Relax at Stonewall Resort
Escape to a haven of outdoor activities and luxurious accommodation in Lewis County.
photos courtesy of Stonewall Resort
Twenty-five years ago, no one could have imagined that the little river town of Roanoke, West Virginia, would be the site of one of the Mid-Atlantic’s finest lakeside resorts. For starters, there was no lake.
By 1990, the picture had changed, and Roanoke lay under 60 feet of water. The new flood control lake was the centerpiece of Stonewall Jackson Lake State Park, named for the Confederate general born and raised about eight miles to the north. Over the next decade, the park became a popular camping, boating, and fishing spot. The story could have ended there, but at the turn of the 21st century, the state partnered with a private developer to build Stonewall Resort. Given the area’s natural assets and accessibility, the success of the venture was virtually assured. The resort’s location was two miles off busy Interstate 79, two hours south of Pittsburgh; four hours from Columbus and Cleveland, Ohio; and four and a half hours from Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Maryland.
Last year, Stonewall Resort celebrated its 10th anniversary, and the wisdom of its creators has never been more apparent. Built in the style of a 1920s Adirondack hotel, the lodge has a timeless quality and an atmosphere that captivates as soon as you step from your car into the covered archway leading to the entrance. The main doors open onto a hall with soaring ceilings and massive wooden beams. There, and in the spacious common rooms, warmth emanates from natural stone fireplaces. Generous windows provide a constant view of the lake and invite you to step onto the terrace and breathe in the fresh mountain air.
The lodge’s 196 guestrooms are stylishly simple, but with all the modern amenities. The building’s layout spoils you, because so much is under one roof and a short walk from your room. This includes the full-service spa with its fitness center and heated indoor/outdoor swimming pool and the restaurant and lounge.
On the ground level of the lodge is Stillwaters restaurant, where you can choose inside or patio seating—both with lake views—and enjoy an eclectic menu of local game, fish, and produce. Across the hall is TJ Muskies lounge, a comfortable place to cozy up to the fire with drinks, listen to live entertainment on Saturday nights, and perhaps sample one of the signature burgers. After dinner, join other guests around the fire pit to roast marshmallows and make s’mores.
As much as I like the comfort and convenience of the main lodge, my favorite place to stay in summer is one of the 10 modern saltbox-style cottages on the lake. Ranging from two to four bedrooms, they are perfect for a romantic getaway, a private family gathering, or a convivial weekend with golfing or fishing buddies. All of the cottages have vaulted ceilings with exposed cedar beams, stone (gas) fireplaces, mission-style furnishings, and spacious decks with gas grills and comfy outdoor furniture.
The cottages have ample parking for boat trailers, so it’s easy to put the WaveRunner in the water and explore the lake, being respectful of the many no-wake coves favored by fishermen. There are 82 miles of shoreline on the 26-mile-long lake—plenty of room to lose yourself in nature.
The center of water activities is the marina, where you can indulge in a little boat envy as you stroll among the 374 slips. You can be captain for a day even if you don’t own a boat. Rent a pontoon boat to cruise the lake and watch for osprey, bald eagles, beaver, and otter. Or pursue the lake’s legendary bass, muskellunge, and crappie in a rental fishing boat. Explore under your own power with a kayak or stand-up paddleboard, both of which are free to guests. If you prefer a lazy guided tour, join the one-hour daily excursion aboard the 100-passenger Little Sorrel, named for Stonewall’s favorite horse.
In addition to the lure of the lake, I’m drawn back to the resort by the 7,149-yard Arnold Palmer golf course at Stonewall, ranked in the country’s top 100 public and resort layouts. Palmer utilized every nuance of the hilly, partially wooded site, screening sightlines between holes with terrain, trees, and vegetation. Cart paths wind in and out of hardwood and evergreen groves, revealing vistas of spiky hills and mountains—and the lake itself, which comes into play a few times. Every hole is unique. Hole six is a pretty par three across a finger of the lake to a green fronted with three huge bunkers. The 15th green occupies a knob of land with views in all directions. Hole 16 drops 150 feet to a green behind a pond, with a big sycamore standing guard on the left.
Après golf, replay your triumphs and defeats at Lightburn’s, the casual restaurant atop the clubhouse. Like Stonewall Jackson, Joseph Lightburn was a local boy who became a general during the Civil War—but for the Union. Appetizers, soups, salads, and sandwiches are served inside or on the roomy terrace overlooking the course, lake, and lodge. Once you settle into one of the porch rocking chairs, it will be hard to budge.
HIKING AND BIKING
In addition to the 2,600-acre lake, the park has miles of well-maintained hiking and biking trails, including some added this season. For a short jaunt, check out the new pedestrian boardwalk that connects the lodge with the campground and day use areas. On the new Cairns Trail, watch for man-made stacks of rock, called “cairns.” There are more than 150 of these unusual artifacts in the park, ranging from piles of stone to carefully constructed towers. The prevailing belief is that Native Americans in the area used cairns to mark burial places, trails, water holes, and other natural resources, but historians are still uncertain of the builders and purpose. Mystery also shrouds a 150-foot-long stone wall next to the Hevener’s Orchard Trail, which does not fit the style of fortifications built by Native Americans or Civil War soldiers.
Trails on the resort connect with those in the Stonewall Jackson Lake Wildlife Management Area. A wilderness of more than 18,000 acres, the wildlife area is open for hunting in season.
In addition to the cairns, geocaching “treasures” can be found on the resort grounds, and the only mystery is exactly where. If your legs need a rest, learn to ride a Segway in a fun class that includes an obstacle course and a ride on wooded trails. On the Roanoke Activity Plaza you’ll find two playgrounds, a nine-hole disc golf course, basketball courts, horseshoe pits, and a four-mile fitness trail with 10 stations. New this year on the plaza is a small outdoor theater for musical and theatrical performances. On rainy days, there’s an indoor climbing wall and nine-hole miniature golf course, as well as the indoor pool in the lodge.
The resort is open year-round, the marina April 1 to October 31, and the golf course March 30 to November 15.
STONEWALL RESORT Resort Drive, Roanoke, WV 26447; 304.269.7400; stonewallresort.com