Where should I ski in the Midwest?
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Chad
October 22, 2005
Member since 12/12/2000 🔗
270 posts
hey i know we have some posters here out in ohio. it looks like i may be making a roadtrip from virginia to chicago this winter. i want to stop somewhere along the way to carve a few turns on my snowboard, and add to my number of unique ski area visits (currently i have 33). can anyone make suggestions?

so far the best bet looks like mad river mountain near columbus. i am also considering holiday valley in far western new york. i know nothing about michigan or illinois. let me know what you think.
JimK - DCSki Columnist
October 22, 2005
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,728 posts
I have no personal experience in the Ohio valley or near midwest region, but I know there are a number of small areas around Cincy. One of the better ones is supposedly Perfect North in nearby Indiana, vert is around 400'. But that would seem to be pretty far out of the way from Chicago. I have heard repeated good comments about Holiday Valley, NY. I believe it is about an hour south of Buffalo and catches a lot of lake effect snow. Has 750' vert and supposedly is big in a horizontal way like Seven Springs, but also with a few nice, short black diamond runs. A chance to ski fresh pow might be worth the detour to or from Chicago. It got a ridiculously high rating in ski mag reader polls this year. If you made it as far as the NY state line maybe you might also want to hit Plattekill (supposed to be a little like MRG), Hunter, or Windham on the way by the Catskills?
Taylormatt
October 22, 2005
Member since 12/3/2004 🔗
339 posts
Holiday Valley is a cool little place. It's been years since I've been there, but it is roughly the same size as 7 Springs.

In Ohio, IMO, the best (and I use this term loosely when talking about OH skiing) is Boston Mills in Richfield, OH which isn't far off the OH Pike on your way up to Chitown if you're taking the Northern route. I grew up skiing in OH, so this is my humble opinion
shearer519
October 22, 2005
Member since 07/12/2004 🔗
149 posts
Holiday Valley is definitely cool place to go. They have a really steep double black run and a few nice glades in-between the main expert section. But the best part about Holiday Valley is the mogul runs. This place keeps moguls on many of their slopes including some not so steep ones on some blue runs that are perfect for practicing your form on. This would definitely be the place I recommend to go to.

Here is a link to some pics from my trip last year.
Holiday Valley Pictures
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JR
October 22, 2005
Member since 01/1/2003 🔗
276 posts
I was unfortunately stuck in Ohio for about a year waiting on my job to start up before moving 30 minutes from Seven Springs, Hidden Valley, and Laurel (fingers crossed ) Snow Trails is near Mansfield I think, halfway between Columbus and Cleveland. Its ok but was really spread out horizontally. Mad River Mountain was really neat but is probably more out of the way since you have to go to the far NW area of Columbus. It was surprisingly a blast and actually survived our forever January warm rainy spell last year fairly well. I'd definitely recommend Mad River. Both are 300 vert but MR had some neat tree runs, a great terrain park, and a pretty neat vibe. Snow Trails was just kinda boring to me.

Basically, compared to what you'd expect with 300 vert at darn near sea level, they both are pretty neat and worth checking out for the novelty of it. When you think about it, they're actually about the same vert as Seven Springs' front side and we can all have fun there.
BushwackerinPA
October 22, 2005
Member since 12/9/2004 🔗
649 posts
Mount Bohemia and do a full TR trip report with Pictures and video.
RobertW
October 22, 2005
Member since 10/14/2004 🔗
199 posts
I did a trip like this back in the early 80's so some of the names may be wrong or these places may not exist anymore but here goes. Holiday Valley in NY is a great area, especially mid-week, and it can be blessed with lots of lake-effect snow. Towards Cleveland, Brandywine was my favorite (with about 300 vert if I remember). Alpine Valley and Boston Mill are also in the area. I also skied Snow Trails (I think they claimed to have bowls ) and Mad River in the central part of Ohio. I agree that Snow Trails is a bit flat, even though they said they had 400 vert. In Indiana, we tried two areas off the Interstate in the North. Bendix (Hill??) and Mt. Wawassee. These were pretty small (100-200 vertical) and probably don't exist anymore, but were fun to visit and had distinct personalities. There used to be several small areas near Chicago (can't remember names...) but I''ll bet they are gone also. In Michigan, I have only been to Boyne Mountain and Boyne Highlands. These were nice areas but located up north in the middle of the state, a pretty good drive from Detroit.

Enjoy your trip. I used to have a lot of fun doing this kind of thing.
Roger Z
October 23, 2005
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Mount Bohemia is actually one of the "role models" for Moonshine Mountain, so a full trip report would be greatly appreciated. However, it's pretty far from the Virginia-Chicago flight path. It's a separate trip unto itself.

If you're going to go off your intended path, the lower peninsula gets some great snow. Caberfare, Boyne, Boyne Highlands are all nice places. Small, but nice. Nubs Nob and Crystal are fun, too. But even those are three to four hours north of where you're headed. Moonshine- er, Mount Bohemia- is probably another four hours beyond them.
SeaRide
October 23, 2005
Member since 03/11/2004 🔗
237 posts
Not sure if you are coming up by I-77 or by I80 in Ohio.

Boston Mills (BM) - I went there with my wife to visit her folks. My FIL used to ski patrol so he went skiing with us last year around mid-December. It has more lifts than necessary. Don't be shocked if you see people carry their skis indoor. Be careful walking around on the wet floor cuz it's slippery.

Boston Mills is located right off I80 exit 180. Follow the sign to the ski resort. I would say Brandywine is about few minutes away from Boston Mills.
->> maps.google of Boston Mills

->> Boston Mills ski & Brandywine ski web page
Buckeye Skier
October 23, 2005
Member since 01/11/2004 🔗
54 posts
Just hit Holiday Valley. You will have a quality ski experience there. Good snow, great lifts, variety and some steepness. The places in Ohio can provide a nice time, but nowhere near the experience you can get at Holiday.
MadMonk
October 23, 2005
Member since 12/27/2004 🔗
235 posts
I grew up learning to ski in Ohio at the now defunct Sugarcreek Ski Hill (MASSIVE 200 vert) and Mad River. Mad River can be real fun midweek if it is snowing. Also I don't know if they still have late night skiing (like until 2 am or so) but that can fun as well.
Chad
October 24, 2005
Member since 12/12/2000 🔗
270 posts
thanks for all the great tips! i would like to try holiday valley but i think it is too far out of the way for this trip. i read up on mount bohemia last year and would love to make a run up there, but i will have the fam with me and none of us would survive that long a drive.

i am definitely planning on stopping at bostonmills/brandywine and also mad river mountain as they will all be on the way (close to i80 or i70). as much as i like the steeps and powder (i grew up in utah) i have almost as much fun trying something new.
Chad
October 24, 2005
Member since 12/12/2000 🔗
270 posts
i know there are a few ski "hills" in the immediate chicago area. anyone ever tried any of these?
Denis - DCSki Supporter
October 24, 2005
Member since 07/12/2004 🔗
2,227 posts
My son lives in Chicago and the two of us once took a trip to the Indiana Dunes to ski. He thought it was better than any lift served area in the midwest and it is only 45 minutes from the loop in Chicago. The highest dune is nearly 200 feet above Lake Michigan and the lee side of the dunes is at the angle of repose (~ 38 degrees). Another place I'd like to try is Sleeping Bear Dunes, about halfway up the west side of the Lower peninsula of Mich. I'd also like to try Mt. Bohemia but that is so remote that it will probably have to wait until after I retire. As a Mad River Glen shareholder, I've always wanted to try Mad River, OH just to say I did it.
TLaHaye
October 25, 2005
Member since 02/9/2005 🔗
136 posts
Roger, you talk about the Lower Michigan resorts like a native (Crystal is fun, as is Boyne Mountain) but as a Yooper, I've got to think Bohemia is a lot more than 4 hours from Boyne. Travel can be rough up there. Plan on 6+ hours from Boyne, and to travel north from Chicago, plan on 10+ hours plus time change.
wgo
October 28, 2005
Member since 02/10/2004 🔗
1,368 posts
Hey Chad,

Here's what there is that is close to the chicago area:

Villa Oliva ski area: 45 min - 1 hr from chicago. It's a golf course in the off season, so that should tell you something. 180 ft vertical. I've skied it once. This is the closest area to chicago that I know of.

Four Lakes: 45 min - 1 hr from chicago. 100 ft vertical, basically a sledding hill. I've not been to this one.

Raging buffalo snowboard park: 45 min - 1 hr from chicago. Snowboard only place. I've not been to this one. If you just want to go somewhere to hit a terrain park or a half-pipe this might be your best bet

Wilmot mountain (1 hr 15 min from chicago). Closest "real" ski area to chicago (using a very generous definition of "real"). 230 ft vertical. Occassionally has moguls on one of the runs. I've been to this one 3 or 4 times.

Alpine Valley (1 hr 30 min from chicago). 380 ft vertical. I've been to this one 3-4 times. 380 ft isn't bad given how close it is to chicago, but i find that it is pretty bland terrain, even by midwest standards.

Chestnut Mountain (2 hr 45 minutes from chicago). 475 ft. I've been to this one several times. This is a very nice resort, great views of the mississipi, one run with a pretty decent headwall, occasional moguls,decent terrain park.

I'll finish with the 3 resorts in the Madison, Wisconsin area (3 - 3.5 hours from chicago): Tyrol Basin, Cascade Mtn, Devils Head. I've skied the 1st 2 quite a bit (went to grad school in Madison). Both have some fun terrain, mogul runs, half pipes, terrain parks, etc. Cascade and Devils head are about 450 ft, while tyrol is only 300 ft (but as I've joked before, it skis like it's 400 ft!). But I imagine these (and Chestnut) would be further from Chicago than you would prefer.
Chad
October 28, 2005
Member since 12/12/2000 🔗
270 posts
thanks wgo! this is exactly what i was looking for. i am looking for maybe a half-day somewhere, wilmot and alpine look the most plausible. you prefer wilmot?
wgo
October 28, 2005
Member since 02/10/2004 🔗
1,368 posts
Hey Chad,

Well, I guess I would go with wilmot, but mostly because it is the closer of the 2. Really, as far as the skiing goes you'll probably have a similar experience at either place. One more note on Alpine Valley, every time I have been there, the most interesting-looking trail has been closed for a race event. If that trail has been open, it probably would be enough to switch my recommendation to Alpine Valley.

By the way, where are you staying in the chicago area? depending on whether you are downtown, in the suburbs, or what, it can impact those travel times I mentioned.
POWPOW
October 28, 2005
Member since 05/10/2005 🔗
124 posts
Quote:

Roger, you talk about the Lower Michigan resorts like a native (Crystal is fun, as is Boyne Mountain) but as a Yooper, I've got to think Bohemia is a lot more than 4 hours from Boyne. Travel can be rough up there. Plan on 6+ hours from Boyne, and to travel north from Chicago, plan on 10+ hours plus time change.




Im not a Yooper but i played one in college for a few years in Ironwood/Hurley and i would have to agree with at LEAST 6 hrs an i think pushing more on the 8 mark if the roads a re bad which is only a 89% chance in winter .I also spend a couple weeks a year in Traverse City so im pretty familiar with that region. Crystal and the boynes are good and on the WI side you can hit whitecap in Montreal,WI or the ironwood, MI Stretch: Big Powderhorn,Blackjack, Indianhead.IMHO i would wrather go to the WI side because of teh snow,terrain, selection(all the areas above are within 15 miles between the furthest two, and sheer beauty of the UP. Bohemia is for sure the most desirable but the drive is BIG.
SAY YA TO DE UP EH!
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