The Hanson Hills home page (near the bottom) contains a brief history of the area. Opening 1n 1929, they claim it was the first downhill ski area in Michigan and the second in the midwest. They also recount:
“The “Snow trains” brought many people to Grayling where they would board flat bed trucks for the ride to what was then called the “Grayling Winter Sports Park”. The Michigan Snow Queens were crowned and honored at the annual Winter Carnival, famous for the elaborate ice sculptures built by local people. The old toboggan run was an attraction that thrilled many. Another exciting attraction was the 66 ft. ski jump that was built in 1934.”
On Mar. 14, 1941, The Cass City Chronicle noted:
Due to generous support of the federal park service, state conservation department, and Civilian Conservations Corps, Grayling offers today the finest public toboggan set-up in the entire United States, and this isn’t paid ballyhoo. Six steel slides are the only ones of their kind anywhere not excluding Lake Placid or Sun Valley. Two ski tows have been in operation; next season there will be three.
The Grayling WSP was county-operated until the late 1960’s when operations were taken over by a group of local businessmen and entrepreneurs including Fred Bear of Bear Archery. They renamed it Bear Mountain and attempted to expand it into a major, commercial ski area to rival the bigger areas further north. They ran it until 1973 when a legal challenge over the use of the land for commercial purposes caused a judge to padlock it.
Since 1973, it has been operated as Hanson Hills Recreation Area by the Grayling Recreation Authority. This area has 225′ of vertical and 125 skiable acres with 1 T-bar and 2 rope tows. The longest alpine run is 2640′. The season usually runs December to March; Thu-Sun. Night skiing Thu/Fri/Sat. Rentals & Lessons. Annual Snowfall: 60″. Snowmaking: 75%.
Much of this information is from the Michigan Ski Area Guide.