By WHITNEY BURDETTE ∙ firstname.lastname@example.org
SLATYFORK — Deep in the Monongahela National Forest lies a hubbub of fly fishing, mountain biking and cross country skiing.
Located between Webster Springs and Dunmore on Route 219 in Slatyfork, the Elk River Touring Center also offers a restaurant and lodging for West Virginia's avid outdoorsmen. In addition, several programs throughout the year allow visitors to get the full experience.
The Elk River Touring Center's trained and experienced guides can show fly fishermen, skiers, mountain bikers and hikers where to find the best streams or trails. But the center, which used to be a sheep farm, also offers a good meal and place to rest. In addition to a renovated farm house that includes five guestrooms, ERTC also features a small cabin and guest lodge.
"It's a little rustic," Julie Royer, reservation specialist, said of the cabin. "This used to be a barn that was transformed into a cabin. It's kind of neat. That's why it's a little more rustic in some of the rooms."
Between the farm house and cabin is a bike rental shop. From there, visitors can rent a variety of bikes to explore nearby trails.
"We do guided biking tours, or we can tell you where to go," Royer said.
The Elk River Restaurant seats 55 people, Royer said. And according to co-owner Gil Willis, it features locally grown fare from farms in Pocahontas and other nearby counties. And Willis isn't modest when it comes to his restaurant, which was named to the 101 Unique Places to Eat in West Virginia list.
"It's excellent," he said. "On a good night, it's better than the Greenbrier."
Mary Willis said the trout served in the restaurant comes from local fish hatcheries.
"We have used some that were raised on a spring where they used to have the Elk Springs Resort," she said. "They had a hatchery that we used for the first five or 10 years, and now we use a hatchery in Pendleton County, just a little more than an hour away. They've got a really nice product. That makes the biggest difference. We can say it's West Virginia trout, and it's fresh."
Royer said breakfast is included in the room rate, but nights are reserved for fine dining.
"In the evening it's set up for fine dining where we bring out the white tablecloths, so it's a different atmosphere in the evening," she said. She added that a fireplace makes the small restaurant cozy in the winter. The restaurant is open from 5–9:30 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays. However, the restaurant is closed in April and November, between seasons.
"Lodging is open year-round and most of our services are year-round," Royer said.
Elk River Touring Center isn't the only business the Willises own. They also have the Elk River Snowboard and Ski shop and Fiddlehead Restaurant, both located in Slatyfork. The snowboard shop only is open during the winter ski season.
The Elk River Touring Center is host to a variety of events, from Trout and Tunes, a music and fishing workshop, to Slatyfork Women's Weekend. A calendar of events and other information can be found on the center's website, www.ertc.com.