Four Heartland ski resorts made some significant improvements adding new chairlifts for the coming season. Most were to improve access to already existing areas of the ski hills, and one was to create more area and add new trails.
Michigan's Boyne Mountain will have the Midwest's first eight-seat, high-speed lift in operation this winter for their Disciples Ridge replacing two older slower lifts. It will dramatically change that area. For some time it has offered some of the best terrain on the Mountain from easy to advanced, but it was way under utilized. It wasn't easy to get over there, and the lifts were very slow cutting down on slope time. All of that will change with new access and this new lift. It will be like discovering a whole new area. And, for those who say it's unneeded in the Midwest you know little about Heartland skiing and riding.
Caberfae Peaks, also in Michigan, has added a new triple chair this past summer replacing an old double that only went half way up the ski hill. The new lift will unload on a new third Peak opening up more terrain including a new trail and easier access to their 25-acre backcountry area. It will increase uphill capacity and dramatically decrease the mid-mountain congestion on the popular first Peak terrain.
In Ohio Boston Mills/Brandywine ski area, located between Cleveland and Akron, have replaced a couple of old chairlifts with quad chairlifts that will greatly increase uphill efficiency at both locations. They replaced a double on the Boston Mills slopes and a triple at Brandywine. The two Vail ski areas, which sit across a small valley from each other, operate as one area sharing a driveway entrance. Located approximately five minutes apart by car lift tickets and season passes are valid at both.
Searchmont Mountain has a new main triple chairlift that will be operational this winter, which will greatly enhance their uphill capacity. The 703-foot vertical mountain, located just north of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, is popular with Great Lakes skiers and riders from Michigan.
With more resorts opening, chilly temperatures, and new snow for the Northeast, Midwest, and Northwest, we're officially calling it ski season. Let's dive into the weather outlook in this week's SnoCast.
Boyne Mountain is stepping up its attraction for Midwest visitors and skiers with a couple of significant new additions to its landscape.
The SkyBridge, which just opened, is the world's longest timber-towered suspension bridge. The 1,200-foot-long walking bridge is located between the resort's McLouth and Disciples Ridge peaks. The five foot walking surface is suspended 118 feet above the valley floor and will offer breathtaking panoramic views of surrounding Boyne valley and Northern Michigan's rolling hills. The scenery will be spectacular throughout the fall season with the area known for its eye-catching fall color foliage. It will be open year round for pedestrians.
With its timber-frame design, the bridge is a nod to the logging heritage of Northern Michigan. The four wooden timber towers, which anchor the ends of the Sky Bridge are 52 feet high. The bridge is a five foot wide walking surface suspended 118 feet above the valley floor by cables and is nearly a quarter-mile, 1200 feet, long. The bridge will be available operating on the same schedule as the daily ski lifts.
You won't be allowed to take ski equipment across. You access the Sky Bridge just beyond the Eagle's Nest restaurant and the exit ramp for the high-speed, six-seat lift. It is open daily through the end of the month from 10 a..m.-8:30 pm. From Nov. 4 through Dec. 4 it will only be open Friday through Sunday. For the winter season it will be open daily starting Dec. 9. Pricing is $25 adults, $20 seniors, and $15 children.
The other big Boyne Mountain news is the installation of the Heartland's first eight-person, high-speed lift, which is being installed on Disciples Ridge. It will be open for the 2022/23 snowsports season. It's replacing the old, slow Disciples I and II lifts. The new eight seater will get you to the top in just a little over three minutes. The old lifts used to take at least twice as long. It will feature automatic safety bars and a raisable loading carpet for young skiers and riders. Disciples Ridge was always underused. That should change this coming season.
They put the 180 Disciples chairs from the old lifts on sale this past May and sold them all in one hour raising about $100,000 for the newly formed Boyne Mountain Fund for Youth supporting programs and projects benefiting youth within Charlevoix County, home to the Mountain.
Boyne Mountain offers a nice selection of summer activities, especially biking with paved bike path options as well as over 20 miles of mountain bike trails. A new paved pathway runs from Boyne Falls over to Boyne City on Lake Charlevoix, and the other paved option is on Boyne property. Both are nice rides.
The Boyne Valley Trailway offers a scenic ride through countryside mostly away from roads. It's a little over six miles one way, and the Mountain has a scenic mile connecter trail that joins the Trailway as it leaves Boyne Falls. You really feel like you're riding through countryside. Enjoy pedaling around the old town, which comes alive in summer with people and music in late afternoon and early evening. It's around 16 miles out-and-back.
The other paved ride flows over the Mountain Pass Road from the village down to the golf course area and Beach House on Deer Lake. Then ride the seven mile scenic cart path, open to bikers and hikers, that winds up along the golf course and back over the ski hill back to the village. There are nice scenic vistas from the upper trail of the countryside. As you start back down to the village it runs along the ski slopes. The total round trip is 15 miles.
An extensive collection of mountain bike trails are on the north side of the Mountain Pass. I found the lower trails offered some nice riding through forest and meadows. The upper trails, in a forest setting, are considered difficult and most difficult. There are a couple of entrances to the trails on top of the Mountain Pass Road as you head over to Deer Lake. You can also get chairlift access with your personal mountain bike to the top and trails lead over to the upper trail system. There are close to 22 miles of mountain bike trails.
Other summer activities include a nine-station zipline, paintball, horseback riding, and, of course, golf on their award winning courses.
I stayed in the newly remodeled Chalet Edelweiss, a European inspired guest haus sitting at the base of the ski slopes overlooking the village. A bike fleet is included for lodging guests to use during their stay. Luxurious would best describe it with all the amenities included.
Spend a couple of nights to divide the rides into a couple of days and enjoy riding up their chairlift for some great early evening views of the surrounding countryside. You can also get a look at the new peak-to-peak, pedestrian sky bridge being built between the peaks of McLouth and Disciples Ridge with an anticipated opening in late September. It will be the world's longest timber-towered suspension bridge stretching 1,203 feet, nearly a quarter-mile, and 118 feet high offering panoramic views of the valley.
How would you like to ski, and ride over 20 of the Midwest's top ski areas this winter, every day of the season for just $525?
Three ski resorts—Lutsen Mountains, Ski Brule and Boyne Mountain—plan on being open over Easter Weekend and weekends through the month. Mount Bohemia, which SnoCountry just posted last week, is also staying open weekends through April.
Winter has returned across the upper Midwest and several resorts have plans to celebrate the season. A welcome return in lieu of last year's subdued celebrations.
No less than nine Heartland ski areas are celebrating significant milestones this year. All have been in business at least 60 years and one started 85 years ago, according to the National Ski Areas Association.
After a winter with mask mandates, restrictions of people on lifts, and having to reserve your place on the slopes ahead of time, northern Michigan ski resorts expect this season to be a more normal experience. Last season COVID interrupted the normal patterns and habits of snowsports enthusiasts at all northern Michigan ski resorts.
Boyne Mountain recently announced some major projects that will be taking place over the next couple of years, which is all part of what they are calling their Renaissance 2.0 plan to be implemented through the year 2030.
One of the best ways to enjoy breathtaking fall views that abound across the upper Midwest is a slow chairlift ride to the top of the ski hill. Here are some of the best around the upper Midwest.
Several Heartland ski areas allow mountain biking on their summer slopes, but if you’re looking for lift-served, you will only find five.
Golf Pass, part of NBC Sports, recently released its list of the top 25 best U.S. golf and ski resorts, and the Midwest is well represented with four resorts making the list. Two were among the top four.
Many ski areas across the lower Midwest have already closed for the season, but three ski resorts in northwest lower Michigan are planning on staying open through the first weekend of April and celebrating Easter on the slopes. With the longer days and warmer temperatures, spring offers some of the best slope times of the season.
A large pool of bitter cold air seeps into the US from Canada this week, affecting the weather from coast to coast. Here’s what to expect on the slopes.
Glade skiing, popular out west and in the east, doesn’t take a backseat in the Heartland. Ski areas located across the upper tier of the Midwest offer tree skiing and even a few cliff jumps.
With Valentine’s Day and President's Day weekend falling at the same time it may be a busy time on Heartland slopes. Many resorts may be sold out. Consider the whole month of February for a romantic getaway with some slope time.
The holidays were busy at ski areas across the Midwest from the Black Hills to the Great Lakes with many hitting capacities. Most expect the same experience to occur over the upcoming Martin Luther King (MLK) weekend this month and with a combination of Valentine's and President's Day weekend next month. Plan ahead for lift tickets.
All Midwest resorts offer an array of trails, lifts, and your more common winter outings like cross country skiing, snowshoeing and fat-tire winter biking. If you are looking for a little more unusual winter experience check out a couple of new offerings at Michigan's Boyne Highlands and Boyne Mountain.