Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Winter fun season is starting up!

October 16, 2016

What seemed so far off a few months ago, and then – exciting to think about but still weeks away –  is now upon us – snow on the trails in Canaan Valley!

At Whitegrass Cross County Ski Touring Center, Chip and his friends are clearing their trails and will soon be putting down the first cross country ski tracks of the winter of 2016-2017


We’re excited to get out there! And so are a lot of folks – and many winter weekends Ilam House is already booked up – so if you are thinking of renting the house, act quickly – rental availability here.

Also – if you are out there this winter and want to cross country ski, the best options are:

Whitegrass – with skis to rent, lesson, wonderfully groomed trails, cafe, and great people. Their trails are often skiable when the snow is thin everywhere else.

Canaan Valley State Park – they also rent skis and have some nice trails. Not as dependably great skiing as at Whitegrass- but very nice. Best if there is a lot of snow.

Around Ilam House: there are a lot of unofficial XC ski and snowshoe trails around the National Forest adjacent to Ilam House and Forest Service Road #13.  The trails are not “groomed” and can be rougher that at Whitegrass or the State Park – but if there is enough snow cover- it can be wonderful skiing, with the woods all to yourself.

They are not well marked, but you should be able to have a sense of which way the hill slopes, and so know which way is back to the house or up to the ridge top where road #13 runs. So it can be easy to explore the various trails without a map and without getting lost – just be sure you know how to head back. (Still – even if going out for a short ski – take phone, water, snacks, extra layer, and let someone know where you’re planning to head.)

Best skiing in the mid-atlantic area!

October 15, 2016

Canaan Valley Skiing Dec 2010 a video by ilamhouse on Flickr.

There is great cross country and downhill skiing in the Canaan Valley area, about three hours from DC at 3,700 ft elevation!

Plan a week or weekend there from mid-December through the end of March out in Canaan Valley.

The downhill skiing is terrific at either Timberline or Canaan Valley Resort – both about five miles from Ilam House.

Many of us really like the cross country skiing in Canaan Valley, because of the great natural snow (often), the crisp weather, the variety of trails available,  and the natural beauty of the valley.

You can ski (or snowshoe) for miles out the door of Ilam House around the Monongahela National Forest. There are miles of unofficial, semi-marked, and well marked trails – and you can do as little or as much as you want just around the house.

We also often ski at Whitegrass XC Ski Center, about five miles from the house – ski rentals, groomed trails, warm cafe, and wonderful people.

Here are some pics skiing around the house:




And some trail breaking video from Whitegrass:

Whitegrass - Feb 2010 - Breaking Trail on Wilderness Trail

1st Annual “Tour de Canaan”, February 2013

October 15, 2016

On February 17, 2013, a group of seven intrepid adventurers set off on an epic Shakletonian circumnavigation of Canaan Valley. We started in the NW rim of the valley at Canaan Heights at 8am, skied Canaan Loop Road and the Allegheny Trail to Canaan Valley State Park, then to Canaan Valley Ski Hill, rode the lift to the Pipeline and skied across to Bald Knob, skied down to Whitegrass Lodge, and finally skied north to the Timberline Lodge. Three of us finished the 17 mile route, arriving at 6:30pm!  A map of the route is below.


Summer hiking near Ilam House

July 28, 2016

Wonderful trails and weather for hiking in August and September!

Great trails are easy to find around Ilam House. Head from the house: up Grayrock road, turn right onto Forest Service #13 (aka Canaan Loop Road) and follow (west). You will pass several trails off to the right marked with signposts. The Allegheny Trail goes all the way from Canaan Loop Road (right – north) to Blackwater Falls State Park – a very nice 3-4 mile hike (if you can arrange pick up at Blackwater Falls State Park!). The Allegheny Trail also extends the other direction about 8 miles to Canaan Valley State Park – another really nice hike.

“Dry Fork: Day in the Life” Video of Canaan Valley Adventures

March 3, 2014

Here’s a really nice video of scenes of action in and around Canaan Valley – including some shots along snowy Canaan Loop Road nearby Ilam House, and some trail running I think along Plantation Trail. And many nice scenes from Whitegrass, as well!

Ski season has started at Whitegrass!

November 30, 2013


Skiing has started at Whitegrass Ski Touring Center, our favorite place to be in the winter (picture courtesy of!

Skiing the Plantation Trail around Ilam House

October 20, 2013

Shakleton Crew returns from epic Planational Trail tour
There are some good trails for skiing out the front door of Ilam House. I’d recommend heading up the road to Forest Service Route 13 and turning right (south-west) and heading down the road. You’ll see in about 10 minutes a trail into the pines on the left which loops around a few miles before joining back up with the road. And further ahead on the right you’ll see some marked Forest Service trails, which can be great skiing (but which also can be narrow and steep – careful). Any trails can be safely tried even without a map – just keep an eye on your watch and backtrack if you need to be getting back by a certain time. Of course, a map is great, as is a compass, safety gear (first aid kit, ski repair duct tape, food, dry clothing, matches….) and letting someone know where you are going and when you should be back!

Originally uploaded by ilamhouse

We skiied from Ilam House, out Canaan Loop road, took the first trail off to right- few hundred yards past the gate, the right again on Plantation Trail to Hwy 32. Was a gorgeous, and tough, 4 hr ski – breaking trail through knee/thigh deep snow, and brushing aside all the rhododenrons and other trees and shrubs weighted down and blocking the trail.

Ski out the door

October 20, 2013

ilam house – jan 09

Originally uploaded by ilamhouse

What’s great about Ilam House is that you can cross-country ski out the front door and have lots of trail options. Head back to Canaan Loop Road and take it into the National Forest. Or take off on your own trails into the National Forest.

Winter 2013 Update on Our Favorites in the Area!

January 14, 2013


If the conditions are snowy out in Canaan Valley you won’t need, or have time, for much more than ski-eat-sleep. But if you need a break from that, or if the conditions for skiing are not ideal, then here are some of our favorites in the area.

  • Whitegrass XC Ski Center! No place better to hang out with enthusiastic free-heel skiers, and eat splendid food at their cafe! And their 50kms of trails are what got us hooked on WV skiing. 
  • Siriani’s Pizza, Davis – jammed on a ski weekend but worth it for the spinach salad and the Red Lodge pizza!
  • Hellbender Burritos, awesome burritos and they have Mountain State beer on tap (bring your growler!)
  • BoomTown Java in Davis
  • National Wildlife Refuge office/nature center in Canaan Valley about 3 m south of Ilam House.
  • Purple Fiddle in Thomas, nothing better than dinner or dessert there and then one of their folk/oldtime/newgrass music shows.
  • Blackwater Falls State Park, for the ski trails, comfort food in the cafe and gorge views.
  • Canaan Valley State Park, for some really nice ski trails, and the kids like the snack bar.
  • By the way – Dave’s snowfall tally website shows the snow depth for the Canaan Heights area where is Ilam House.

That’s a good start for a long-weekend!



Ilam House in the Snow

January 14, 2013

ilam house – jan 09

Originally uploaded by ilamhouse

What’s great about Ilam House is that you can cross-country ski out the front door and have lots of trail options. Head back to Canaan Loop Road and take it into the National Forest. Or take off on your own trails into the National Forest.