North Fork Mountain Inn
A Grant County gourmet getaway in hikers’ heaven.
When Ed and Carol Fischer decided to ease out of their corporate careers and become innkeepers, they spent almost a decade scouting out locations. In the Southwest, they visited Sedona, Arizona; Jackson Hole, Wyoming; and Taos, New Mexico. Closer to their Indiana residence, they explored the Blue Ridge Mountains from Tennessee to Virginia. They almost overlooked the place of their dreams. Then a friend suggested something they hadn’t considered: West Virginia, where a particular inn was on the market.
“We visited the North Fork Mountain Inn and realized it was exactly what we had been searching for across the whole country,” Ed says. Judging by the comments guests have made, they feel the same way—and are happy to drive nearly eight miles up narrow Smoke Hole Road in Grant County to get to the inn.
One of the Fischers’ original criteria, a spectacular view, is best appreciated from rocking chairs that line the wide second-story porch. If gazing over ridge upon ridge of the Monongahela National Forest whets your appetite for hiking the popular North Fork Mountain Trail, you’re in luck: a spur is accessible from the inn’s back door. The innkeepers can even send you off with a gourmet picnic packed in a backpack.
For dinner, however, you may want to come home to the inn. One of Ed’s passions is cooking, and his dinners-by-reservation garner rave reviews. Depending upon the season, you might enjoy a soup featuring tender spring ramps, Ed’s special green chili, wild-caught salmon with a Thai-chile sauce, pork roast with a shiitake mushroom Marsala sauce, or another original creation. Ed is also a trained master sommelier, so every meal is complemented by a selection of fine wines from small, family-held wineries.
Chef Ed prefers to ply his culinary skills with seasonal, organic, and locally grown foods. For the past two years, in fact, he has won fourth place in a national seafood cooking competition, the Great American Seafood Cook-Off, with an original recipe that features West Virginia’s native golden trout flavored with ramps and two different wines from nearby West-Whitehill Winery.
Carol’s homemade desserts add the finishing touch to meals at North Fork Mountain Inn. And, should you get hungry in the middle of the night, help yourself to a cup of tea and raid the cookie jar for one of Carol’s wholesome cookies.
The inn’s seven rooms, two suites, and adjoining cabin are warmly paneled in pine and accented by handmade quilts and braided rugs. Some feature native stone gas fireplaces, twig chandeliers, and rustic willow beds. Like the owners, the rooms are inviting but not cloying, and every detail bespeaks quiet luxury, from the triple-sheeted beds to the plush lather of handmade organic soaps.
The inn’s location, in the heart of West Virginia’s Potomac Highlands, is another plus. In addition to hiking, visitors are close to caves and caverns, renowned fishing streams, ski resorts, and excursion trains. You can go rafting or canoeing, ride a horse, take a rock-climbing lesson, or even go scuba diving or paragliding. From the inn, you can easily make excursions to the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, Seneca Rocks, Spruce Knob, Dolly Sods Wilderness Area, Cass Scenic Railroad, Blackwater Falls, and several historic and Civil War sites.
But, once they arrive, some visitors abandon their touring plans and simply settle in at North Fork Mountain Inn. They relax on the porch or in the hot tub, enjoy a novel from the eclectic library, pore over topographical maps in the map room, play pool in the game room, or train the inn’s telescope on stars in amazingly dark night skies.
Others come for special weekends: Cooking School Weekend, Wine Dinner Weekend, Bird Watching Weekend, a Raft and Relax Package, and several wedding and anniversary packages are among the inn’s specials. A guest favorite, the Girlfriends Weekend includes a glass of sparkling wine at check-in, a massage, a gourmet picnic basket, a bottle of wine in the bedroom, and, like all room reservations, a full breakfast in the morning. The Fischers also extend special mid-week rates to missionaries, those in the full-time ministry, and active-duty military personnel.
With the recent addition of two suites and a large meeting room, North Fork Mountain Inn is gaining a reputation as an inviting location for corporate retreats. The meeting facility is equipped with landlines for conference calls, broadband Internet service, data show projectors and screens, white boards, and other office essentials. Better yet, there are no cell phone interruptions—mobile phones don’t work here.
Although the innkeepers have left their former corporate jobs, they are actively involved with their West Virginia community. Ed serves as director of economic development for the Grant County Development Authority. The inn maintains a lively, community-oriented blog. And, guest by satisfied guest, the Fischers are spreading the word that West Virginia is a great place for a getaway.
North Fork Mountain Inn, P.O. Box 114, Cabins, WV 26855; 304.257.1108; firstname.lastname@example.org