This past week’s blast of cold temperatures and snow served notice, it’s time to pull out the skis and sleds and get ready for winter fun.
Snow-making machines will build a base at Mt. Brighton Ski Resort as soon as the temperatures cooperate. And when the natural snow falls, winter sporting activities such as sledding, cross-country skiing and ice skating will come back online for the snowy season. Local metro and state parks have those activities covered.
“Early in the season, we’ll have intermediate and beginning terrain, with some terrain park features open,” Mt. Brighton general manager Mike Giorgio said.
In addition to the longtime downhill skiing and snowboarding venue, the area offers a variety of places to sled and cross country ski as well.
Here is where to find outdoor recreation in the snow in Livingston County.
Vail’s local winter sports venue
Mt. Brighton has been around since 1960. Vail Resorts purchased it in 2012 and has spent millions on upgrades to the slopes, terrain park, main lodge, restaurant and snow making equipment.
The ski and snowboarding resort in Genoa Township usually opens a limited number of lifts, runs and terrain park features during the first part of December, as soon as the snow-making machines can maintain a base. More lifts and runs open as the season progresses.
Resort officials say new events and entertainment offerings are coming to the mountain, which has lifted all COVID-19 restrictions and will run at full operation.
Skiers and snowboards will eventually be able to access 24 conventional trails, including “bunny” and beginner trails, from five chairlifts and seven surface lifts, and terrain park features. It also features intermediate and expert trails. The ski hill tops out at about 1,330 feet.
“We want people of all skill levels right from the get-go. We’re going to focus snow-making on that and then expand out from there as fast as possible,” Giorgio said.
He said private ski lessons will be available as soon as Mt. Brighton opens, and group lessons will likely begin in mid-December.
Vail’s latest investment in Mt. Brighton includes a new ski race shack, which allows racers to line up and take off during competitions, and additional snow-makers to cover more terrain.
He said new LED lighting on the slopes should provide better illumination after dark and also cut power usage by as much as half.
Entertainment on the Mt.
He said resort officials want to make Mt. Brighton is a gathering place even for those who don’t ski.
“I want this to be a place where people who don’t even ski can come to Brighton, eat, drink and listen to some music and watch events,” Giorgio said.
There will be live music at Ore Creek Grill on Fridays, special outdoor events when the weather cooperates, and a new family-friendly competition involving cardboard and duct tape.
On Feb. 4, a Duck Tape Derby will challenge participants to make a sliding device out of cardboard and duct tape and race down the hill.
“We want to see how creative people get,” Giorgio said. “We’ll have everybody take them to the hill and set them up on one of our milder runs and races. It’s just a fun thing.”
He said Mt. Brighton has never held such an event, but he has attended similar races at other ski resorts in the past.
“The best one I’ve ever seen was a recreation of the X-wing fighter from ‘Star Wars,'” he said, adding that he has also seen a pirate ship and a sled full of kids dressed like snowmen in races.
In March, the venue hosts its annual Slush Cup race, a pond-skimming competition.
Rotating local acts will perform live music Friday nights at Ore Creek Grill beginning during the holiday season.
“And if it’s a warm, nice Saturday, we’re going to put outside, put a bar out there,” Giorgio said.
They will also host S’more Sundays, with fire pits and s’mores afternoons.
Once the snow falls, it’s time for sledding, other snow sports
Mother Nature will decide when to coat hills at public parks in Livingston County with enough snow for other outdoor wintertime recreational activities, including sledding and cross-country skiing.
Several public parks feature sledding hills, and some of them have places to get warm.
Kensington Metropark’s sledding hills and toboggan runs are among the most popular in the county with multiple hills for beginner, intermediate and advanced-level sliding. A bunny hill lined with padded trees, toboggan runs, sledding and beginner snowboarding is located off the Orchard picnic area.
Genoa Township Park’s more than 200-foot sledding hill has a vertical drop of about 40 feet. The park, at the township’s complex at 2100 Dorr Road, features heated restrooms and a warming area in the park pavilion.
Settler’s Park next to Hartland Township Hall, at 2655 Clark Road, features a sledding hill along the park’s 1.2-mile paved pathway. The park is open sunrise to sunset.
Hartland Heritage Park, at 12439 Highland Road/M-59, also features sledding when there is enough snow. The park is open sunrise to sunset.
Cross-country skiing, skating in the parklands
Cross-country skiing is a popular wintertime activity offered at state recreation areas and metroparks.
Huron Meadows Metropark features more than 15 miles of groomed trails for classic cross-country skiing and 11 miles ready for skate-style skiing through rolling hills. The park also has a ski center with a heated lounge, restrooms and snacks. The 1.5-mile Bucks Run loop is refreshed by snow guns and lit at night.
Kensington Metropark also features groomed cross-country skiing trails and a rental center at the Golf Course Starter Building.
Kent Lake in the Kensington Metropark features lit outdoor natural ice rinks. There are separate rinks for skaters and hockey players on the lake. A nearby boat rental building provides a warming area. Ice skate rentals are not available on site.
Contact Livingston Daily reporter Jennifer Eberbach at [email protected]