An evergreen ride that's perfect for winter

Ever wanted to fly above a snowy forest? The New River Gorge’s hemlocks and ziplines can help you out.

Wild, wonderful hemlocks

Meet the relative of your Christmas tree. Stately and majestic, eastern hemlocks can grow more than 100 feet tall. They also live for centuries if conditions are right.

That’s what makes the New River Gorge so special; the steep terrain, sandstone crannies, and river especially appeal to hemlocks. Ever seen one? Like most conifers, these grow into rough pyramids. Hemlocks also have distinctive double-row needles: dark on top, pale green on the bottom. Still not sure? Take a look at the bark; hemlocks have gray-red trunks that grow in elongated ridges.

Striking looks aside, these trees benefit the environment. In fact, hemlock forests lower surrounding temperatures in summer; their massed canopies provide lots of shade. They also shelter animals in winter. If you look carefully, you might see deer resting beneath their branches. Birds— from turkeys to warblers— like to roost in conifers, too.

And in the New River Gorge, you can get to know these trees as well!

Winter ziplines

Outdoor recreation never goes out of season in West Virginia. “Zipping” is just one example. The New River Gorge has several rides that you can enjoy— even if it’s snowing. In fact, fresh powder makes flights even better.

Here’s where you can fly among the hemlocks:

TreeTops Zip Line Canopy Tour Lansing

Adventures on the Gorge likes to keep nature wild, and its TreeTops Zip Line Canopy Tour really heightens that illusion. Old-growth hemlock forests surround you like evergreen skyscrapers. It’s easy to think you’re almost as high, too; some tree platforms rest 80 feet above the ground.

Of course, aerodynamics add to the thrill. The canopy tour features 10 ziplines of varying lengths and speeds, plus 5 sky bridges and a rappel station. It covers lots of acreage, too. Most riders finish the course in 2-3 hours, so dress warmly if you’re going to ride in winter.

Zip-Line Canopy Tour Oak Hill

ACE Adventure Resort’s zipline course swings through spectacular New River Gorge scenery— some of the region’s best.

In fact, you’ll get to see a spectacular hemlock during the Zip-Line Canopy Tour. Part of the course swoops past Graybeard, an ancient conifer that rears above a sandstone ridge. You’ll see “him” on “Sunshine,” one of the 9 zips available.

Other favorites include “Rigor Mortis,” a 40 mph ride that’s 100 feet above the ground. You can also duel with a friend on “The Racer”; it’s the only zip in West Virginia that you can ride forwards or backwards. Need to catch your breath? Lofty sky bridges let you pause and drink in the glorious New River Gorge.

Have you ever gone on a winter zipline?