It has often made me chuckle when people from the Metro Detroit area talk about going skiing or snowboarding. Being from Northern Michigan, I had some preconceived notions about ‘city people’. I can almost guarantee that people in Detroit think skiing in the city is the same as skiing up North. It’s similar to when Northerners believe we’re as versed in the snow sports community as those who live out West (where there are actually mountains). As with most things I believed about the Metro Detroit area, I wasn’t necessarily wrong, but there was room for a shift in perspective.
Southeast Michigan has a few viable options when it comes to skiing and snowboarding, and even though they don’t offer exactly the same challenges as the larger hills in Northern Michigan or the mountains out West they have a community all their own. That’s one of the integral facets of skiing and snowboarding: there is a community surrounding the sport that revels in Michigan’s winter splendor and inspires one to challenge their own limits.
In November, I attended a Rail Jam event at the Boyne Country Sports in Novi. It was at this event that I was first introduced to the snow sports culture of Southeast Michigan. The competitors were as stoked as could be showing off their rail skills, and the crowds were excited by their triumphs and sympathetic to their failures. During the competitors’ introductions, each boarder stated their usual locale (Mt. Holly, Alpine Valley or Mt. Brighton) then noted their favorite place besides that (somewhere up north or our West). I hadn’t been strapped into a snowboard in several years, and the event compelled me to get a new board and prepare for the impending winter months with (hopefully) some great snow in Southeast Michigan.
Each resort in the Metro Detroit area offers snow sports enthusiasts different options, but one thing is pervasive throughout: these are spaces of Michigan pride and community. Everyone is celebrating how lucky we are to live in a state with four seasons.
Mt. Brighton, in Brighton, Michigan, is northwest of Metro Detroit. This venue offers 26 trails with the longest run at 1,500 feet. Mt. Brighton boasts a terrain park for those looking to get technical with more than 20 features. Then, skiers and snowboarders alike can relax after a long day on the hills in the lounge or the full-scale sit down restaurant, The Bauery that overlooks the golf course and Mt. Brighton.
Alpine Valley resides in White Lake, which is closer to Metro Detroit. This hill offers 25 trails with the longest run at 2,000 feet. Similarly, Alpine also has a terrain park where they hold events for skiers and snowboarders throughout the winter. And once again, there is a lounge to hang out with your friends and warm up before hitting the slopes.
A little further north is Mt. Holly in Holly, Michigan. Here skiers and snowboarders can enjoy 19 trails and two terrain parks. Mt. Holly offers a lodge with two cafeterias, a fireplace room, a lounge with two additional fireplaces and a full service ski shop for plenty of warm up space.
It is clear that my Northern Michigan mindset just needed to shift perspectives. Awesome community comes from sharing the love of winter sports and loving all that Michigan has to offer generally. I’m excited to explore the snowboarding possibilities in Metro Detroit; then when I’m really feeling lucky, I can go up North again as well. The important thing is that when it’s so cold in the D, we need to all go outside and enjoy it!
~Joanna, Feature Writer