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Skiing Hockley Valley Resort

We finally got out for our first day of skiing this season! We made our way over to Hockley Valley Resort in Orangeville, Ontario to spend a fun day of family time on the hills.  We think this resort is a hidden gem, and have loved it every time we have spent a day skiing there.

Hockley Valley Resort is a small facility, offering 15 runs for skiing and snowboarding. While the resort states that there are runs offered for all skill levels, keep in mind that 50 per cent of the hills are rated as Black Diamonds and there is just one green run above the “bunny hill” level. I’m a bit of a chicken when it comes to skiing and prefer to stay on the green runs. So, I asked Alex* his opinion about the level of difficulty of the blue and black diamond runs.  He feels that the hills are a step above the “beginner” level and offer a nice challenge and some longer runs. He reports that the black diamonds have some steep faces.

* Alex learned to ski in the mountains of Eastern Europe and enjoyed downhill racing in his teenage years.  After coming to Canada, he joined the British Columbia Ski Patrol, where he spent most of his time on the slopes of Big White in Kelowna, BC. 

My favourite part of skiing here are the beautiful views of the surrounding Hockley Valley.  If looking down on forest and farmland is your thing, this place is for you.  Last weekend, everything in the Hockley Valley was coated in a heavy frost that lasted nearly until noon. The skies were uninterrupted blue and the sun was shining. The effect was stunning. Everywhere you looked you while riding the lift and descending the hills were trees sparkling with snow and ice and sunshine.

Hockley embodies a family vibe. We have skied at the resort three times over the last two seasons, and on each visit we noticed that we seem to be sharing the slopes with other families.  The resort even holds theme days to add some fun to skiing, like the “Crazy Helmet Day” that had us giggling last weekend.  The staff are always friendly and we noticed that skiers and boarders show great etiquette for others on the hill and in the chair lineups.

Speaking of the chair lifts, we have never waited very long to get on the chairs. One of the really great things about this resort is that we spend more time skiing than we do waiting to get up the hill. We also like that the lift operators pay close attention to who is waiting for a lift and will slow down the chair for young kids. This is huge when you’re a parent tasked with lifting your little one onto the chair and getting yourself settled at the same time!

When it’s time to take a break, the resort offers several options for a meal or snacks. There is a small cafeteria for the day-user, an outdoor grill and two casual-fine dining restaurants:  Babbo, the resort’s Lounge and Bar and Cabin.   On each visit we’ve had at Hockley Valley Resort, we treated ourselves to lunch at Cabin – a cozy restaurant with a focus on local fare. It’s a great place to relax and recharge for a few more runs after lunch and the food has always been fresh and fabulous.

The one drawback to Hockley Ski Resort is a lack of adequate day use facilities for changing into your gear and storing your bags if you bring your own skis and boots.  The set-up at Hockley involves day use skiers using the cafeteria as both an area to put on boots and gear and as a place to eat. There are no lockers or basic storage cubbies. This means that you end up storing your bags along the walls, under tables or wherever you can find space.  At lunch, the room is chaotic with people trying to eat, change in or out of boots, reach their bags and navigate narrow aisles between tables.  Don’t let this stop you from going to Hockley. Just be prepared before you go for this one, poorly planned area of the resort.  Try to keep your bags for gear to a minimum, and if possible try not to store your stuff under a table where others could accidentally spill their lunch. True story – I’ve seen it happen right in front of me.

There are outdoor racks for skis and snowboards. Bring your own lock. And the resort does rent all the equipment you need to enjoy a day on the slopes: skis, boots, snowboards, poles and helmets. Don’t forget the helmet!!   

The day-use parking area for skiers is about a five minute walk from the hill. There is a tractor-drawn shuttle that will drive you to and from the lot. However, we found that we could easily make the walk in less time than the wait-time and drive with the shuttle. Think of the walk as a nice little warm-up for your legs before you hit the slopes.

The weather this winter season has been a bit on the unpredictable side. One day it feels like Spring and the next it feels like a true winter day. But one thing that is totally predictable for the Sometimes Eventful crew is that we’ll be heading back to Hockley Valley Resort for another day of great skiing before this season ends.  

You should go! Here’s what you need to know….

Check out Hockley Valley Resort’s web page for up-to-date snow conditions as well as their lift and rental rates.  

Lift tickets and equipment rentals can be purchased online, before you head to the hills.

Hockley Valley Resort DOES accept the Ski Canada Grade 4 & 5 Snowpass.

If you are planning on having lunch at Cabin, you can make a reservation ahead of time here.