Canaan Valley Fall Weekend Getaway
I love it when summer changes into fall. The leaves slowly turn from vibrant green to stunning hues of red, orange, and yellow. Some are with purple, and all with mixes of brown. I love feeling the cool, crisp air in the morning, warming during the day, followed by cool evenings. However, this is all replaced so suddenly by a rapid onset of cold. Gone are the beautiful leaves, replaced by empty branches and little remaining dead brown leaves. The once-blue skies turn dull and gray, and everything seems so sparse and vulnerable. I despise the cold. I live in a climate that sees all four seasons, which I do like–but I truly despise the cold.
When we decided we needed to get away as a family for a long weekend, immediately my thoughts turned to a warm destination. Beach, palm trees, blue skies, and green leaves on trees. However, we didn’t have enough time for this type of vacation. My husband suggested we head to West Virginia. West Virginia is a bit southwest from where we live. I figured if it’s south of us, it had to be warmer. I was wrong. It was colder and, remember, I hate the cold. However, I hadn’t spent too much time in West Virginia so I was looking forward to discovering the state.
Canaan Valley Resort
We booked a 3-bedroom cabin in the Canaan Valley Resort. The cabin has three small bedrooms, one bathroom, a sitting area with fireplace, and a full kitchen. The cabins are pet friendly, so our two chocolate Labs came for the journey. Prior to the trip, we did some grocery shopping, as there isn’t much around the town of Davis as far as shopping. Better to come prepared and take advantage of what the cabin offers, then have to go to the lodge and spend money to eat there.
Canaan Valley Resort is a full service resort with hotel rooms, pool, a ski resort and snow tubing run. It offers year round activities on site and at the ski resort, plus there is plenty of hiking and other outdoor activities nearby. While we were there, they had plenty of family-friendly activities. We enjoyed a few rounds of bingo for prizes one late afternoon. The hotel has a full service restaurant, a bar that serves pizza, as well as a coffee shop. While the resort lodge is modern, the cabins are a bit rustic, but located in a beautiful location surrounded by woods and nature.
I bought mostly breakfast foods and snacks, as we knew we would eat lunch out. We also brought food for dinner the first night and would just order pizza the second night we were there. We also brought the makings for s’mores for the kids and adults alike and sent the kids outside to find twigs to cook the marshmallows on. We also brought puzzles and games in hopes to get the kids off electronics and engaged as a family. The puzzle was a hit and did get the kids engaged and involved.
Our first night there, we lit a fire, but did not open the flue in the fireplace and smoked out the cabin. This was an epic fail on our part, but luckily the resort maintenance was there right away to help us get this fixed and we were back in business with dinner and nice warm fire.
Several hiking trails start outside the cabins. On the afternoon that my daughter and I played bingo, all three boys took the dogs for a long hike.
Things to do:
Blackwater Falls State Park
We decided to start our trip off with a short hike to visit Blackwater Falls. The Falls get their name from the dissolved tannins from fallen hemlock and red spruce needles, making the water appear to be black. There is a moderately, easy boardwalk consisting of numerous stairs leading to different focal points of the falls. In all, the hike should take no more than 20 minutes, depending on how long you want to watch the falls. There are other trails in the area all consisting of a mile to a mile and half ranging from easy to difficult hike. We just did the falls with the dogs in tow. It was a perfect way to start the day right before lunch.
Town of Davis, West Virginia
The tiny town of Davis is where mountain bikers, those hiking the Monongahela National Forest, and general Canaan Resort Valley visitors alike will stop for meal, a good cup of coffee or a taste of the local brew. The town is small, with one main street and a couple of places to eat. There is a natural grocer with kombucha on tap and sells elk and venison meat along with many natural CBD products. Visitors will also find a full service mountain bike store and camping shop as well.
Do not expect gourmet restaurants, as you will not find it there. We did eat at Hellbenders Burritos (Hellbenders are actually salamanders found in West Virginia) and loved their food. The cozy, small restaurant serves up all classic burritos as well as specialty burritos, ones they have created especially for their restaurant. They also serve local beer on tap for those wanting to try tastes of the area. It was crowded when we went, but the wait wasn’t long.
Horseback Riding- Trail Riding in the Clean Air
We booked a trail ride with Mountain Trail Rides, located just a mile from the Canaan Valley Resort, for an hour-long ride through woods and fields. Anticipating the cold, we bundled up and threw some hand and feet warmers into our gloves and shoes. The outfitter had us sign some waivers, threw some helmets on the kids, but did not offer adults helmets until we asked.
I grew up riding horses and had been thrown off my horse many times landing on my back and head. Helmets are not optional. While this was a walking trail ride, one spook of a deer or noise, and the horse could have taken off and thrown an inexperienced or experienced rider right off. Landing on your head without a helmet can result in some unwanted injuries. When we asked for adult helmets, we did get them.
Our ride was a group 20 people, each of us paired up with a horse or pony for the entire trail ride. The ride had three guides, one in the front, one in the middle and one at the end. All of the children rode in the front, while the adults moved towards the back. The horses knew the trail and moved along in perfect stride with one another, occasionally stopping for a bite of grass.
Although a cold ride, it was serene and relaxing. We traveled through woods and fields, at times coming across some deer. The trees were bare of leaves and the fields colorless, but it didn’t take away the simple pleasure of being outside in the fresh air.
Canaan Valley Resort has a mountain for skiing as well as a snow-tubing run. Not much snow had hit the region yet and the mountain wasn’t open for skiing. The tubing hill had made their own snow, and people were lining up for the ride.
It was a busy weekend for snow tubing and we bought our tickets last-minute. Fortunately for us, we were able to score the last three tickets for our kids for a late afternoon run. The tubing facility breaks up the day in 2-hour timed runs for participants. Upon showing up for your timed run, an instructor gives a brief intro and safety instructions and then participants can run and grab a tube.
The participants then ride up a moving flat escalator to the top of the hill where employees let riders go down in timed order to ensure no one crashes into each other. There are three slides to chose from and our kids insisted that one was faster than the other. Participants can also link tubes and go down together. Our kids did and we watched as they all speedily tubed down the slope over and over again in their 2-hour ride.
Forty minutes from the resort is the adventurer outfitter Nrocks, offering zip lining, rock climbing, caving, and a mix of climbing activity. We chose zip lining as some of the activities have a minimum age requirement of 13 and our youngest is 10.
The zip lining adventure started early in the morning with gear fitting and safety instructions. There were 8 people going and 2 guides who took us up a mountain via a Polaris (usually they take participants in a van), to the start of the zip line. We were able to bring our camera, took awesome shoots only to later find out the camera didn’t record any pictures. Memories are all we have, which is fine.
It’s a large course—12 segments, plus a practice run. The course also includes two hanging rope bridges. The longest of the zip lines is over 500 feet long. The mechanism for the cam is an older one; you’ll use a gloved hand as a break. We had two terrific guides who kept everyone moving and comfortable. The last part is the scariest. From a 40 foot platform, you need to rappel to the ground using a fireman’s belay. The entire course took 3 ½ hours.
After a cold morning of high zip lining adventure, we were all hungry. The choices are sparse around Seneca Rocks, but our zipline guides recommended the Gateway restaurant a few miles up the road. The restaurant was basic with sandwiches, soups, salads and some entrees. Their homemade pies were amazing. An entire case was filled with fruit and cream pies. It’s hard enough to come by a good homemade pie and Gateway Restaurant served up some really great ones. We ordered their peanut butter pie and a fruit cobbler. They were gone in seconds.
The weekend was a perfect way to unwind, unplug and spend time outdoors and with the family. It is a place to get outdoors and connect with nature through hikes, rides, and more fun like snow tubing. We loved the time with family and being surrounded by mountains and woods. Boone North Carolina is also a wonderful, outdoor, adventure area that is ideal for family getaways, unplugging, and connecting with nature.
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