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West Virginia with Kids

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Aug 18th, 2008, 08:41 AM
  #1
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West Virginia with Kids

Hi Fodors Forum:

My wife and I are planning a family vacation to West Virginia in early September, and have two sons (3 yr old, 1 yr old).

We have heard that the Cass Scenic Railroad is a must-see for the kids, and would like to try an easy hike in the Seneca Rocks area. The other possible destination would be the Timberline Resort in Davis, WV to see Blackwater Falls and Canaan Valley State Park.

Does 1 night in Cass and 2 nights in Davis provide enough time for a visit? Are there restaurants with kid-friendly menus and supermarkets you would recommend in Cass, Davis, or Thomas?

Thanks for your help! I know that Fodors does not produce a travel book for WV, but maybe this thread will spark interest in a future edition.
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Aug 18th, 2008, 10:12 AM
  #2
 
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Cass RR is a fairly long ride (two hours for the shorter trip) and might better be saved until the children are a bit older, to enjoy the narration about history and botany that the park ranger aboard provides. The converted logging cars do not have seats for all passengers, just benches along the sides (there is one specially outfitted car with reserved seating, at extra cost).

Also, the town of Cass is quite remote, without much in the way of services except a general store that does not keep 7-11 hours.

Davis and Thomas have facilites for families in all seasons. The parks in that area (Canaan and Blackwater) have trails and ranger programs that would probably be fine for young children.

I'd recommend skipping Cass for now and spending 3 days in the Davis area unless you are looking for the more rugged experience.
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Aug 20th, 2008, 07:10 PM
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Thanks for your feedback. We'd like to explore a remote setting for 1 night and then a more developed resort area for 2 nights or so. In Cass, we'd bring "picnic food" with us given the isolated setting.

Which of the following sites would you recommend for sightseeing with two kids (age 3 and 1)?

1. Highland Scenic Highway (Rt 150)
2. Falls at Hill Creek
3. Cranberry Glades Botanical Area
4. Watoga State Park
5. Blackwater Falls State Park
6. Canaan Valley State Park
7. Seneca Rocks Center and trail
8. Dolly Sods Area (Bear Rock)
9. Spruce Knob

Thanks!

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Aug 21st, 2008, 02:01 PM
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First have to ask: Are you planning to carry the 3 and 1 year old, do a stroller, "backpack" them on your back, have the 3 yr old walk, or what?

The reason I ask is because it makes a difference on what I recommend. We are at Canaan Valley most weekends so hope I can help you out.

"easy hike in the Seneca Rocks area." - they have a nice big dirt trail leading to the base of the rocks which would provide a nice walk.

When you say "destination would be the Timberline Resort in Davis" - not sure what you mean.

Timberline is a ski resort but not like you may think of a resort. They do offer chair lift rides in the summer and close to Timberline there are some trails, riding stables, etc. They don't actually have lodging except there are condos and houses along/near the slopes.

To me, Canaan Valley is the most gorgeous part of the state. Love Fodors and always use it to plan trips. But as you can see, there aren't a lot of posts on here about WV. See tripadvisor site for a lot of posts and info on WV - there are a lot on the Canaan Valley area.
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Aug 21st, 2008, 02:27 PM
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Canaan Valley proper as well as the towns of Davis and Thomas are generally referred to as Canaan Valley.

Davis is actually about 10 miles from Canaan, Thomas about 15. The road to get to Blackwater Falls State Park is between the 2. Timberline Resort and Canaan Valley State Park are in Canaan Valley proper. That is where I would stay.

There is a nice grocery store in Davis and a small convenience type store in CV itself.

Canaan Valley State Park Resort would probably be my pick with kids. There are easy walking trails, deer, guided nature tours, indoor pool, geocatching, etc.
http://www.canaanresort.com/summer/
http://www.canaanresort.com/summer/s...and_sports.cfm
http://www.canaanresort.com/summer/f...idz_korner.cfm

Not sure of the price you are looking at for accommodations. If you are interested in a cabin/house there are tons - my fav are in Old Timberline. It's a gated community but is woodsy, houses are far apart (most sit on 5 acres except the ones on the mountain side).

I always recommend Blackwater 15 -- there's a walking trail aroung the lake in front of it, wildlife in your yard, looking at a lake and mountains from the front porch, sitting on 5 acres of woods, so quiet that you can hear the geese landing on the lake, then look at Blackwater 15 (Alpine Sunrise) at http://www.timberlinerealty.com/trr6.html
No, I don't own it - just know where it is and it is a wonderful location.
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Aug 21st, 2008, 02:47 PM
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I'm not familiar enough to comment on
1. Highland Scenic Highway (Rt 150)
2. Falls at Hill Creek
3. Cranberry Glades Botanical Area


A lot of people really like this state park.
4. Watoga State Park

5. Blackwater Falls State Park - nice state park. You can see the falls from the lodge or you can drive to another area and walk down stairs (lots and lots of stairs) to get close to the Falls).

6. Canaan Valley State Park - highly recommend

8. Dolly Sods Area (Bear Rock) - Bear Rock is a nice place to visit, neat to see the trees with branches only to 1 side. Dolly Sods has a lot of lookout spots and hiking trails.

9. Spruce Knob - nice area, has a lake, etc.

A fun thing to do not far from Canaan in the town of Elkins is the train and then the American Mountain Theater (Branson style show and it is really good. The second half is my fav - it is sooo funny).
http://mountainrail.meer.net/mountai...art-Flyer.html
http://www.americanmountaintheater.com/
http://www.elkinswv.com/ or http://www.randolphcountywv.com/Index.html

If you go to the Valley, drive through Thomas and make a left toward Parson, go about 5 miles or so, turn off and park and look at the windmills. You can stand right below one.

As you can see, I could go on and on about things to do in the area.
Agree with other poster, save Cass for when the kids are older.

Almost forgot, between Seneca Rocks and Canaan are the Seneca Caverns.
http://www.senecacaverns.com/
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Aug 21st, 2008, 02:51 PM
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Sorry forgot, as to Old Timberline, here are some outdoors pix of the community and then some of Blackwater 15. Gives you an idea of the scenery.

http://www.mouseonhouse.com/property/1/134/
http://taiwv.com/conservancy.html
http://taiwv.com/index.html
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Aug 21st, 2008, 02:54 PM
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When you click on http://www.mouseonhouse.com/property/1/134/ you then have to click on exterior to see the outside views.
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Aug 21st, 2008, 08:03 PM
  #9
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Thanks for the recommendation of Canaan Valley State Park, and tip to look on tripadvisor for WV!

We'll carry the 1 year old in a backpack, while the 3 year old will walk on his own until nap time. He's a trooper as long as we limit the hikes to 2 miles or less in the morning.

We rented a condo in the Timberline Resort area (near Canaan Valley State Park) for 2 nights. In terms of places to eat in the Davis, Thomas, or Elkins area, would you recommend any of the following?

A. Siranni's Pizza Cafe (Davis)
B. Purple Fiddle Coffehouse (Thomas)
C. Timberline Resort Restaurant (?)
D. Olde Doughnut Shop (Elkins)

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Aug 21st, 2008, 08:30 PM
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We have been to Sirianni's a few times, and always thought the food was good.

Also, there is a restaurant called Big John's in Canaan that the 3 year old would probably enjoy. It has some arcade style games where kids can win tickets redeemable for little prizes. I think you could also get food for the ducks and/or fish in the pond. They have a variety of food choices, and the food has always been good. (It's been a couple years since we've been there, so I hope this isn't dated information)

We did the Cass Railroad once, and I definitely think young children would be bored pretty quickly.

We always like Dolly Sods, and we enjoyed the Cranberry Glades the one time we went, but I'm thinking that it was fairly far out of the way.
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Aug 22nd, 2008, 03:56 AM
  #11
 
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A. Siranni's Pizza Cafe (Davis) - very good. Cash only, no credit cards.

B. Purple Fiddle Coffehouse (Thomas)- neat fun place. Mostly "healthy" type food. I think their menu is online so you may want to check it out.

C. Timberline Resort Restaurant (?)
I'd skip it.

D. Olde Doughnut Shop (Elkins)- not familiar with it. My fav restaurant in Elkins is called C.J. Maggies. Check out the menu at http://www.cj-maggies.com/cj_locations.php?sub=elkins

As other poster said - Big John's is fun for kids.

Muttley's is a fav of ours - it's a couple doors down from Sirianni's in Davis. From the outside it looks like a place you may not want to choose but the food is good. There's a restaurant on one side and a separate bar on the other.

Golden Anchor - don't care for their food.

Also in the Valley:
Canaan Valley Resort has a snack bar and a restaurant - it's not bad.

There's a new one in a little plaza by the Ski Barn - haven't eaten there.

Deerfield used to be excellent but not sure what it is like now - it changed hands a few years ago and seems to be going downhill.

Windwood - Haven't eaten there for ages, food was good, ambience not as great.

There are also a handful of other restaurants in Davis and Thomas.
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Aug 22nd, 2008, 04:06 AM
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On your journey, don't think "I'll just get gas later". There may not be a gas station as close as you may need. We usually fill up in Elkins before heading to Canaan.

Also, there are times the gas station right in the Valley is out of gas.

There are a couple Mom & Pop stations between Elkins and Canaan. There's also a couple in Thomas and Davis.
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Aug 23rd, 2008, 05:32 AM
  #13
 
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The leaves in Canaan Valley are starting to change - not a lot of them but a few. A tree by our place is completely orange.

For anyone traveling this way over Labor Day, bring your jackets. At 8 pm last night it was 65, right now (8am) it is 59. It's supposed to get to 77 today and 80m tomorrow. (Compared to Charleston, it had gotten "clear down" to 78 at 8 pm last night and is to be 87 today and 89 tomorrow).
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Aug 29th, 2008, 11:05 AM
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I was at Cass for three nights last week, staying in one of the lumber company houses that the state park had refrubished and now rents as visitor accommodation.
We liked it just fine, but there are a few details that might not appeal to everyone: (1) a tiny tiny bathroom, so small it would be a challenge for an adult to bathe a toddler; (2) the nearest restaurant is probably 10 miles away over winding mountain roads, and the snackbar choices in Cass were ok for breakfast but not appealing enough to return to for other meals (I tend not to use the kitchens for real cooking on short-term stays, only for making sandwiches and oatmeal, though this one was well equipped with toaster, coffeemaker, micro and regular range).

Sights near Cass that we also visited:
--the National Radio Astronomy Observator at Green Bank was fascinating, but probably not for gilber20's youngsters
--the Highland Scenic Highway is beautiful, with trails of varying length at numerous places along it; some overlooks have short boardwalk trails
--Cranberry Glades has a half-mile level boardwalk through the open bogs and forest areas, perfect for young and old
--Hills Creek falls trail is about mile down steep terrain from the parking lot; the path to the upper falls overlook is paved, with several switchbacks, but the falls were barely visible through the thick vegetation (there would of course be beter views later in the year after some leaves fall). Then there are boardwalk stairs to the middle and lower falls, a much more challenging hike that I did not attempt as foul weather threatened.

Do stop at any state and national parks visitor centers you see -- they all had friendly and knowledgeable staff who can answer questions and give you maps/advice about trails and local conditions.
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Sep 1st, 2008, 07:27 PM
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Thanks for your helpful tips and suggestions. We just returned from our family vacation with 1 night in Cass and 2 nights in Davis. There was rain and a light drizzle in Cass, but it was sunny in Davis.

Our 3 yr old loved the steam locomotive on the shorter trip up to Whitaker station. While the history and commentary were beyond him, the loud whistle and thick plumes of steam really sparked his interest. I'm glad we travelled there for the experience, but am not sure we'll go there again for a little while.

Cass felt isolated as we had to take a 10 mile drive on a twisting road in foggy conditions to reach Snowshoe. We found an excellent restaurant called Foxfire Grille that was a culinary oasis in an otherwise deserted resort. In Cass, we rented a lumber company cottage overnight, which was fun, but the bathrooms were too tiny and grimy for giving the kids a bath.

Davis and the Canaan Valley were beautiful. We rented a townhouse in the Deerfield Village Resort, which had a playground and swimming pool for the kids. We loved the area, and especially liked Canaan Valley State Park, Blackwater Falls State Park, and Dolly Sods (picking wild blueberries at Bear Rock). Pizza at Siranni's Cafe was ideal for the kids, and the gourmet coffee at the Purple Fiddle in Thomas was outstanding.

Some trees had already turned a bright orange, which hinted at the fall colors to come in late September. We can't wait to return to the Canaan Valley again. Next time, we'll probably stay for 3 nights or a full week - there's so much to do and see in the area.
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Sep 2nd, 2008, 04:44 AM
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Glad you had a great time in Canaan. You were wise to stay at Deerfield rather than the other. Come back soon and thanks for posting after your trip.
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Nov 3rd, 2008, 01:28 PM
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Hi Folks:

My wife and I were discussing a possible winter visit to Canaan Valley for skiing. It might be a little early for our 3 year old, but we'd like to see and compare Timberline with the Canaan Valley Resort.

When does the ski season usually begin and when is the best time to go? For a 3-5 year old, would you recommend Timberline or Canaan Valley? Thanks in advance.


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Nov 3rd, 2008, 05:50 PM
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I am not familiar with West Virginia but one of the most interesting things we did in Parkersburg WV was to go to the Jabo marble factory. It is one of two in the USA. We watched them make marbles and they gave us each a bag and said we could have as many as we could get in our bags. We had fun going through huge boxes of marbles picking out the ones we liked best.

http://www.jabovitro.com/splash.shtml
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Nov 8th, 2008, 08:05 PM
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Sorry, did not see your post sooner - hope you are still checking.
Timberline is scheduled to open Dec. 4
Canaan is scheduled to open Dec 12.

It snowed over 6 inches last week in the Valley but then it warmed up (temps are starting to plummet again). Of course, snow making equipment makes up for any lapses of Mother Nature so when the slopes open - there is snow on the trails.

The best time to go is normally January - February. That is when the area usually gets the most snow and the most often. I've seen some Christmas' where it snows like crazy, then I've seen some that while there is snow on the slopes, there is barely any on the ground. March, especially late in the month, is my fav time to ski cuz you can often ski without a jacket and get a tan on your face.

Of course, weekends are going to be a lot more crowded than during the week.

Timberline and Canaan Valley Ski Resort are very close to one another. It's about a 2-3 mile drive from one to the other (and on a flat road!). In case you are not aware, most people consider Canaan Valley to be the area of Canaan Valley proper as well as the towns of Thomas and Davis.

Canaan Ski Resort is owned by the State of WV, Timberline is privately owned (and the owner really needs to put some $$ into the lodge - it's the pits).

We started our son skiing at 3yrs old (and not on the tiny beginner hill) at Canaan Valley - but it about gave me a heart attack (of course, I am a worrywart). Did not take him to the lessons - we skied with him.

I can't quite explain why but I would, without a doubt, take the 3-5 yr olds skiing at Canaan rather than Timberline. I just think you will find the ambience and conditions better for a little one at Canaan rather than Timberline.

At Canaan, you may also be interested in:
Lessons for 3-5 yr olds http://www.canaanresort.com/winter_a...es/lessons.cfm
and
Snow Tubing
http://www.canaanresort.com/winter_a...now_tubing.cfm

Timberline's kids lessons start at 4 yrs old. They do have day care for kids.

Timberline has a very long trail from the top for beginners but I think the trails at Canaan are better for beginners. I'm sure others would argue that point.

"Serious" skiers I know favor a couple trails in Timberline over any other place in WV - they say those trails have the best verticle (and not many people ski them because of that - NOT a trail for a little one).

Hope this helps.
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Jul 7th, 2009, 06:11 AM
  #20
 
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I've heard those destinations are nice. Another spot you might want to try in the future is Capon Springs, WV. It's near the George Washington National Forest and only a couple of hours west of Washington, DC. It has a very remote feel but is not in the middle of the state. There are a few pretty good hiking trails on the property and a couple of small fishing ponds. The old fashioned family resort serves home cooked meals as part of this all-inclusive resort dating back to the 1800s. It's a small development on 4,000 acres that's all inclusive, meaning meals and lodging, and the activities, are all included in the cost of the room. They also have a spa and the resort is know for it's spring water. Babysitters are available and kids can play on the property safely.

For photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/toastie97/492179711/

It's not fancy but is relaxing. Kind of like a camp for families. Rooms are not luxurious although they completely renovated one building near the spa recently. It's a very clean resort and the 9-hole mountain golf course is in great shape.
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