North Carolina: A Wonderful Winter In The Blue Ridge Mountains -
Remember the scenery in the 1992 movie "Last of the Mohicans" starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Madeleine Stowe? James Fenimore Cooper's novel was set in New York State, but the film was actually shot in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. That incredible beauty is the setting for the state's eight ski areas.
Sugar Mountain Resort is the largest ski area in the state, and a long-time favorite with families. Sugar has a vertical drop of 1,200 feet off a summit elevation of 5,300 feet. The resort offers 20 slopes and 115 acres of skiable terrain, served by four double chairs, a triple chair, a handle tow, a magic carpet in the beginners area and another in the tubing park. The longest run is 1.5 miles. The resort also offers snowshoeing and ice skating.
Fifteen trails comprising 100 acres are lighted for night skiing 6-10 p.m. all season. Sugar has the most skiing acreage, biggest vertical drop, the two longest double chairlifts, and the longest trail of any ski area in North Carolina.
The resort has one double black diamond trail, Whoopdeedoo; two expert trails, Tom Terrific and Boulderdash; nine intermediate trails, including 4,300-foot-long Upper Flying Mile; seven novice runs; and a tubing park.
Ski Beech boasts a base elevation of 5,505 feet above sea level, making it the highest ski resort in eastern North America. Beech has 15 slopes including terrain parks, a halfpipe, and a family tubing park. The area has a vertical drop of 830 feet, and its trails are served by a new high-speed quad, a fixed-grip quad, five doubles, and two surface lifts.
Appalachian has 10 slopes, the longest a half-mile long, two terrain parks with 13 rails and eight boxes, a vertical drop of 365 feet, and two quad chairs, a double, and two surface lifts. All terrain is lighted for night skiing.
Scaly Mountain is for snow tubers. The area offers snow tubing Christmas vacation week, then weekends, with focus on families.
Wolf Ridge, formerly Wolf Laurel Slopes, offers two quads, two doubles, and a surface lift, and full snowmaking coverage over 82 skiable acres. There are two places to park, purchase lift tickets/area passes, and pick up rentals - the Lower Wolf Ridge Lodge for groups and the Upper Wolf Ridge Lodge for families and walk-ins. Wolf Ridge is just five miles from I-26 at Exit 3 and just 30 minutes from Asheville.
Cataloochee rounds out North Carolina's skiing and riding offerings with 14 slopes – including a quad chair, a triple, double, and two conveyors, a vertical drop of 740 feet, 25 acres of skiable terrain with 100 percent snowmaking coverage, and 10 slopes lighted for night skiing.
Hawksnest focuses on snow tubing, with 20 lanes 400 to 1,000 feet long in four separate areas, with 100 percent snowmaking and lighting for night tubing.
Sapphire Valley has a 1,600-foot-long main slope with 200 feet of vertical and a quad chair, a learning center slope, and a 700-foot-long snow tubing run.