Since 1964, Boyne Highlands has been a mainstay in Midwest skiing and a perennial Top 10 finisher. The Highlands' hallmark is the resort's vast trail network, which appeals to all age groups and skill levels, plus a 10-lift uphill system that ranks No. 1 in the Midwest. "A great place for families or groups with a variety of skiing skills. You can take different runs and meet back at the same chair," observes one reader. "Fun to explore end to end," adds another. You can ski all day at the Highlands and never ski the same run twice; it's that massive. With 44 ski runs, some up to a mile long, the Highlands makes the most of its 550-foot vertical. Beginners will love Valley View and Maple Alley, cruisers such as Kath Run and South Fork are dandy blues, while Olympic and North and South Challenger present gnarly steeps. On powder days, the North Peak area is the place to be with hardwood-lined intermediate trails and some nifty glades in what feels like a separate ski area. Highlands is not only known for its ski terrain, however. With three base lodges, three hotels and the famed Boyne Austrian/American Ski School, the resort is a magnet for families. "A great place to turn your kids loose," says one reader. Highlands ranked No. 1 in Off-Hill Activities. "The outdoor pools and hot tubs add much to a day of skiing," a reader attests.
WHAT'S The alpine village at the base of North Peak Pass, ski-in/ski-out condominiums fashioned after classic European mountain retreats.
A GOOD DEAL Boyne $99 Express Seasonal Rental Program: Rent skis and/or snowboards as many times during the season as you want for $99. Call 800-462-6963 or visit www.boyne.com.
HIGH/LOW MIDwest RANK Lifts (1), Off-Hill Activities (1), Après-Ski (2); Scenery (7), Challenge (8), Value (14).
DON'T MISS A jaunt over to the Spa at the Inn at Bay Harbor in nearby Petoskey for a "quick fix" 30-minute Swedish massage, 30-minute facial and manicure for $115.
READER REMARKS (+) "Best place to ski in Michigan for my money; nice rental equipment." (-) "Distant parking; lots of flat terrain."