Try Cross Country in the High Country
The highest peaks of the North Carolina High Country get as much annual snow as Buffalo, New York!
Winter 2013-14 is underway! Check out our snow report to follow snow conditions this winter. Keep your eyes on the Boone Area Nordic Ski Report page so you know when the flakes are flying during winter 2013-'14.
The High Country Nordic Association's 4th Annual Tele-Fest will take place at Beech Mountain Resort on February 8th, 2014. Check out the group's facebook page for upcoming events and join High Country locals on the trails and slopes.
Skiing in the NC High Country fluctuates with snowfall, but the Boone NC Area boasts the Deep South’s deepest natural snow. Roan Mountain gets 100 inches at 6,300 feet—watch the video above. Average snowfall is just under 50 inches at Moses Cone Park in Blowing Rock.
It's Easy to Learn
Cross country, or Nordic skiing, can be a lot like walking on skis, but proficient skiers stride and glide with ease and speed. Only the Nordic skier’s toe is attached to the ski, permitting that striding glide that carries you “cross country.” Flat terrain is best for novices, and there’s plenty of that in the Boone area on the Blue Ridge Parkway, especially on Cone Park's broad carriage paths.
Nordic skiers usually use a “step turn,” like ice skaters, but with the classic telemark turn, advanced skiers tackle the winding trails of Roan Mountain, downhill ski slopes, even isolated backcountry areas drifted deep with snow. Be sure to view the video below to see a nordic ski lesson and sample the scenery at Blowing Rock's Moses Cone Park, one of the Boone area's best cross country ski sites.
Cross country is a snap to learn—but you need skis, and The High Country Ski Shop at the Pineola Inn south of Linville on US 221 (828-733-2008 or 4979) offers most everything a beginner or expert skier would need—including skis, boots, and poles, for sale and rent, and lessons. For winter 2011/12, the High Country Ski Shop had new light weight retail ski packages and backcountry ski gear (as well as snowshoes for sale). 1st Tracks in Boone also sells Nordic skis, and the Mast Store Annex in Valle Crucis and Footsloggers in downtown Boone have snowshoes for sale.
Check out the Boone area Nordic Ski Report.
Tackle the skiable Boone Area trails below, then click to our detailed Trail Guide for deeper detail:
Moses Cone Memorial Park
This Blowing Rock bulge of forest on the Blue Ridge Parkway is a Currier & Ives cross country ski site. Twenty-five miles of road-width carriage paths wander through towering white pine forests. The snow-muffled landscape is a magical place where beginners can sense the spirit of the sport. The Bass Lake Trail is one option. Click here to download a Moses Cone Park trail map.
Other Parkway Sites
At other High Country locations, the Blue Ridge Parkway is gated when snow covers the road. The Price Lake Trail is good with deeper snow (check out the video on the trail guide page). The Grandfather Mountain portion of the road near Linville is an easy ski across the Linn Cove Viaduct—awesome scenery everywhere. Click here to download the Tanawha Trail map. The trails at Linville Falls are other good options when the snow is deeper.
Roan Mountain is the place for serious Nordic skiers—click here for our new Roan Mountain trail guide or check out the video at the top of the page. Snow is so much more reliable at Roan's 6,300 feet elevation! Forty-five minutes from Boone, Roan’s evergreen covered summits are straight out of the far north. There are beginner options—the summertime road to the summit is gated and gradual with distant views of Mount Mitchell.
Trails flank the road, including the Appalachian Trail with its wild, switchbacking descent back to your car. When the road to the top levels out, ski into the first parking lot on the right to turn left on the Cloudland Trail. Or stay with the road, and on the left, the Rhododendron Gardens Trail reaches an observation deck.
To reach Roan—drive to Banner Elk, then go left on NC 194 past the road to Beech Mountain. Turn right on US 19-E into Tennessee, and in the town of Roan Mountain, turn left on TN 143 and drive 14 miles to the ridge-top trailhead.
Many of the town’s well-maintained trails—at elevations as high as 5,000 feet—are great for snowshoeing and the town's recreation program has snowshoes for rent. There's also Beech Mountain's new Emerald Outback Trail System.
Other Boone Area Trails
Don't forget Elk Knob State Park, the only North Carolina state park where cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and winter recreation are considered a main mission. The Elk Knob Summit Trail is great for Nordic skiing and snowshoeing. Under heavy snow, the town of Boone's Greenway Trail can be a great ski tour.