Bear Mountain – Grayling

Operation of the former Grayling Winter Sports Park was taken over by local businessmen and entrepreneurs including Fred Bear of Bear Archery and operated as Bear Mountain for a few years in the 1960’s up until 1973. They wanted to build the area into a large, commercial area to challenge the big ski areas further north. Bear Mountain featured an polygonal hotel brought from the Montreal Olympic Village and many ancillary businesses. Bear greatly expanded the skiing facilities and lift plant. On Dec. 10, 1970, the AAA Michigan 1971 Winter Sports Fun List, published in The Cass City Chronicle listed Bear Mountain as having 20 slopes, a double chair lift, T-bar, Poma, and 12 rope tows. They offered ice skating, tobogganing, night skiing and snowmaking.

On Jan 4, 1968, The Cass City Chronicle printed the AAA Guide to Winter Sports Fun in Michigan which listed Bear Mountain (formerly Grayling Winter Sports Park) with 20 runs and slopes, T-Bar, chairlift, Pomalift, 10 ropes, Ice skating and tobogganing, snowmaking, and night skiing. Obviously the name change was this year or just prior.

Unfortunately, Bear Mountain was situated on land which had been willed to the state for military or recreational use. The family of the donor objected to the land being developed for profit and brought suit. A judge had the area padlocked in 1973. The area is now operating as Hanson Hills Recreation Area.

22 Responses to Bear Mountain – Grayling

  1. Don Klammer says:

    I worked on the building in 1967 1968. It was part of a government funded project to create work during the time. As I recall it was a geodesic dome like structure. I’m not sure but may have a picture of it. It was to be a lodge for skiers. I stayed overnight in it once.


      Don, if you have pictures of the Bear Mountain Ski Lodge, I would love to see them. My name is Jerry Ann and I worked there for about six months as the desk clerk for the lodge and I believe it was in the winter of 1973. My husband was in construction and he was on a job in Kalkaska. I have talked about the short time I spent there many times over the years and had no idea it had closed so soon after we left the area. I have very fond memories of the place as it seemed somewhat magical to a very young country girl from a small town in Northeast Arkansas who had never seen a ski slope except on television. My email address is if you happen to find any pictures of the
      lodge. Thanks so much!

      • Jim Knighton says:

        Jerry Ann,
        My family skied at Bear Mountain during its existence. I saw in the past that people were requesting pictures of the Inn. I am pretty sure it was called the Polyhedron. I just ran across some family slides and will email you a couple of pictures. I would be willing to share with this sight, just need to figure out how to do so. Enjoy the pics, it provided great memories for our family.

  2. Trucker Mark says:

    I skied Bear Mountain during either the 1972 or 1973 ski season as a member of a church group. They had one double chair and a bunch of rope tows. The fondest memory of mine about Bear Mountain was its toboggan chutes, which had close to 400 feet of vertical drop down what would now be rated double black diamond terrain. The chutes had steel rails on either side to keep the toboggans headed the right direction, and the chutes were flooded with water that turned to ice, which made for a fast and bumpy ride. The attendant claimed that the toboggans could reach 90 mph, and each of the several times that we tried it, we ran right off the end of the chute and into a field. It was too bad that they didn’t have a lift to get sliders back to the top.

    • Gustave Rayl says:

      the return ride to the top in the late sixties was provided by two or three flatbed trucks with benches for the riders and stowage for the toboggans . There was an article that stated it had reached a 120 mph ride once. I rode it many times as a side event to skiing the hill as Bear Mountain.

  3. Selkie says:

    I am looking for any info on a band that played Bear Mountain in 1972/1973 they were called Canada Goose. any pictures you could share would be great

    • Karl says:

      I worked in the Polyhedron from 1970 to 1973. I remember the band, and wish I could help. Hopefully someone else can. I remember theat they were a very good band. Chantilly Lace was always played, as I remember.


  4. Gustave Rayl says:

    Many of the area high schools held banquets at Bear Mountain’s Polyhedron Lodge, Houghton Lake School held several. In the sixties it was one of the must have season passes for skiing in the region. I rode the toboggans many times, there was a stake truck with seats that loaded the toboggans and people for the ride back up the hill. It was a thriving winter park attraction, too bad it was taken down in some misguided court challenge and ruling, I’m sure the tourism in Grayling suffered significantly. Many fine memories of years of skiing Bear Mountain.

  5. Selkie says:

    Still looking for Images or info on a rock band named Canada Goose in the lounge at Bear Mountain Resort. Thye would have played 1972 and 1973. NAmes were John, Al, Jack and Bruce. If you have anythng please You will make a very sick old man happy!

    • MILSAP says:

      Sorry Selkie. We thought we sent this earlier. Canada Goose was apparently a Canadian band (imagine that) from Ottawa that performed under that name in 1970 and 1971. They were formed from the remnants of The Esquires and the drummer from 3’s A Crowd, and renamed themselves because a Detroit band was also using the name Esquires. They broke up in ’71 when their drummer left to backup folksinger Tom Rush. Info can be found at Hope this is the right group.

      • Selkie says:

        Thanks so much for responding! There was, evidently, another band called Canada Goose. This band was based out of Webster MA, led by a man named Jack Matteau. His stage name was Jack Lee Williams. They morphed into a country band in 1974 called The Jackie Lee Williams country review. The drummers name was Bruce from Sault St, Marie. They were booked under Cat Ballou Enterprises. They played in the winter of 1972 and 1973 at Bear Mountain. I have found a few pictures and a flyer that survived the fire. One was of them standing with, who I assume to be, Fred Bear. I was also able to find a round of slides in some old boxes. If you would like copies please let me know.
        Thanks again!

      • MILSAP says:

        Love to see them!

      • MILSAP says:

        Thanks for the info, Selkie. If you could send us copies of the pix, please do so!

  6. Don Klammer says:

    I wish I could help but I was involved as an out of town worker during the construction phase. Perhaps a llocal or maybe the Chamber of Commerce in Grayling could help. Sorry.

  7. Selkie says:

    Dan Thank you. It was my husbands band. We lost all his picks in a fire in our barn. The name of The Band was Canada Goose. I appreciate you answering.

  8. Selkie says:

    send me your email

  9. Selkiescot says:

    HI Karl.
    Thanks so much! Chantily Lace was indeed a favorite.

  10. John says:

    Hi, my name is John and I was in the band that played at Bear Mt. In the early 70’s called Canada Goose. I played bass and sang. Met a lot of nice people there. I can remember June who was a barmaid and Kent who was a bartender. The business was owned by Bruce, can’t remember his last name. So many great memories. If Kathy Rutkowski a or Sharon Zbikowski ever read this, I would love to communicate with them. They were great friends.

  11. John Anthony Neslusan says:

    Hi, my name is John and I played at Bear Mt in a band called Canada Goose in the early 70’s. I have great memories of the time I spent there. There was June and Kent behind the bar and Bruce the owner of the property. I met a lot of nice people whom I would like to communicate with, if they ever read this. If Kathy Rutkowski or Sharon Zbikowski ever read this please email me at my address.

  12. Lorenzo Gibson says:

    Any one remember a bar/restaurant near the Bear Mountain ski area owned/bar tended by a man named Axsel? In the mid-1960’s. Had live music and dancing. Local place.

  13. Christina Karnisz says:

    I came across a postcard of this resort, I’d love to send you the images so you can share them on your site!

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