Cedar River Lodge at Shanty CreekOne of the better ski hills in northern Michigan has always been Shanty Creek's Schuss Mountain slopes, but you really didn’t have slopeside accommodations unless you stayed in the aging village.

That has changed now that they’ve moved all of their skiing operations over to the Cedar River Lodge side of the mountain. The newer, brighter facilities have put them on more of a par with Boyne Mountain and Highlands and Crystal Mountain, which is their major competition in the Lower Peninsula. 

The Cedar River Lodge was opened in the early part of the 2000s, but because of the way it was financed, Shanty Creek never had full control of the facility to use it the way it should have been, according to resort vice president Chris Hale.

“It boiled down to offering guests better facilities and a better overall experience from ski rentals and ski school to dining, slopeside lodging, fat tire biking and more,” Hale told SnoCountry.com. “We’ve made some big changes at Shanty Creek this season.”

The 85-room lodge/hotel now offers a bright new dining facility the 12,000-square-foot River Bistro serving up breakfast, lunch and dinner. The rooms are spacious and nice. The lower level has been converted into a large ski and snowboard rental facility that flows nicely to get guests out on the slopes quickly. This is where you also sign up for ski school. A new beginner area and teaching slopes are adjacent to the lodge and equipped with a magic carpet. It occupies the previous tubing park, which has been moved over to the Summit Slopes and also includes a new magic carpet. It offers great views of the surrounding hill and dale countryside and Lake Bellaire.

There’s also a new multi-purpose trail at Cedar River Lodge to accommodate snowshoeing and fat tire bikes, which are available for rent. It’s also fido friendly. Cross country trails connect all of Shanty’s facilities; Cedar River, Schuss Mountain village and the Summit village, which is also home to the Lakeview Hotel and its very popular restaurant. The Summit slopes are best suited for novice skiers and families with little ones. It’s open Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The restaurant is open daily.

The older Schuss Mountain village, located on the opposite side of the ski hill, still has Ivan’s for quick eats and drinks, and the old Snow Sports building is now a new day lodge equipped with lockers, vending machines and tables for those who like to brown bag.

All of three locations are connected by road and trails, and a transportation system that runs daily will bring those who still like to stay on the Summit over to Cedar River for a day on the Schuss Mountain slopes.

I spent a couple of days last week at Cedar River and skiing on the mountain. What a treat to walk out of the lodge and get right on the slopes. You immediately have access to the red and purple chairlifts. The red chair, the backside of Schuss, is a great place to ski on a cold, windy day. The purple chair access the resorts well outfitted terrain park with lots of hits and rails. The front side, serviced by the yellow and pink chairs, offers a nice variety of trails and slopes. Driving up to the new lodge gives Shanty Creek a whole new look and feel.

Schuss Mountain offers 42 runs, glades, four terrain parks and five quad-chairlifts. Lift and lodging packages start from $89 per person, per night, and children eight and under stay and ski or ride free with parents.

Photo: Top -- Cedar River Lodge offers new slope side accommodations on Schuss Mountain side. (Shanty Creek); Bottom -- Terrain Park at Shanty Creek (Shanty Creek)

Shanty Creek Terrain Park