15 Nov Winter is coming! Read what’s new on Michigan’s slopes and trails.
Ski areas across the state have been hard at work making improvements to get you back on their hills this winter. With over 35 resorts across Michigan, it can be hard to stay in the loop.
Southeast Michigan Ski Area Updates
300′ vertical drop, 25 runs, 100 skiable acres, 3 terrain parks. 34% Beginner, 36% Intermediate, 30% Advanced
Snowmaking enhancements: Alpine Valley reports that they’ve refurbished their fleet of snowmaking cannons to prepare for the upcoming season.
Aesthetics: Upper and lower decks of the lodge have been resurfaced.
Terrain park updates: The half pipe is no more, but in its place riders will find a rail garden terrain park, serviced by a high speed tow rope. Alpine Valley has also fabricated 5 new kinked rails and 4 new lifter tower pole rails to add to the collection of park features. Chair 6 will feature a progression park of smaller boxes, rails, and jump features. Chair 2 will service a slope-style park, where riders will find a traditional fast flowing slope style course with a mix of larger jumps and rails, with a rail jam hub at the base. The rail garden, accessed by the high-speed tow, will feature two sides with 15-24 features that are changed out regularly. Alpine Valley also plans to have a boarder cross course available.
Activities: Beer league ski racing, multiple rail jams, slope style events, and other contests are planned for the season. First Tracks, a program designed for kids 4-11, will introduce new skiers and snowboarders to the sport, with sessions from 10am-12pm and 1pm-3pm. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Keep an eye out for Alpine Valley’s pile poaching party!
230′ vertical drop, 24 runs, 130 skiable acres, 5 terrain parks. 30% Beginner, 40% Intermediate, 30% Advanced
Learn to ski: Ever thought about giving skiing or snowboarding a try? On January 11, National Learn to Ski or Snowboard Day, $10 will get you rental equipment, a 1-hour lesson, and hill access during your lesson.
Senior Ski School Special: A group lesson designed for seniors who want to get out and enjoy winter, every Tuesday meet for this special $15 group lesson with a cup of coffee on the house. (The purchase of a lift ticket is required).
Try Gates Free: Feeling the need for speed? Come out and try the NASTAR race course and get free coaching from 11:30-12:30 on January 12th.
Ready to Ski. Ready to Ride: Sessions begin in January. First-time skiers or snowboarders learn a new sport and take home new skis/bindings snowboard/bindings in this unique multi-week lesson program.
Tree Lighting Celebration: December 16. Celebrate the start of our favorite season with a day of winter fun. Activities include carolers, skiing with Santa, Burton Riglet and the lighting of our holiday tree.
Ski Girls Rock: Sessions begin in January offer two-day camps led by female instructors focusing on empowering young women and building confidence.
350′ vertical drop, 19 runs, 100 skiable acres, 3 terrain parks. 30% Beginner, 50% Intermediate, 20% Advanced
Business update: Detroit-based Wisconsin Resorts – the parent company of Mt. Holly, Pine Knob and Bittersweet – has purchased Searchmont Resort in Sault Ste Marie, Canada in a $2 million deal that was finalized on November 1.
Terrain park updates: The park crew has had a busy offseason of landscape and earth moving activity that has allowed Mt. Holly to expand their terrain park by 20,000 additional square feet of ridable terrain.
Snowmaking enhancements: Mt. Holly has built 10 new snowguns to upgrade and replace existing guns to a higher efficiency design that allows the SE Michigan resort to make more snow with less water and electricity.
Lodge renovations: Guests can expect to find new tile entryways in the lodge, new carpeting in the rental department, along with upgraded heating and ventilation.
Northern Michigan Ski Area Updates
552′ vertical drop, 55 runs, 435 skiable acres, 4 terrain parks. 35% Beginner, 29% Intermediate, 35% Advanced 2% Expert
Terrain park updates: There’s been an increased investment in the Highlands terrain park for this upcoming season. Boyne reports that they’ve added a Pistenbully ParkPro to their fleet to help build out the 4 parks at the Harbor Springs resort. Landscape work has also been underway this summer on the halfpipe, allowing it to open earlier in the season. The MacGully Terrain Park will become the signature park this season, Challenger will offer medium park progression, and Funland will see more features and increased acreage as the smaller, progression park.
Food and drink additions: The popular Smoothie Station is adding three flavors of yogurts and an expanded ingredient bar, and the Ramen Bar will also offer pasta. Fresh baked goods will fuel guests up for a day on the slopes, and a new health conscious corner will cater to those seeking organic and healthy snacks.
Season pass updates: This winter Boyne is participating with the IKON Pass, a season pass with multiple locations around the world. For the 2018/19 season, Boyne Highlands, along with sister resort Boyne Mountain, will offer seven days each on the Ikon Pass and five days each on the Ikon Base Pass with 10 holiday blackout dates. For more information, visit ikonpass.com. Highlands is also experimenting with four new pass products: The Ski Three Pass, Four Fun Pass, High Five Pass and the Dust Off The Rust Pass. The Ski Three Pass is a three-pack of lift tickets available non-holidays for $179. The Four Fun Pass is a four-package of tickets with no blackout dates for $359, and the High Five Pass is a five-pack of lift tickets available non-holiday for $259. All three passes can be used consecutively or non-consecutively.
500′ vertical drop, 60 runs, 415 skiable acres, 7 terrain parks. 29% Beginner, 41% Intermediate, 29% Advanced 1% Expert
Grooming enhancements: Boyne Mountain has added a PistenBully 600 Polar to their fleet of groomers for the 2018-2019 season. The PistenBully 600 Polar is the first snow groomer in the world to meet EU Stage V emissions-control requirements.
Snowmaking enhancements: 1000 feet of new 12″ pipe has been installed on Ramshead, improving snowmaking capabilities.
Season pass updates: This winter Boyne is participating with the IKON Pass, a season pass for multiple locations around the world. Boyne Mountain along with sister resort Boyne Highlands, will offer seven days each on the Ikon Pass and five days each on the Ikon Base Pass with 10 holiday blackout dates. For more information, visit ikonpass.com.
485′ vertical drop, 34 runs, 200 skiable acres, 2 terrain parks. 35% Beginner, 35% Intermediate, 29% Advanced
Snowmaking enhancements: Caberfae reports that they’ve added 4 new SMI Super Pole Cat towers, 9 additional SMI Pole Cat towers, and have installed 1000 feet of new snowmaking pipeline.The upgraded pipes were installed on South Peak and are expected to improve snowmaking on Charlie, Liberty, GG’s Ride, and Bullet.
Beginner ski area enhancements: Caberfae made a lot of updates here, so we’re consolidating this into one area. The beginner area has been improved by changing the grade of the slope and installing a Sunkind Wonder Carpet Conveyor lift, a major improvement for new riders. Caberfae also added 3 SMI Viking snowmaking towers to the bunny slope.
Amenities: Additional storage lockers have been added to the rental facility
Infrastructure improvements: Improvements to the base area include expanded parking, a new paved skier drop off and concrete walkways, and a new courtyard area for summer events.
Cross Country Ski Headquarters
Grooming: An additional tractor will help speed up and smooth out the process of spreading snow along the ski trails. With two tractors, plus a snow-maker and snow-spreader, HQ hopes to offer consistently good skiing on a larger portion of the trail network.
Saturday Free Ski Lesson: Every Saturday at 10:30 you can learn for free. This beginner lesson is appropriate for all ages, and covers the basic of cross country skiing and skate skiing. Participants will learn how to get up after a fall, as well as go up and down hills efficiently and safely. Each lesson ends with a guided ski tour to Trapper’s Cabin, where skiers can continue exploring the HQ trail network, or stop by the bonfire and enjoy hot cocoa or a snack. Ski rentals available.
Other events – Stretch & Slide – a Yoga-Ski Retreat January 19 and Feb. 16. Start the day with a gentle yoga class, followed by a beginner cross country ski lesson. Ski the Beer Trail, February 2, where skiers and snowshoers tour the tasting stations along the ski trail, while enjoying the beauty of the winter forest. Tasty food events take place every winter weekend, including Ribs & Blues on March 2nd, Paella Sundays on January 20 and February 10, Spring Ski Fest & Hawaiian Barbecue on March 16, and the all-new Taste of Gates Dinner, featuring cuisine from the renowned Gates AuSable Lodge, on February 9. Full Moon Night Skiing takes place on December 21, January 18, and February 15. Ski or snowshoe along torch-lit trails and stop in at Trapper’s Cabin for a bonfire and free cocoa.
375′ vertical drop, 58 runs, 103 skiable acres, 3 terrain parks. 22% Beginner, 48% Intermediate, 30% Advanced
Snowmaking enhancements: Crystal Mountain recently completed the installation of a new tower snow gun on the steepest section of Buck, which allows this terrain to open earlier in the season.
Expanded season: Weather permitting, Crystal Mountain intends to extend their season to April 7th this season. This gives those of us that cling to winter an additional option when looking for the last turns of the season.
New trail name: Cheers, home to Crystal Mountain’s NASTAR course, is being renamed Cheers to Lou in honor of Lou Batori, who passed away last year at 107 years of age. You may recall that Lou was a regular at Crystal Mountain- racing until 100, and skiing until he was 106 years old.
Other winter activities: Crystal Mountain will install a new surface on their Barr Park ice rink with a design that should provide more opportunity for figure eights and hockey stops alike. Alongside the new rink will be a new bonfire area to keep warm while enjoying winter.
Green energy transition: For years, Crystal Mountain has lighted five kilometers of its Otter trail for night skiing. The only change to that tradition this year is how the trail is lit. The new lighting won’t rely on a plug but the sun as solar-powered lights brightly illuminate the path ahead for cross-country skiers – only with more energy efficiency.
Terrain park enhancements: New jibs!
Hickory Hills Ski Area
8 runs with 1 beginner, 5 intermediate, and 2 advanced runs that are serviced by 5 rope tows. 1 terrain park.
For those unaware, Hickory Hills is owned and operated by Traverse City, offering night skiing on 7 of the 8 existing runs. In addition to downhill activities, Hickory Hills offers cross country skiing, fireplace, and snack bar.
Expanded terrain: Thanks to a combination of private and public funding, Hickory Hills has added four new trails and widened existing trails.
Additional winter activities: Hickory Hills intends to add a learning center and sledding hill to the ski area.
427′ vertical drop, 53 runs, 248 skiable acres, 3 terrain parks. 30% Beginner, 50% Intermediate, 20% Advanced
Amenity updates: Nubs Nob is adding 215 lockers to their popular slope-side locker room, equipped with new carpeting and LED lighting, all designed to make it easier to get ready to hit the hill.
Aesthetics: Red chairlift is getting a facelift, a fresh coat of paint and new seat pads will greet skiers and riders this season.
Food and drink additions: The Pintail Peak warming house is adding an espresso bar to keep you warm this winter; serving hot drinks on weekends, Mondays, Fridays and weekends. Pintail Peak will also offer food service on weekends and holidays.
Snowmaking enhancements: Nubs Nob added a new drive to their pump house and an additional snow gun to add to their arsenal of snowmaking equipment.
400′ vertical drop, 31 runs, 136 skiable acres, 4 terrain parks. 36% Beginner, 24% Intermediate, 38% Advanced
Business update: Gary Vollmar purchased Otsego Resort, formerly a private resort, this summer for $1.8 million. According to Mike Bedells, General Manager of the Gaylord resort, skiing will remain open to the public for the 2018-2019 season. “It will be similar to last ski season,” he said. “Lockers will be available, and we’ll have as much of the hill open as possible.”
Snowmaking and grooming enhancements: One of the first investments Vollmer made after the purchase was in snow equipment; low-mileage groomers and snow making guns.
Looking ahead: Guests can expect improvements to be made to existing facilities at Otsego, with a priority placed on improvements that benefit customers. Vollmer also purchased 200 adjacent acres which may be developed at a later time. Vollmer intends to retain the staff at Otsego Resort, listing them as a valuable asset to the resort moving forward.
Shanty Creek Resorts
450′ vertical drop, 41 runs, 70 skiable acres, 4 terrain parks. 24% Beginner, 24% Intermediate, 51% Advanced
Amenity updates: Shanty Creek is updating their entire rental fleet for the 2018-2019 season. New rental equipment will include Rossignol skis, ski boots, snowboards, and snowboard boots.
Cross-country Skiing upgrades: Shanty reports several updates related to Nordic skiing for 2018-2019. Nordic trails have been widened to 20 ft. to allow for side-by-side track-set trails and room for groomed skate skiing. This was made possible by the purchase of a new Prinoth Bombadier MP groomer for Nordic trails. Shanty Creek is also bringing a new Nordic Center to Schuss Village. Located at the golf course pro shop, the Nordic Center provides out-the-door access to easy and challenging Nordic trails.
Expanded terrain: Expanded glade options continue this season at Shanty Creek. Treed areas off of the Red Lift have been thinned out to create more approachable lines for tree lovers. These improvements include Torino Glade, Forest Jump, and all along the trees leading to River Run.
Grooming enhancements: Nordic trails aren’t the only ones getting love this season. Shanty Creek also added a new Prinoth Bison X to their fleet of downhill groomers. Additionally, Shanty reports a new cold water source, pumps, and other infrastructure will allow the snowmaking crew to once again increase efficiency and make more snow faster in order to open terrain as early as possible in the early days of the season.
320′ vertical drop, 15 runs, 16 skiable acres, 1 terrain parks. 27% Beginner, 47% Intermediate, 27% Advanced
updates: The Homestead recently opened their new Mountain Village, where visitors will find an indoor/outdoor restaurant with a massive wood-fired grill, new play spaces for children, a splash pad, and a large green space for relaxing and outdoor concerts. There have been updates to the snowmaking infrastructure to improve efficiency. The terrain park is also being expanded to increase freestyle options at the resort. Be on the lookout for tree jib options at the Homestead.
Food and drink additions: The new Mountain Village will include Cavanaugh’s Market, serving everything from groceries and alcohol to ready-to-eat meals, Nonna’s, an upscale Italian restaurant, and Sparks Bar & Grill.
225′ vertical drop, 23 runs, 80 skiable acres, 4 terrain parks. 30% Beginner, 50% Intermediate, 20% Advanced
Amenity updates: Newly renovated lodging rooms, a new dining experience in Hunter’s Grille and the Sports Bar, and an expanded children’s program, including in-room nanny service and winter drop-in hours.
Winter Trail Updates: New this season is the Jones Activity Center offering guests cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and fat tire snow biking on a beautifully groomed trail system. Also available at the Jones Activity Center is ice skating, dogsledding, and sleigh rides. The popular Skiable Feast Adventure is now on the main property, taking guests on a winter culinary adventure with trailside gourmet food and beverage stations.
Snowmaking enhancements: Treetops added another Prinoth Bison X groomer to the fleet late season last year. New this season, snowmaking will be used on 3km of XC trails to make snow conditions the best they can at all times.
Terrain: Treetops added a new top trail for Al’s Bypass, giving the trail its own feel. There’s also a new trail added to the XC system to make it easier to get to lower trails.
Activities: Heikki Lunta Party every Friday night, Kid’s Craft Hours and Amazing Race on Saturdays
Upper Peninsula Ski Area Updates
Big Snow Resort: Indianhead and Blackjack
Blackjack: 465′ vertical drop, 25 runs, 170 skiable acres, 1 terrain parks. 16% Beginner, 32% Intermediate, 44% Advanced 8% Expert Indianhead: 637′ vertical drop, 32 runs, 240 skiable acres, 1 terrain parks. 19% Beginner, 31% Intermediate, 41% Advanced 9% Expert
Additional hours: New night skiing on Friday and Saturday nights until 8pm at both Indianhead and Blackjack.
More winter activities: Snowmobile rentals, Yeti Forts with tubing.
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
Pass pricing update: Under new management, Marquette Mountain cut prices almost in half. Season Passes are $249, Student Pass (7 and up) $99. The Daily Lift Ticket is $25.
Infrastructure improvements: New LED lighting has been installed from Cliff’s Ridge to Ridge run.
Expanded hours: Thanks to the improvements to lighting, Marquette Mountain is now offering skiing and riding from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
Snowmaking enhancements: Marquette plans to extend their ski season with the purchase of 20 SMI snow guns.
Grooming enhancements: The focus on snow at Marquette Mountain extends to their grooming fleet. The U.P. resort expanded their grooming potential with the purchase of two groomers and the repair of a third groomer.
Food and drink enhancements: The Carp River Saloon (open daily at noon) reports an updated menu and reduced drink prices. They’ve also added a new chilled 6-tap system, perfect for après ski activities, which now includes live music on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights from 8 p.m. to10 p.m.
Aesthetics: The Mt. Shop has moved to the location of the former Alpine Room; bigger, brighter, cheerier, and more accessible to the mountain. Plus, the lodge has a fresh coat of paint.
Pine Mountain Resort
500′ vertical drop, 27 runs, 160 skiable acres, 3 terrain park. 20% Beginner, 55% Intermediate, 25% Advanced
Business update: Ski area management reports that an anonymous buyer purchased Pine Mountain over the off-season and has already began making improvements.
Terrain enhancements: The resort is building out a new area for beginners.
Amenities: The hotel bar, restaurant, condominiums, and lodging are all undergoing substantial renovations. A new lobby and so much more is waiting for you at Pine Mountain Resort, in Iron Mountain.
Ski Brule Resort
500′ vertical drop, 17 runs, 150 skiable acres, 3 terrain park. 35% Beginner, 35% Intermediate, 24% Advanced, 6% Expert
Opening day news: Weather permitting, Ski Brule is almost always the first ski area in Michigan to open and best yet, lift tickets are free on opening day.
Terrain park updates: Ski Brule updates their three terrain parks weekly, but keep an eye out for the Acrobag this season. The Acrobag is a tool that will help you focus on learning a new trick without the fear of a hard landing. The Acrobag pass is free with a daily lift ticket and available at Guest Services.