Michigan is not really known for its skiing but there is some really fun stuff out there. Here are what I think are the 12 best advanced ski runs Michigan has within its many ski resorts. We will look at 2 categories. 6 On-Piste Black Diamond groomed runs and 6 Black Diamond Off-Piste runs.
- Black Diamond Groomers – The Best Advanced Ski Runs Michigan has
- Run 6 – Buckaroo – Crystal Mountain
- Run 5 – Rocket – Marquette Mountain
- Run 4 – Superbowl – Boyne Mountain
- Run 3 – Leelinaw – Indianhead
- Run 2 – Scarface – Nubs Nob
- Run 1 – Log Jam – Blackjack Mountain
- Honorable Mention – Elevator Shaft – Blue Mountain, ON
- Black Diamond Off-Piste Runs – The Best Expert Ski Runs In Michigan
- Run 7 – Buck Glades – Crystal Mountain
- Run 6 – The Backcountry – Caberfae Peaks
- Run 5 – Husky Bowl – Mont Ripley
- Run 4 – Tower Glade – Nubs Nob
- Run 3 – The Chute In Tyler’s Tangle Glade – Boyne Highlands
- Run 2 – Buddha Bowl – Mont Ripley
- Run 1 – All of Mount Bohemia
- The best advanced ski runs in Michigan
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Black Diamond Groomers – The Best Advanced Ski Runs Michigan has
Here we are looking for steep and long. What good is steep if you have to hit the brakes right away. These are runs for the day where you just want to strap your turbos on and go flying down as fast as you can.
Run 6 – Buckaroo – Crystal Mountain
Buckaroo at Crystal Mountain is very wide open with a good steep pitch most of the way down. It’s not the longest of vertical which is the downside. You can get going really really fast for the short while that you have. The runout at the bottom is wide open giving you plenty of room to get rid of all that speed you built up.
Run 5 – Rocket – Marquette Mountain
Marquette Mountain has some of the best wide open fast very well-groomed runs in Michigan. Because of their more north location temperatures are colder making it a little more immune to the freeze-thaw cycle that can generate icy conditions at other Michigan ski resorts.
On our last trip, the grooming was perfect and we were laying highspeed trenches on Rocket all morning.
Read more about Marquette Mountain and other Michigan Upper Peninsula ski resorts here.
Run 4 – Superbowl – Boyne Mountain
Superbowl is a classic steep very wide open black diamond groom run. It’s the best place at Boyne Mountain if you really want to get your speed on. It’s the far left side of the mountain looking up.
It doesn’t have crossover traffic that most other runs at Boyne Mountain have because it’s on the far end. It’s one of the longest steep pitches in the lower peninsula.
Run 3 – Leelinaw – Indianhead
One of the great things about the Big Snow Resorts (Blackjack and Indianhead) are there longer vertical drop than most other Michigan ski resorts. Indianhead has 638 feet of vertical and is a fairly steady pitch for the entire height of the mountain.
Leelinaw is a nicely pitched fairly wide run with some rolling terrain as you go down. The grooming was very good on the way we skied it and the crowds were low even on a weekend. An excellent choice to really get going.
Run 2 – Scarface – Nubs Nob
The front face of Nubs Nob features several really good steep groomed runs. Nubs Nob advertises the best grooming and snow quality in the midwest. They do a really good job smoothing out the runs and making corduroy to back up their claims.
Scarface runs left of the left (looking down the mountain) from the Green lift line and runs over to Chute. It has some curve to it and there can be a decent lip to hit going up to the adjacent run Chute.
Run 1 – Log Jam – Blackjack Mountain
Blackjack Mountain like it’s sister resort Indianhead has a taller vertical than most Michigan ski resorts. Blackjack is a bit steeper overall than Indianhead. Head over to Chair C and you will be treated with a nice long steep well-groomed run called Log Jam.
We skied on a bluebird Sunday afternoon with very low crowds and felt like we could go as fast as we were comfortable going without any worries of crowding with other skiers and snowboarders.
Honorable Mention – Elevator Shaft – Blue Mountain, ON
Blue Mountain is not technically in Michigan. For many of us living in the lower peninsula, it’s much closer than most of the upper peninsula ski resorts. This run is fairly wide and has a very steep first pitch with a long medium to shallow pitch after that. Many of our friends here have an obsession with skiing this run and making it past the first pitch without falling.
Black Diamond Off-Piste Runs – The Best Expert Ski Runs In Michigan
For Off-Piste runs, we are looking for something unique. Michigan ski resorts are not known for their adventure skiing.
For the most part, they like to groom everything to death including powder days (there should be a special place for anyone grooming over a foot fresh snow before anyone can ski it). It’s somewhat of a challenge these days to even find a good mogul run.
Run 7 – Buck Glades – Crystal Mountain
The Buck Glades is a decently steep glade run off to the right side of Buckaroo at Crystal Mountain. The trees are fairly tight which adds some extra challenge to the run. The vertical is similar to the glade runs at Nubs.
They frequently do not have enough snow to ski. Hope for fresh snow right before you ski day at Crystal to take advantage of these.
Run 6 – The Backcountry – Caberfae Peaks
The Backcountry at Caberfae Peaks is kind of a hidden wonder of Michigan skiing. It is a section of the mountain off of the North Peak that never gets groomed.
The runs in the Backcountry vary from easy blue wide open to more black in the tree. My favorite run is going left into the trees at the top of the Backcountry and along a small ridge. Go through the trees at the end and it opens up a bit.
The downside is that there is a decent length walkout from many runs in the Backcountry. A few to the left side have a connector back to the main area that avoids the walk but you also miss the bottom third of the run to take it.
On a new snow day I’ve found that most skiers try to hit the snow along the sides of the main groomed runs and largely ignore the Backcountry. If you go straight to Backcountry when the lifts open you can get many good runs in before it gets tracked up.
Run 5 – Husky Bowl – Mont Ripley
Husky Bowl at Mont Ripley is one of the few places in the midwest that have the feel of skiing a big open bowl. Although it’s only a few hundred feet of vertical, it’s wide enough and open enough to feel like a smaller above tree line bowl out west somewhere.
Standing at the top you stare down a nice wind lip that gives a steep initial pitch. It tends to at least have shallow moguls the whole way down. The unique bowl character makes this one of the best advanced ski runs Michigan has to challenge advanced skiers.
Run 4 – Tower Glade – Nubs Nob
There are a bunch of glades at Nubs Nob that are all fun to ski. Tower Glade and Arena Glade tend to take the longest to get tracked out. Arena Glade because of the very steep rope tow and Tower Glade because of the hike to the top.
My favorite is Tower Glade. It’s not uncommon to find untracked snow from the top of Tower even on the weekends a couple of days after a snowstorm. The run has a long enough length to it to feel like you got something for your hiking effort. The trees are spaced far enough apart to not be intimidating but close enough to still feel like your skiing a glade.
After your done here go hit some runs on Pintail Peak Glades.
Run 3 – The Chute In Tyler’s Tangle Glade – Boyne Highlands
From the top of Amy’s lift at Boyne Highlands, you’ll find Tyler’s Tangle Glade. When you get off the chair immediately go left (looking down the mountain). There is a small chute that doesn’t have a trail marking sign but you’ll see ski tracks going down it. It is steep. It is tight. There are some large rocks, logs, and trees to avoid on the way down.
This is one of my favorite advanced runs in Michigan and my winner for best advanced run in the lower peninsula of Michigan.
This is the most advanced run I know of anywhere in the Lower Peninsula. If someone knows of something technically harder in the lower half I would love to hear about it so I can go ski it.
Run 2 – Buddha Bowl – Mont Ripley
Although it’s named Buddha Bowl, it’s not really a bowl feel at all. It’s a very steep and challenging glade run through the trees. There are cliff warnings at the top. As long as you pay attention you can easily avoid any big dropoffs.
The trees are fairly tight and it will definitely get your heart racing. Copper Chute Glade at Mont Ripley is a good warmup to do before heading into Buddha Bowl.
Run 1 – All of Mount Bohemia
It’s hard to pick out just 1 great run at Mount Bohemia. Their tagline is “No Beginner’s Allowed”. Going down the mountain almost anywhere will give you a nice glade run or mogul run if you stay out of the trees.
My personal favorites are Middle Earth and the Bohemia Bluffs. Nothing is groomed and it’s all a bit gnarly. If you want to get away to one of the most rustic and adventurous ski resorts in the country this is where to go. Mount Bohemia has the best collection of very advanced ski runs anywhere in Michigan.
See my review of Mount Bohemia here.
The best advanced ski runs in Michigan
I have been to many but not all 37 of Michigan’s ski resorts yet. I would love to hear about any other really good black diamond or advanced runs out there in this state.
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About the author
My name is Doug Ryan. I am an adventure sports fan and an avid skier, sailor, mountain biker who also enjoys paddle boarding, kayaking, wakeboarding, waterskiing, and travel. I take any chance I can get to get out in the snow or water. I actively run an adventure sports meetup where I get asked many questions. I decided to start Gear Craver as a way to share my knowledge and enthusiasm for adventure sports their gear.