After living a decade in Ontario, we have done most of the “must-do winter activities” that can be done with children: The skating trail in Arrowhead Provincial Park, tubing, downhill skiing on smaller hills in the GTA and exploring many parks by cross country skis. I was beginning to think we were running out of new things to do.
Then I realized that we have yet to ski “The Blue”. This would be the year to test our downhill skiing skills at Ontario’s largest ski resort. Blue Mountain is located at Collingwood and only 2 hours away from Toronto. It’s the closest Ontario gets to a mountain resort like Mont Tremblant, Quebec or Whistler, B.C.
Blue Mountain has over 43 trails and 16 chair lifts with its longest run being 1.6 km and peaks out at 450 m with a vertical drop of 220 m (721.78 ft). The resort caters to all levels of skiers. Beginners, intermediate and expert all find reasons to make Blue a top choice for a family ski trip.
On our recent visit, we arrived in Collingwood in the late afternoon. In the evening we rented our ski equipment from the rental shop so we would be ready to go the next morning. We were on-piste at 9 am as a family on two easy runs to make sure everyone was warmed up.
After a few runs on the easy hill, my kids were bored and left us for more exciting terrain. By lunch, I was ready for a steeper run. On the high-speed six-seater ski lift, I went up to a view of a sunshine-covered Blue Mountain without a cloud in the sky. I thought to myself that with conditions and views like this, maybe I could love downhill skiing as much as I love cross country skiing.
How to plan for a visit to Blue Mountain
First, your family needs to decide when you want to go. When we left Toronto there wasn’t one flake of snow on the ground. We checked the forecasts and conditions at Blue Mountain and chose our time and ordered our lift tickets online. Blue Mountain puts a lot of effort into making snow, even though the weather was unseasonably mild we had very skiable conditions. If you need to rent ski equipment, you can also book it online. Though Blue Mountain can be done as a day trip it is better to spend a night or two to maximize your day. There are many lodging options from simple hotels to more resort-based choices that you should book in advance.
Ski lessons are a must for beginners, or a refresher may be useful if it has been a long time since you’ve skied. Blue Mountain offers many different types of lessons for both kids and adults. You can even book lessons as a group. Book your lessons before your visit here.
If you don’t own ski equipment you will need to rent. When renting your equipment, it’s important that you are true to your abilities. Skis are categorized by beginner, intermediate, and advanced and you don’t want to overstate your abilities as you could get injured if you have a fall.
Save money on your skiing
We found that it was more affordable to rent equipment outside the Blue Mountain resort at Alpine Sports at Blue Mountain.
Look for savings online by booking your ski passes midweek and offseason instead of weekends. Newbie packages cost $79 with a beginner lift ticket and lessons. If you and your kids have never skied before this will be a great option on your first visit. Buying season passes is the only way to go for a family If you want to ski on a regular basis.
How to dress for skiing
To get the most of your day, it’s important that you dress for the weather and your physical output, make sure you have everything needed for the day.
Dress in layers, make sure you have an insulated jacket and pants. Wear thermal underwear, long johns, and a shirt. Wearing a good pair of wool socks is recommended, not cotton. The material should be merino wool or a blended synthetic. We like to wear a balaclava under the helmet for warmth. For cold days we would wear a face mask. Goggles are very useful for snowy and bright sunny days. Optional and depending on how cold it is and mid-layer for cold days; fleece or wool pants.