The ski hill at Horseshoe Resort in Ontario
|Location||Oro-Medonte, Ontario, Canada|
|Nearest city||Barrie, Orillia,|
|Vertical||94 metres (308 ft)|
|Top elevation||406 metres (1,332 ft)|
|Base elevation||312 metres (1,024 ft)|
|Skiable area||24.7 hectares (61 acres)|
|Longest run||670 metres (2,200 ft)|
|Lift system||8 (1 detachable six-person, 2 triples, 3 doubles, 1 surface, 1 Magic Carpet)|
|Snowfall||223 cm/year (87.7 in)|
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Horseshoe Resort, formerly Horseshoe Valley Ski Club, is a southern Ontario ski resort and four season vacation destination. Located north of Barrie, the resort is about 1 hour 15 minutes driving time from Toronto. The resort enjoys a long ski season due to snow making abilities. Acquired by Skyline International Development Inc. in July 2007, Horseshoe Resort is spread out over 680 acres of land. The resort offers two golf courses, a Shizen Spa, 101 rooms at the on-site Inn and 40 condo-style suites, two year-round restaurants, 11,400 square feet of meeting and banquet facilities, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a full gym and over 40 km of trails connected to the Copeland Forest suitable for hiking, biking and snowshoeing.
The resort is known for its multitude of four season activities including on-site Treetop Trekking, Yamaha Riding Adventures, Segway Adventures, horseback and pony rides, Hummer tours, mountain biking, snow tubing, Nordic skiing, snowshoeing and more. An Adventure Park includes family-friendly activities such as a rock climbing wall, Ogo run (similar to zorbing), Red Horse Maze, Red Horse Mining attraction, Euro bungy and zip line.
Horseshoe Valley is the area between a horseshoe-shaped series of hills with the open ends of the U facing north. Horseshoe Valley Road runs through the middle of the hills, cutting its northern ends off from the base of the U on the south side of the road. The club was originally started by Bill Lohuaru on the southern side of the road.
History and expansion
In the early 1960s, Bill Lohuaru, a home builder from the Toronto area was looking for a site to build a ski resort and settled on Horseshoe Valley, at the time locally known as Hungry Hollow, due to its elevation, natural "U" shape facing west and proximity to Georgian Bay.
In 1962, the first ski season at Horseshoe Valley opened with five alpine slopes, a T-bars, four rope tows and a small base lodge. The improving economy and dramatic improvements in ski equipment turned skiing into a major sport, which in turn, fueled the resort's development, quickly growing it from a 200-acre footprint to 1,600 acres spanning the townships of Oro and Medonte. More T-bars and chair lifts were added throughout the 1960s and in 1967, the first snowmaking machine was installed.
With the expansion of the alpine slopes came an increased interest in Nordic skiing, and in 1964, 10 km of Nordic trails were introduced through the nearby Copeland Forest.
In 1972, the idea of developing the property into a 'year-round' resort was being considered and two avid skiers at the time also happened to be Canada's two premier golfers, George Knudson and Al Balding. With their help, Rene Muylaert was commissioned to design the first golf course layout, to be built by Evans Construction. in 1974, the back nine of the Valley Golf Course was opened and the 18-hole course as it stands today was complete by July 1975.
Throughout this same time, the Oro-Medonte region was experiencing an expansion of its own. An internal road network developed, building lots were for sale and homes were being constructed. In the late 1970s, the Horseshoe Condominium project was completed, with the aim of growing a more permanent residence base.
In 1979, recognizing the growth and potential of the resort, Bill Lohuaru brought on six new partners. The Board of Directors quickly identified a need for short-term accommodation and a 40-unit vacation ownership project was completed in 1982 along with a swimming pool, tennis courts, indoor recreational facilities and restaurant.
In 1984, night skiing was opened and during the 1980s the ski hill continued to expand. In 1987, the Inn at Horseshoe opened with 102 rooms, and indoor recreation centre and upscale dining at Silks Restaurant.In 1989, the Mach One high-speed chairlift opened.
In 1989, Medonte Mountain (another ski club on the north western arm of the U shaped series of hills) was purchased by Horseshoe Valley and turned into a new private area called Heights of Horseshoe. This private area is used for family skiing and a large built out has been developed in the area. The hill features 8 chairlifts, including a fixed-grip quad, as well as a rope tow and magic carpet for beginners. The lifts serve 29 marked runs in total. The Heights features another 28 runs served by four lifts.
In 1991, construction began on the 18-hole Highlands Golf Course, which opened its first nine holes and driving range the same year.
In 1997, Thunder Valley (now known as Red Horse Express) tubing park opened with four runs.
In 2006, Horseshoe Highlands golf course hosted the PGA of Canada Tour Championships, positioning the course among the best in Canada.
In 2010, Horseshoe Adventure Park opened with summer snow tubing, Ogo, mini putt, climbing wall, zip line and a skate park.
Also in 2010, Horseshoe opened downhill mountain biking with four trails. In 2011, the Red Horse Maze was added to the Adventure Park.
The zip flyer attraction was redesigned in 2012 to increase its capacity and speed.
In 2013, the resort completed a $4 million renovation of its 101 hotel rooms at the Inn at Horseshoe and 270 square metres of meeting space. The Adventure Park was also expanded that year to include the Red Horse Mining attraction.
In late 2013, an 800-foot carpet lift, Kimble's Karpet, was added to the beginner ski hill.
In late 2016, a new high-speed six-pack chairlift was added to the main hill, replacing the 1989 Doppelmayr high-speed quad. The old chairlift was removed in the spring of 2017.
In 2017, a new artificial lake was added, for use in the summer. The snowmaking system at the resort was improved.
- "New Ski Facilities", Sports Illustrated, December 3, 1962, Page M2
- "Heights of Horseshoe: Our History"
- "What This Golf Course Says...", SCOREGolf Magazine. Retrieved January 21, 2014.
- Siddiqi, Maryam. "Daytripping: Horseshoe Adventure Park". National Post, July 9, 2010. Retrieved January 21, 2014.
- CField. "Horseshoe Resort Downhill MTB Video", Mountain Life, June 27, 2010. Retrieved January 21, 2014.
- "Horseshoe Completes $4 Million Renovation", TravelPress.com, December 3, 2013. Retrieved January 21, 2014.
- Knowles, Lori. "Kimble's Karpet Opens for Skiers at Horseshoe", SkiCanada.org, Retrieved January 21, 2014.
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