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Advantage Valley: An Outdoor Lovers’ Paradise

Whether you're visiting for a 3-day weekend or recently moved here, you'll quickly fall in love with all this stunning region in West Virginia has to offer.

By Cary Estes on November 22, 2021

New River Gorge National Park and Preserve in West Virginia
Jeff Adkins

You don’t have to search high and low to find great outdoor recreation in West Virginia, and specifically, Advantage Valley. Spectacular options abound throughout the region or in close proximity.

“Everywhere you go in this area, the outdoors and outdoor activities are present,” says Jon Rager of Hidden Trails Motorsports of Charleston. “The majority of our terrain is mountainous, but we also have lots of streams, rivers, valleys and all that good stuff. It just makes for the perfect place to be outdoors.”

Indeed, there are plenty of beautiful places to go in and around Advantage Valley and various ways to get there, be it by water, motor, bicycle or foot.

New River Gorge National Park and Preserve in West Virginia
Jeff Adkins

Put New River Gorge on Your Bucket List

The water, in particular, is becoming increasingly popular, thanks in part to the recent upgrading of New River Gorge to national park status. This 53-mile stretch of river canyon – the longest and deepest in the Appalachians – has been a favorite with rafters, kayakers and rock-climbers for decades. It was designated a National River in 1978, then officially became the 73,000-acre New River Gorge National Park and Preserve in 2021.

Water activities also permeate the region along the Ohio River, which flows by the city of Huntington, as well as such smaller tributaries as the Guyandotte, Elk, Coal, Kanawha and Mud rivers. In addition, 1,035-acre East Lynn Lake also provides boating options.

Heritage Farm Outdoor Adventure Experiences in West Virginia
Jeff Adkins

Fun By Land (or Air!)

Recreational opportunities are just as prevalent across the mountainous landscape, especially on the series of trails that entice hikers, cyclists and off-road enthusiasts. The highlight for ATV and dirt bike riders is the Hatfield-McCoy Trails, one of the largest such systems in the country, with more than 700 miles of paths.

“Hatfield-McCoy is a fantastic place for off-roading. It’s renowned nationwide for being one of the best places to ride,” Rager says. “We constantly have people coming through town who are going there. It offers so many different levels of terrain. If you just want to ride around and look at nature, you can do that, or you can try some more technical things.”

Zip To It!

Huntington’s Heritage Farm Museum and Village has added an Adventure Park that offers zip lining, rock climbing and two rope obstacle courses, one of lower difficulty and one of higher challenge. Visitors can free fall off the four-story-high course with the Mountain Top Drop.

For experienced riders, Rager recommends the Sanderson Wilderness Area, with more than 1,000 miles of trails that range from 800 feet to 3,600 feet above sea level.

Meanwhile, hikers can enjoy the 25 miles of trails through the pristine Kanawha State Forest near Charleston.

Canaan Valley Resort in West Virginia
Canaan Valley Resort

West Virginia: A Winter Wonderland

Undoubtedly, some of the high points of outdoor recreation near the region are resorts such as Snowshoe Mountain and Canaan Valley, winter wonderlands for skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing.

The area reaches elevations of nearly 5,000 feet and regularly receives more than 150 inches of snow each year.

“With a name like Snowshoe, you’d expect that winter is king,” says Shawn Cassell, digital marketing and public relations manager for Snowshoe Mountain, which has been open as a ski resort for nearly 50 years. “We’re far enough south that most people don’t think of us as a winter destination. But we have some of the highest mountains on the East Coast, and some of the snowiest winters. That lends itself well to skiing.”

“Pretty much, if you like being outside and you enjoy these types of activities, there aren’t many better places to live.”

Shawn Cassell | Snowshoe Mountain

Then when the temperatures rise and the snow melts, many of those skiing paths are being transformed into mountain biking trails for summer usage. In fact, the area has become so well-known for mountain biking that the world governing body of cycling, Union Cycliste Internationale, held the MTB World Cup Finals at Snowshoe in 2019 and again in 2021.

“Mountain biking has become to summer what snow skiing is to winter,” Cassell says. “It seems like there is a new trail popping up every week all around here. Summer has really taken off for us, and mountain biking is a big part of the reason. We’re trying to build trails and keep pace with the growth. There’s also great hiking, golf and world-class trout fishing.”

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