Walloon Hills Ski Area – Walloon Lake

Walloon Hills Ski Area, Walloon Lake, Michigan. In the heart of the Hardwood Forest – Midwests Largest Pomalift – Roebling T-Bar, Certified Ski School – National Ski Patrol.

According to a clipping from the August 22, 1957 Otsego County Herald Times, Walloon Hills was a new ski area being built at that time and would open for the 1857-58 season. The new Poma lift was the 91st installed in the country. The clipping is available for viewing along with other maps and pictures on the Walloon Lake Wanderings webpage.

In 1958, Sports Illustrated reported that Walloon Hills had 4 miles of trails and a 2000′ poma lift with a 400′ rise. The previous year, Walloon had been open 98 days and served 5000 skiers.

In 1959, Sports Illustrated noted that Walloon added a 1655′ Roebling T bar with a 340′ rise. On Feb. 3, 1966, The Cass City Chronicle printed the AAA Guide to Winter Sports Fun in Michigan. It listed Walloon as having 9 slopes from 2300 to 4000′ long, several trails, a T-Bar, Poma, and 3 tows.

Walloon Hills became one of Ev Kircher’s Boyne Country ski areas in the 1970’s. On the Walloon Lake Wanderings website there are copies of ads published in the Otsego County Herald Times in 1972 and 1973 offering elementary and high school students from local counties the opportunity to purchase a “White Season Pass” good at Walloon Hills and Thunder Mountain for $75. Later, he donated the acreage and lodge to Challenge Mountain, a non-profit, volunteer ski area for the mentally and physically challenged. Challenge Mountain is still operating.

Near the end of Feb. 2012, Mt. Holly patroller Jeremy Chesnutt visited Challenge Mountain looking for the remains of the Walloon Hills complex. These pictures are from his trip.

Photo by Jeremy Chesnutt

Another pic from the top of the unloading ramp looking down the center run. The Director, Mike, of Challenge told me that Ev Kircher took the chair out and it was put in on Ramshead at the mountain. He also took just about anything worth money except the well pump and left the lodge. After he closed it in the mid-’70’s the property sat and the lodge was trashed. Once they formed the non-profit the lodge was gutted and Challenge Mtn. was born.

Photo by Jeremy Chesnut

Photo by Jeremy Chesnutt

The unloading station with control room; to my left is down the center run.

Photo by Jeremy Chesnutt
This is standing at the top of the center run. The piece of lumber sticking up is marking a lift tower that was torched off but a hazard. At the bottom you can see the loading station which they have turned into a pavilion.

Photo by Jeremy Chesnutt
One of the many lift tower bases still present. (I suspect the wood tells us this was a rope tower because those don’t support any loaded haul-rope weight. Ed.)

Photo by Jeremy Chesnutt
Standing on the unloading ramp looking east towards the base.

Photo by Jeremy Chesnutt
Standing at lodge looking up north run. On the right is the cable tow and to the left is the pump house. There is still a huge 3 phase well that works from the old snow making system.Photo by Jeremy Chesnutt

Photo by Jeremy Chesnutt
From the road. the poma line runs up thru the trees between the north run(right) and center run.