Great skiing options await in central Ohio — it’s true!
By Jon MilesPosted Jan 18, 2012
Winter can be a real sonofab*tch here in the ol’ O-H. With a week-to-week climate ranging anywhere from temperate to sub-arctic, winter is the most attention-deficit of our seasons. But there’s always at least one thing to look forward to in these gray months, and that’s some beautiful snowfall.
So what’s a seasonally-affected kid to do when the snow starts stackin’? Well, if you’re tired of ganking lunch trays from Mirror Lake to sled down their meager hills, you might be pleased to know there are two affordable ski resorts within an hour’s drive of the city.
Both offer a radical alternative for the weekend over, say, freezing one’s giblets off walking to a local bar or party, or holing up and watching the Harry Potter series in its entirety—I judge not.
To the northwest, near Bellefontaine, is Mad River Mountain; to the northeast is Snow Trails, near Mansfield. They are of similar size and price; however, there are pros and cons to each, and depending on what you’re looking for, they can make or break the trip.
Mad River, first and foremost, is known for its terrain parks; it’s a trickster’s dream. This is, after all, where Columbus-born Olympic snowboarder Louie Vito grew up throwing down. While some of the trails betwixt the two parks—though great for beginners—can be rather blasé, it’s easy to hop on one lift and cruise to the other side of the mountain—a huge plus.
That being said, Mad River is mad busy during the weekend, and you’re likely to find yourself amongst a crowd of locals who’ve been shredding since they learned to color inside the lines.
A lift ticket at Mad River Friday through Sunday will run you somewhere in the neighborhood of $40 (closer to $70 with rental equipment). The best deal is on Friday and Saturday for Midnight Madness, when the lifts run until 3:00 am. Midnight Madness costs $40 from 4 p.m. until 3 a.m., or $30 from 10:30 until 3 a.m.—again, tack on $30 for rental.
They also offer College Days every Thursday ($20 or $25 for the ticket, $15 rental with valid student ID, and drink specials and live music), and a military discount every day ($10 lift ticket for active service members; 50 percent off both ticket and rental for retired veterans).
Snow Trails, on the other hand, is geared more toward advanced skiers and snowboarders not interested in terrain features.
According to a source who wishes to remain anonymous, “It has more of an ‘Out West’ feel than Mad River. The runs are more vertical; it’s better for skiing than it is for snowboarding.”
The only hitch is that there are fewer lifts, and the runs don’t blend together so it’s more difficult to explore the whole mountain.”
The atmosphere is also quite a bit different at Snow Trails.
“It’s less crowded,” the source said. “It’s more of an older crowd.”
Also, the lodge at Snow Trails is much more convivial. The food is better, the beer cheaper and it exudes more “lodge-like” qualities.
“Ask anyone who’s been out West,” the source said, “and most will pick Snow Trails.”
A weekend lift ticket at Snow Trails goes for $47 for an all day pass (10 a.m. - 9:30 p.m.), $32 for an eight-hour pass or $25 for an evening pass (5-9:30 p.m.), with equipment rental at $31. Snow Trails also offers late night passes, but only three nights out of the season until 2 a.m.
Wherever you choose to go, it’s sure to be a better time that a typical weekend night in Columbus. So save your beer money, grab some friends and gear up. I’ll see y’all out there.