DOWNHILL SKIING & SNOWBOARDING
Ski like the professionals at a Twin Cities slope.
Image by Todd Buchanan/Greenspring Media
Hyland Hills Ski Area is your go-to spot for downhill skiing and snowboarding if you don't want to travel too far. Located within Hyland Lake Park Reserve in Bloomington, getting away from the bustling city for a day on the “mountain” is quick and convenient. Explore the runs that vary in degree of difficulty, land a few jumps in the terrain park, and take on the famous “Wall” for a new freestyle challenge.
Spread across a steep bluff overlooking the Cannon River valley, Welch Village may be the best hill available to Twin Cities skiers, short of driving to Giants Ridge or the North Shore. There are 60 trails spanning 140 acres, and the longest run measures 1,300 feet. The park has a nice variety for both beginners and experts, and consistently gets high marks for its well-groomed trails. Snowboarders are welcome, and the Village regularly holds races and offers lessons and family specials.
For a smaller place to shred, check out Buck Hill in southern Burnsville. Buck Hill is a tiny slope—just 50 acres with 15 trails—jammed up against a busy freeway, but two things position it as one of the area’s most popular hills: a convenient location and an aggressive racing program that has produced such skiers as World Cup and Olympic champions Kristina Koznick and Lindsey Vonn. The park has a 310-foot vertical and its longest run measures just over 1,000 feet. Snowboarders and tubers are welcome, and lessons are available.
Head east to Hastings for a day on the mountain (okay, they're actually really big hills) at Afton Alps. Located within Afton State Park on the border of the St. Croix River, this ski resort boasts beautiful views of natural scenery along with its close to 20 ski runs, so you can enjoy a ride with a view. Hit the trails on runs that vary in difficulty, and try your hand at one of the several terrain parks located throughout the resort.