Caberfae Peaks Ski Resort is located near Cadillac, Michigan, about a 3-hour drive from Detroit. My first experience was several years ago after buying a new set of skis in the spring and I needed somewhere still open late season. Caberfae Peaks has a 485-foot vertical drop, 4 chair lifts, and quality snowmaking and grooming. They have the best deal on season passes in Michigan at only $199 or $99 for weekends only if purchased during the summer sale. The also became members of the Indy Ski Pass this year getting in on the multi-resort pass game. The White Gold Card also has a punch for Caberfae Peaks.
- Caberfae Peaks Ski Resort Mountain Stats
- Ideal for learning
- Caberfae Backcountry
- Hidden Runs and Glades
- Getting there
- Where to stay
- Where to eat
- Save money skiing Caberfae instead of the 4 Detroit ski resorts
- Vertical drop matters
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Caberfae Peaks Ski Resort Mountain Stats
- Caberfae Peaks Ski Resort
- Drive Time from Detroit: 3 hours 10 minutes
- Driving Distance: 212 miles from SE Michigan
- Day Ticket Cost (Saturday 2019/2020): $59
- Season Pass Cost $199 or $99 weekends only
- Vertical Drop: 485 feet
- Skiable Area: 225 acres
- Lifts: 4 chairlifts, 1 magic carpet
- Runs: 34
- More vertical drop then Detroit ski resorts
- Reasonable lift ticket and season pass prices
- Good variety of terrain – Groomers and Backcountry
- Driving distance from some places
- Less vertical drop than places farther up north
- Crowds on weekends
My wife came to the USA a few years ago from Taiwan, which has the climate of Florida resulting in a serious problem. She couldn’t ski. We planned a trip to Whistler Blackcomb at the end of our first ski season which was a big stretch challenge.
After looking at season passes at the local Detroit ski areas and then the cost for a Boyne season pass, we settled on Caberfae Peaks and ordered our passes. We skied around 14 days at Caberfae that winter.
Ideal for learning
2 factors make Caberfea Peaks and an ideal mountain for learning on. The vertical drop is substantially more than Mt Holly or Pine Knob. They have a long true green level run in Smiling Irishmen and Easy Street. Following this, they have a short length transitional blue run in Monty’s. Once that is mastered Canyons is an excellent long consistently pitched blue run.
For more experienced skiers and snowboarders, they have the south peak chair runs and “the Backcountry”
At the top of the North Peak, you’ll find The Backcountry. This is accessible off the North Peak Quad from the Smiling Irishmen run. This is one of the very unappreciated parts of Caberfae Peaks Ski Resort.
For a long time, I just entered in and took the obvious run straight down the middle. This is not that terrific since it features a nice flat walkout at the end. It dumps you at the most uphill point of cat trail so you get the longest walkout in addition to the shortest potential run.
On a less crowded day following a late-season snowstorm, I decided to go exploring and follow some of the tracks going into the trees at the top. Go left immediately from the entrance into the backcountry and head into the trees. It quickly opens up into a few gladed (friendly spaced trees) runs that are much longer. You can get many fresh tracks as a result because these do not get skied out quickly.
On the far left side of The Back Country is another not skied much open run that can be accessed a little farther down Smiling Irishmen after the end of the fences.
South Peak Backcountry
There is a second backcountry area on the far side of the South Peak complex not shown on the trail map. The trees are really tight in this if you go too far out to the side. It offers up some ungroomed powder opportunity on a snow day or the day or 2 after a snow day.
Hidden Runs and Glades
There are several nice skiable glade areas that aren’t on the map or really obvious but are worth exploring, especially on a new snow day. The connecting area between the North and South Peaks when skiing from the South Peak to the North Peak. There is a lot of good entrances into the trees and you can stay in the trees for a decent amount of run.
Holmberg Glade is on the trail map but it took me many trips skiing here before noticing it was actually there. Check it out. It is a fun short run. In the same area, is the trees between the north and south peaks. Access these by going north as far along the edge right after getting off the South Peak Chair.
The final area is under the South Peak Quad. There is a lot of exploring to do in this area. There are many entrances into the trees off the runs to follow.
Getting to Caberfae Peaks Ski Resort is simple. A quick drive up I-75 to US10 to M115 to Cadillac. Parking is very ample and was expanded last year. In our experience with a few dozen trips now, the snow removal on these routes has been excellent.
Where to stay
There is a resort hotel onsite at the mountain that has an outdoor pool and hot tub open in the winter. If you prefer something more budget there is plenty of hotels in Cadillac.
Where to eat
For eating there are the cafeteria and small bar in the main lodge. There is a much larger bar/restaurant across the parking lot at the resort hotel. There are plenty of restaurants around Cadillac for dinner or eating before the drive home.
Save money skiing Caberfae instead of the 4 Detroit ski resorts
You say that Caberfae Peaks is 3 hours away and I can be at Mt Holly in 45 minutes and I’m only getting another 150 feet of vertical. So why go to Caberfae Peaks instead.
Value for the money
The first reason is cost. With a weekend season Pass price of $99, it’s far below the Mt Holly, Pine Knob, Alpine Valley $460 rate. The distance from Royal Oak, mi to Caberfae Peaks is 212 miles or 424 miles round trip. The distance to Pine Knob is 29 miles or 58 miles round trip. 424 divided by 25mph is 16 gallons used on the trip as opposed to 2.3. We assume gas is $2.50 a gallon so gas is costing you $40 each trip to Caberfae. If your going with yourself and your best friend or significant other then your passes to Caberfae cost $198 verse $920 for any of the 4 locals. The passes saved you $722 which is 18 trips to Caberfae Peaks.
If you can talk a couple more friends into buying season passes or have a few kids and as a result can load up 4 of you in the car each time the benefit gets a lot better.
Vertical drop matters
The increased vertical drop, although it may not seem like a lot is actually getting you a lot more time spent going down runs and not riding lifts. I use an app sometimes called Ski Tracks that is good for tracking your run count and vertical drop.
We’ll use Pine Knob as an example of this. I skied one day at Pine Knob for 3 hours and 30 minutes without taking any really long breaks. The measured vertical drop is 157 feet. I skied 1842 vertical feet in that time or 558 vertical feet per hour. On a day that season, we were at Caberfae Peaks. The measured vertical drop is 450 feet. We skied for 5 hours and 40 minutes. As a result, we skied 6,293 vertical feet or 1,111 vertical feet per hour.
More vertical drop equals more skiing time
This trend of more vertical drop per hour increase continues up to around 1500 vertical feet. At Bristol Mountain, NY the vertical drop is 1200 feet. Consequently, we are able to ski at a rate of 4,400 vertical feet per hour. More vertical feet per hour means your doing more skiing per hour and less standing in lift lines and riding lifts. For a beginner, this really helps since they get a lot more skiing each day.
By skiing Caberfae you’re getting almost twice the skiing in for the amount of time you spend at the mountain.
We’ve had a lot of fun at Caberfae Peaks the past several winters. We plan on enjoying it a couple of times this winter and in the future.
What is your favorite thing about Caberfae Peaks Ski Resort?
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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.