A nice mix of action and ease

West Virginia: The Woods Resort offers golf, tennis and many other sports, as well as a chance just sit back and relax

Short Hop

January 09, 2000|By Margaret Janger-Flynn | Margaret Janger-Flynn,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The Woods Resort, one of West Virginia's best kept secrets, is nestled alongside the Sleepy Creek Mountains in the state's eastern panhandle and offers just the right blend of recreation and tranquillity needed to take on the new millennium.

If you're action-minded and looking for a weekend of golf, biking, hiking, swimming and fishing, then this is the place for you. If you'd rather relax by the pool, stroll the fairways after dinner or pamper yourself with a Swedish massage, then this is also the place for you.

No matter the age range of your family, the Woods Resort in Hedgesville (less than a two-hour drive from the Baltimore Beltway) is likely to fit your budget and your activity level.

The property is rich with history dating back to a small branch of Iroquois Indians who used the area as a winter camp and hunting ground. A burial mound still exists on the property and, although it was partially disturbed in the 1940s, it continues to be respected by the developer and home owners.

In the mid-1700s, the area was occupied by settlers who built log homes similar to those of the Native Americans; Hedges Chapel, the only remaining log building, has been preserved by the developer. During the 1940s, local families worked on farms, in coal mines or in the Back Creek Valley Orchard, the current site of the Woods' golf course.

The partnership between developer and homeowner is highly regarded at the Woods, with each devoted to guarding the peacefulness and quality of life that converts visitors to homeowners.

One can't help but notice the small-town, slow-down atmosphere that envelops the area; a place where you're likely to receive a simple lift of the hand from strangers as you walk or ride by. The only difficulty anyone might encounter is decision making. There are so many choices of activities -- not to mention that all-important urge to just vegetate.

Golf: Golfers can check out the resort's two courses and 27 fairways. The 18-hole Mountain View course is a challenging and delightful course that causes you to pause while drinking in the views. The nine-hole Stony Lick course opens with the Woods' signature hole -- a spectacular par 3 that tees off more than 80 feet above the green. Together, these 27 holes make for an excellent destination golf trip, complete with lakes, woods and mountain streams.

If you've never swung a club, try hitting a bucket of balls at the driving range. (A large bucket is $5.) Lessons from the resident golf pro are also available.

Recreation Center: Tennis, anyone? Rain or shine, day or night, you can play tennis at the Woods' indoor court or one of five outdoor courts -- two of which are lighted. Racquets and balls are available at the center.

The center also offers racquetball, basketball (both indoor and outdoor), volleyball, softball, indoor swimming, sauna, whirlpool and a nicely equipped exercise room. Heck, you can even pitch horseshoes!

For a very modest fee, aerobics classes are available on Saturday mornings, and for the ultimate treat pamper yourself with a facial or a full body massage. This is one indulgence that is worth every penny. Schedules and fees vary, so call in advance of your arrival.

Outdoor adventures: For nature enthusiasts, the Woods offers hiking, jogging or fishing. There's no license required for fishing its private ponds, which are stocked with bass, catfish and sunfish, but a West Virginia fishing license is required for fishing in nearby public lakes and streams.

Bird watching is another favorite activity. Hummingbirds, woodpeckers, yellow finches, purple martins, bluebirds and wild turkeys are all prevalent. Bring your binoculars!

The area's trails also provide a challenging venue for off-road cyclists. A network of rugged trails takes you deep into Sleepy Creek Forest. Deer, beaver dams and old coal mines are some of the points of interest you'll encounter.

For family biking, head out to the C & O Canal Towpath. It's just a 25-mile drive through scenic Berkeley Springs and is lightly used. Along the way, check out the Berkeley Springs State Park Bath House.

Hunting is permitted, with the appropriate West Virginia license, in the Sleepy Creek Wildlife Management Area that borders the Woods. Hikers will want to avoid this area during hunting season.

Shopping and entertainment: As if the recreation options aren't temptation enough, there are many entertaining things to do at the Woods and in the local towns surrounding the resort. Two restaurants are located on the property: the Walden Restaurant, featuring a complete menu, and the Walnut Pub, offering lighter fare and local live music on Saturday nights.

Shopping at Prime Outlets, minor league baseball and live theater are available activities in Hagerstown, 25 miles away. Martinsburg, W. Va., a 20-minute drive, offers shopping at Martinsburg Mall as well as live theater productions and a choice of movie theaters.

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