Black Mountain Ski Area – Cheboygan

In the Fri., Nov. 9, 1956 issue of The Cass City Chronicle, the “Michigan Mirror” column lists Black Mountain near Cheboygan in a list of rapidly developing ski areas in Michigan. Black Mountain Ski Area is listed on a map in a Consumers Power brochure listing top ski areas in the northern lower peninsula. The brochure is not dated, but appears to be from the around 1959. They note that the area had 8 runs and 6 rope tows and a toboggan hill with a lodge offering instruction, snack bar and a ski shop. They were open Fridays and weekends.

Black Mountain is located just east of Us-23 on the north shore of Black Lake, south east of Cheboygan. The mountain is now contained within the Black Mountain Forest Recreation Area which has more than 30 miles of hiking and x-c ski trails. On a clear day, skiers can even catch glimpses of Lake Huron to the east.

If you have any information about lift-served skiing at Black Mountain, particularly when it began and ended, please leave a comment or send your information to the webmaster–see the ABOUT page for details.

11 Responses to Black Mountain Ski Area – Cheboygan

  1. Steve Erber says:

    On a bluebird Saturday morning in January myself and two of my fanatic free-heeling friends, Craig and Jim, set out to find Black Mountain. After studying the topos and gathering information from the county GIS, we narrowed our search to an area on the north east side of Black Mountain Recreation Area.
    We set out from the upper parking lot in light three pin gear and headed for the north east corner of the park. Knowing the Onaway area, I was quite surprised to find 200 feet of vertical elevation. Even by Michigan standards this seems small, but given the surrounding topography of flat low lying areas the effect is much more dramatic.
    After a short trek in, we came to a clearing designated as an “ORV Scramble Area”. We had arrived at our destination. Apparently, after the demise of the ski area the hill became popular with the bilers and the moto-cross riders. When the DNR created the recreation area they left the area open to ORV use, which probably saved the ski hill from becoming an Aspen grove.
    Looking to the north east one can see Lake Huron and to the south lies Black lake and Mullet. The vistas are quite remarkable. A seasoned gentlemen, at the ski area with his daughter and grand children, were having a great time sledding down the old slope. He explained to us where the lodge was located and had been demolished in 2010. He had skied at the area back in the 60’s and remarked “it was quite a place”. It closed in the early 70’s do to finances and became a park shortly thereafter. Our Camalbacks, and tele gear were a bit out of place and the daughter remarked, “you boys aren’t from around here ; are you.” We dropped a knee on the ole slope and found some freshies on the fringes that the bilers couldn’t track up. I snapped a few photos of the lift towers (trees) and pulleys. All of the structures were torn down, but I did find the foundation of the old lodge that I estimated to be 30′ x 30′. The parking lot was well kept and had a vault toilet, but is not plowed in the winter.
    Every good ski should be followed by a recovery beer. On our way back to Petoskey, we happened onto a gem of fine bar food. Just outside the gates of Onaway State Park sits Bar 211. Inside you’ll find fantastic ribs, burgers and an extensive display of taxidermy ranging from nice bucks to a wolverine and a prized Sturgeon for which Black Lake is famous.
    Sturgeon are a fish unchanged since prehistoric time and only found in a few locations in the United States. These fish can live to 100 years reaching a length of 9 feet and weighing 200 pounds. Anglers from around the United States descend on Black Lake in February for the chance to spear one of these monsters. Once six fish are harvested the season is closed, sometimes only lasting a few hours.
    Pictures of the area dating back to the 1800’s adorn the walls, mostly of hunting and fishing. I asked the waitress (who was born in Onaway) if they had any pictures of the ski area. Her reply “what ski area ?”
    If you’re looking for a change of pace from the “resorts” try the eastern side of the state. With the changing snow patterns, we have found more coverage than on the west side.
    See ya in the trees- Erb

    • Peter Bigford says:

      Are you by chance the erber that skied shelter at Caberfae all day everyday back in the early 70’s?

      • Steve Erber says:

        Yup, that would be me and I have the forearms to prove it. That was one fast rope tow and shelter was a great place to train. Some of the best race programs around today are going back to tow ropes (Hickory Hills never left) to keep their athletes on snow instead of hanging in the air. A big problem with going back to the old ropes is finding someone who knows how to make a proper splice in the rope; they are always breaking.

    • ryan smith says:

      Sorry to butt in,but the seasoned gentleman mis informed u,I have been riding the scramble area for 10 years,the lodge has been gone before I started riding there. if u go down the valley halfway,go west over the first two foothills,there is huge cliffs way to steep and long for me to climb on my quad,plus its outside the scramble area, hope this info was helpful

  2. Peter Bigford says:

    My brother Andy and I used to come up from Niles and ski all weekend with you locals. Guy ( Gary?) with Hart comps, two brothers (one of which ended up a dentist in Summit County Co. Lots of others. Andy never left the ski business and is now running Ski, Skiing mags and Warren Miller ski films. I was at Copper Mountain for 11 years and now I’m COO at Shanty Creek/Schuss.

    I remember your blue coat with the yellow triangles on the shoulders. Pretty good helicopters too.

    Pete Bigford

  3. Started my skiing life at Black Mountain winter of 59-60 with the Alpena High Ski Club. Skied there for my the next 4 years. If I remember properly a lift ticket and ride in the school bus was $3. Still skiing as a NSP at Schuss Mt. after patrolling at Mt. Maria, another lost area. Those were the good? old days.

  4. Jim Walton says:

    I started skiing at Black Mt. when I was 5 back in 1958. The whole family would cram in the grocery getter (station wagon) and head up there from our family cottage on Shoepac Lk. we spent many fun filled weekends skiing there until it closed and we started making the drive to Boyne Highlands. Turned me into a lifelong ski bum, great times!

  5. Pingback: MILSAP Updates, December 29, 2015 | MILSAP

  6. Robert Leopard says:

    I skied Black Mt. just once or twice. One steep ridge with not much vertical. Several tow ropes. Fun once but not enough variety. I loved the variety at Sylvan. One could ski all day and not repeat a run.

    • Bill Worden says:

      I grew up in Cadillac from 1946-1963 and our cousins grew up in Cheboygan and we were all ski racers and raced at Black Mtn. My cousins were the Rauch family and my uncle was a Doctor in Cheboygan, My oldest cousin Tom Rauch was a great ski racer and his Brother Bill Rauch is my age and we raced against each other.

      • Annie says:

        Do you happen to have any pictures of the resort while it was still open? I’ve been exploring the area and found the old wheels on some of the trees for the tow lifts.

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