Udell Hills – Manistee

According to a Consumers Power brochure circa 1959, Udell Hills was 18.5 mi east of Manistee, south of M-55.  They had 17 runs, 9 tows with rental equipment, and a shelter house with a snack bar, lounge and modern rest rooms. Topo shows the area had about 200′ vertical.

Teachski.com shows two postcards for the Manistee Ski Area. One postcard identifies the area as being in the Manistee National Forest, 16 mi. East of Manistee off M-55. The 2nd picture is identified in their library as Udell Hills. That picture shows the base lodge and identifies it as the Manistee Ski Area in the Udell Hills with 17 slopes and 9 tows. Is this the base lodge for Manistee or Udell Hills, or were the Manistee Ski Area and Udell Hills the same area? How about the Big M Ski Area?

One Response to Udell Hills – Manistee

  1. Tom Fullerton says:

    They were the same area. Thanks for the photo. Our family skied here in the mid sixties. This place was a blast as kids. The ropes were SO smokin’ fast our little fingers never got cold. My family would pack the wagon and drive to Manistee Friday night to check into the old Chippewa Hotel downtown. We would drive down M55 to the Lodge Sat. morning. Tickets were about $5. The front hill was called “Vista” and serviced by two ropes in tandem to near the top. Flinging myself off the first one, (which was frowned upon by people behind you because of the whiplash,) I could grab the second without stopping. Another rope on the right went half way up. The ropes were so fast our mittens would disintegrate and actually smoke before our eyes. We could get airborne off the whoop-de-doos on the way up. Off to the left of Vista was “Little Chief” and “Big Chief”. Big Chief double chairlift was not installed until around 1967 or so. It was not there when we first came a year or two earlier. It was my first ever chairlift. Off the back of Big Chief was “Oh Me”; aptly named, it was the steepest, most moguled run of the area along with B Chief, where the big boys skied. It had one, long, fast, steep, rope which could lift an 11 year old off the ground at the top. In front of Oh Me was “Sun Valley”, another double tandem rope to the top. My favorite, it was like a half-pipe and often sunny. Behind the Lodge and trees in the photo above was the bunny hill, a slow rope and to the right of that was “Christie”, an old T-bar; a nice, long, wide intermediate run. Boring. To the right of that was “Broadway”, another fast, tandem rope to the top. While hiking the area a few years ago I found some faded scraps of 40 year old, blue, nylon rope and if you look closely you can still find a few rusty car wheels used for the pulleys. In ’69, friends invited me to Crystal Mtn. and I never skied Big M again. I believe it closed as a downhill area within the next couple years and the Lodge was torn down, Today, the slopes are covered with trees but the concrete foundations at the top of Big Chief can still be seen.

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