Avalanche Peak – Boyne City

Avalanche Peak was a ski area very near Boyne City. On Fri., Jan. 25, 1952, The Ludington Daily News winter sports report listed Avalanche, near Boyne City, with 7″ fresh powder over an 8″ base leading to excellent conditions. Perhaps they closed for a year or two since according to Sports Illustrated, it opened as a new area in 1958 with a 1500′ poma lift rising 260′ and 2 miles of trails. Later, it reportedly sported at least one double chairlift.

I do not know when it closed or the lift was removed, but today it operates as a sledding hill within a Boyne City park called Avalanche Preserve Recreation Area. There is an observation deck at the summit and in winter people use the stairs to climb the hill for sledding (although most don’t start from the top.) The park has a skating rink (sorry, no hockey) and loaner sleds, and an x-c ski trail that doubles in warmer weather as a mountain bike trail. Apparently locals refer to one of the slopes as Barn Mountain. On an MUCC map from the 1970’s, Barn Mountain is identified in the same location as the current Avalanche Preserve.

We made a trip over to Avalanche Peak/Barn Mountain on a recent trip to Charlevoix county. We found a hill with nice contours, the remains of some trail cuts and some lift remnants poking out of the slope and through the brush. View from the top is spectacular.

6 Responses to Avalanche Peak – Boyne City

  1. I can’t confirm it, but I’ve heard that Everett Kircher, one of the founders of Boyne, sold it to the city when he moved the ski equipment to present-day Boyne Mountain, with the agreement that Barn Mountain would never re-open as a ski hill. (Apparently, Kircher bought up and closed much of his area competition).

  2. Dave Cook says:

    Avalanche was the name of the city owned property in the 1950’s. In 1958-59 it was purchased by my father, Toledo based dentist David E. Cook. The area added a double chair in 1967 and entered bankruptcy in 1969. In 1970 it was sold to the owners of Boyne Mountain and eventually gifted to Boyne City under the stipulation it never be operated as a ski area again. If you ever make it to the top, the view is stunning. The face is also wickedly steep.

    • MILSAP says:

      I’ve been there, Dave, and I agree the view is stunning. It must have been a blast to ski. I’ve tried to envision the trails through the woods to the right of the main slope, but the overgrowth is too advanced. Do you have access to a trail map? BTW, was the 59-69 period the Barn Mountain period?

    • Lee Timmerman says:

      Dave Cook if you see this my name is Lee Timmerman my father Bill Timmerman and wife Nancy were friends with your father in Toledo. His friends Ed and Ann Thurston moved up there to run the resort and I skied there in the early 1960’s always liked the place sorry it went out of business

  3. Phil Doolittle says:

    I skied there once or twice when I was in high school, must have been about 1961 or 62. I loved the view. Other than that, my memories are dim. I did not get many opportunities to ski “up north” back in those days, but have always remembered Avalanche. Thanks David Cook for filling out the history.

  4. Frank Rizzo says:

    Avalanche operated until the owner of competing ski hill Boyne Mountain bought it and shut it down. He gave the land back to the city under the condition that it never be operated as a ski hill again.

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