Stonewall Resort | Photo courtesy Stonewall Resort
How did we get here?
This is what I’m thinking as I sit in my tandem kayak, my husband behind me, in a cove off a lake in the heart of West Virginia. We’ve paddled into a submerged tree trunk, and we’re stuck.
“Don’t move,” my husband says. “We could die.” He’s half kidding, but our kayak is tilting rather precariously, and capsizing seems imminent. I start to groan: I really don’t want to get wet. Thankfully, he manages to steer us back on course, away from the stump and into clear waters, with a few deft paddle moves. He’s an Eagle Scout, so he knows how to do things like kayak and start a fire and tie a proper knot. But after years of forced outdoorsy fun, he’s over setting up camp and sleeping in tents. So this — a weekend trip to a resort on Stonewall Jackson Lake — was the closest thing to a camping weekend I could get him to agree to.
Situated on 1,900 rolling acres of parkland, Stonewall Resort is an ideal outdoor escape for those who want to be surrounded by nature but crave the safety net of a lodge (heated pool! Spa and salon! An activity center for kids!) a stone’s throw away. Instead of dinners cooked over a campfire, you get a trio of restaurants on the property. And in lieu of drafty cabins, there’s a rugged Adirondack-style timber lodge and a handful of rentable cottages, some with prime lake views.
But I’m not entirely against roughing it. In fact, our brush with death (I continue to claim this, though my husband now insists it’s not true) has made me even more determined to conquer this weird wild world, so we spend our days here outside. Plus, we’ve paid for the Outfitters Pass ($15 a person per day), which gives us access to Stonewall’s cache of kayaks, canoes, stand-up paddleboards, paddleboats and road bikes. I don’t want to waste it.
In the afternoon, we venture onto one of the nearby hiking trails. There are more than 16 miles of them, each ranked by its difficulty level, so you can take a leisurely walk or break a serious sweat. (Tired from kayaking, we stroll.) Eventually we find ourselves at the marina on the property, tossing food to the carp and scuttling out of the way of the splashing fish. This trip, I realize, is destined to ruin my non-
Finally, evening falls. My husband and I are sunburned, weary from walking and, yes, a tiny bit wet. We’ve settled into a couple of Adirondack chairs on the lodge’s patio, overlooking a blazing fire pit. I feel adventurous, outdoorsy, at one with nature. I think to myself that I could be an Eagle Scout, too. But for now, there are more pressing matters: ordering snacks, dipping into the indoor pool, and—okay, fine—booking a spa treatment for the morning. Nature can wait, at least for a little while.
Field Guide: Roanoke, West Virginia Weekend Itinerary
Stay: Stonewall Resort, 940 Resort Drive, Roanoke, West Virginia; rates start at $159 a night.
Play: Entertain kids at Stonewall’s activity plaza, which features disc golf, a playground, and an indoor mini-golf course and climbing wall. Golfers should make time for a round on the 18-hole Arnold Palmer Signature Golf Course or take a few swings at the driving range.
Eat: You don’t need to leave the property for meals. Grab breakfast at the lodge’s main restaurant, Stillwaters (nab a table by the window for gorgeous lake views), and head to Lightburn’s for lunch (get the salmon). For laid-back pub fare, visit TJ Muskies, and be sure to order a sampler of different moonshine flavors from local distilleries with your dinner.
This article first appeared in Philadelphia magazine’s September 2016 issue.