28 Oct Here’s what’s new on Michigan’s slopes and trails 2019/20
Throughout the warm months ski areas across the state have been hard at work making improvements to get you back on their hills this winter. With over 30 resorts across Michigan, it can be hard to stay in the loop. This season, in collaboration with the agnarchy.com, we have reached out to all corners of the state to get you all of the updates for the 2019-2020 ski and snowboard season.
Contact: Mickey MacWilliams, MSIA Executive Director
Office phone: (248) 620-4448 Cell phone: (248) 330-5558
High-resolution photos are available at: https://www.goskimichigan.com/msia-member-photo-galleries/
For this article in Microsoft Word, check here.
The text below is written in laymen’s terms, so skiers, snowboarders or those who have never experienced the sports will be able to learn what Michigan ski areas have to offer. For the hardcore snowboarder (rider), check out agnarchy’s version.
Although we’ve tried our best to make this text easy for non-skiers and snowboarders to understand, we’re including the definition of some ski/snowboard-related terms found throughout this article:
- Bonks – Features that you tap or “bonk” with your skis.
- 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 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, climbing up a ski trail, then skiing 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 skiing and snowboarding, containing a variety of ramps, jumps, etc.
What’s new on Michigan’s ski slopes and trails for the 2019/20 winter
Throughout the warm months ski areas across the state have been hard at work making improvements to get you back on their hills this winter. With over 30 resorts across Michigan, it can be hard to stay in the loop. This season, in collaboration with the agnarchy.com, we have reached out to all corners of the state to get you all of the updates for the 2019-2020 ski and snowboard season.
Southeast Michigan Ski Area Updates
300′ vertical drop, 25 runs, 100 skiable acres, 5 terrain parks. 34% Beginner, 36% Intermediate, 30% Advanced
Alpine Valley is a metro Detroit ski area where many people of all ages first learned to ski. It is also noted for freestyle and boardercross snowboarding. Skiers and riders will find options for every level. Alpine Valley also hosts multiple events throughout the season, so there is always something exciting to do on snow in metro Detroit.
- Snowmaking enhancements: Alpine Valley continues to improve snowmaking for 2019-2020. Refurbished snowmaking guns and upgraded piping will handle larger water volume. Alpine Valley expects that these improvements will allow the resort to open earlier through increased snowmaking.
“Alpine Valley has always been known for hosting great traditional events such as, Slope Style, Rail Jam and Boardercross Races. On top of those events, we are planning to continue to be creative this winter. We will start the season off with the Merry Mitten Classic, our annual Hybrid Banked Slalom event hosted by Olympian, Danny Davis. It will be our goal this season to focus on events that are fun for all ages and skill levels.” -Brian Snabes, Director Marketing/ Freestyle Terrain at Alpine Valley Ski Area
- Terrain park updates: According to Brian Snabes, skiers and snowboarders can expect to see more creativity with snow features keeping up with trends around the industry as well as a few new features. Chair 6 will provide access to a progression park with smaller boxes and rails and jump features. Chair 2 will provide access to a slope style course with a mix of larger jumps and rails with rail jam hub at the base. The high-speed rope will take riders to the rail garden: two lines with a rotation of 15-24 features. Alpine Valley will also maintain a season-long boarder cross that will be open to the public when not used by adult beer leagues.
- Events: Beer league ski racing, multiple rail jams, slope style events, and other contests are on tap for the season- keep an eye on their social media for more information as it becomes available. First Tracks, a program designed for kids 4-11, will introduce new skiers and snowboarders to the sport. The annual Snow Pile Poaching event will return for 2019-2020, held on the snow making piles in our rope tow park. There will be weekly high and long jump contests, as well as a new Adult Beer League Boardercross Series sponsored by Sierra Nevada.
230′ vertical drop, 24 runs, 130 skiable acres, 5 terrain parks. 30% Beginner, 40% Intermediate, 30% Advanced
Handcrafted in 1960, Mt. Brighton is conveniently located halfway between Detroit and Lansing, and less than 30 minutes from Ann Arbor. Vail Resorts 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.
- Female snowboarding:Back for another winter season is Snowboard Girls, a two-day program led by female instructors focusing, on not only improving snowboarding technique, but also empowering girls through the sport and building students’ confidence while developing friendships and teamwork. Visit Mt. Brighton for registration dates.
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 Southeast Michigan ski resorts, with varied terrain that caters to all skill levels. Keep an eye out once the temperatures fall, because Mt. Holly has shown a willingness to blast their snow cannons to open as early as the first half of November when the weather cooperates.
- Snowmaking enhancements: The addition of new snow making machine placements and an underground water/air pipes keep Mt. Holly’s snowmaking arsenal ready for whatever Mother Nature throws at us.
- Amenity improvements:The Mt. Holly Ski Shop underwent renovation in the off-season, undergoing a complete remodel. Cafeteria flooring was also replaced over the summer.
300′ vertical drop, 17 runs, 80 skiable acres, 3 terrain parks. 20% Beginner, 20% Intermediate, 40% Advanced, 20% Expert
Located 30 minutes from Detroit in Clarkston, Pine Knob is a popular place for learning to ski or snowboard, for ski racing and for snowboarders looking for good terrain parks. Not content to sit on success, Pine Knob has had a busy off-season building out new jibs, planning a progression park, and even soliciting a jib bus on social media.
- Run modifications:Pine Knob plans to update the former Snowbird terrain area by creating an “enhanced terrain” run filled with rollers, berms, humps, bumps, and curves. According to Matt Dunn, riders can access the yet-to-be-named run from the two-seater lift and will be enjoyable for all ages and skill levels.
“Once we get the snow blown in the parks, usually the first week in December, we’ll start adding and changing the parks 4 nights a week, every week, so the locals always have a fresh park to shred. We’ve got 8 guys on park crew this year and we plan to bring everyone some super sick stuff this year!” -Matt Dunn, Terrain Park Snow Cat Operator at Pine Knob Ski Area
- Terrain park updates: With welders on staff, Pine Knob has been busy crafting custom reclaimed features to slide, tap and jump from this winter. Dunn reports that he repurposed well water tanks to add to the parks. He has also constructed a new waterfall rail using oil tanks, and even picked up an 11-foot satellite dish to make a grind feature. You may have seen Pine Knob asking followers for leads on a bus for the terrain park- well, they found one! The new short bus will have a wall-ride attached to it and will also double as a meeting space for the park crew. A progression park is coming to Pine Knob this winter which will let park beginners hone their skills on small beginner obstacles.
- Events: Pine Knob has events planned specifically to promote creative terrain park designs. These events will include prizes, music and food. Pine Knob will also host their end of the year Slash Bash event the last weekend in March. The two-day park-oriented event takes place after the resort closes for the season. The park crew will perform a complete terrain park rebuild specifically for Slash Bash.
Southwest Michigan Ski Area 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 ski areas in Michigan. For those that are unaware, Bittersweet is a sister resort to Mt. Holly and Pine Knob in Southeast Michigan, and now to Searchmont Resort in Ontario.
- Terrain Expansion:Bittersweet Ski Resort has had the heavy equipment busy over the summer with their Hawthorn expansion. The resort is adding 400 feet to the Hawthorn lift; 150 feet to the top of the lift, and an additional 250 feet to the base of the hill. This lift expansion lengthens the black diamond Hawthorn run.
- Amenity upgrades:The main lodge has undergone extensive renovation during the offseason. The ticket window and offices were renovated, the ski shop and ski school have been rebuilt, and the bar and snack shack have been expanded with excellent views of the hill from the lodge to be enjoyed from additional seating.
Cannonsburg Ski Area
250′ vertical drop, 21 runs, 100 skiable acres, 5 terrain parks. 35% Beginner, 50% Intermediate, 15% Advanced
Cannonsburg Ski Area was established in 1965 and offers outdoor activities and events all year round. Located just 15 minutes northeast of downtown Grand Rapids, Cannonsburg has 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.
Mulligan’s Hollow Ski Bowl
130′ vertical drop, 6 runs, 7 skiable acres, terrain parks. 25% Beginner, 25% Intermediate, 25% Advanced, 25% Expert
Serviced exclusivity 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. Parents ski and snowboard free at Mulligan’s Hollow!
“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 in cooperation with Reliable Sports, 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 is Michigan’s southernmost ski area, the closest place to ski and snowboard in Michigan if you are from Chicago or Indiana. Swiss Valley boasts the highest elevation in southwest Michigan and night skiing on 100% of their terrain.
250′ vertical drop, 16 runs, 50 skiable acres, 2 terrain parks. 44% Beginner, 38% Intermediate, 0% Advanced, 19% Expert
Timber Ridge is a ski area 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 expert, where most of the trails are at easy or intermediate levels.
- Snowmaking enhancements:Timber Ridge is thinking snow with the purchase of a TechnoAlpin TF10 snow gun. The mobility of the new snow gun will allow Timber Ridge to target snowmaking as needed.
- Updated hours:Expect extended hours this winter, Timber Ridge recently announced night skiing until 10:00 pm on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. With this update, expect expanded hours in the Snowshoe Bar for food and drinks Thursday-Saturday as well.
Northern Michigan Ski Area Updates
552′ vertical drop, 55 runs, 435 skiable acres, 4 terrain parks. 35% Beginner, 29% Intermediate, 35% Advanced, 2% Expert
Boyne Highlands (located directly across the street from Nubs Nob) offers more vertical drop and acreage than any other resort in the lower peninsula. Known for varied terrain and long runs, Boyne Highlands goes out of their way to promote a family friendly atmosphere. Boyne Highlands is also home to a 13′ halfpipe. Improvements made last summer allowed the halfpipe to open earlier last year than in previous seasons. As a destination resort, Boyne Highlands offers more than skiing and snowboarding. Visitors will find tubing, zip lining, outdoor pools, a spa, horseback riding, and more.
- Amenity updates:Boyne Highlands is preparing for an extensive transformation of their main lodge. When complete, 85 rooms and suites will transform into luxury accommodations. The renovation also includes a multi-level European-style spa facility, reimagined restaurants, modernized conference facilities, new swimming complex, and more. Phase 1 began this summer. During this phase, Boyne Highlands is renovating two model hotel rooms. Boyne Highlands emphasized that the hotel will remain open to the public during all construction phases, which will be limited to midweek daytime hours in order to minimize disruption for guests.
“The transformation to an upscale, luxury hotel is underway and when complete, the newly well-appointed rooms and suites will feature refined elegance through the use of textures, patterns, and metals in deep, earthy tones and wood focal points.” – Boyne Resorts
- New season pass products:Boyne Highlands has rolled out the Happiness Card for the 2019/20 season, offering a preloaded and reloadable one-, three-, and five-day lift ticket card. The Cool Kids Pass, priced at $149 for ages 6-12 within a regional five-county area, is now unlimited during the 2019/20 season. Boyne has also brought back a Highlands-only pass product this season. For full details on the Happiness Card, Cool Kids Pass, and more, visit com/passes.
- Technology updates:Boyne Highlands will begin using scanning technology on four lifts this season: Heather Express, Challenger, Amy’s, and Interconnect. Lift tickets and season passes will be scanned streamlining and securing access to lifts.
- Learning center updates:The SnowSports Academy will emphasize terrain-based learning this winter; a fun-first approach to teaching that uses perfect slopes, banked turns, rollers, and a mini-pipe.
- New events:A new family relay race, the Homecoming Hot Cocoa Hustle, is taking place on January 25 during Homecoming Weekend, along with the return of the popular Highlands Downhill on January 26. A skier/boarder cross has also been added to the line-up during the Bacon & Bourbon Bash on January 19.
- Looking ahead:Phase 2 of the transformation begins in February 2020. During this phase, 85 guest rooms will undergo renovation, with an expected completion of December 2020. Phase 3 will begin in March 2020 and will include the renovation of the main lodge’s Tower Lobby. Phase 4 of the project will begin in the spring of 2021. During Phase 3, the main lodge’s center wing will undergo a complete rebuild and renovation. Stay tuned to Highlands Future for updates on this project.
500′ vertical drop, 60 runs, 415 skiable acres, 7 terrain parks. 29% Beginner, 41% Intermediate, 29% Advanced 1% Expert
The 2019/20 season at Boyne Mountain Resort in Boyne Falls brings continued snowmaking investments, scanning technology, the start of the Edelweiss Lodge renovation, Sno-Go bikes, online activity sales, a new app and events, enhanced Cherry Pickers Pass, and new Village store.
- On the Slopes: Boyne Mountain consistently offers Lower Michigan’s longest ski season, thanks in large part to its continuous investment in its snowmaking infrastructure. This season, Boyne Mountain is testing two new HKD Klik snowmaking hydrants as a step towards snowmaking automation. Two snowmaking pumps have been rebuilt for increased snowmaking capability and the resort has replaced 400-feet of snowmaking mainline pipe and added valves on Meadows for increased flexibility. Also on the slopes, glade skiing has been expanded on Hemlock and Victor, and lift and race houses on Superbowl, Ramshead, and Alpine have received makeovers.
- Scanning passes: Boyne Mountain will begin using scanning technology on six lifts this season: Mountain Express, Meadows, Superbowl, Ramshead, Disciples I, and Alpine. Lift tickets and season passes will be scanned streamlining and securing access to lifts. The use of scanning is the first step toward the resort’s plans to utilize technologies to improve time to lift as well as tailor products and communications based on guest use of the slopes.
- Renovation info: The on-hill Edelweiss Lodge is undergoing an extensive top-to-bottom renovation beginning in January 2020. The transformation will create a refined mountain lodge with soft, natural elements and textures establishing a sense of modern luxury. The 36-room hotel sits directly on the slopes and is surrounded on all sides by snow. Adding to its ambience is the addition of a fire pit area and hot tub. The Lodge will reopen in December 2020.
- Sno-Go Bikes: Sno-Go bikes apply the familiarity of riding a bike with the fun of sliding on snow. Boyne Mountain is offering bikes for rent and additional bikes for sale through its Boyne Country Sports store.
- Online improvements: Guests to Boyne Mountain can now make many of their activity purchases in advance of arrival From ziplining to fat tire biking, tubing to splashing in Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark, a one-stop shop for activities, events and dining experiences is now available online through Boyne Mountain’s eStore at shop.boynemountain.com.
- Boyne Mountain App: Boyne Mountain is launching a new App for this winter providing users with access to quick and convenient ski tracking, conditions reporting, 3-D trail and resort wayfinding, webcams, as well as links to purchase lodging, lift tickets, resort activities, and attractions. The free App can be downloaded from Apple iTunes Store, or Google Play beginning December 1.
- Ski for MS Vertical Challenge: Featuring Jonny Moseley, the Ski for MS Vertical Challenge will take place on February 29, 2020. The five-hour fundraising challenge benefits families living with multiple sclerosis and Challenge Mountain, a Boyne Falls-based organization that offers adaptive recreation to people living with disabilities.
- Cherry Pickers Ripens with Frequency Lift Discounts: Boyne Mountain’s Cherry Pickers Pass, providing three-and six-day ticket options, is ripening the deal with new direct-to-lift access and the option to add on additional lift tickets at a discounted rate. A three-day pass is $179, and a six-day pass is $299. The non-transferable Pass can be used consecutively or non-consecutively; holiday blackout dates apply.
- More retail: The North Face has added a second store location in the Village at Boyne Mountain. In addition to its Base Camp store, The North Face has opened a Summit Store that offers performance line and gear.
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 that want to experience power skiing. 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 is where skiers and snowboarders will find more steep and advanced terrain.
“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
- Snowmaking enhancements: Caberfae has made snowmaking improvements nearly every year in recent memory, and they continue to invest in snowmaking for 2019-2020. SMI Super PoleCats are replacing older snow machines at the top of Liberty/Charlie, Bullet/GG’s Ride, Smiling Irishman, and at the junction of Smiling Irishman and Shelter runs. These upgrades allow Caberfae to save 30% on energy while delivering 25% more water resulting in more snow at less cost. Caberfae is also installing additional piping so that they can run three additional snow machines on the Number 1 run. As for existing pipes, Caberfae has replaced an 8″ pipeline from the pump house with a 12″ line. More water + better pressure = more snow.
- Amenities:Mackenzie Lodge improvements continue for 2019-2020. This year Caberfae Peaks has added 3 additional guest rooms to the first floor of their slope-side lodge. Visitors can expect to enjoy king beds and pullout sofas in these ski-in/ski-out rooms.
Cross Country Ski Headquarters
11 miles (18 km) of cross-country ski trails, 42% flat, 58% moderate
Named one of the “10 Best Cross Country Ski Resorts” by USA Today in 2018, Cross-Country Ski Headquarters is back in action this season with the same pristinely groomed XC ski trails, award-winning retail selection, day lodge, café, free ski lessons, and Nordic expertise that it is known for. Additionally, this hotspot for outdoor winter fun is upping the game this year, with a slew of new events and activities.
- Events: Headlining the event calendar is Bavarian Ski Festival on January 25, 2020 with a stein-holding contest, Team Ski Time Trials, (3 people on one giant pair of skis), a costume contest and authentic Bavarian fare. Other events rounding out the schedule include Stretch & Slide Yoga Retreat on January 4, Winter Trails Day and Padre Tacos on Jan 11, Around the World Wine and Ski Tour on Feb 1, Bob’s Bean Bomb Outdoor Cooking Demo on Feb 2 , Mason Tract Rendezvous on Feb 8 , Ribs & Blues on Feb 29, plus Full Moon Night Skiing on several dates throughout the winter. All are welcome to the Free Beginner Ski Lesson every Saturday at 10:30 a.m. starting December 7th.
- Trail Enhancement: Grab your snowshoes and prepare for a winter adventure on the newly extended Aspen Wilderness snowshoe trail. This “single-track” style trail, specifically designed for snowshoers, weaves through beautiful forest terrain, leading to to Trapper’s Cabin, where skiers and snowshoers alike can enjoy a bonfire and small menu of food and drinks on weekends.
375′ vertical drop, 58 runs, 103 skiable acres, 3 terrain parks. 22% Beginner, 48% Intermediate, 30% Advanced
Crystal Mountain is a family-owned resort and conference center 40 minutes from Traverse City and Cadillac. In addition to their extensive collection of traditional groomed trails, there are 6 designated glade areas of varying difficulty. Beginners will learn to navigate the trees in EIO and Backyard #8 glades, while more advanced skiers and snowboarders will find Last Call, Glacier Valley, Gorge, and Buck glades more their speed.
- Run modifications:Crews are sculpting terrain where Tuck’s and Emmy merge with Main Street, the beginner trail that runs down the middle of the front-side slopes, to provide more room and visibility for skiers and riders. As part of an ongoing project to remove the retired Cheers lift, the lower terminal will be gone by the time snowmaking begins which will create better traffic flow to the Buck quad chairlift.
- Grooming updates:Crystal Mountain acquired a new Pisten Bully 400 groomer for its fleet.
- Beginner pass options:For $99, the Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month Beginner Passport gives each student three one-hour beginner group lessons and rental. Those completing all three lessons by January 31 receive a discounted 2019/20 Premier Season Pass. Advanced reservations are required for each lesson, call 888.968.7686 ext. 2000. The March at the Mountain Lesson Card lets you learn while enjoying the snow and sunshine during the last month of the season. It includes three lessons for $149.
22 km of cross-country ski trails, 40% beginner (flat), 60% moderate
Winter turns into a magical season at Garland as it is transformed into a winter wonderland. With more than 20 KM of well-groomed deep woods cross-country trails, Garland proves that it is more than a golf resort. Beginning just after Christmas and lasting weekends & holidays through February, Garland also offers access to the state snowmobile trail network, ice skating, sledding and sleigh rides.
- Events: Garland features a series of events called Nordic Nibble & Nosh, where guests glide the groomed trails, enjoy signature cocktails and culinary delights, all while enjoying the scenic beauty of the pristine north woods. Beginning in mid-January, each weekend will feature a special theme to add to the fun.
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. Skiers and snowboarders will find 3 surface lifts, a terrain park, tubing, and a snowsports school. Other options at Hanson Hills include cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and fat tire biking.
- Infrastructure improvements: Hanson Hills installed new sidewalks and entryways over the summer.
Hickory Hills Ski Area
8 runs with 1 beginner, 5 intermediate, and 2 advanced runs, 1 terrain park.
Owned and operated by Traverse City, Hickory Hills offers night skiing on 7 of the 8 existing runs. In addition to downhill activities, Hickory Hills offers cross-country skiing, fireplace, and snack bar.
- Phase 1 Improvements:Beth Milligan, head writer for the Traverse City Ticker, reported that Hickory Hills is nearly complete with the first phase of $4 million in improvements, which includes new trails, as well as a new ski lodge, parking upgrades, a new maintenance building, and trail and disc golf expansion.
- Looking Ahead:Hickory Hills intends to become a year-round destination in the Traverse area, with a city proposal that outlined possible uses such as an amphitheater with outside event entertainment, a challenge/ropes/adventure course, climbing wall, nature center, summer camp for kids, yoga retreat, zip line course, and an ice rink.
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).
“The organization was founded to get kids outside, keep kids active and to do something other than sitting in front of the TV and playing video games.” -Ann Pettyjohn, Executive Director
- Snowmaking enhancements:Thanks to supporters, Mt. Holiday happily announced the installation of a new $1.3 million water system that will allow them to build a better snow base in 2019-2020.
427′ vertical drop, 53 runs, 248 skiable acres, 3 terrain parks. 30% Beginner, 50% Intermediate, 20% Advanced
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 in Michigan. Nubs Nob also brings a strong park game to northern Michigan, opening a 400′ long halfpipe last season. Stay tuned for updates on a potential return of the pipe for 2019-2020
“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.” -Brian Boeckl, Marketing Director at Nubs Nob
- Amenity updates:Nubs Nob expanded their back deck, which now provides more seating for the adjacent pub, improved access to the outdoor seating area “Winter Garden”. Brian Boeckl believes that it will be the perfect place to spend a bluebird afternoon this winter.
Nubs Nob also made notable improvements to the Brown Bagger. Regulars will tell you that the Brown Bagger, located in the basement of the lodge, is where Nubs Nob allowed customers to store food and gear. Nubs took the opportunity to point out that many resorts prohibit or discourage outside food. This isn’t the case at Nubs Nob, as evidenced by the investments in the Brown Bagger: a new changing room, new bathrooms, more seating, and increased free storage space and a counter with power outlets for crockpots.
- Aesthetics: This summer Nubs Nob crew refurbished the flagship Green Lift in a project that included brighter paint and new seat cushions.
- Snowmaking enhancements: An additional well for the snowmaking pump house was dug over the summer, providing more horsepower to crank the snow for earlier openings when the temperatures cooperate.
- Grooming enhancements: Nubs also invested in grooming over the offseason with the purchase of a Pisten Bully Winch Cat for grooming the front side steeps.
- Uphill Ski Expansion: The Nubs crew added a dedicated snowshoe and uphill ski trail, called the Upper Orange Loop. This new trail is also open to uphill skiers, so that they can skin up the snowshoe trail and descend through the surrounding glades.
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.
- Night skiing:Otsego Resort has installed lights to Chairlift 4 and 5, opening up the back hill to night skiing for 2019-2020.
- Terrain expansion:Otsego Resort has also been quietly expanding terrain in the offseason. Explore the backside of Otsego Resort and discover 3 additional yet-to-be-named ski runs.
- Snow-related activities:Otsego Resort is expanding snow tubing this year, increasing lanes to 3 for 2019-2020. The party continues after dark too, as Otsego introduces Disco Tubing this winter; expect to find LED-lit tubing lanes and music. Hour-long sessions are $10 with lift ticket, $20 without.
Shanty Creek Resorts
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:This season Shanty Creek has added additional seasonal lockers.
- Technology updates: Shanty Creek is expanding online ticket, tubing and snowsports school pre-purchase options. Additionally, Shanty is adding additional kiosks for lift ticket redemption and fulfillment so that guests spend less time in line and more time on the hill.
- Aesthetic updates:The Pink and Yellow chairlifts have seen some love in the offseason; expect them to look fresh on opening day.
- Infrastructure improvements:Pink lift parking has been expanded for 2019-2020
“The Monster Park, sponsored by Monster Energy, mixes jump lines with rails and boxes, and incorporates an all-glades section with all-natural park features.” – Shanty Creek Resort
- Non-snow activities:For those who cannot wait for the spring golf season to arrive, Shanty Creek is excited to announce they will be the first Northern Michigan resort to offer Topgolf’s Swing Suite, an immersive experience featuring massive virtual screens and a selection of exciting virtual games. The Swing Suite offers a one-of-a-kind experience that is fun for golfers and non-golfers alike. Offering multiple Topgolf-style games, along with arcade-style games like dodgeball, baseball, football, carnival classics and more, Shanty Creek’s Topgolf Swing Suite at the River Bistro will be ready to welcome guests this winter season.
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 during winter. Snow Snake also offers zip lines, golf, and off-roading in the warmer months. The only downhill ski area in the middle of the state, Snow Snake operates afternoon sessions on weeknights and all day on weekends for about $30.
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.
225′ vertical drop, 23 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, Director of Golf and Ski Operations at Treetops Resort
- Terrain expansion:Treetops Resort will unveil new glade terrain for 2019-2020. Located between Hemlock Hollow and Kathryn’s Way, the glades will lead to the bottom of Lift #3. Expect to find open lines between the trees, with some narrower turns closer to Kathryn’s Way. It faces northwest out of the wind, allowing fresh snowfall to gather.
- Events:Watch out for Skiable Feasts, a progressive meal enjoyed on cross country skis or snowshoes. Treetops Resort has changed the route for this season. Also, keep an eye out for dog sledding on various weekends in December, January, and February.
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.
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 skiers and 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 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 sees every season. Big Snow also has lodging, restaurants, and swimming pools available for the overnighters.
- Events:Live music every Friday and Saturday. Weekly theme dances and parties. Appreciation weeks for school employees, medical fields. Visit http://www.bigsnow.com for more details.
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, guests can expect plenty of lake effect fresh and a persistent snow base throughout winter and spring. 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.” -Andrew Farron, General Manager
- Infrastructure improvements: Marquette Mountain installed lighting on Upper Snowfield over the summer, opening up the top of the Rocket chair to night skiing. Chute and Shaker now have LED lighting, and Contour will have additional light fixtures this winter. Chairlift maintenance is also ongoing; Marquette Mountain expects to have all chairs in service for the season.
- Updated hours: Tuesday-Saturday: 10:00am to 8:00pm, Sunday: 10:00am to 5:00pm, closed Monday unless there’s powder (yep!).
- Snowmaking enhancements: The east side of Marquette Mountain will see snowmaking restored this season. Upgrades to pipes, pumps, and snowmaking electrical systems also occurred during the off-season; allowing the resort to run all 20 snow guns at the same time.
- Terrain park updates: The Chute run will no longer be a terrain park; instead, skiers and snowboarders will look to the Contour run and the shoulders of Ridge for freestyle options.
- Parking updates:Marquette Mountain is widening the parking near Chairlift #3 to accommodate 4 rows of parking. Improved snow removal and signage will improve parking conditions for this season.
440′ vertical drop, 24 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.
“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
- Snowmaking enhancements: Piling on top of the lake effect snow, Mont Ripley added to their snowmaking capability for 2019-2020 with the purchase of an additional snow gun.
- Grooming enhancements:Mont Ripley added a snow cat to the fleet to improve grooming capabilities.
- Aesthetics:Expect to see minor improvements and fresh paint when you visit Mont Ripley this season.
- Looking ahead:Mont Ripley is working towards the construction of bigger ski chalet, adding a beginner run that extends the vertical length of the hill, and adding additional parking.
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 drop 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. Mount Bohemia is lift and shuttle-serviced (meaning it is a chairlift ride up and depending on the run taken, a shuttle van picks up at the base of the run.) At Voodoo Mountain, a snow cat vehicle brings skiers to the top of the slopes. Accommodations include on-site hostel, yurts, and cabins.
- Base lodge enhancements: This December Mount Bohemia will open the first Nordic spa at the base of ski resort in North America. The Nordic Spa will feature a hot outdoor pool (90 degrees), a large outdoor hot tub, a cold pool (60 degrees), eucalyptus steam room, a Russian sauna, an outdoor fire pit, and a log cabin bar with relaxation coaches. Not only is this the first Nordic spa ever built at the base of a ski resort but all Mt. Bohemia season passholders will get to use the Nordic spa for free. Non lodging guests and non-season passholders can pay $25 a day to use the Nordic spa. So, what is a Nordic Spa? It Is a process of hot (hot tub hot pool, sauna, or steam room usually for 15 minutes) followed by cold (cold pool or cold waterfall for 30 seconds to one minute) then followed by relaxation (log bar relaxation room 10 minutes) and then the cycle is repeated, usually three times. The Nordic spa will operate from 2 to 11 p.m. weekdays and on weekends from 12 to 11p.m.
- Events: Bohemia will launch a festive beach party every Saturday from 4 to 7 pm at its Nordic spa. Carolina beach music, barbeque, pool volleyball, and other fun events promise to create the liveliest après ski party in the Midwest. Beach party is open to all season passholders, day ticket holders, and day Nordic spa users.
- Infrastructure improvements:Bohemia has added new snowshoe trails to complement its new Nordic spa. There is also a new backcountry run at the bottom of badlands that goes to the road where the shuttle picks up.
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 park. 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, last year. In 2018, the focus was on improvements to resort amenities. This year, on-hill improvements are the focus.
- Snowmaking upgrades:Pine Mountain has installed additional water pipes and additional electricity in order to improve snowmaking capabilities.
- Terrain expansion:Recently released trail maps introduce Boomerang, Compromise and Adrenaline runs for 2019-2020. Boomerang resides in the location of the defunct Dipsey run. Adjacent is Turbulence, a mogul run. Previously unofficial glade runs, Pine Mountain put Compromise and Adrenaline on the map and labeled them as ungroomed double black diamond terrain.
“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.
600′ vertical drop, 15 runs, 12% beginner, 47% intermediate, 18% advanced, 23% 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. The ski hill offers 15 groomed trails, as well as four glade trails. Cross-country ski trails are also accessible from the ski area, as well as ski and snowshoe rentals. With views this special, there’s no rush to get to the bottom of the hill. The ski area is also home to the Snowburst Winter Carnival in February and the Porcupine Mountains Music Festival every August. In fall, the hill also hosts fall color rides on the ski lift.
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.
- Opening day news:Weather permitting, Ski Brule plans to continue their streak of being the first in Michigan to open. Friday, November 8th is the target opening date. Ski Brule also announced that lift tickets are free on their opening Friday. Planned open terrain includes Log Jam, Bunny Trail, and Bambi.