Incredible skiing, very well laid-out, uncrowded, stunning views, well-maintained, short lines, great terrain park
For Summit Mountain: Tiny, old chairlifts, only 11 runs,
It's hard to write a review for the Shanty Creek resort as a whole since it's comprised of two different ski areas. Before reading on, please note that I only skied Schuss on my last trip and haven't skied at Summit since I was about 7, but apparently it hasn't changed much since.
---The Skiing: Schuss---
Schuss may seem like a tiny ski area with only 5 lifts, three of them on the same side. Based on the naked statistics, it seems like a little place that just gets old after an hour or so. I mean, the fact that this place only has 5 lifts really says something, that it only has 38 runs, several of them being little cut-offs to other runs that get their own name and classification for marketing purposes. However, as always, you can't judge a book by its cover.
From the moment you first catch a glimpse of Schuss Mountain pointing up above the treetops from the road, you're in love. It's a gorgeous view and a great introduction to an awesome day. However, it isn't until you arrive at the base that you see what you're truly in for. When you look at those black diamonds, you either think 'oh crap' or 'BRING IT ON!!'
All in all, Schuss Mountain is my favorite public ski resort in Michigan. It covers a very small plot of land, but the land they have is made very good use of. The runs are very well laid-out, 4 out of the 5 lifts meeting at the top of the mountain so that you can ski almost any run from almost every lift. The view from the top is breathtaking especially in the morning when the sun is still rising. It's something you truly have to experience.
Some of the runs are a bit mislabeled such as Dungeon's Drop and Double Dip which are black diamonds that truly deserve to be a blue square by Michigan standards. Other than those however, Schuss has some of the best extreme runs in Michigan. Kingdom Come is a wide-open black diamond that just gets steeper and steeper and steeper...and even steeper! There's also Surprise which starts off like a green, then enters a huge s-curved dive like the first drop of a roller coaster. Also of note is Forest Jump, which is one of the most relentless tree runs in Michigan.
Schuss also has a great terrain park filled with huge jumps, rails. It's also really long for a Michigan terrain park. The half pipe isn't the best I've ever been on though.
I can't really say much for Summit as I haven't been there in 10 or so years. What I do remember is that there were only 2 very slow double chairlifts and very few runs to speak of. It had a decent base village, but it was sort of strange since the base village was at the top of the mountain, and you start skiing at the top. There is no terrain park.
Schuss's big problem is its main base village. It's very old and carries next to none of the 'European charm' it advertises besides the facade on the front of the hotel. The base village features a very cool bar/cafeteria/restaurant called Ivan's which has live music and the nightlife works. Besides that however, the village seems very run down and just doesn't carry the great theming and charm in the base village that many other Northern Michigan ski resorts use to make up for their lack of skiing. The only skier bathrooms in the base village are also stinky and are plastered with ads everywhere. , it's quite isolated from any big Michigan cities, so basically the only thing to do after hitting the slopes besides go to Ivan's is cross country skiing or night skiing. Or maybe get a taste of Summit, which you could easily ski up several times in an hour. I can't say much about Summit's base village, or the Cedar River base village.
What Shanty lacks in a base village it makes up for in quality of skiing. Although this isn't as popular as Boyne or Crystal, this is definitely a ski resort you DO NOT want to miss.