Published by David Zemens, on Agnarchy, January 12, 2012
This past weekend we visited Treetops Resort in Gaylord, MI for the first time. I drove up there with my wife and with Jon from PARX to meet up with some other members of the NASJA Midwest during a winter summit about XC skiing which was a bit of an eye opener — even though XC is not my flavor, it was really cool hearing other folks who are very passionate about their favorite winter recreation talk about the various events and projects that they’re working on this winter and beyond.
When they went out for their morning ski on Saturday, all three of us wolfed down the Southern Omelet (there is nothing finer than an omelet smothered in gravy) and we sent my wife down to the Spa to enjoy the royal treatment, before suiting up to occupy chairlifts all day long. Conditions were graybird and windy to start but the wind died down and left us with just the usual bleak January day, dust-on-crust fading to hardpack to ice by the end of the day.
The terrain at Treetops suits all skill levels with some moderately challenging steeps for the experienced skiers/boarders and some easy beginner-friendly slopes as well. Especially if you know how to make your own fun, there’s plenty of it to be had in terms of finding natural features to play around on: tranny in all shapes and sizes, tree bonks and stump jibs and banks a plenty to butter around on. We even saw a rock drop under one of the lifts, but sparse cover made it un-hittable this time around.
Natural tranny provides all the fun you need
Boarder-friendly terrain, there are really no flats at Treetops. Unfortunately, Mother Nature has not been kind this season so the terrain park was operating on extremely limited features but when snowpack is sufficient they focus their efforts on a “progression” park designed by Michigan-based Board Sports Terrain Design who also designs parks for several other resorts in Michigan and throughout the Midwest.
For us, the crown jewel in terms of fun was probably the vintage 1993 trick ditch style halfpipe.
On the left you can see the trick ditch, a 1993-style banked “halfpipe”
Basically it was a gulley with banked sides, way under vert but still fun enough that you could pop off it, stalls, tailblocks, spread that butter or do flyouts. This trick ditch was quite a workout for those of us who don’t normally ride pipe and super fun.
Jon buttering the trick tube’s left bank
Treetops is a full service, four-season resort with 5 golf courses for the summer. They also offer 20km of XC trails in the winter as well as Extreme Tubing, dogsled rides, snowmobiling and more. There are several on-site dining options, and lodging options from hotel-style rooms to suites to 3-bedroom condominiums. Except for the on-slope Halfway Cafe, all of the dining facilities, are located at the summit, but a resort shuttle will take you to and from if you don’t want to walk or drive.
Even by midwestern standards, Treetops is a relatively small alpine facility with only 225 vertical feet over 80 acres, but although they’re lacking in altitude they still delivered a really fun weekend experience. With affordable lift tickets (beginning at $19 for single day), season passes with benefits (1 free overnight stay, discounts in the pro-shop, etc.) and a renewed commitment to their alpine activities under General Manager Barry Owens, Treetops was something of a hidden gem and I’d love to get back to check out that progression park later this winter.