Michigan’s winter wonderland of fun
Published in The Battle Creek Enquirer January 17, 2014
Even with the bitter cold this month, many Michiganders live for the winter season and all of its outside activities. My winter sport is downhill skiing, while my husband prefers to stay by the fire and drink hot, spiced wine (he had a falling out with the bunny slope many years ago). Snowboarding is the preferred sport for my daughter and her group.
No matter what you love or where you live in Michigan, however, you can easily find one of the 51 ski areas, more than 260 chairlifts, 1,000 runs and 50 terrain parks.
Locally, we have skied at both Bittersweet and Timber Ridge ski areas. It’s a great thing to be able to be on the hill after a 45-minute drive from home. Bittersweet is located in Otsego. They offer night skiing, which can be a fun change of pace. Some 20 runs offer a variety of terrain for all levels of skiers. My daughter learned to ski using the Wondercarpet to go up the hill. You just step on the non-slip surface and ride. That’s a big improvement over the old fashioned rope tow I remember. My husband likes the heated patio as the place to sip his beverage of choice.
Just eight miles away is Timber Ridge ski area in Gobles, which offers 15 trails named after trees. I like the quad chair, which carries four skiers at a time and moves a lot of people up the hill in a very short time. The Lodge, with its big windows, is a nice place to warm up and keep an eye on the slopes. The Snowshoe Bar has all the usual skiers’ fare like pizza and chili. A nicer than usual picnic area is provided for those of us who like to pack our own lunch.
For a long weekend of skiing, we like to go up north. Crystal Mountain is located in Thompsonville near Traverse City. It’s a nice-sized resort with 45 runs. We’ve stayed in a Mountainside Townhouse with five bedrooms and a ski-in/ski-out location. We’ve also stayed at the Inn (Kinlochen), Pinehurst Condos and Mountain Top.
Kinlochen was our favorite for its location at the bottom of the lifts and the proximity of the Thistle Pub and Grille on the first floor. Favorites at the Pub include a smoked turkey and pesto sandwich, the Mountain Burger and macaroni and cheese. The outdoor hot tub, indoor swimming pool and Peak Fitness Center are all great ways to spend your non-slope time. After a hard day of skiing, a visit to Crystal Spa was high on my list.
Boyne is a larger resort with two separate mountains and 115 runs. We’ve only been to Boyne once. Between Boyne Mountain and Boyne Highlands, you can find 18 different styles of resorts, hotels and cottages. Everett’s, located in the Mountain Grand Lodge and Spa, serves a really good steak and has a nice fireplace. My husband approved of their extensive wine list.
Until the end of January, you can learn to ski at a deep discount at many ski areas across the state. Check out the “Discover Michigan Skiing Value Voucher.” The voucher entitles you to a beginner lesson, ski or snowboard rental equipment and a beginner-area ski lift pass or cross-country trail pass all for a fraction of the regular cost. Find more information online at goskimichigan.com.
Time to hit the slopes.