn & Apartments, Deerfield Village Resort, Highland Inn & Spa, Land of Canaan Vacation Resort, Windwood Fly-In Resort, and Golden Anchor Cabins.

A number of local realty companies offer rentals, including Almost Heaven WV Realty, Canaan Realty Mirror Lake, Mountain Top Realty and Rentals, and Timberline Four Seasons Realty.

Restaurants in Canaan Valley

Dining in the area tends toward the hearty and uncomplicated. Pizza, pasta, burgers, and steaks are typical fare. Vegetarians will find their choices somewhat limited.


The lodges at Canaan Valley Resort State Park and Blackwater Falls State Park have restaurants with nice views.

Golden Anchor

The Golden Anchor, on Route 32 just south of Canaan Valley State Park, serves fresh seafood. In warm weather, you can dine on the porch and enjoy views of the Dolly Sods and Roaring Plains wilderness areas.

White Grass Cafe

White Grass Cafe, at the cross-country ski resort, serves vegetarian and other specialties during ski season but is closed in summer.

Sirianni’s Café

In the nearby town of Davis, Sirianni’s Café packs in tourists and locals for pizza and pasta. Bright Morning Inn is a calm spot that is open only for breakfast and lunch. Muttley’s features steaks, prime rib, chicken, and shrimp. Blackwater Brewing Company is a brewpub specializing in German and Italian food.

Purple Fiddle Coffeehouse

Music lovers should head to the Purple Fiddle Coffeehouse, five minutes down Route 32 in the town of Thomas. This eclectic hangout offers sandwiches, wraps, specialty beers, pastries, and organic coffees. But the big draw is the live music, mainly old-time and traditional bands, but also rock, jazz, funk, reggae, country, blues, Celtic, folk, and Latin.

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