Briar Hill Ski Area – Mesick

On Sun., Dec. 23, 1951, the Toledo Blade, in an article entitled “Ice Fishing, Skiing and Skating”, sec. 4, pg. 5, reported that “all the favorite ski areas of northern Michigan,” including Briar Hill, report “excellent skiing, perfect weather and ideal conditions with plenty of snow.”

A month later, on Fri., Jan 25, 1952, The Ludington Daily News winter sports report listed Briar Hill, near Mesick as having 10″ fresh snow over a 2-4″ base for excellent skiing. They also reported that Earl Hill of Ishpeming would be there that weekend to defend his Michigan open skiing championship. (I think this may have been a nordic/alpine combined championship, featuring jumping and slalom.)

In about 1959, a Consumers Power brochure listed Briar Hill as being 3 mi east of Mesick and 20 mi northwest of Cadillac, just off M-42 and M-115. They had 8 slopes from 600′ to 1300′ long, 3 tows and a ski jump. They had rentals and snacks available.

On Feb. 10, 1961, The Ludington Daily News ski report listed Briar Hills with 2″ new snow on a 4″ base and reporting excellent skiing. On Feb. 3, 1966, The Cass City Chronicle printed the AAA Guide to Winter Sports Fun in Michigan. It listed Briar Hill with 5 slopes from 200 to 2000′ long, a slalom slope and 2 ski jumps.

If you have any information about skiing or jumping at Briar Hill, please post a comment here, or send it to us via the directions on the About MILSAP page.

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11 Responses to Briar Hill Ski Area – Mesick

  1. Bruce Benda says:

    In the mid-1970’s my parents bought Briar Hill and still own it today. For a period of time my Dad operated the resort on weekends and holidays, providing affordable skiing opportunities for primarily local customers. The resort was closed to the public in the early 1980’s. My family and I continue to maintain the property, which is still used by us occasionally for skiing. I have 8 brothers and sisters, and we originally were members of the Briar Hills Ski Club. Most of us were ski jumpers, competing throughout the Midwest, including at Briar Hill, which had two ski jumps – a 35 meter and a 50 meter.

  2. sharkbytes says:

    Is this the Briar Hill N of M-115 that is quite pointed. It seems pretty odd that there are two Briar Hills in Wexford County. The high point of the LP is the Briar Hill that is S of 115 that doesn’t stand out as a lone peak.

  3. Tom Williams says:

    My grandparents and parents own this property and leased/sold it to the Briar Hill Ski Club in 1949.It was organized in 1947. I still live on the original farm property on the north slope of the ski hill today. I started skiing in the early 50’s. My kids learn to ski there also. Are friends of the Bendas–Great Family!!

    • Robert Simons says:

      I remember seeing it when visiting your parents for New Years dinners Tom

    • Torr Williams says:

      Hey Dad! This was my private playground until “growing up” and reaching adulthood. Lots of memories walking the hills, following Bruce’s dad while he mowed the runs with the Kubota and brush hog. Scouting for deer or using the hill as a lookout or rest stop on the way to the Traviss home. It didn’t matter what time of the year, the ski hill and surrounding property is where I was day dreaming away…

  4. Dr Rebecca Yount says:

    We lived very close to Briar Hill and I learned to ski there when I was around 4 years old, in the late fifties. It had two or three old rope tows that were powered by tractors. You had to climb to the top on foot to start them in the morning. It was just around the hill from the Williams’ house. There were two ski jumps, and a European (Austrian, maybe) man who was sort of the “pro” there. The small lodge was heated with a woodstove and you could get chili and other homemade things inside there for lunch, while you laid your wet mittens out to dry and stuck your frozen socks on the stove to sizzle. We had to pack the snow in the morning by going up sideways on our skis.

  5. tomhwilliamstommy says:

    The European skiers were “Whitey & son Jean”.

    • Rebecca Yount says:

      I remember a very tall, thin, elegant man, name was not Whitey or Jean, but he was always called by his last name–he was not American, but I think Austrian, German, Swiss?

  6. L. David Arscott says:

    I have been searching for photos of the Briar Hill ski jump as it existed in the early 1950’s. Back then I was about 16, and had done most of my skiing at Caberfae and some minor jumping at this ski resort outside of Cadillac. With ski friends from Rochester, Michigan, we drove to MesicK for a Ski jumping contest and after politely declining to enter the jumping contest, did my normal down- hill skiing. At the end of the meet my much older jumping friend, persuaded me to try the jump. Having never jump from this unique structure it was a little daunting but I gave it a try. I landed on my rear-end for this first jump but the adrenaline-rush was so great that I enthusiastically gave it another try. This provoked the same rush so a third time was going to be my last, as we were about to drive back to Rochester. And indeed it was, as I was landing, I guess out-of-control, my right ski tip caught the landing hill first and the result was a fractured right ankle. The result after about 65 years is that ankle now has only roughly 30 percent cartilage remaining, sort of like those whose knees got hit one too many times from high school football! Any way I have been looking online to find pictures of that ski jump! If anyone has that I would love to see them, before my memory fades from that era.

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