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Trip Report: Boyne Highlands Is A Midwest Classic

Boyne Highlands

I’ve been skiing at Boyne Highlands and Boyne Mountain for close to 40 years. Although they sit just a few miles apart, and all you need is one lift ticket to ski both, they really are as different as night and day.

 

After spending a couple of weekends this winter at the Highlands during its 50th anniversary season, I rediscovered why I like this Midwest classic resort.

 

The Mountain has the reputation as a “skier’s mountain,” for more advanced runs and tougher terrain. That’s somewhat of a misnomer. The Highlands actually offers more advanced terrain than its counterpart. It has great cruising terrain, but Olympic, K2, and North and South Challenger will offer you as much challenge as you want. They have been the scene of many a pro race.

 

The Mountain has its new glass and chrome hotel, the Grand Mountain Lodge and Avalanche Water Park. It’s a step ahead and at the forefront of most Midwest resorts, but I like the timeless, more traditional atmosphere of the Highlands.

 

Built on a classic Michigan moraine, bent and folded by retreating glaciers some 10,000 years ago, the ski hill offers a visual distinctiveness with varied slopes and contours that are rare for this region of the country. With 55 named runs and trails, multiple terrain parks, and halfpipe spread out over 500 acres with a 550-foot vertical drop, it’s one of the few Midwest areas where you really need a trail map to get around; especially on your first few visits.

 

The newer North Peak area, almost like a separate ski hill with mostly intermediate, tree-lined trails and some nice glades, is the place to head on a powder day. The even-pitched slopes, forested terrain, and lack of housing around the slopes makes you feel (almost) like you’re on the backside Keystone’s powdery Colorado slopes. You’re just missing a couple thousand feet of vertical. It’s the last place they groom on snowy days and last to get skied off, according to knowledgeable lift attendants. 

 

Aonach Mor Moonlight Dinner Boyne Highlands

The classic Bavarian-themed main lodge and hotel, with its ivy covered walls, completes the picture as you pull into the parking lot and look up at the Highlands; an appropriate name for a timeless resort. The dining room in the hotel offers a nice visual of the slopes and nighttime activities and great menu. 

 

If you’re looking for a romantic evening this month check out the Highland’s Aonach Mor Moonlight Dinner. You’re transported by sleigh from the hotel lobby up to North Peak’s day lodge, which has been adorned with white linens and candlelight. A crackling bonfire greets you, and, on clear nights, the lights of the Mackinac Bridge, 30-some miles away, can be seen. The gourmet dinner won’t disappoint. During February Highland’s Ski and Stay packages start from $126 per person and include breakfast.  


Photos: Top -- Bavarian-style Boyne Highlands Lodge; Aonach Mor Moonlight Dinner (Boyne Highlands)
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