Kenyon students did not come to Ohio for the great skiing — any hill in the area will disappoint those who are accustomed to mountains. But Snow Trails Ski Resort in Mansfield, Ohio, a skiing, snowboarding and snow-tubing resort an hour’s drive from campus, offers a relaxing yet energizing opportunity to get out on the slopes every winter.
The resort, according to their website, is on a ridge separating the watersheds of Possum Run and Clear Fork Valley rivers, named Mount Mansfield when it was christened in 1961 as Ohio’s first commercial ski resort. Most of the other hills in this valley run northwest to southeast, vulnerable to the seasonal warming influences of the sun. Mount Mansfield, however, faces due north, and is the last hill in the area to lose its snow every winter.
Snow Trails guarantees adequate snow conditions from December through mid-March. They opened their slopes this year on Dec. 15. Copious snowfall so far this winter and recent improvements to Snow Trails’ snow-making equipment promise a long and exciting season.
Alanta Budrys ’21 went on a trip to Mad River Mountain in Zanesfield, Ohio, another winter resort, last weekend with the Outdoors Club. They left Friday afternoon, took to the slopes for some night skiing and were back on campus before midnight.
“It was a blast,” she said. “I’ve never been night skiing before but I really enjoyed it.”
Mad River Mountain chooses to see itself as “Ohio’s best winter playground.” “I found that amusing,” Budrys said.
Snow Trails lives up to that distinction. Broad slopes are accessible to even the most novice skiers and snowboarders, as there are ample beginner and intermediate trails. An expansive rental center offers all needed equipment and lessons are available for all ages and abilities.
But Snow Trails is still exciting for skiers and snowboarders with more experience. There are nine black diamond runs (though they are not always open), and there is a run that has some moguls.
“[The mountain] was much smaller than others that I’ve been to,” Budrys said, “but the snow conditions were surprisingly good. The few runs that I went on were really fun.”
Those who do not want to ski or snowboard you can try snow-tubing, which Snow Trails offers as well. On specific weekends, the resort extends neon glowing arches over their snow-tubing trails and opens for a night of “Glow Tubing.” Offered five times this season (and once more, for the last time this year, on the weekend of March 2), the event is popular for all ages. The resort stays open until 2 a.m. on these weekends.
The resort’s spacious and rustic ski lodge is home to two restaurants and bars.
Snow Trails is within reasonable driving distance of campus, so students with vehicles can drive groups there for a day trip. And if you anticipate going more than once in a season, the Mount Vernon Ski club offers heavily discounted ski passes.
Noelle O’Neil ’21, who also went on the Outdoors Club trip last weekend, was pleasantly surprised by Mad River Mountain. “I didn’t expect to have so much fun skiing in Ohio,” she said. “I’d definitely go again.”
Correction: February 15, 2018
An earlier version of this article claimed that the Outdoors clubs’ night skiing trip was to Snow Trails. They actually went to Mad River Mountain in Valley Hi, Ohio.