Stokely Creek Lodge (South-central Ontario) Romantic Inns Great Food and Great Skiing
I began cross-country in 1971 as a living stereotype - young, male, kinda/sorta athletic, loved granola, had a sometimes-frozen mustache and liked to ski alone. These days, I find it's a lot more fun to ski with company, and granola isn't often on the men
I'm not sure when I visited Stokely Creek Lodge for the first time, but I've never forgotten the roasted-garlic mashed potatoes – tasty, plentiful and served with delights such as a six-ounce filet mignon with blackberry Merlot sauce and Boursin cheese, roast butternut squash with pistachios . . . and dessert, because what is a great meal without, say, homemade rhubarb pie?
Visit Stokely, ski or snowshoe up to the summit of King Mountain (every serious skier-and-gourmand should do this), and you'll never believe those stories about how flat this area is.
Stokely is a skiing giant in every way: 100 kilometres of Classic and skating trails groomed by three snowcats, spread over 12,000 acres and running through old-growth white pine and along frozen streams, lakes, waterfalls and spectacular granite bluffs. It's overwhelming. The resort has almost exactly the same vertical change (1,000 feet+) as Lutsen Mountains in Minnesota, the biggest mountain I've skied downhill in the region. It's part of the Canadian Shield, all that's left of a huge mountain range that was ground down by millennia of glaciation. So there are gentle trails, intermediate-type trails and zingers that can leave you wide-eyed. And where else can you find that kind of vertical but no altitude problems?
Open from just before Christmas to the third week of March, the resort gets as much as 15 feet of snow around the lodge. It's one of those rare cross-country ski-in/ski-out destinations (open for day skiers too) where you ski around a half-kilometre to reach the lodge while your baggage is transported for you.
As another way to work off the results of recreational eating, guests can snowshoe more than 25 kilometres of dedicated trails (owners Susan and Gaylen Byker tell me that snowshoeing has taken off in a huge way). You can rent skis and snowshoes as well as arrange group or private lessons with a Cansi-level-2-certified instructor.
Stokely Creek Lodge opened for skiing in 1976, the vision of American businessman Chuck Peterson, who died in 2000. Rare in the Nordic world, he chose the site primarily for its skiability – wonderful topography, favourable climate and the availability of thousands of acres of private land. The Bykers, longtime skiing guests and now managers, purchased the property in 2007 with another couple and have added refinements, such as doubling the kitchen and dining-room space.
All-inclusive rates cover lodging, meals, skiing, snowshoeing, sauna, a sledding hill (and sleds) for the kids and more. You can book accommodations in the lodge, cabins or chalets, some with private baths.
Head chef Yvette Leonard has been at Stokely almost 20 years and knows what her guests love. Breakfast can include blueberry pancakes with maple syrup (the real thing), fresh cornmeal muffins (the kitchen is famous for baked goods) and eggs and bacon; your lunch can be anything from deli sandwiches to thick-crust pizza; and dinner has been already described (four entrées every night). There's also a bar with wine, beer and mixed drinks.
above) Fabulous options with 100 kilometres of Classic and skating trails groomed by three snowcats
(right) I've never forgotten the roasted-garlic mashed potatoes, filet mignon with blackberry Merlot sauce and Boursin cheese. (below) Enjoy comfy accommodations in the lodge, cabins or chalets, some with private baths.