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Anyone ever skied North Carolina?

Nick

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As many of you guys know I moved down to FL about 3 years ago with my family. While being near the beach is fun, we were wanted some mountains also.

This past summer, we drove up to North Carolina to the "mountains" there. To be honest, I thought for sure it was going to be a joke. Mountains, in North Carolina? But, I was actually really surprised with how nice the entire area is, and it's an ~11 hour drive, not a day trip, but close enough that you can make the drive in a day for a trip.

We ended up buying a 2nd property in Banner Elk, NC. The house sits at 4200 feet and I'm 15 minutes away from two ski resorts - Sugar Mountain and Beech Mountain.

I kind of think of these ski areas as being like Wachusett type of mountains. Beech Mt top elevation is ~5500 feet, but it only has 800 ft of elevation drop; Sugar mountain is a lower in height but has 1200 ft of elevation. Anyway, I don't expect this to satisfy the skiing itch entirely, but, it will be great for my kids (now 8, 6, and 1 year old) to get a lot more time on snow and practice.

I'm going to try and get up there for a few weeks this year, so I'll share some info when I go. I think the season (being in the central east coast) is quite a bit shorter / milder but I still think it will be fun.
 

slatham

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As many of you guys know I moved down to FL about 3 years ago with my family. While being near the beach is fun, we were wanted some mountains also.

This past summer, we drove up to North Carolina to the "mountains" there. To be honest, I thought for sure it was going to be a joke. Mountains, in North Carolina? But, I was actually really surprised with how nice the entire area is, and it's an ~11 hour drive, not a day trip, but close enough that you can make the drive in a day for a trip.

We ended up buying a 2nd property in Banner Elk, NC. The house sits at 4200 feet and I'm 15 minutes away from two ski resorts - Sugar Mountain and Beech Mountain.

I kind of think of these ski areas as being like Wachusett type of mountains. Beech Mt top elevation is ~5500 feet, but it only has 800 ft of elevation drop; Sugar mountain is a lower in height but has 1200 ft of elevation. Anyway, I don't expect this to satisfy the skiing itch entirely, but, it will be great for my kids (now 8, 6, and 1 year old) to get a lot more time on snow and practice.

I'm going to try and get up there for a few weeks this year, so I'll share some info when I go. I think the season (being in the central east coast) is quite a bit shorter / milder but I still think it will be fun.

Highest mountain on the East Coast is in NC! I've skied in West Virginia, Snowshoe. While there are occasional storm systems that track far enough south, one of the main drivers of snow is post-cold front elevation snow, augmented in many cases with Lake Effect moisture if trajectory is right. I've seen Snowshoe go from pouring rain and 40 to mid 20's and dumping in an hour or so. We got 15" after one front while deep valleys only a dusting. Its even more about timing and weather watching than elsewhere. Have fun!
 

Nick

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Highest mountain on the East Coast is in NC! I've skied in West Virginia, Snowshoe. While there are occasional storm systems that track far enough south, one of the main drivers of snow is post-cold front elevation snow, augmented in many cases with Lake Effect moisture if trajectory is right. I've seen Snowshoe go from pouring rain and 40 to mid 20's and dumping in an hour or so. We got 15" after one front while deep valleys only a dusting. Its even more about timing and weather watching than elsewhere. Have fun!

I saw that in a guidebook and I was shocked (about the highest mountain on the east coast)! I'm looking forward to it. I think season passes are cheaper also ��
 

jimk

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I live in VA and have skied most places in the mid-Atlantic in VA, WV, MD, PA, but have never skied in NC. You can find out a lot about NC skiing on the skisoutheast website. Beech and Sugar both have their fans. They rely heavily on snowmaking. Wawa (I have skied) is probably a good comparison as far as difficulty of terrain and vertical drop. I have visited the mountains of western NC in summer including Mt. Mitchell, elev 6684'. You can drive within 1/4 mile of the summit where a restaurant operates in summer. The mountains are pretty impressive there and also further west in Great Smoky Mtns NP.

Congrats on a nice little family you've got going there! I have four grown kids. When they were about the age of yours we took a memorable summer road trip along a big section of the Blue Ridge Parkway from VA to NC during June when the wild rhododendrons turned the mountainsides white and pink with blooms. On that trip we visited one of the coolest little amusement parks I've ever been to for young families - Tweetsie Railroad. They might have Christmas hours, but I think it's mostly a summer attraction. Not far from Banner Elk. Extremely neat, old school place for little kids and relaxing/woodsy for parents including a scenic chairlift ride, nice live entertainment, and, of course, a great train ride. Grandfather Mountain is another neat attraction near Banner Elk. If you've never been to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, it would be worth the 90 min drive from Banner Elk to check it out. I think you're on to something with the 2nd property being a great escape from the summer heat of Florida, as well as a place to go for a skiing fix in winter!
 
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jimmywilson69

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I would expect packed powder at best, and lots of skied off ice as the day goes on. That's what I deal with in PA most winter days :lol:

congrats on the second home. Beautiful Country down there.
 

VTKilarney

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Ski Beech's opening date is November 21st, which is pretty impressive. It sounds like you won't be any worse off than a typical Berkshire or Catskills resort.

The 11 hour drive would be tough for me but it is worth it because you will feel like you have really left Florida behind. One of the things that I love about New England is that you are within 3 hours of just about anything you could ever want. Lakes, mountains, ocean, cities, etc. I had an opportunity to live in Montana, and as much as I loved it, I didn't like the fact that it would take a day to get anywhere else.

I wonder how you will deal with the cold when your body will be acclimated to the Florida climate?
 

trackbiker

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I lived in Greenville,SC for 8 years and skied Sugar, Beech, Catalloochee, and Wolf Laurel. They ski pretty much like Mid Atlantic areas. Sugar and Beech are the best and I preferred Beech over Sugar. The switchback road up to the base area is pretty interesting.
 

Smellytele

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Ski Beech's opening date is November 21st, which is pretty impressive. It sounds like you won't be any worse off than a typical Berkshire or Catskills resort.

The 11 hour drive would be tough for me but it is worth it because you will feel like you have really left Florida behind. One of the things that I love about New England is that you are within 3 hours of just about anything you could ever want. Lakes, mountains, ocean, cities, etc. I had an opportunity to live in Montana, and as much as I loved it, I didn't like the fact that it would take a day to get anywhere else.

I wonder how you will deal with the cold when your body will be acclimated to the Florida climate?

Strange while reading this Frank Zappa’s Montana came on.


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VTKilarney

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This makes no sense to me. The town of Beech Mountain claims that it sits at an elevation of 5,506 feet.
See here: https://www.romanticasheville.com/beech-mountain

But the trail map says that the summit is at 5,506 feet.
https://www.beechmountainresort.com/mountain/winter-trail-map/

Something doesn't add up there.

It looks like the climate is similar to what you would expect at a Pennsylvania ski area. That's pretty impressive considering where it's located.

But it's not the closest skiing to Florida. Alabama wins that prize.
http://www.cloudmont.com/
 

podunk77

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Useless fact of the day.... Banner Elk NC (where the OP bought property) was home to a Wizard of Oz-themed amusement park. It's abandoned now, and the pics you can find of it online are creepy as hell.
 

Nick

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Ski Beech's opening date is November 21st, which is pretty impressive. It sounds like you won't be any worse off than a typical Berkshire or Catskills resort.

I'm actually going to be up there on nov 21st, although heading home that day.

It's not a day trip for sure, we would go for 3 - 4 day minimums. The winters in FL have grown on me but the summers, yeah the first 2 were ok the third , it gets hot. we had a great time hiking in NC this past summer. lots of fun.

The cold will be fine, we still travel up north often. Last year, not sure if I even posted this here, but we were up in MA for almost six months through December because my father in law had leukemia (luckily is in remission and doing great right now!) and he was treating at Mass General hospital. My oldest son is now 8 and he is so thin, he definitely has built a Florida weather temperment haha. He siad he was cold in our pool the other day and it was 87 degrees.

We were thinking of Montana actually (I'd still love to get a place there), but it's not easily driveable or an easy trip especially with 3 kids and a dog.
 

Nick

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Useless fact of the day.... Banner Elk NC (where the OP bought property) was home to a Wizard of Oz-themed amusement park. It's abandoned now, and the pics you can find of it online are creepy as hell.

When we were looking at houses, we almost found one we liked at the top of Beech Mountain (5500' elevation) on Oz Road which is adjacent to the amusement park! I guess they still open it a few times a year for special events. It looks pretty wild!
 

Nick

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This makes no sense to me. The town of Beech Mountain claims that it sits at an elevation of 5,506 feet.
See here: https://www.romanticasheville.com/beech-mountain

But the trail map says that the summit is at 5,506 feet.
https://www.beechmountainresort.com/mountain/winter-trail-map/

Something doesn't add up there.

It looks like the climate is similar to what you would expect at a Pennsylvania ski area. That's pretty impressive considering where it's located.

But it's not the closest skiing to Florida. Alabama wins that prize.
http://www.cloudmont.com/

It's a strange drive up to Beech Mountain, you go up a switchback road that is very steep from downtown Banner Elk. It's actually almost a 2500' climb. But the base of the mountain is nearly at the top of the switchback. It's interesting because the mountain is actually very tall, but it still has really limited vertical.
 

Taxg8r00

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I skied Sugar with my family last spring break right before the Covid Lockdown started. We had actually planned to go to Snowshoe and it got shutdown.

We diverted and ended up at Sugar. It was actually really good for so late in season. We had great weather and the snow was pretty damn good. We skied two days. Mornings were really good and it got a little slushy by the end of the day. Overall we were pleasantly surprised. Probably has about 17 runs open, including a couple Black runs. My kids had a blast and my wife who is really a beginner even enjoyed it. We plan on coming back.

Living in Orlando it is a pretty easy weekend drive.


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