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Skiing in Ontario: Top Ski Resorts in Ontario

Top Ski Resorts in Ontario

Ontario is home to world-class skiing and snowboarding once the snow starts falling across the Niagara Escarpment and Bruce Peninsula. From majestic mountain resorts like Blue to hidden gem ski hills featuring charming vibes, fantastic terrain awaits across the province all winter long. Use this guide to discover exactly where to carve first tracks based on factors like ability level, vertical drop, annual snowfall and more at top destinations.

Ontario is home to some of the best downhill skiing and snowboarding in Canada, with well-known resorts like Blue Mountain and Horseshoe Valley drawing enthusiasts from North America and beyond each winter. With hundreds of skiable acres, advanced high-speed lifts, state-of-the-art snowmaking equipment, and challenging terrain ranging from green circle beginner runs all the way to double diamond expert runs, Ontario’s ski resorts have something for everyone. No matter what your skill level, you’re sure to find terrain that is suited to helping you progress and have fun.

In this comprehensive guide, we will be highlighting the top ski resorts in the province based on factors like total skiable terrain, vertical drop, annual snowfall, variety of runs for all ability levels, lodging and dining options, and more. By the end, you’ll discover why Ontario can go toe-to-toe with any top ski destination in terms of exceptional skiing. We’ll provide an overview of the premier resorts like Blue Mountain, Horseshoe, and Mount St Louis Moonstone as well as detail what sets both the major and more intimate ski hills in Ontario apart from one another. Whether you’re an expert mogul master bombing down double black diamonds or a beginner snowplowing on the bunny hill, Ontario has many winter playgrounds that are waiting to thrill you this ski season!

So get ready to discover the alpine gems that allow Ontario to lay claim to some of the best skiing in Canada! By considering your individual preferences and needs as a skier or snowboarder, our guide will point you toward the Ontario resorts that are best suited to you.

Top Ski Resorts in Ontario

1.    Blue Mountain

Nestled on the shores of Georgian Bay, Blue Mountain is Ontario’s largest mountain resort and the fourth-largest ski resort in Canada. With 36 ski and snowboard runs spanning across 775 acres and a vertical drop of 720 feet, it’s easy to see why Blue Mountain is Ontario’s premier alpine destination for skiers and riders of all abilities.

If you’re just getting your ski legs under you, Blue Mountain has an amazing selection of green runs perfect for newbies. The 10-acre Envirolern Park contains ideal terrain and the Snow School Ski Academy for honing your wedge turns and stops. The terrain is also serviced by 3 carpet lifts and 2 handle tow ropes, so you’ll master uploading before hitting summit heights. Once you progress, runs like Chickadee, Sunset, Norseman, and the Mountain Run have shallow gradients suitable for advancing your skills.

Making up the bulk of Blue Mountain’s terrain, you’ll find 24 intermediate runs ranging from short connector trails to longer, winding paths down the Niagara Escarpment. Major lifts like the Blue 6-Person High-Speed Chairlift whisk you straight onto mid-mountain trails like the 2 km Victoria’s Secret. The key is to experiment with different paths to find your sweet spot – some blues are short and mellow like Baby Blue, others longer like the 2.2 km Backshift down the mountain’s south face.

While Blues has family appeal, the black diamond and double black terrain still packs an adrenaline-filled punch. Upper sections of runs like Black Diamond, Misery Street, Devil’s Glen, Grand Prix, and Main Street let you up the intensity with steep pitches, mogul fields, and more challenging snow conditions compared to other runs. Venture into the legendary Crazy Canuck Glades and you’ll be dazzled by high-speed turns and jumps between the trees!

The Mountain Village

Blue Mountain isn’t just about standout skiing, it’s the whole on and off-slope experience that leaves a lasting impression. Their pedestrian-only Mountain Village contains plenty of lodging, shopping, attractions, and dining options to refuel between carving tracks in the corduroy. It’s a skier’s paradise nestled right on the slopes below the County Lodge.

2.    Horseshoe Resort

Nestled in the snowbelt region of Ontario, Horseshoe Resort offers the province’s second-largest vertical drop at 750 feet spread across 300 skiable acres. Just over an hour’s drive from Toronto, the convenient location and varied terrain attract roughly 170,000 skier visits per year.

Horseshoe makes learning fun for new skiers and riders. The excellent terrain progression from the teaching area to wider beginner runs builds confidence quickly. The handle tow accessed Bunny Hill has ideal flat terrain for first-timers. Easy Rider and Riglet Park offer wide paths, gentle inclines, and features like banks and rollers to start linking turns. Moving up, graduation runs like Cruiser, Easy Street and Lost Valley help you ride the chairlift and tackle more challenging terrain at your own pace.

Whether you like groomer carving, bump runs, or parks, Horseshoe’s intermediate terrain masterfully covers all the bases. Flowing corduroy cruisers like Hornpout, Kokanee, and Easy Rider offer sustained fall line turns across main faces like Ski Hill and Headwall. Looking for bumps? The legendary mogul runs, The Bowl and The Valley, challenge technique with tightly spaced bumps down the fall line. Hardwood and Huckster in the terrain parks also feature intermediate hits. With over 54 runs in play, you’ll easily find grades suited to improving technique.

While Horseshoe upholds a family friendly vibe, the black diamond and double black terrain provides experts an exhilarating experience. Upper Huckster, Powerline, The Cliff, and The Face plunge straight down fall lines with unrelenting steepness made doubly challenging by sketchier snow coverage. Dense glades like Bob’s Trees and Saskatchewan Woods thread narrow lines between the pines. Hidden gems like chutes off Corner Pocket and the North Face require local’s advice to discover the steepest shots.

Away from the trails, Horseshoe’s park and pipe features are always on point from the early season. Their reputation for creative slopestyle lines and kickers keeps the park vibes strong all season. The lively ski village contains places to relax by the fire, shop, and enjoy great food and drink specials at Chair 9 bar or Crazy Horse Saloon. With great skiing options for all abilities and a welcoming village atmosphere, it’s easy to see why Horseshoe created generations of lifelong skiers.

3.    Mount St. Louis Moonstone

Located north of Barrie, less than 90 minutes from Toronto, Mount St. Louis Moonstone is a popular ski destination with over 36 downhill runs spanning 250 ski acres and a vertical rise of 732 feet. With an established reputation for quality terrain across all ability levels, you’re guaranteed to find challenges suited to advancing your skills here.

The ski resort contains 3 main faces Mount St Louis, Moonstone and the halfpipe/terrain park face. The terrain variety spreads across four peak areas interconnected by trails traversing the Niagara Escarpment. Fresh corduroy cruisers, narrow shoots tucked among the trees, mogul bump runs, park jumps and more make choosing your line an exciting proposition lap after lap. 

Starting out, the dedicated learning area in the Courtesy Valley has carpet lifts accessing shallow gradient trails. Moving up, wider winding paths like Jessie’s Journey on Moonstone help master speed control and linked turns before trying steeper terrain. Several runs graded green circle provide confidence-building challenges to develop technique.

Over 50% of the resorts’ terrain falls into intermediate blue square difficulty, ensuring you can always find runs to stretch your abilities without moving beyond your limits. Long sustained cruisers like Moonstone Ridge traverse across fall lines, allowing you to link rhythmic turns down the escarpment. Narrow trails like Exhibition offer short-burst steeper segments between mellower pitches. The variety pushes different techniques so intermediates gain competency across pitch angles and snow conditions.

Experts are drawn to the double black diamond runs Wild Fire and Nightmare for the sheer steepness and sustained vertical. And the tighter tree spacing on  Cloud 9 Glades and Psycho Path demands precision line choices at speed. Mogul runs, cliff drops and numerous powder bowls also lurk across the trail map for those looking to expand limits. The ski patrol regularly drops ropes to access gnarlier in-bounds terrain options too.

With excellent terrain diversity catering to all skill bands, quality infrastructure, and easy access from the GTA, Mount St Louis Moonstone delivers on its reputation as a leading Ontario ski destination you need to experience this winter!

4.    Beaver Valley Ski Club

Tucked away in the Beaver Valley region of the Blue Mountains, Beaver Valley Ski Club is a hidden gem for skiers craving an old-school vibe matched with quality terrain. Operating since 1937, generations of skiers have grown up linking turns across 85 acres of skiable terrain spanning a modest vertical drop of 180 feet.

What Beaver Valley lacks in sheer size or height, it more than makes up for in charm and community spirit. As a member-only club, the intimate feel harkens back to skiing’s simpler days free of hustle. The all-natural snow combined with a knowledgeable volunteer-run ski patrol keeps the slopes enjoyable for all abilities.

While smaller, the trail’s diversity remains impressive. The wide boulevard runs like Big Dipper, Little Dipper, Milky Way, and Shooting Star cater to low intermediates working on stability and confidence. Steeper pitches test skills on runs like Comet, Falling Star, and Blazing Star. As skills progress, narrow twisting paths like Black Hole, Twilight Zone, and Asteroid Belt offer the steepest shots from top to bottom.

Night skiing 4 nights a week provides a unique opportunity to sharpen skills in cooler night conditions. And fun special themed evenings and family events make Beaver Valley a beloved pillar of the greater ski community. The throwback atmosphere, community vibes, affordability, and quality terrain consistency draw loyal generations of skiers back season after season.

5.    Glen Eden Ski Resort

Situated on the Niagara Escarpment just north of Milton, Glen Eden provides high-quality terrain only 45 minutes from Toronto, making it the closest major downhill ski resort for city residents. Skiing across 30 runs spanning 180 acres, Glen Eden offers an appealing blend of sustained cruisers, short-burst steeps, glades skiing, and terrain park features across its 465 feet of vertical drop. 

A significant portion of terrain suits novice to intermediate skill levels, with wide gently sloping runs like Paradise Valley catering to new skiers building confidence. Boulevards like Valley View encourage smooth carved turns linking top to bottom. For intermediates, sustained fall line runs down faces like Headwall and North Face help engrain proper edging technique on steeper terrain. 

While known for its friendly family atmosphere, experts can still test limits in the double black terrain. Technical mogul fields, high-speed tree skiing on tightly threaded paths, and steep chute lines off North Face and Headwall all keep advanced skiers smiling lap after lap. The snow park and its progression of boxes, rails, and kickers also draw those looking to catch big air or jib city style.

With quality conditions thanks to upgraded snowmaking, variety to entertain all abilities, night skiing, and easy access from Toronto, Glen Eden remains a reliable season staple for skiers of Southern Ontario.

6.    Mount Pakenham ski resort

Nestled on the outskirts of Ottawa, Mount Pakenham caters to the nation’s capital region’s enthusiastic ski community across 250 acres of skiable terrain and a 620-foot vertical drop. With a balanced offering covering over 30 named runs, the trail diversity keeps skiers of all abilities smiling run after run.

High-speed quads like the Mt. Pakenham Quad whisk you to summit peaks revealing long winding cruisers like Lost Trail, Home Run, and Main Street that intermediate skiers adore for practicing carved turns. Steep experts run like Misery Street, Rock Garden, and Avalanche test technique and speed control plunging straight down fall lines. Dense tree runs and mogul fields also entertain advanced skiers lapping the lifts.

The dedicated learning terrain ensures new skiers progress confidently before hitting the slopes. Carpet lifts in the training area offer hassle-free access to shallow gradient terrain perfect for learning the basics. The Learning Center and full-service rental shop ensure beginners get started on the right gear before hitting prime time slopes. With friendly vibes and chill Ottawa crowds, Mount Pakenham keeps the stoke high across all ability levels each winter.

7.    Calabogie Peaks ski resort

Rising from the Madawaska Valley outside Ottawa, Calabogie Peaks spreads over 500 skiable acres, the largest in Eastern Ontario. The expansive hillside reveals a trail network covering beginner to double black, allowing skiers to always find terrain ideal for improving skills across the 450m vertical. 

Wide-cut beginner trails on the Eagle’s Nest face nurture confidence in new skiers via mellow inclines and obstacle-free paths down to the base lodge. Intermediates flock to sustained top-to-bottom cruisers like Bluff Run for repetitive fall line turns under the lift lines sightline. The legendary Headwall tests technique and speed control plunging start-to-finish double black pitches accessed right from the quad.

Away from groomed trails, gladed tree runs weave through the Rebels Return woods for those seeking an added challenge. And for big air, the snow park features kickers, jibs, and boxes at all skill levels from amateur backyard features to pro-size setups up to 60 feet long. With the most diverse terrain in Eastern Ontario, Calabogie Peaks presents obstacles at any ability level so skills progress every day on snow.

8.    Loch Lomond Ski Resort

Family-owned Loch Lomond Ski Resort located in Southern Ontario’s Bruce Peninsula has been operated by generations of the Haines family since 1961 across their 150 skiable acres. While smaller in scale than Blue Mountain and Horseshoe Valley, Loch Lomond packs great skiing into its 300 feet of vertical drop.

Loch Lomond focuses on providing eastern Canada’s renowned icy hardpack conditions, priming skiers to master high-edge angle technique. Their state-of-the-art snowmaking blankets beginner terrain plus favorites like Jack Rabbit, Sunset Strip, and Powderpuff to ensure snow consistency across ability levels. 

Experts ping pong between mogul fields on Big Dipper, tight tree shots down Pioneer Trail, or testing guts down sheer steeps like Snake Bite. Forgiving cruisers like Haines Highway, Village Run, and Trapline entertain families and low intermediates in mellower terrain. With night skiing, a renowned ski school program, and generations of repeat loyal visitors, Loch Lomond’s community hill vibe makes learning skills progression friendly and fun.

Key factors to consider when choosing an Ontario ski resort

With so many excellent ski resorts across Ontario, deciding where to hit the slopes can be tough. The ski resort that’s best for you depends on matching personal factors like skill level, terrain preferences, crowds/vibe, budget, and more. Let’s explore some of the key considerations to help narrow your selection.

Types of Trails & Terrain

The single biggest factor is finding a resort with terrain suited to your ability. As a beginner, seek out resorts like Blue Mountain, Horseshoe, or Mount St Louis that have dedicated learning zones with shallow runs that help build confidence slowly. Intermediates look for resorts boasting longer winding cruisers like Loch Lomond or Calabogie to work on mastering carved turns. For experts, key in on the total acreage of black Diamond and glade runs Blue boasts the most at over 280 acres alone. 

Snow Conditions & Grooming

The province’s heavy icy snow requires excellent grooming and snowmaking infrastructure. Major resorts like Blue Mountain invest millions into state-of-the-art equipment to create corduroy-packed trails all season. Smaller family-owned hills often rely more on all-natural snow with more variable conditions day-to-day ideal for skiers wanting to master ice without groomer assistance!

Lift Lines & Crowds

Thanks to high-capacity lifts, most Ontario hills avoid lengthy lines and crowds even on weekends…if you avoid holidays! The exception is Blue Mountain’s infamous lift lines – waits exceeding 1 hour on prime weekends are common. For skiers valuing maximum hill time over amenities and village vibes, choosing lesser-known resorts ensures more powder runs. 

Accommodations & Dining

Nearly all major resorts offer a range of on-mountain lodging from hotels to condo-style suites. Intimate resorts located further from cities primarily offer ski-in/ski-out houses to rent instead. For skiers who want bars, restaurants, and village vibes steps from the chairs, larger resorts give you slope-side action. 

Night Skiing

If after-work ski sessions under the lights are a must-have, night skiing availability limits destination options. Outside Blue Mountain, smaller club-based resorts like Beaver Valley and Loch Lomond have vibrant night ski scenes perfect for catching flurries under the moonlight!

The resort you pick should align with your skill level, budget, crowd tolerance, and unique wish list needs as a skier. Use this guide to narrow options but also plan time on snow at a variety of spots – you might just find some hidden gem trails to add to your forever favorites list along the way! 

Conclusion

Ontario offers ski and snowboard enthusiasts an incredible variety across dozens of resorts to satisfy any winter wanderlust cravings. From majestic Blue Mountain sprawling across the Niagara Escarpment to intimate club-based hills hugging the Bruce Peninsula, fantastic skiing awaits!

Overall Blue Mountain takes the crown as Ontario’s premiere ski destination thanks to its expansive skiable terrain, village vibes, and name-brand recognition that draws enthusiasts locally and globally. However, the sheer diversity across the province means skiers should experience multiple peak playgrounds. Hidden classics like Mount St Louis Moonstone, Calabogie Peaks, and Beaver Valley serve up the charm and chills that mega resorts lack.

The key is choosing where to carve your first tracks based on matching factors like your skill level, ideal terrain, crowd tolerance and budget to the unique strengths of each Ontario resort. Use this guide as a starting point for shortlisting destination options that align with your needs. With incredible skiing that rivals the global top ski destinations just a short drive away, Ontario offers winter fun for everyone from first-timers to diehard lift addicts all season long.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the best ski resort in Ontario for beginners?

Blue Mountain, Horseshoe Valley, and Mount St. Louis Moonstone have excellent beginner areas with shallow gradient runs and quality ski schools to help build confidence and ability. 

Which Ontario ski resort gets the most natural snowfall each winter?

Horseshoe Valley located in the prominent snowbelt region averages over 500 cm (197 inches) of light lake-effect snow each season, the highest in the province.

Is there a good night skiing option in Ontario besides Blue Mountain?

Yes, smaller club-based resorts like Beaver Valley and Loch Lomond have vibrant night ski scenes multiple days a week under the lights.

What is the biggest vertical drop at an Ontario ski resort?

Blue Mountain currently claims bragging rights for the biggest vertical in the province at 720 feet from the peak of the Niagara Escarpment down to the base.

Are there options for cross-country skiing at Ontario downhill resorts?

Yes, many major resorts like Mount St Louis Moonstone, Horseshoe Valley, and Hardwood Ski & Bike offer designated cross-country and snowshoe zones spanning kilometers of trails.

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