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Little Gem: For Families, It's Tops

Travel Midwest

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Treetops Resort, Mich.

Perched high over the Pigeon River Valley, Treetops Resort offers an incomparable view of one of lower Michigan’s most stunning landscapes. Hardwoods and pines encircle the resort and form the backdrop for a backwoods retreat with every conceivable amenity. And while the skiing isn’t as heart-stopping as at some other Michigan resorts, Treetops specializes in stress-free skiing.

Located east of the quaint alpine-themed village of Gaylord, Treetops has developed into one of Michigan’s premier four-season resorts. Established in 1954, the ski area was known as Sylvan Knob until it was acquired by the Melling family in 1982. Today, the Mellings oversee an operation including the Sylvan Inn, two restaurants, a spa, a licensed child development center and five championship golf courses.

Winter brings an average of 175 inches of snow, meaning Treetops skiers have the best of two worlds: world-class facilities and premium powder. The 20 ski trails at Treetops cascade through huge stands of trees off two sides of the mountain and an adjacent ridge. Three triple chairs and one double make negotiating the layout a breeze.

Although Treetops is not known for steeps, a few chutes do provide some thrills. Spillway, The Lark and Hemlock Hollow are short but testy, and Rollaway, a double-black, can be a knee-killer when the moguls form. But beyond these, Treetops is characterized by intermediate runs with sweeping, immaculately groomed fall lines. Schussaway, Old Face Full, Cross Cut and The Chute are the best of them.

Perhaps the most alluring facets of Treetops are its family and children’s programs. Forty instructors form a full-service ski school, and the Snow Puppies program for children 4-8 is award-winning.

For a respite from skiing, Treetops has one of the best après-ski bars in Michigan, the Treetops Sports Bar perched on the peak of the mountain. From there you can overlook the slopes and scenery, watch televised sports, sample nearly 100 microbrews and dance to live music. Families can also schedule 30-minute horse-drawn sleigh rides around the resort or dinner sleigh treks to nearby Sturgeon Valley Lodge.

The wide array of activities makes Treetops one of the most family-friendly ski resorts in the Midwest.

Treetops resort, Gaylord, Mich.
Vertical drop: 225 feet
Runs: 20 trails, terrain park, halfpipe, tubing runs, cross-country trails.
Lifts: 3 triples, 1 double, 3 ropetows
Hours of operation: Mon.-Thurs., 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Fri., 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sat., 9 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sun., 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
Lift Tickets Weekdays: Adult $22, child (17 and under) $19. Sat: Adult $34, child $28. Sun: Adult $28, child $25.
A Good Deal Midweek Stay & Ski Treetops package: $56 per night (January and March, based on double occupancy) includes lodging, lift ticket, kids 17 and under sleep and ski free. Contact: 989-732-6711;