Though Ohio may be better known for green fields than snowy peaks, the Buckeye State is home to a number of ski spots. With a focus on family fun and trails to suit every speed, these resorts are helping to put the Midwest on the winter sports map.
Halfway between Columbus and Cleveland is Snow Trails, Ohio’s oldest downhill skiing destination. Touted as the most family friendly resort in the state, its kids ski school is open seven days a week. Between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. every day, the Polar Cubs program lets 3- and 4-year-olds get their bearings, while 5- to 9-year-olds enjoy a slightly longer day (until 4 p.m.) in the Polar Bears group. Lunch and snacks are provided for all.
Snow Trails’ Beginner’s Area Complex offers plenty of room to practice carving and shredding. A new carpet lift is as gentle as an airport’s moving sidewalk, making for a much smoother ride than rope tows of the past. Beyond the bunny slope, trails run the gamut from easy riding runs to black diamonds while four terrain parks let freestylers at every level try out new tricks.
Mad River Mountain
Ohio’s largest resort, Mad River Mountain, is just 45 minutes from the center of Columbus and boasts the most diverse terrain in the state, making it a wonderful option for boarders and skiers at every level. Kids ages 4 to 11 can sign up for the Kids Adventure Place, where beginners and intermediates learn the basics and more during half- or full-day sessions. Offered on weekends and holidays, hot chocolate breaks are encouraged and lunch is included.
Older, more experienced skiers (ages 7 to 14) can enroll in the Mountain Explorers Club for the day, where small classes focus on honing techniques and adding more advanced skills like moguls, jumps, and racing.
Near Akron, Boston Mills/Brandywine is a pair of resorts located just a few miles from one another. A single lift ticket gives you access to both. One-and-half -hour group lessons are available for those 8 and over, while the beginner package includes an equipment rental, lift ticket, and an hour-long lesson for $79.
Trails skew intermediate and advanced (only 27 percent are true beginner trails), making Boston Mills/Brandywine a good choice for a more experienced group. The resort does boast a state-of-the-art tubing area that is open to snow bunnies of all ages–kids as young as 2 are welcome to take the ride. And the recently expanded lodge gives everyone plenty of room to warm up between runs.
“Cleveland’s Ski Resort,” Alpine Valley, is just 40 minutes from the rock and roll capital. Thanks to its location in what’s known as the “Cleveland Snowbelt,” conditions tend to be among the best in the state. Kids under 4 pay are $10 for lift tickets and private lessons are available for all ages while group lessons are available for children over 6. For the 2015-2016 season, Alpine Valley is debuting a number of improvements, including a renovated loft and revamped lifts.