Shredder with a gnarly reputation? Are you a novice rider? In the Mitten State, whatever your skill level, a wonderful glide awaits you. These are Michigan's top ski runs. (Click here to see all Northern Michigan Ski Lifestyle Homes for Sale)
- LOIS LANE TO NORTH PEAK PASS // BOYNE HIGHLANDS
The longest run in Michigan, at 1.25 miles, receives a firm green circle, indicating that anyone who can slide onto a chairlift and "build a pizza" with their skis should have no trouble going top to bottom. On a clear day, you can see the Mackinac Bridge from the top, but the pleasure of this race is the time spent on the hill. It's a no-frills look at the pure joy of being outside in Northern Michigan during the winter. There's ample ski time to rest wobbly legs thanks to the resort's longest chairlift ride. Return to the summit for an Aonach Mor Moonlight Dinner, which takes place on certain dates throughout December, January, and February. (Click here to see Northern Michigan's finest collection of ski-in/ski out vacation rentals)
- CAT TRACK TO PLEASANTVIEW TO PANDA LAND // NUB’S NOB
With this winding yet relatively gentle series of runs, you may travel from the summit to the sheltered countryside. The narrow cut of Cat Track can make the hill feel crowded at times, but it's still a great, short arc to Pleasantview, which is always well-groomed. Panda Land, a collection of interesting metal sculptures set alongside the hardwood trail, is the true draw here. It's a must-ride because of the bizarre component of silver-colored life-size bears, deer, a swooping eagle, and more. Consider this: art outside, only visible when skiing.
Check out this video for a look at the Skiing Lifestyle
Those Looking for Powder
- EVERYWHERE // MOUNT BOHEMIA
Any best-of Michigan ski list that doesn't include the phrases "powder" and "Mount Bohemia" is a joke. This Upper Peninsula treasure exemplifies extreme adventure as the motherland of Midwest wild tracks. No grooming, largely glade skiing, big vertical, exceptionally long slopes, cliffs, and 273 inches of snowfall on average.
Skiers in Bohemia keep a close eye on the weather forecasts like hawks. It's go time as soon as the Keweenaw becomes buried in snow. This resort's first tracks are a badge of distinction. Mt. Bohemia ranks as heaven on Earth for true dedicated skiers and riders due to its low-key ambiance and difficulty level.
- BACKCOUNTRY TERRAIN // CABERFAE PEAKS
It's not easy to find areas to boot-in (or, trek up the hill) around here, so extra points to Caberfae Peaks in Cadillac for making the deliberate decision a few years back to allow off-piste purists to earn their turns. The region is an au naturale gladed 25-plus-acre site with chutes, glades, and untracked powder located to the east of the resort's North Peak. Because there is no grooming and no lift access, the workout is worthy of bragging rights at the après ski bar.
- BUCK GLADES // CRYSTAL MOUNTAIN
Buck Glades, a massive glade situated between Hoot Owl (easy) and Buckaroo (expert), provides everything you need for some wild and rugged fun without the trouble. After a large storm, powder hounds can't get enough of the Buck Quad chairlift, which puts skiers and riders right next to the glade's drop-in. The Buck Glades' woodlands are narrow in some places and open in others, providing excellent practice for selecting the optimum fall lines (without smacking face-first into a tree).
- ARENA GLADE // NUB’S NOB
- While Nub's is well-known for its excellent snowmaking and corduroy-track grooming, true ski and snowboard enthusiasts know that the resort also has a secret stash of some of the state's best glade lines. The "no friends on powder days" rule really applies here, as the glades are so popular that they get tracked out in half a day even after a good snowfall. Arena Glades, out of the four official glades at Nub's, is the most popular.
To get to the summit, take the high-speed rope tow that runs alongside an extremely steep slope dedicated to ski race training, then stroll a short distance through the forests to the greatest lines. When the new powder isn't falling, the Nub's grooming staff doesn't interfere with the glades, which means fallen trees and handcrafted jumps make for natural park-skiing enjoyment.
Perfection in Panoramic Views
- CRYSTAL CLIPPER HIGH-SPEED CHAIR // CRYSTAL MOUNTAIN
Skiers will be stopped in their tracks, especially at night, when they ride the resort's high-speed quad to a view of the hamlet below. Beginner, intermediate, and expert run possibilities are available within a short distance of the lift, making it accessible to everybody. The 375-foot vertical drop and wide-open slopes provide enough turn time to enjoy the scenery, which encapsulates the resort's spirit. The resort obtained enough wind power from a wind farm to meet the Clipper lift's electricity needs.
- BIRCH RUN/ROUND HOUSE // TREETOPS RESORT
It's pointless to compare Michigan ski resort vistas to the stunning views of enormous mountains; instead, appreciate where we are: a place formed by glaciers with more forests than people. A horizon of red maple, aspen, and beech hardwood forests, strewn with evergreen hemlocks and pines, may be seen from the summit of Birch Run and Round House. The scene is an elaborate natural network of white-lined trees and low-slung clouds on a powder day. It has a subtle elegance to it. It's time to return home.
- PEARLY EVERLASTING // HOMESTEAD RESORT
Given that the Homestead is located beside Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, which was chosen as the most beautiful spot in the country during a Good Morning America TV show contest in 2011, it's little wonder that it made the list. With a horizon of blue so close that one view is worth a whole weekend vacation, Lake Michigan takes center stage here (the ski hill here is open weekends and holidays only, though the resort is open seven days a week).
While the bayside might experience Arctic gusts, the gentle slope, and breathtaking views more than compensate for the coolness. The snow and blue of the water and sky on sunny days serve as a constant reminder of why it's important to view the lake in all seasons.
- KINGDOM COME // SCHUSS MOUNTAIN @ SHANTY CREEK
A swear word or two may be said by some. Some merely scoff and say, "No way." Kingdom Come, on the other hand, boasts one of the best gut-drop lines in the tip of the mitt for the courageous people looking for hard steeps in Michigan. The 450 feet of vertical have held a number of regional and state high school ski meets, but you don't have to wear a speed suit to participate. It's fast, with a nasty pitch, and a front-end roll that feels like a rollercoaster. What's not to like about that?
- HEMLOCK // BOYNE MOUNTAIN
In these parts, a 500-foot vertical drop is rare, but Boyne Mountain's Hemlock has long been the stuff of ski legends. It's the original terrifying steep. Because you can't see the entire slope from the top, you know the drop is significant. While most people's first run down Hemlock takes less than a minute, the memory of that first run lasts a lifetime.
- THE DARK SIDE // BOYNE HIGHLANDS
This hill collects adrenaline-junkie screams all winter long with a double-pitch and end-of-run roller. The Dark Side's unique fall line is challenging enough, and the mogul build-up is scary, but the true stomach twister is the spectator action since the run is in direct line view of the Heather High-Speed chair. It's almost like skiing in a stadium, so if your turns are flawless, you'll be greeted with applause. If you're having trouble, keep in mind that jeers from other skiers should be received in good fun.
Check out this video for a look at the Skiing Lifestyle, or click here to learn more about Ski Homes for Sale.
Brook Walsh on