Despite the thaw last week (50+ degrees F) and most of the areas beyond the ropes was brown, the conditions on the slopes were good, so that means that Caberfae’s off-season investment in new snowmaking equipment was probably worth it.
The mountain itself is just another Michigan mole hill, small by most standards and even in comparison to the Michigan resorts. Their terrain is varied but it definitely has a very “old school” feel to it: narrower runs, sketchy traverses and trail intersections, etc. Park was lacking, only two sets of features but it was small enough to be an easy hike for a bunch of quality laps and it wasn’t crowded. There was another park area that had been destroyed in the melt last week. The park was regularly maintained, shoveled and raked by an attendant and it wasn’t overcrowded. The chairs are old and slow and generally uncomfortable, but since the mountain isn’t very big, this is more of a “mom & pop” charm/feature than it is something to complain about. But…
I hadn’t been to Caberfae probably since 1999. I remember going there as a kid, and once my freshman year in college. This trip kind of reminded me why I don’t go there.
The first experience we had with the resort facilities really put a damper on the day. After driving up from the Lansing area we changed and bought our lift tickets, and headed in to the star-shaped cafeteria building to hit the head. (Aside from a small pro shop this was the only building I remember from my visits years ago, although the “members” lodge would’ve also been there).
I would describe this facility as “Alcatraz Chic”. Lots of prison green. Peeling paint everywhere. Cardboard covering the toilet indicating that the particular head is out of service. And dozens of buckets situated throughout the hall collecting water that was dripping through an aging roof. The cafeteria station here was not operating although all of the old gas appliances, ranges, etc. appeared serviceable.
Later in the day I would discover another, newer lodge area which was in much better repair, decorated in mostly knotty pine but still a rough, rustic feel. This area was much nicer and I would even go so far as to say it was inviting, lively and the atmosphere was definitely “ski club sunday funday” with lots of people grouped together by family or club, eating, drinking and having a good time.
But first impressions go a long way. Whatever reason they are keeping that old lodge is beyond me, it needs to be torn down or renovated – Caberfae shouldn’t be presenting that facility to paying customers!
Summing it up: Caberfae was the family-friendly ski area that I remember visiting a few times as a kid. The terrain isn’t going to blow you away, but you can definitely save a few bucks (holiday lift ticket price was only $37 for adults) and escape the crowds that will plague some of the more popular Michigan ski resorts on busy weekend days.