THE BLOG

Blue Mountain: For the "Chill" and the Challenge

07/16/2013 05:41 EDT | Updated 09/15/2013 05:12 EDT

Blue Mountain Village is a well-known destination for Ontario's skiers and snowboarders during the winter season, but the warmer months offer up terrific activities for friends looking for a getaway that combines physical beauty with physical activity.

The expansion of their outdoor challenges is most notably embodied by Timber Ropes, which opened in 2012, as a tougher cousin to the Woodlot low ropes course. This high ropes course features 75 aerial elements (suspension bridges, ladders, cargo nets, zip lines, etc.) over seven courses, in three different difficulty levels, modeled after the traditional grading of ski runs (green, blue and black). The ground training is thorough, and safety measures are enforced to allow for a secure yet at times heart-stopping adventure.

But not all activities need to be done standing up; the Ridge Runner Mountain Coaster is an outdoor track ride traveling over 3,500 feet down a 436 foot vertical at speeds up to 42 kilometers an hour. Younger riders can strap in with a parent and enjoy the rider-controlled speed.

Also new to Blue Mountain is the Mountaintop Segway Tour. An hour and a half guided session takes beginners through rigourous training before hitting the beautiful forested trails at the top of the main lift. Helmets are mandatory, as is a good sense of balance, particularly when traveling up and down steep hills, down gravel paths, and traversing through tree roots and hidden rocks. The expert guides are patient and knowledgeable.

The gondola ride up is included in the Segway tour, as it is with the mountain biking. Blue Mountain's Bike Park is the largest in Ontario, with many levels of difficulty to choose from. There are 23 trails, and rentals and lessons are available at Village Rentals, which is transformed from the ski and snowboard rental and repair shop of the winter season.

The physical beauty comes from The Blue Mountains themselves, as well as the charming village at the base, and its unique and fun shops and restaurants. Relax at the end of the day with some shopping. Smart clothing shoppers stop in at Birch & Co where owner Julia will be happy to help style both men and women. Carry on just a few feet to revive and imbibe on the outdoor patio at Twist. Blowing and flowing red curtains draped on wooden frames surround the patio tables, giving it a European "twist" as you relax and watch other village strollers go by.

For complete relaxation, a five minute drive to Le Scandinave Spa will refresh and revive both mind at body with the transitions between hot (pools, sauna, steam) and cold (freezing cold "plunge" pools) and relax (on hammocks, by the fire, in loungers, inside and out). The biggest challenge faced here is their strict silence rule, (hard to obey when "cold plunging") which does allow for girls' weekend attendees the chance to reflect amidst hours of conversation.

Back in the village, the Cascades mini golf course is not your typical ball-in-the-clowns-mouth extravaganza.. Beautifully inset into the slope of the mountain, it uses the most of its natural elements, and literally does cascade with rocks and golf holes down. Terrific and low pressure way to improve on your putting. Hard to believe this is completely covered with snow in the winter months.

Walk across the village to the Blue Mountain Inn, where the phyllo wrapped warm cheesecake, topped with chocolate sauce and set on top of Jack Daniels caramel sauce from The Pottery restaurant is the perfect way to either prepare yourself for taking on the more challenging activities at Blue Mountain, or rewarding yourself for surviving some of them.

From literal highs to lovely lows, Blue Mountain Village offers everything for both the bold, and the beautiful.

Visit www.bluemountain.ca for more information on their many festivals and events, as well as for online reservations and rates.

Follow Kathy's travels on Twitter @KathyBuckworth. Visit www.kathybuckworth.com