Cracking SKI's Midwest Top 10 list for the first time, Welch depends on an age-old formula of providing interesting terrain, good service and solid value. "Lots of variety and challenge," says one reader. Challenging headwalls and rolling green and blue cruisers make it a popular destination for day-tripping Twin City skiers (only about an hour away). Midweek the densely wooded Cannon River Valley is quiet and seems a world apart from its noisy, boisterous weekend counterpart. Although the runs aren't long, more than one reader boasts of the "challenging steeps" at the resort. "Anybody want to tuck Chicken?" crows one. A quartet of black slopes¿Chicken, Bakkelycka, Twister and the appropriately named Wild Final¿all hold center-court in front of the main lodge's wall of windows. It's "showtime" on the weekends. Easier trails above the East Chalet are narrow ribbons cut through a dense hardwood forest. On spring weekends, outdoor decks fill with sun worshippers and the scent of barbecue wafts across the slopes. It may have the smallest vertical drop¿350 feet¿on our Top 10 list, but with more than 40 runs and eight lifts to choose from, Welch stands tall in variety. "A Midwest secret," whispers a reader¿but not any more. ¿M.T.
WHAT'S NEW Stone Face, the area's first double-black run, and Tree Face, a narrow black-diamond ribbon that cuts through the woods. Last season Welch welcomed snowboarders when it put up a new quad and added its first terrain park and halfpipe.
A GOOD DEAL A declining midweek ticket price to families. A normal midweek ticket runs $28 for adults and $18 for children. With the declining rate, two tickets cost $42; three tickets, $53; four, $64; and so forth.
HIGH/LOW RANK Terrain (2), Service (5), Value (5); Snow (8), Grooming (14), Access (15).
DON'T MISS The chicken-chili bread bowl at Mad Jacks Saloon in the East Chalet, a Welch tradition.
READER REMARKS (+)"Good race program; good mix of runs."
(-)"Short runs; lifts and lodging are dated."