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Going Further Afield: Mad River Mountain 4
Author thumbnail By Robbie Allen, DCSki Columnist
Aerial View of Mad River Mountain, Ohio. Photo provided by Mad River Mountain.

“Ski Mad River if you can” is the famous slogan of the home of the single chair in Vermont. Mad River Glen’s following is cult like. It is the Grateful Dead of ski resorts. Its non-grooming policy is legendary. It is said if you can ski Mad River you can ski anywhere! Many hail Mad River Glen as true East Coast skiing. Well I can say I have proudly skied Mad River! However the Mad River I was skiing is some 500 miles southwest of the more famous place with Glen at the end of its name.

Mad River Mountain, OHIO is another rising star in Peak Resort’s quiver of midsize low rise ski areas. If Mad appears in the name you know the terrain is going to be out there. It also helps to show up the day after a blizzard. The area received over 10 inches of snow the two days before my arrival. I could have skied the parking lot of my hotel and raved about it.

The resort is situated near the highest point of Ohio which is really not saying much when the total elevation is only 1,400 feet above sea level. The surrounding terrain is really more rolling than mountainous. It is located about a one hour drive from Dayton or Columbus. Most of the skier traffic is drawn from these cities.

The traditional layout has the lodge at the bottom of the hill. The 15 trails spread across the hill are predominantly light blue affairs. These are serviced by 6 lifts of varying ages and speed. Much of the terrain is short cruiser, but the layout does take advantage of some gladed areas offering some advanced pitches. The total drop is a mere 300 feet - nothing like its name sake back East.

Mad River Mountain recently spent $2.5 million on an expansion to add a new lift, 2 new trails and a tubing park. But I really don’t see why they bothered with the new trails. They are long flat affairs that would be green trails in any other part of the country. These trails probably spread out weekend crowds, but add nothing really to the trail map. The tubing park draws well but they should have saved their money on the new trails.

Surprisingly the “older” terrain is better. Advanced trails “Launch Pad,” “Peril,” and “Zero G” have all been converted to terrain parks. These boasted some of the best jumps, hits and features I have seen in the Midwest. Another nearby trail “Sugar Bush” provided a nice speed run that still had some powder stashes. This whole area was served by an old double that was cranking up the mountain faster than any other lift on the hill. This combination provided most of the fun to be found on the hill during my time.

Now if Mad River Glen is true East Coast skiing, then Mad River Mountain is true Midwestern skiing. They both share a penchant for old chairs and cold temps. It was 19 degrees when I started my day but 9 degrees when I finished. In the Midwest you have to want it. The slopes are short, the lifts are slow, and the air is cold. But if you work hard at it you might just have fun.

I can’t wait to tell my skiing friends back East, I skied Mad River the day after a blizzard. I will just skip the part about being in Ohio and not Vermont!

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About Robbie Allen

Robbie Allen is an avid small hill skier. He has written several articles on the many small hills he has sought out.

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Reader Comments

March 19, 2007
Thanks for the write up on Mad River. This is the place my older brother taught me to parrallell in one day. I had lots of fun at this place as a kid. It's hard to believe, but they actually used to have a T-Bar that only went about half-way up he hill because some thought the top-half was too steep.
March 20, 2007
I'm a shareholder at Mad River Glen in VT, one of the earliest ones I believe. I have known about Mad River Ohio for some time and when I retire in a couple of years I'd like to ski it - and a whole lot of other small areas. I'll probably do it on a leisurely drive across country enroute to bigger but lesser known areas in the west. Montana and Idaho are full of them. Then I'll do the same in British Columbia. The whole trip ought to take 10 weeks or so.
March 21, 2007
I've really been enjoying these write-ups of midwestern ski resorts. I learned to ski in wisconsin, and in college every friday night jan thru march we would be at the local area taking adavantage of the $10 student rate. Good times.
robbie a
December 31, 2007
I found myself in Central Ohio this past week and skied the other Mad River. I am sure the skiing at the real Mad River was a lost better but for FIVE DOLLARS for lift and rental what is not to like! As long as there was some snow and a way down I was in.

As I reported last year the resort is small and vertical challenged. One the day that I skied it was weather challenged as well. A storm that was play havoc with the airline routings out of OHare (hence I was driving home not flying) was dropping a light rain on the slopes in middle Ohio. The resort was still 100% open but brown patches were being to show.

Given my recent boot break down I was very happy too see that the 5 dollar rate included rentals. The spacious pair of size 31 Head boots that I used from the rental shop was a nice change from my old dogs. I was pleased to see that even at this small area 4 buckle rental boot and side cut skis were the norm.

The crowds were light. I am sure I was one of the few who was not on Xmas break this day. The rains had made the snow soft but it wasnt icy. There were a few played out spots but over all the snow was ok.

This Mad River is small and low. The main slope reminds me of Minuteman at Round Top. But given the low rise the slope only had 2 pitches not 3. The other slopes provided some diversion but were more of the same They were having a rail jam this weekend so they had some nice features on the terrain park.

After a couple of hours and many trips up and down the hill I tired of the place and decide to return to driving refreshed. A worth while pit stop at twice the price..but not much more!

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