Ohio Ski Area Guide -- Very Complete

  • Alpine Valley, Chesterland • 72 skiable acres on 230' vertical
    Specs: Summit elevation: 1500'; Base elevation: 1260'. 6 Lifts: 1 quad, 1 double, 4 surface. Uphill Capacity: 6500/hr. Terrain Mix: 33-34-33. Longest Run: 2000'. Season: usually December through March. Night Skiing 7 days. Rentals. Annual Snowfall: 120". Snowmaking: 100%.
    The SKInny: This ain't Utah, heck, it ain't even Pennsylvania. Nonetheless Alpine Valley does a good job moving people up the hill at a reasonable price. Nothing too difficult, but certainly some challenging trails as midwest skiing goes. Well run operation.
    Signature Trail: Exhibition.

  • Boston Mills/Brandywine, Peninsula • 79 skiable acres on 240' vertical
    Specs: Summit elevation: 660'; Base elevation: 420'. 16 Lifts: 4 quads, 5 triples, 2 doubles, 5 rope tows. Uphill Capacity: 16,000/hr. Terrain Mix: 23-27-50. Longest Run: 3,520'. Season: usually December through late March. Night skiing 7 days; open til 1:00 am weekends. Rentals. Annual Snowfall: 60". Snowmaking: 100%.
    The SKInny: The name of the game here is "technical practice." As anywhere in Buckeye country, the runs are not long enough to cut loose and enjoy the overall skiing experience. So you find an uncrowded slope and practice some aspect of your game, and work it. Then you ride the lift back up and work it again. The gentle mogul slopes are a fine example; they're ideal for developing skiers to practice, practice, practice. Wanderers at heart can shuttle between the two hills (a couple miles apart) for a little more variety. BMBW takes a hit for impersonal service -- thing to remember is that this is essentially a suburban ski area covering two hills, and that it will not have the same atmosphere as a mountain resort.
    Signature Trail: Peter's Pride.

  • Clear Fork, Butler • 60 skiable acres on 300' vertical
    Specs: Summit elevation: 2400'; Base elevation: 2100'. 6 Lifts: 1 quad, 1 triple, 1 double, 3 handle tows. Uphill Capacity: 4200/hr. Terrain Mix: 29-42-29. Longest Run: 1800'. Season: usually mid-December through mid-March. Night Skiing 7 days. Rentals. Annual Snowfall: 75". Snowmaking: 100%.
    The SKInny: Clear Fork may just be the best of the Buckeye operations. It's certainly the one that "feels" most like a New England ski area. That's a bit of a stretch, I admit, but the trail layout, wooded runs, etc. are a nice change from the usual wide open lump style that permeates the region. Service is excellent.
    Signature Trail: The Chute.

  • Mad River Mountain, Bellefontaine • 125 skiable acres (!!?) on 300' vertical
    mad river ohio ski areaSpecs: Summit elevation: 1460'; Base elevation: 1160'. 7 Lifts: 1 quad, 1 triple, 3 doubles, 2 surface. Uphill Capacity: 6,200/hr. Terrain Mix: 22-34-44. Longest Run: 3000'. Season: usually December through March. Night Skiing 7 days. 3:00 am closing on Fri & Sat. Rentals. Annual Snowfall: 36". Snowmaking: 100%.
    The SKInny: A Mad River of people on a small vertical with no challenging terrain. But hey, beggars can't be choosers. If you can hit it on an uncrowded time you can enjoy what are relatively long runs in this part of the country.
    Signature Trail: Either one.

  • Snow Trails, Mansfield • 50 skiable acres on 300' vertical
    Specs: Summit elevation: 1475'; Base elevation: 1175'. 6 Lifts: 4 triples, 2 doubles. Uphill Capacity: 8,650/hr. Terrain Mix: 20-60-20. Longest Run: 2000'. Season: usually December through mid-March. Night Skiing 7 days. Rentals. Annual Snowfall: 60". Snowmaking: 100%.
    The SKInny: Read any one of the reviews above, and on any given day any one could apply to any of the ski areas listed here. What Snow Trails lacks in size it makes up for in spirit; this is probably the most "resortish" atmosphere in Ohio.

  • Spicy Run Mountain has currently suspended skiing operations.

Additional Links

Use this to get Lift Tickets at Discount: There is a "clearinghouse" of sorts that many ski areas use to raise cash by selling discount tickets in advance, called Liftopia . If you haven't used this service, it is usually best to know for certain that you are going on a specific date. The deeply discounted tickets must be purchased in advance; generally up to two days out. The sticking point is that some ski resorts only make a limited number of tickets available to Liftopia for any given day, so they might be sold out if you wait too long...so, as soon as you are absolutely, positively sure that you will be skiing on a certain day, click this link to get deeply discounted tickets . I've used this service many times, usually when I am absolutely certain I will be skiing on a specific date. Some resorts offer "flex" tickets with which you can specify the date, and some have a few different tiers of pricing. In other words, you might be able to get a lift ticket that can be used on different days, but you'll pay a little more for that privilege. You need to have access to a printer to print out your receipt, and you have to take identification with you to the mountain. I've knocked a third off -- even half off -- the price of some tickets. Not every area participates, but it's well worth checking before you head to the slopes.

A tiny portion of your Liftopia purchase helps fund this website, at no added cost.

If the ski resort business interests you, I strongly recommend a book by Hal Clifford called Downhill Slide: Why the Corporate Ski Industry is Bad for Skiing, Ski Towns, and the Environment. It provides an inside look at the marketing logic behind clocktower villages, and the dubious practices of the US Forest Service that enables these resorts to be built. Fascinating reading.

Ski Movies for Mere Mortals

Did you ever feel like those big money ski movies are often a big let-down? You get all pumped up for the new release from some ski film company, and it's mostly incredible footage of guys jumping out of helicopters and shredding down some un-named mountain on the far side of the globe. They're neck deep in powder, skiing lines that you'll never, ever see. If you want ski movies you could actually relate to, a bunch of guys called The Meatheads, from Burlington, VT have made a series of "Ski The East" films. They film at real resorts like Sugarloaf, Blue Mountain, Big Boulder, Mount Snow, Ski Sundown, Stowe, Jay, Mountain Creek, Killington, Sunday River...urban locations ranging from Virginia to Quebec...mogul skiing with The Hammer and Radio Ron...and backcountry throughout New York, New England, and the Chic Chocs. It's simply fantastic -- and since it's the same terrain we can get to, it's inspirational!

Their most popular current release is No Matter What , which received the ski equivalent of an Oscar for the Jay Peak powder segment, filmed during 2012 of all things. One that is probably their best is from a year ago, called Prime Cut . Another favorite is Wanderland: An East Coast Ski Thriller. All Meatheads DVDs have hours of "bonus" footage, so it's like getting three ski movies for the price of one. The links go to Amazon.com, which enables you to order and return if you don't like them. And a small percentage of the sale helps us pay the expenses of this website, at no extra cost to you.

Here's a preview, courtesy Youtube...

Mad River Mountain photo in masthead by Nyttend; public domain/used by permission.