- Overall Rating 2
- Family Friendly 4
- All-Mtn. Terrain 4
- Terrain Park 0
- Nightlife 1
Pros: Easy to Reach, Long Runs for this Area, Lots of Trails
Cons: Ice, Lots of Snowboards on Trails, Pricey for What you Get, Minimal Lodging or Dining
Recommended For: Singles, Family Friendly, Empty Nesters
Date Visited: Mar 1, 2010
To be fair, we skied Wolf very late in the season, but they were still open for business so. . . here goes.
My primary memory of Wolf Ridge was the icy trails. The snow had melted and refrozen over the entire mountain with the typical late winter thaws and freezes. Then snowboarders plowed and scraped pretty much every last bit of snow (or ice granules) off - leaving nothing but hard ice. Can't change NC weather, but Wolf should have either made new snow or closed for the season by mid-February - or at the very least, reduced the price of their lift tickets to reflect the poor conditions. My wife (a beginner) injured her knee badly enough that she's unlikely to try skiing again anywhere. My daughter didn't enjoy it either. My son and I are somewhat more experienced so we were able to get by - but I wouldn't say we had a great time.
The trail and lift arrangement is a little weird - almost like two separate slopes. There is an upper lodge with a quad lift serving trails 18 thru 23 and a lower lodge with a quad, double, rope, and magic carpet lifts serving trails 1 thru 16. LOTS of trails. BUT, to get from the upper lodge area to the lower lodge trails you've got to ride a chairlift about 200 yds. across the top of the mountain. Then, you'll have to make a run down Lower Viewfinder (5) before you can get on a lift all the way to the top of the other trails on the lower lodge side. To get back to the upper lodge, you've got to ride the quad to the top of Upper Viewfinder and then ski down 5 and across 17. . . Not a big deal but can be a little inconvenient if you park at the upper lodge and want to ski more than just the few trails on that side of the resort. Several trails were closed when we were there, but there were still plenty of trails open. One thing I'll say about Wolf Ridge is they have a LOT of trails. And, they're mostly pretty nice runs.
The upper lodge area seemed to be in the throes of some failed development efforts. I was told that the lift on the upper lodge side was nearly repossessed in 2009. (Today as I write this, that lift and the trails it serves are all closed - possibly just because it's the middle of the week.) At the bottom of Nature View (20) there's a handful of fancy storage sheds and decks scattered around like a miniature ski village; supposedly there's an ice cream place, burger joint, and other little shops in there, but none was open for business when we were there. Also, we didn't see any sign that the two proposed new runs or the new lift had even been started.
We parked and hung out at the upper lodge only. It's a pretty traditional lodge - logs and all that. Nice big stone fireplace that they kept going all day. It got a little crowded at times, but generally you can go take a break and find a place to sit and warm up. They sell drinks and snack type food up front (not cheap but about average for a lodge). We didn't use a locker since our car was parked right there.
Crowds were fairly small (which I guess should have told us something), so buying lift tickets and getting rental gear was quick and easy even though it was a weekend. Staff seemed friendly and helpful though not necessarily ski experts. Prices were high under the conditions. If the snow was good, I'd consider their lift ticket rates fair. But, I'd be very careful to check conditions with a reliable source before I drove there to ski again.
As far as eating and sleeping, there is next to nothing in the area except the ski resort itself. If you don't rent a cabin there, you'll drive several miles on I26 to get to a motel. Same for restaurants. The upper lodge restaurant is - predictably - spendy. There's also a "grill" (i.e. snack bar) at the lower lodge that I never checked out. Your alternative is to drive about 20 miles to a limited assortment of fast food joints in Erwin, TN, but you will not be able to drive to Erwin, eat, and make it back in the hour-and-a-half break between sessions (trails are closed from 4:30 to 6:00). We tried but didn't make it back to the slopes until after 7:00. If you aren't from the local area, you should probably consider renting a cabin and bringing in your own food. If you're looking for apres ski nightlife, stay in Asheville or bring a lot of friends and your own karaoke machine.
I'd like to try this place again earlier in the season to see if the snow conditions might be better, but I would not go back if temperatures in the area have reached 35 degrees or more during the day. It doesn't seem like this place can afford to make much snow or groom trails regularly, so the weather will determine whether the conditions are good or crap.