01 Dec What’s new on slopes and trails for the 2021/22 winter
Last winter was challenging, but thanks to the hard work of the management and staff of Michigan’s ski areas, skiers and riders were able to enjoy most slopes and trails without COVID-19 disruptions.
What to expect at ski areas this season…know before you go!
The Michigan Snowsports Industries Association (MSIA) provides the following suggestions before heading to the slopes and trails:
- Check the COVID-19 policies of the ski area you are planning to visit. They may have important changes such as requiring reservations, specific parking instructions, time limitations, etc.
- Make sure the whole family has face coverings! They will not be mandatory outdoors, but some ski areas may require them when you head inside.
- Dress for the weather! Last winter outdoor dining was popular and fun. Many ski areas will continue to offer this option.
- We suggest planning a trip to the slopes during off-peak times if possible.
- The demand for rental equipment is high. If you need equipment, we suggest that you make arrangements before heading to the slopes. Many ski areas will have the option to fill out rental forms prior to your visit. Don’t dust off that old equipment unless you have bindings checked! You may want to rent from a ski shop nearby or have them check your old equipment.
- Please be patient and kind!
- Have fun, stay safe…Ski Well, Be Well.
Over the summer, ski areas across the state have been hard at work making improvements. This season, in collaboration with agnarchy.com, we have compiled updates for the upcoming winter.
Southeast Michigan Ski Resort Updates
Alpine Valley Ski Area
300′ vertical drop, 25 runs, 100 skiable acres, 5 terrain parks. 34% Beginner, 36% Intermediate, 30% Advanced
Alpine Valley is the local ski are for many in southeast Michigan. Alpine Valley also hosts multiple events throughout the season, so there is always something exciting to do on snow in metro Detroit.
- Multi-area season pass: Wisconsin Resorts, parent company for Pine Knob, Mt. Holly, Bittersweet, Alpine Valley (WI), and Searchmont Resort (Canada), purchased Alpine Valley over the summer. Skiers now have the option to purchase a multi-area pass that covers Alpine Valley (MI) and all their sister resorts. Six resort passes, one price!
- Terrain Park updates: Alpine Valley invested in a new Pisten Bully Park Pro, which will help the resort build better features in the terrain park this season.
- Snowmaking updates: Mt. Holly, now a sister resort for Alpine Valley, built and delivered ten new snowguns to Alpine Valley this summer. According to Alpine Valley, the new guns have larger barrels and increased snow output.
- Amenity updates: Facilities at Alpine Valley have gotten attention from the new ownership. The the bar is partially remodeled, and the group room underwent remodel. The kitchen also saw improvements in the form of upgraded equipment. Alpine Valley explained that the equipment upgrades will allow the kitchen to pump out more food and increase the quality of the food offerings. Lastly, the rental room was reorganized to improve flow.
- Retail updates: Shumakers at Alpine Valley is no more. However, Alpine Valley will replace it in-house with the new Alpine Valley Ski Shop.
Most exciting of all, a new coffee shop selling Caribou Coffee and other specialty drinks is set to open sometime this December -Alpine Valley Ski Area
230′ vertical drop, 24 runs, 130 skiable acres, 5 terrain parks. 30% Beginner, 40% Intermediate, 30% Advanced
Celebrating 60 seasons this winter, Mt. Brighton is conveniently located halfway between Detroit and Lansing, and less than 30 minutes from Ann Arbor. Vail has invested $10 million into improvements at Mt. Brighton since their purchase of the ski area in 2012. Those improvements have included snowmaking enhancements, conversion from rope tows to magic carpets in the beginner area, new chair lifts, and a complete renovation of the base area.
- Know before you go: Mt. Brighton will not require reservations this season, but guests 12 and older require proof of vaccination to dine in the indoor, cafeteria-style restaurants and vaccinations will be required for all employees. Face coverings are also required indoors. Mt. Brighton will not accept cash, all transactions much be electronic. View Mt. Brighton’s COVID-19 safety protocols here.
350′ vertical drop, 19 runs, 100 skiable acres, 3 terrain parks. 30% Beginner, 50% Intermediate, 20% Advanced
At 350 feet of vertical, Mt. Holly is the largest of the southeastern Michigan ski resorts, with varied terrain that caters to skiers of all skill levels. Keep an eye out once the temperatures fall, because Mt. Holly has shown a willingness to blast their snow guns to open early when the weather cooperates.
- Multi-area season pass: Wisconsin Resorts, parent company for Pine Knob, Mt. Holly, Bittersweet, Alpine Valley (WI), and Searchmont Resort (Canada), purchased Alpine Valley over the summer. Skiers now have the option to purchase a multi-area pass that covers Mt. Holly, and all their sister resorts. Six resort passes, one price!
- Snowmaking updates: Mt. Holly is the manufacturing hub for building snowguns for Wisconsin Resort ski areas. Mt. Holly sent snowguns to Searchmont in previous years, and Alpine Valley (MI) this year. In addition to the guns sent to Alpine Valley this summer, Mt. Holly built and installed ten new guns to use at home.
- Terrain park updates: Mt. Holly installed a new rope tow on Slalom, which now services an extended terrain park.
300′ vertical drop, 17 runs, 80 skiable acres, 3 terrain parks. 20% Beginner, 20% Intermediate, 40% Advanced, 20% Expert
Located 30 minutes from Detroit, Pine Knob is convenient to many Metro Detroiters. Not content to sit on success, Pine Knob keeps busy off-season building new features for its progression park, and soliciting feedback on social media. But besides terrain parks, Pine Knob has terrain for all abilities.
- Multi-area season pass: Wisconsin Resorts, parent company for Pine Knob, Mt. Holly, Bittersweet, Alpine Valley (WI), and Searchmont Resort (Canada), purchased Alpine Valley over the summer. Riders now have the option to purchase a multi-area pass that covers Pine Knob, and all their sister resorts. Six resort passes, one price!
- Amenity updates: Pine Knob expanded outdoor seating capacity, building out a paved patio with gas fireplace so you can relax outside and keep warm. The new patio is also outfitted with new tables and chairs. Keep a look out for new racks to store your gear while you eat too.
- Snowmaking enhancements: According to Pine Knob, they added two new high tech snow guns in the off season to supplement their snow making abilities.
Southwest Michigan Ski Resort Updates
Bittersweet Ski Resort
350′ vertical drop, 20 runs, 100 skiable acres, 2 terrain parks. 30% Beginner, 40% Intermediate, 30% Advanced
At 350 vertical feet, Bittersweet offers the largest vertical drop of the southwestern resorts in Michigan. For those that are unaware, Bittersweet is a sister resort to Mt. Holly, Alpine Valley, and Pine Knob in southeast Michigan, and Searchmont Resort in Ontario.
- Multi-area season pass: Wisconsin Resorts, parent company for Pine Knob, Mt. Holly, Bittersweet, Alpine Valley (WI), and Searchmont Resort (Canada), purchased Alpine Valley over the summer. Skiers now have the option to purchase a multi-area pass that covers Bittersweet, and all their sister resorts. Six resort passes, one price!
- Lift updates: The resort realigned the high speed Sweet Express over the summer in preparation for a second high speed that will go in next summer. Look for the Sweet Express at the new location, right of the Wild Rose rope tow and the Poison Ivy Terrain park.
- Amenity updates: Outdoor seating proved popular last season. Like many resorts, Bittersweet is expanding options by building a second outdoor heated patio area.
- Looking ahead: Work on the installation of a second high speed lift will begin next summer. It will replace the triple Snowberry chairlift, with loading near the base lodge.
250′ vertical drop, 21 runs, 100 skiable acres, 5 terrain parks. 35% Beginner, 50% Intermediate, 15% Advanced
Cannonsburg Ski Area, established in 1965, offers outdoor activities and events all year round. Located just 15 minutes northeast of downtown Grand Rapids, Cannonsburg branched beyond snowsports to become a place for family fun, corporate events, weddings, and other recreational activities. In addition to skiing, snowboarding, multiple terrain parks, fat biking, Cannonsburg offers the largest tubing facility in the state. The tubing lanes utilize magic carpets that carry you up the hill and allow maximum trips down.
Muskegon Luge Adventure Sports Park
15k marked, groomed and lit cross-country ski trails. Five different trail systems for all levels of skiers.
Like its name suggests, the Muskegon Luge Adventure Sports Park features one of only four luge tracks in the United States. It’s the only kunstbahn track (German for artificial track) made from natural ice and not refrigerated. The 850 ft. track was designed by three-time Olympian Frank Masley. Shorter in length than the Olympic tracks in Lake Placid and Salt Lake City, the Muskegon track provides an Olympic thrill with the first-time luge athletes in mind. It consists of six curves and two starting areas. Public participants receive equipment and training before sliding at speeds up to 30 mph.
Other amenities: Cross-country skiing is a large draw to the park. Much of the terrain is gentle and winds through the woods, dunes, and Lost Lake allowing skiers to explore a variety of Muskegon State Park’s natural features. The trails are groomed for skate and classical skiing daily, as conditions dictate, and lit every night until the park closes. Rental equipment is also available. Muskegon Luge Adventure Park also features a two-acre natural ice rink, ice skating trails through the woods and snowshoeing.
Mulligan’s Hollow Ski Bowl
130′ vertical drop, 6 runs, 7 skiable acres, terrain parks. 25% Beginner, 25% Intermediate, 25% Advanced, 25% Expert
Serviced exclusively by rope tows, Mulligan’s Hollow is a local non-profit ski hill in the sand dunes of Grand Haven. Mulligan’s Hollow might lack the vertical feet of the other resorts, but they make up for it with their goal to bring snowsports to everyone. As a non-profit, Mulligan’s Hollow relies on volunteers, donors, and fundraisers for improvements and infrastructure. This includes snowmaking, a snow cat, warming hut, terrain park, and a hillside sound system.
It has been the mission to make Mulligan’s Hollow an affordable area for anyone that wants to experience the excitement of skiing and snowboarding. Mulligan’s Hollow offers lift pass scholarships, ski and snowboard lessons, rental equipment, school programs, freestyle clubs, and exciting events throughout the season. -Mulligan’s Hollow Ski Bowl
225′ vertical drop, 11 runs, 60 skiable acres, 2 terrain parks. 36% Beginner, 36% Intermediate, 27% Advanced
Swiss Valley, Michigan’s southernmost ski area, is the closest place to ski or snowboard in Michigan if you are from Chicago or Indiana. Swiss Valley boasts night skiing on 100% of their terrain.
- Lift updates: Swiss Valley installed new chair pads for their triple chair in September
- Snowmaking enhancements: Expect improved snowmaking this season thanks to an investment in larger pipes and pumps. Swiss Valley anticipates that these updates will help the ski area open earlier, weather permitting of course!
- Aesthetic updates: Swiss Valley was busy beatifying the resort over the summer. Updates include fresh paint on the Easy Over beginner’s rope tows, and renovations to the Chalet. Their hard work was recognized by the Three Rivers Area Chamber of Commerce.
- Infrastructure updates: The resort added gravel to service roads in preparation of parking lot improvements coming in 2022. Lastly, a minor but fun update was made to the ski area map. Swiss Valley held a contest this summer to rename their trails, you can find the new names on their website and social media pages.
250′ vertical drop, 16 runs, 50 skiable acres, 2 terrain parks. 44% Beginner, 38% Intermediate, 0% Advanced, 19% Expert
Located near Gobles, Michigan, the family-oriented ski area has eight ski lifts, two terrain parks, and a tubing park. The terrain difficulty ranges from beginner to advanced, but most of the trails are at the easy or intermediate level.
- Snowmaking enhancements: Timber Ridge invested heavily into snowmaking and grooming over the summer. The resort purchased five new TechnoAlpin snowguns, one of which is the TechnoAlpin TR10. The TR10, the second for the resort, is one of the larger guns on the market. The portable snowgun allows the resort to focus snow wherever it is needed, even when temperatures are marginal. These updates bring Timber Ridge’s total to 11 TechnoAlpin snowguns across two towers and nine portable machines. What good is all this snow without groomers though? Well, worry not, because Timber Ridge tripled their groomer fleet this summer with the purchase of two additional snowcats; a Prinroth BisonX and BR 275. Amy Schrab explained that these investments will result in more snow making hours at Timber Ridge, and that they are gunning for the best possible snow conditions in the Midwest.
It’s Timber Ridge’s 60th season, our Diamond Anniversary, and there’s so much to talk about. We’re excited! -Amy Schrab, General Manager Timber Ridge
- Terrain expansion: If you live near Timber Ridge, you may have heard explosions this summer. Workers used explosives to remove trees and stumps as they carved new trails for the upcoming season, including Timber Ridge’s first DOUBLE black diamond. In addition to the double black, look for Fox Run, a new black diamond run accessible via the Quad chairlift. Additionally, expect an improved racing hill dedicated to Junior Development and High School racers on practice nights.
- Lift updates: Timber Ridge replaced the Pine rope tow with a new magic carpet, making it easier for first timers to access beginner terrain. You will find the old Pine rope tow uphill now, which doubles the beginner skiable acreage at Timber Ridge. Amy explained that this update allows beginners to ski to the Quad chair without the need to ride the Triple chair up; an update that is expected to reduce crowding.
- Amenity updates: Like many resorts, Timber Ridge expanded outdoor seating and added additional fireplaces.
- Infrastructure updates: Increased high efficiency LED lighting on slopes will improve night visibility while reducing energy consumption at Timber Ridge.
- Tubing updates: Timber Ridge expanded the snow tubing hill with a new conveyor lift that is expected to increase slide time while reducing wait time.
Northern Michigan Ski Resort Updates
552′ vertical drop, 55 runs, 435 skiable acres, 4 terrain parks. 35% Beginner, 29% Intermediate, 35% Advanced 2% Expert
The big news for Boyne Highlands is its name change and transformational plans. Now called “The Highlands at Harbor Springs,” the resort offers more vertical and acreage than any other in the lower peninsula. Known for varied terrain and long runs, The Highlands goes out of their way to promote a family-friendly atmosphere. Their terrain parks offer a wide variety for every type of rider. A great place for beginners and youngest riders to start honing their skills. As a destination resort, visitors will find tubing, zip lining, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, horseback riding, and many winter-themed events.
- Transformational Journey: The Highlands has aggressive plans that have begun and will continue through 2030. Featured projects include upgrades to the main lodge, golf courses, a new Discovery Center check-in area, experiential spa and pool complex, a new Highlands Café and retail and 19th Tee Restaurant. Stay tuned to Highlands Future for progress.
- Snowmaking updates: The Highlands added five new HKD Impulse tower guns, a major upgrade to snowmaking on the northern slopes of the resort that allows for snowmaking in marginal temperatures. Supporting this upgrade, Boyne installed a new well to supply water to the new guns. The resort also purchased a new Pistenbully ParkPro 400 groomer.
- Amenity updates: The Highlands continues the extensive renovations, including the remodeling of the main lodge guest rooms.
In the iconic hotel, 87 guest rooms were expanded to more spacious layouts and converted into refined and elegant luxury accommodations featuring a design style that blends traditional English countryside with pure contemporary form. Deluxe, premium, and suite options are available, some featuring sitting areas and sleeper sofas, and all featuring wooden wardrobes for storage and modern conveniences such as coffee bars with a mini smart refrigerator and Nespresso machine. Bathrooms feature marble floor and wall tiles, British fixtures, Euro-style toilets, custom designed lighted mirrors, and more. – Erin Ernst, Boyne Resorts Director of Communications
- Lift updates: The Highlands installed dual-frequency RFID (radio frequency identification) technology for the 2021/22 season with scanning at all lifts. RFID facilitates direct-to-lift access for ticket and season passholder, and also provides a streamlined purchasing process enabling guests to purchase lift tickets or season passes online and reload a media card with additional ticket or pass purchases season-after-season. RFID media cards can be picked up via several new pick-up boxes throughout the resort grounds.
500′ vertical drop, 60 runs, 415 skiable acres, 7 terrain parks. 29% Beginner, 41% Intermediate, 29% Advanced 1% Expert
Known for the full resort experience, Boyne Mountain is located about 40 minutes south of its sister resort. Boyne Mountain is a bit rowdier than Boyne Highlands, with a greater emphasis on après ski. Even so, Boyne Mountain remains family-friendly, and is home to Avalanche Bay, their indoor water park. Look for Boyne Mountain to push the season if possible, it is not uncommon to get April laps when the weather cooperates, and the Mountain is often the last resort to end skiing for the season in the lower peninsula.
- New attraction: Boyne Mountain recently announced Renaissance 2.0, a multi-year project to grow and develop Boyne Mountain through the rest of the decade. One of the most notable developments is SkyBridge Michigan, a peak-to-peak pedestrian bridge that links McLouth Peak (top of Mountain Express) with Disciples Ridge. At 1,203 feet in length, SkyBridge Michigan will be the world’s longest timer-towered suspension bridge. The 118-foot-high bridge will provide panoramic valley views year-round. The bridge won’t open to pedestrians until mid-2022, but it will be impossible to miss if you visit Boyne Mountain this season.
This new attraction is modeled after the wildly successful Gatlinburg SkyBridge at sister property, Gatlinburg SkyLift Park in Tennessee, and is an even more sensational, architectural masterpiece with its timber-frame design, a nod to the logging heritage of northern Michigan, with lumber sourced by long-time partner in resort growth, Matelski Lumber. – Erin Ernst, Boyne Resorts Director of Communications
- Lift updates: Boyne Mountain installed dual-frequency RFID (radio frequency identification) technology for the 2021/22 season with scanning at all lifts. RFID facilitates direct-to-lift access for ticket and season passholder, and also provides a streamlined purchasing process enabling guests to purchase lift tickets or season passes online and reload a media card with additional ticket or pass purchases season-after-season. RFID media cards can be picked up via several new pick-up boxes throughout the resort grounds.
- Amenity updates: Last year the resort benefitted from extensive renovations at Edelweiss Lodge. Now named the Chalet Edelweiss, guests will find 35 European-inspired rooms with “modern mountain character, a lush lobby living room, and onsite Nordic sauna experience”. Lodging availability begins December 2021.
- Sustainability updates: A solar array installation is nearing completion at Boyne Mountain that has the capacity to power the equivalence of over 300 homes and condominiums.
With the projects and investments outlined in Renaissance 2.0, the next decade will bring unprecedented enhancements to our Swiss-inspired resort village, elevate our mountain experience with the Midwest’s most advanced lift system, bring even more improvements in snowmaking capabilities, amplify our adventure activities, and reinforce our commitment to a sustainable future. The breadth of attractions will solidify Boyne Mountain’s place as a top, year-round recreational destination in the Midwest, and beyond. -Ed Grice, Boyne Mountain President and General Manager
As mentioned, Renaissance 2.0 is a plan to guide Boyne Mountain growth and development through 2030. As part of this plan, Boyne Mountain intends to achieve net zero emissions by 2030. Next season Boyne Mountain will open the D8, the first high-speed 8 person lift in the Midwest. The D8 will replace the Disciple I and Disciple II chair in Disciples Ridge, with placement roughly between the two existing lifts with onboarding closer to Mountain Pass Road. The D8 features auto-locking safety bars, a kid-friendly raiseable loading carpet, and a 3-minute ride to the top.
In addition to the D8 installation, the ten-year plan will also bring lift upgrades to Meadows, Super Bowl, Victor, Boyneland, and the Mountain Express. Several of these are fixed grip lifts that Boyne Resorts will replace with high-speed lifts. Expect slope upgrades such as snowmaking, lighting, signage, and expanded trail systems. Other projects in the full ten-year plan include redefined and expanded village spaces; the addition of outdoor expansion to Avalanche Bay; airport improvements, Deer Lake and Beach House facility enhancements; sports complex upgrades; and more. For more details on Boyne Mountain’s Renaissance 2.0 plans, visit 2030.boynemountain.com
485′ vertical drop, 34 runs, 200 skiable acres, 2 terrain parks. 35% Beginner, 35% Intermediate, 29% Advanced
Caberfae Peaks opened in January 1938, making it one of the oldest ski resorts in the country. Caberfae lies within Michigan’s lake-effect snow belt and receives nearly 12 feet of natural snowfall each season. In addition to lift-serviced terrain, Caberfae also provides ungroomed backcountry terrain for those numerous fresh powder days. Consisting of two peaks, Caberfae provides the highest elevation for lift-serviced terrain in the Lower Peninsula. The North Peak is home to beginner and intermediate terrain, and winding trails through the woods. The South Peak features steep and advanced terrain.
- Terrain updates: A new ski trail was cut to North Peak this summer. The yet-to-be-named run will flow skiers right from Smiling Irishman, accessible from the North Peak Quad and the Vista Triple chair. Caberfae planted 65 Norway Spruce along the trail to keep skiers from inadvertently entering the backcountry. The new trail is designated a green run and will be groomed nightly. Caberfae historians will tell you that this is the old “Bo Buck” run from long ago. The new trail runs out near the Shelter lift now but expect a new Triple chair to replace this next season.
- Snowmaking enhancements: Caberfae added snowmaking infrastructure to the new trail; water, power, and nine snowmaking guns that will get the terrain open as early as possible. Caberfae also purchased 10 SMI Super PoleCat snowmaking guns to replace those moved to the new trail.
Caberfae offers the highest lift-served peaks in Michigan and has consistently been considered one of the best values in the state. So come out and experience the big hills, with the best snow, in your backyard! -Caberfae Peaks
- Amenity updates: The Skyview Day Lodge underwent extensive updates this summer, enabling skiers and riders to stay warm and dry while eating picnic/crockpot lunches between runs. Built in 1962, Skyview Lodge is a special building at Caberfae Peaks, and the management went out of their way to save and restore the structure. Find it on the hill overlooking the parking lot, left of the Shelter run and rental building. In the hotel you will find new carpeting in all 36 rooms and Beatie’s Bar & Grill. Lastly, the resort added additional seasonal lockers for rent. Call 231-862-3000 to reserve one.
Caberfae Peaks is quietly developing a third peak, dubbed “East Peak” which is skiers right of North Peak. Caberfae General Manager Tim Meyer stated that the installation of a new triple chair will begin next March and should be in operation for the 2022-2023 season. The new chair will rise from the bottom of Shelter and offload in a built-up area to the right of Smiling Irishman. The new lift will service a widened Smiling Irishman, Shelter, the new yet-to-be-named run described earlier, and the backcountry area. The anticipated vertical drop of East Peak is “around 400 ft.” according to Meyer.
Sharing his vision for the resort, Meyer explained that beginners will start learning on the magic carpet, and then progress to the new, modern triple chair, which will provide access to several great beginner runs. Then as they progress in skill, skiers will move onto the intermediate terrain of North Peak, and eventually the expert terrain at South peak. This will ease up some of the congestion mid-mountain, improve flow, and spread riders across more acreage. Looking even further into the future, there is a plan to build a “backcountry lift” that will service a fourth peak that has not been built out yet.
[The new triple] is going to give that person that is discovering skiing a better experience, because they’re going to be able to go to the top, get the views, and they’re going to get the long runs down and it’s going to be great. – Tim Meyer, Caberfae Peaks General Manager
Challenge Mountain is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing year-round adaptive recreation for individuals living with disabilities. In the winter months they offer adaptive skiing, snowboarding, cross country skiing, snowshoeing and sledding on their 160-acre property in a family-friendly environment. During the spring, summer, and fall Challenge Mountain offer a variety of outdoor activities including biking, fishing, and kayaking.
- Know before you go: Challenge Mtn. suggests reviewing their website for details and current COVID-19 guidelines.
We believe that all people, regardless of ability, should have opportunities to experience life and adventure! – Linda Armstrong, Challenge Mountain Program Director
Cross Country Ski Headquarters
Over 11 miles (18 km) of cross-country ski trails suitable for all abilities and “Ginzu” groomed every morning with the same groomer used in the Olympics. All track set and groomed for skaters.
Cross Country Ski Headquarters (XC Ski HQ) is a specialty cross country ski shop and premier Nordic skiing destination in Michigan and throughout the country. Named #2 Cross Country Ski Destination in North America by USA Today’s Reader’s Choice Awards in 2018, XC SKi HQ is most known for pristine ski trails, a warm and welcoming lodge atmosphere, and an outstanding selection of cross- country ski equipment and clothing with top notch service.
- Amenity updates: Visitors to the Headquarters this winter can expect excellent trail grooming, as well as expanded retail selection, updated and expanded rental equipment, and expanded restaurant operations at the onsite Stone Turtle Cafe. The Cafe added six additional propane bonfire pits to the sun deck last season, which doubled the seating capacity and also created an outdoor space for people to gather, eat, and enjoy craft beers and cocktails.
- Event updates: Fun-seekers will enjoy a slew of outdoor events that will take place throughout the winter, including ski lessons, food and drink events, live music, and more. Don’t miss Winter Trails Day on January 8th, where beginner skiers receive a free trail pass and ski lesson, plus discounted rental rates. Foodies should check out Bavarian Ski Festival on January 22nd, Paella on February 6th, and a new evening event called Winter Feast, featuring a rustic, gourmet dinner on January 29th. Several live music events will take place at XC Ski HQ this winter, culminating with Ribs & Blues on February 26th. Many “Learn to Ski” clinics will be offered, including the Free Beginner Ski Lesson every Saturday at 10:30am, plus two Learn to Skate Ski clinics.
375′ vertical drop, 58 runs, 103 skiable acres, 3 terrain parks. 22% Beginner, 48% Intermediate, 30% Advanced
Established in 1956, Crystal Mountain is a family-owned, four-season resort destination located 28 miles southwest of Traverse City and a short drive from Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The 1,500-acre resort features lodging, dining, downhill and cross-country skiing, two championship golf courses, shopping, award-winning Crystal Spa, Michigan’s only alpine slide, Peak Fitness, the Park at Water’s Edge, Michigan Legacy Art Park, weddings, a conference center, and real estate options.
- Snow making updates: Crystal Mountain purchased three new SMI Super Polecat snow guns and 14 HKD Volt snow guns this summer. According to Mike Cutler, Crystal Mountain Director of Operations, the HKD Volt snow guns have the capacity to cover an acre with a foot of snow every three hours. Supporting the new arsenal is 3,500 feet of new snowmaking pipe, bringing the total length of pipe to more than five miles servicing more than 160 snow guns.
- Terrain Parks: Crystal Mountain will feature five terrain parks, including the return of the Pumping Service Pump Track. Terrain park features are in: Jester’s Alley, Little Vincent, Pop’s Peak, Dandy’s Delight and Megan’s Way (pump track).
225′ vertical drop, 11 runs, 1 terrain park, 125 skiable acres. 50% Beginner, 50% Intermediate
Hanson Hills, located in Grayling, is one of Michigan’s first ski areas. Snowboarders will find 3 surface lifts, a terrain park, tubing, and a snowsports school to get you on the slopes. Other options at Hanson Hills include cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and fat tire biking.
- Infrastructure updates: Hanson Hills repaved the parking lot and renovated the bathrooms over the off season.
- Terrain expansion: In celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Hanson Hills Snow Sports School, the resort cleared trees and the old ski school building to expand the learning area’s rideable terrain. Hanson Hills also expanded the tubing hill over the off season.
Hickory Hills Ski Area
15 runs with 3 beginner, 8 intermediate, and 3 advanced runs, 1 freestyle terrain park.
Owned and operated by Traverse City, Hickory Hills offers downhill and cross country skiing right within the confines of the city.
Infrastructure updates: The Hickory Hills crew have been busy over the summer with many new changes. Skiers and riders will now find six rope tows, one conveyor lift and 15 runs, of which 14 are lit for night skiing. They previously had 8 runs. They’ve also increased their cross-country skiing to include 5k of groomed trails, with 1k lit for night skiing.
We plan to host four seasonal events at Hickory Hills for the major activities onsite, including cross-country skiing, disc golf, running, and mountain biking [and] each event would use the lodge, as well as temporary facilities outdoors to support the event activities. -Traverse City statement
240′ vertical drop, 12 runs, 45 skiable acres. 30% Beginner, 40% Intermediate, 30% Advanced
Mt. Holiday is a non-profit ski area in Traverse City with affordable skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing, zip lines (lift tickets are about $20 midweek or weekend evenings, or $34 for a full day weekend).
140′ vertical drop, 10 runs, 1 terrain park, 4 rope tow lifts
Mt. McSauba Ski Area is part of the Mt. McSauba Recreation Area operated by the City of Charlevoix Department of Parks and Recreation. More than just a ski slope, Mt. McSauba is a winter recreation playground. There is a skating rink with a warming cabin on the south side, a lighted sledding hill on the north side and behind the towering dune, a cross-country ski trail. Nubs Nob has taken Mt. McSauba under its wing by providing free engineering to help build its snowmaking system and for selling the City of Charlevoix new snowmakers at a reduced cost.
427′ vertical drop, 53 runs, 248 skiable acres, 3 terrain parks. 30% Beginner, 50% Intermediate, 20% Advanced
Nub’s Nob is arguably a local’s favorite for skiing and snowboarders in northwest Michigan. Expect to find terrain that has the size and variety to keep things interesting, but without the trappings and glitz of a full-scale resort. Nubs Nob embraces this role, curating a reputation for excellent grooming, and some of the best glade runs (runs through the trees) in Michigan. Nubs Nob also brought excitement to terrain park skiers and riders, when it opened a 400′ long halfpipe in 2018-2019.
Nub’s Nob is Nub’s Nob. We try to make it more so rather than bring in novelties that run counter to the vibe and traditions that people love here, that we love too. The terrain is unusually varied for the Midwest, and our two peaks offer slopes facing three different directions so that guests can chase the sun, hide from the wind and cover new ground over 53 runs. It’s a special place. – Nubs Nob
- Lift updates: Nub’s Nob installed a covered magic carpet over the off-season for riders accessing the beginner area. The beginner area, which is free to access and ride the lift, has expanded a bit with the installation of the new magic carpet. The beginner area includes the Purple Lift and the new magic carpet.
- Grooming updates: Snow and grooming continues to be an area of investment at Nub’s Nob. The ski area built an additional 9 snow guns this summer to improve their snow making capability. This brings their total number of guns to 315. Late last season Nub’s added an additional Pisten Bully groomer to their fleet.
- Amenity updates: The Winter Garden is expanded for 2021-2022. Expect more seating, three fire pits, heated concrete, and improved access. Nub’s Nob also invested in all new rental skis and snowboards.
- Terrain updates: Nub’s Nob plans to bring back the 12′ half pipe for the upcoming season and going forward to future seasons, weather permitting. If the pipe is meant to be, it will be built before Christmas Day. However, if Christmas Day passes and weather hasn’t been conducive for building the pipe, you will have to wait and hope for better luck next season.
400′ vertical drop, 32 runs, 136 skiable acres, 3 terrain parks. 36% Beginner, 24% Intermediate, 38% Advanced
Otsego Resort is a four-season resort located just a mile east of downtown Gaylord. Formerly a private club, Otsego is now open to the public. New ownership has been heavily involved in operations and has invested in extensive updates. Arguably one of the easiest of the ‘up north’ resorts to access from much of lower Michigan, Otsego offers on-site lodging, restaurants, short lift lines, terrain for all skill levels, and well-maintained terrain parks.
- Snowmaking updates: Otsego increased their snowmaking capacity by adding nine new tower mount snowguns this year.
Shanty Creek Resort
450′ vertical drop, 41 runs, 70 skiable acres, 4 terrain parks. 24% Beginner, 24% Intermediate, 51% Advanced
Conveniently located in Bellaire, just northeast of Traverse City, Shanty Creek Resort is home to a variety of winter experiences for the entire family. The three distinct villages within the resort – Summit, Schuss, and Cedar River – offer everything from downhill to cross country skiing, terrain parks and tubing to please every skill level and thrill seeker.
- Amenity updates: New this season, helmets are now included with all ski and snowboard rental packages. If you own your own gear, look for the new tuning center at the Schuss Day Lodge. Besides waxing, the new shop has a Montana Crystal SR automated stone grinder and ceramic disc base bevel tuner to get your gear perfectly tuned for the snow.
- Snowmaking updates: Shanty Creek increased their snowmaking capacity by adding seven new snowguns to their arsenal.
- Infrastructure improvements: Night riding just got better at Shanty Creek thanks to improved on-slope lighting systems.
- New deals: Shanty Creek’s Super Sunday program is open to all ages to learn to ski or ride. The program includes a lift ticket, rental equipment, and lesson for only $39, and takes place every Sunday from January through mid-March (except January 16 and February 20). Super Sunday now also includes cross country skiing.
- Non-slope updates: Shanty Creek’s Alpine Tubing at Summit Mountain has extended hours this winter. Visit https://www.shantycreek.com for more information.
210′ vertical drop, 12 runs, 40 skiable acres, 2 terrain parks. 30% Beginner, 50% Intermediate, 20% Advanced
Besides skiing and snowboarding, Snow Snake offers tubing lanes and winter fat bike trails. Snow Snake also offers zip lines, golf, and off-roading in the warmer months. The only remaining downhill ski area in the middle of the state, Snow Snake operates afternoon sessions on weeknights and all day on weekends for about $30.
- Amenity updates: Snow Snake’s rental building came down this past spring. The resort replaced it with a brand-new building over the summer, with increased square footage. Snow Snake has taken advantage of the new space by filling it with updated rental equipment for the upcoming season.
320′ vertical drop, 15 runs, 16 skiable acres, 1 terrain park. 27% Beginner, 47% Intermediate, 27% Advanced
The Homestead is a four-seasons, beachfront resort offering a wide range of unique lodging choices. Winter activities include downhill skiing and snowboarding, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. The Homestead also offers spa and salon services, dining, shopping, and facilities for weddings and special events.
- Amenity updates: The Homestead has rebuilt its cafeteria with a goal of making it exciting and enjoyable for young skiers. There is a section with information on the 10th Mountain Division, as one of its members – Pepi Teichner – taught skiing at The Homestead. There are also sections featuring action-filled photography and copy panels on Olympic skiers.
Of course, our cafeteria will continue to feature the great food that Chef Piombo always creates. – Bob Kuras, The Homestead.
225′ vertical drop, 24 runs, 80 skiable acres, 4 terrain parks. 17% Beginner, 49% Intermediate, 39% Advanced
Treetops Resort, located just west of Gaylord, prides itself in being one of the most family friendly options in northern Michigan.
We are one of the most family friendly ski hills around. Thousands have learned to ski at Treetops over the years, as our terrain is conducive to learning. However, the expert skier will certainly find some challenge here as well. We are the perfect ski hill for the family that desires to turn their kids loose while mom and dad ski on their own or enjoy the confines of one of our restaurants. All three ski lifts converge at the same location. Thus, if you need to find your children, all you need to do is stand at the top of the slopes for 10 minutes and the kids are bound to be coming up one of those lifts. – Kevin McKinley
- Snowmaking updates: Treetops tripled their snow making capacity, increasing from 1000 gallons of water a minute to 3000 gallons a minute pumped uphill. The resort also added six new SMI tower snowguns to take advantage of the extra water flow.
- Tubing updates: Treetops revamped their tubing experience over the summer, building what they call the X-treme Tubing Park. Brad Jacobsen, Treetops Mountain Manager, explained that crews cleared trees and created a second tubing run named “Side Winder” after the “S” shaped curve of the run. Additionally, Treetops installed Tuber Express, a Sunkid conveyor lift for accessing the tubing lanes. Brad explained that the X-treme Tubing Park has double the tubing capacity of the old tubing area. Look for an opening around Christmas.
- Amenity updates: Due to increasing demand last season, Treetops increased its ski and snowboard rental fleet by more than 30%, with state-of-the-art Head equipment.
Upper Peninsula Ski Resort Updates
Big Powderhorn Mountain
600′ vertical drop, 45 runs, 253 skiable acres, 2 terrain parks. 27% Beginner, 40% Intermediate, 31% Advanced, 2% Expert
Voted the #1 “Mom & Pop” ski resort in the country by Men’s Journal, Big Powderhorn Mountain has two full-service restaurants, a dedicated beginner lift, a charming Bavarian-style village with complimentary shuttle service, and 17 feet of annual natural snowfall.
- Snowmaking Updates: Big Powderhorn added a Prinoth Bison X to their fleet of snow groomers over the off season. The Bison X replaces Powderhorn’s old BR350, which is going to Canada to maintain ice roads and enjoy retirement.
Big Snow Resort: Indianhead and Blackjack
Blackjack: 465′ vertical drop, 25 runs, 170 skiable acres, 1 terrain park. 16% Beginner, 32% Intermediate, 44% Advanced 8% Expert
Indianhead: 637′ vertical drop, 32 runs, 240 skiable acres, 1 terrain park. 19% Beginner, 31% Intermediate, 41% Advanced 9% Expert
Big Snow Resort offers snowboarders two mountains for the price of one lift ticket, and even provides shuttle service to take riders from one hill to the other. Besides skiing and snowboarding, Yeti forts, snowmobile rentals, and snowshoeing will provide you with plenty of things to do with the 17 feet of natural snow the resort enjoys every season. Big Snow also has lodging, restaurants, and swimming pools available for the overnighters.
600′ vertical drop, 35 runs, 169 skiable acres, 4 terrain parks. 15% Beginner, 50% Intermediate, 35% Advanced
Marquette Mountain resides on the southern side of Marquette, within view of Lake Superior. Like many of the Upper Peninsula resorts, skiers and snowboarders can expect plenty of lake effect fresh and a persistent snow base. A unique feature at Marquette Mountain is a lift-accessed backcountry area with challenging drops and steep terrain. The new management at Marquette recently hosted a community forum event, and made some changes based on the feedback.
We have a whole zone that is dedicated to backcountry. The ‘East Side’ is served by our Supreme Chairlift and consists of steep runs, glades, cliffs and drops. Our ‘ice monster’ is always a huge hit. It’s a 20’ cliff on the side of Sudden Drop with a snowmaking hydrant on top.
- New attraction: Marquette Mountain welcomes the Tin Man to the mountain! The 17′ steel sculpture was created by artist Bill Secunda for Grand Rapids’ Art Prize exhibition. Find him on hill, location yet-to-be disclosed!
- New hours: Regular season hours are Sunday-Monday 9:00AM-5:00PM, Tuesday- Thursday 10:00AM-9:00PM, and Friday-Saturday 9:00AM-9:00PM.
- Infrastructure updates: Marquette Mountain replaced the cable for Rocket chair over the off season. The day lodge also enjoyed a fresh coat of paint.
- Snowmaking enhancements: Marquette Mountain laid infrastructure to service the new tower guns installed on the west side of Marquette Mountain this summer.
440′ vertical drop, 22 runs, 112 skiable acres, 2 terrain parks. 21% Beginner, 29% Intermediate, 42% Advanced, 8% Expert
Mont Ripley, located in Hancock on the Keweenaw Peninsula, opened in 1934, making it the oldest ski area in Michigan. Mont Ripley is owned and operated by Michigan Technical University. Students at Michigan Tech ski free as part of their tuition, but Mont Ripley is open to the public as well. Night skiing is available Monday-Saturday from January to March.
Mont Ripley boasted 368 inches of snow last season, and its location in the Keweenaw sets it up for lake effect dumps on a regular basis. In fact, the city of Hancock leads the state of Michigan for snowfall, and the Weather Channel ranks them #3 in the country for snowfall.
Mont Ripley is a very challenging hill, with many runs that we leave ungroomed because they’re too steep for any groomer. We leave those runs for powder, which we get a lot of…the quality of the skiers and snowboarders at Mont Ripley is extremely high because of our difficulty. -Nick Sirdenis, General Manager
- Amenity updates: This summer Mont Ripley built a rental pick-up building to replace the tent used last season.
- Aesthetic updates: Lift towers enjoyed a fresh coat of paint over the summer.
- Terrain park updates: Mont Ripley stated that they created some new and improved terrain park features over the off season. Expect a couple kinky toys; a down-flat donkey, and a down-up-down round rail. There may be more!
Mount Bohemia and Voodoo Mountain
Bohemia: 900′ vertical drop, 102 runs, 585 skiable acres. 0% Beginner, 1% Intermediate, 88% Advanced 11% Expert
Voodoo Mountain: 700′ vertical drop, 26 runs, 200 skiable acres. 0% Beginner, 0% Intermediate, 50% Advanced, 50% Expert
The slogan “No beginners allowed” isn’t just a marketing gimmick. Mount Bohemia has the highest vertical in the state; known for ungroomed, wild, and steep tree runs with cliff drops and deep snow. The word has gotten out on Bohemia, and it is often included on “best of” lists with Rocky Mountain resorts, but the remoteness and limited accommodation options has kept it from becoming completely overrun- for now. Mount Bohemia is lift and shuttle-serviced, while Voodoo Mountain is their cat skiing operation. Accommodations include on-site hostel, yurts, and cabins.
- Know before you go: There are no vaccine requirements for accessing Mount Bohemia facilities. Additionally, there are no mask requirements for indoor areas at Mount Bohemia. However, masks are required on Mount Bohemia Shuttle Busses.
- Restriction for non-pass holders: Saturday morning access to Mount Bohemia is limited to season passholders. If you do not have a season pass, a day ticket may be available for riding between 1:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. On that note, Mount Bohemia’s season pass sale starts on November 24th and ends on December 4th. Get yours by visiting www.mtbohemia.com. In addition to unlimited access to some of the best terrain in the Midwest, a Mount Bohemia Pass provides access to ski days at other participating hills. More information is available on their website.
The best days to ski/ride Bohemia are Monday through Thursday. A powder day during midweek literally means fresh tracks all day long. This year to make it even better we plan on running both chairlifts every day. – Mount Bohemia
- Retail updates: Mount Bohemia plans to open a general store this season. The store will feature a large selection of Bohemia logo merchandise, and a selection of grocery items, healthy foods, and beer and wine.
- Food updates: Mount Bohemia added homemade crepes to the morning offerings for this season. Reminder that lodging at Mount Bohemia includes dinner.
300′ vertical drop, 10 runs, 20 skiable acres. 25% Beginner, 50% Intermediate, 25% Advanced
Located on the campus of Gogebic Community College, Mt. Zion is the oldest winter recreation complex in “Big Snow Country.” Owned and operated by GCC, Mt. Zion is open to the public. This complex also serves as a laboratory for the college’s nationally recognized Ski Area Management Program. Known for very reasonable rates, Mt. Zion has numerous “Learn to Ski and Snowboard Programs” for children, and a snow-tubing park.
Pine Mountain Resort
500′ vertical drop, 27 runs, 160 skiable acres, 3 terrain parks. 20% Beginner, 55% Intermediate, 25% Advanced
Fun fact: Pine Mountain is home to something you won’t normally see at a ski resort; one of the highest artificially created ski jumps in the world. Follow Pine Mountain on Facebook for ski jumping events this winter. New owners purchased Pine Mountain Resort, located in Iron Mountain, in 2017. Since then, significant investment into capital improvements took place for lodging and on-hill experience.
Pine Mountain Resort offers the only ski-in/ski-out resort in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and the most family friendly resort in the area. We have skiing and lodging to entertain your entire family. All newly remodeled! -Pine Mountain Resort
- Looking ahead: Pending financing and opportunity, Pine Mountain would like to increase chairlift capacity. Look for these improvements in future seasons.
800′ total vertical drop (670′ lift-served), 18 runs, 250 skiable acres, 16% Beginner, 39% Intermediate, 16% Advanced, 29% Expert
The Porcupine Mountains Ski Area, located just inside the entrance of the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, offers a breathtaking view of Lake Superior to skiers and snowboarders. In addition to spectacular views, Porcupine Mountain provides some of the best backcountry experiences in the area. Be mindful of when you visit, the resort is closed Tuesday-Thursday. However, Porcupine Mountain receives 17 feet of snow annually, so it is likely that skiers will have access to plenty of fresh powder.
In addition to downhill skiing, cross-country ski trails are also accessible from the ski area, as well as ski and snowshoe rentals. Porcupine Mountain is also home to the Snowburst Winter Carnival in February, and the Porcupine Mountains Music Festival every August. Porcupine Mountain also hosts fall color rides on the ski lift each fall.
- Terrain updates: Volunteers helped Porcupine Mountain staff clear trees to open up glade runs throughout the ski area.
Ski Brule Resort
500′ vertical drop, 17 runs, 150 skiable acres, 3 terrain parks. 35% Beginner, 35% Intermediate, 24% Advanced, 6% Expert
Ski Brule in Iron River is a family-centered resort that has made a commitment to be the first to open (sometimes as early as October) in Michigan because of its location and snowmaking capabilities. The Rapids and Snowshoe Terrain Parks make it a favorite of snowboarders and there’s a Learn To Ride program that’s free for first-timers, age 10 and up. The Homestead Lodge is popular and has the built-in coziness of a family homestead dating to 1891. Expect to find a tubing park on the Whitewater Trail.
- Business update: Closed due to the pandemic last winter, Ski Brule IS open this season!
- Building updates: Homestead Lodge received a new deck over the summer. The new deck is 75′ at the longest section now. Additionally, Pioneer Lodge and the Race Competition Center also received new decks. Ski Brule also replaced the roof on the Race Competition Center.
Definition of common ski and snowboard terms
- Bonks – Jib features that you tap or “bonk” with your ski or snowboard.
- Glade Run – Skiing or snowboarding through trees off-trail or on a defined woods trail.
- Green Circle, Blue Square, Black Diamond, Double Black Diamond – These are ski slope rating symbols. Green Circle signifies beginner slopes. Blue Square marks intermediate slopes. Black Diamond signifies advanced terrain and Double Black Diamond marks the expert slopes.
- Grind and Jibbing – To ride your skis or snowboard across anything that isn’t snow. If you hit a rail, a box or even grind a tree, you’re jibbing. The wider definition of jibbing can also include some fun or playful tricks on snow.
- Halfpipe – a U-shaped high-sided ramp or runway used especially in snowboarding, skateboarding, or in-line skating.
- Magic Carpet – a conveyor belt installed at the level of the snow. Passengers slide onto the belt at the base of the hill and stand with skis or snowboard facing uphill. At the top, the belt pushes the passengers onto the snow, and they slide away.
- Powder – Light, fluffy snow that hasn’t been packed down by grooming equipment and hasn’t been skied over.
- Progression Park – A terrain park that’s designed to help skiers and snowboarders progress their skills with features that are learning-friendly.
- Rail Jam – A snowboard event in which contestants hop up on to steel rails, long plastic boxes, handrails or other terrain park features.
- Riders – Snowboarders
- Rope Tow – a type of ski lift in which skiers are hauled up a slope while grasping a looped, endless rope driven by a motor.
- Shred – To ski or snowboard with exceptional speed, ability, or enthusiasm, especially in challenging terrain and conditions. A shredder is one who shreds.
- Skin up – sticking synthetic skins to the bottom of skis or split boards, climbing up a ski trail, then skiing or snowboarding down.
- Slopestyle Event – a winter sport in which athletes ski or snowboard down a course including a variety of obstacles including rails, jumps and other terrain park features. Points are scored for amplitude, originality and quality of tricks.
- Terrain Park – a specially designed outdoor area for freestyle skiing and snowboarding, containing a variety of ramps, jumps, etc.