Trip Report: Shanty Creek Offers Taste Of Europe
Skiers in Europe are used to skiing from village to village. Outside of Quebec, you find few places in North America where you can do that. It’s a tradition that European skiers have enjoyed for years.
When Shanty Creek Resort opened Cedar River Lodge and Village over a decade ago, they created that same European flavor in the Midwest. In addition to the new village, there’s also Schuss Mountain Village and Summit Village. You can cross-country ski between all three and downhill ski between two of them.
Shanty Creek and Schuss Mountain started out as two small ski resorts In the 1960s, located about three miles apart. They were combined years ago, creating two villages tied together via cross-country trails and an excellent shuttle system. Adding Cedar River on the backside of Schuss with new ski trails leading to it completed the picture.
They offer 50 downhill runs and six terrain parks between Schuss and Summit slopes and 30 kilometers of groomed cross-country trails.
Located in the heart of Antrim County’s beautiful hill and dale country, Shanty Creek cross-country trails traverse the hilly, wooded hinterland between the three villages. Secluded from the condo clusters around the villages, the trails present a scenic, somewhat challenging ski experience. You glide alongside beautiful, swift-flowing little creeks at times. There’s lots of animal activity, and it’s not uncommon to see an eagle or two.
The Schuss slopes are the most challenging. Standing on top of Kingdom Come -- a fast, steep, fall line run -- looking down at Schuss Village, is an imposing view. As one skier put it, “It’s kind of like the final plunge off Ajax Mountain as you head down to the town of Aspen. It’s fast, steep and you’re in full view of the lodge, restaurant, bar and swimming pool. You’d better have your act together.”
The new backside slopes at Schuss are a nice collection of intermediate cruisers and advanced glades. The Summit slopes, which offer scenic views of Lake Bellaire, are wide, forgiving and perfect for beginners and families with small kids.
Taking care of kids is where Shanty Creek really shines. The resort staff has always done an excellent job with younger children. Its programs are designed to start them skiing as early as age three. Children eight and under pay only $5 for daily lift tickets, and when staying with parents at Shanty Creek or, if they are enrolled in Snowsports Academy programs, they receive a free lift ticket.
The amenities are as varied as the slopes. Schuss Village has a distinct European flavor. It’s more scattered in little clusters with the hotel and restaurant in separate buildings. The Summit is more contemporary with a large hotel atmosphere and convention center, Lake View Dining Room and health center all under one roof. The newer 84-suite luxury condominium hotel Lodge at Cedar River features exquisite slope-side rooms.
The resort includes five restaurants, a health club and an array of shops. For the non-skier in the group, horse-drawn sleigh rides, snowshoeing, ice-skating and tubing are available on property. Snowmobile rentals are available off property.
I just returned from Shanty Creek where slopes and snow conditions were magnificent. An added bonus was a trip to nearby Bellaire and visit to Short’s Micro-Brewery. It’s reminiscent of visiting one of the old time bars at Crested Butte in Colorado.
Lift and lodging packages in the Lakeview Hotel start from $79 per person, per night. Ski or ride every Friday night from 5-9 p.m. at the Summit for $9 and Schuss for $10. Rentals are just $15. Three big events occur in March. The always popular Monster Energy Slush Cup, March 2; the annual Cardboard Classic, March 9; and March Madness Weekend with a two-day Rail Jam competition, crazy costumes and featuring Michigan craft brewers, March 16-17.
Thinking of a western ski trip? SnoCountry Vacations' Deal of the Week offers weekly specials on lift and lodging deals to more than 35 winter western destinations across the U.S. and Canada.
Top photo: Shanty Creek Resort; Bottom photo: Slush Cup, Shanty Creek