Grayling Winter Sports Park – Grayling

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.

2 Responses to Grayling Winter Sports Park – Grayling

  1. Richard Joseph says:

    Fred Bear never took over Bear Mountain. He agreed to build a museum there to show his archery trophies and movies. He also contributed money, as did several other locals to build the Polyhedron restaurant/hotel, a chairlift and snowmaking and several other improvements. Other local men actually “owned” Bear Mtn. Not Fred.

  2. Bob Sisco says:

    I visited Hanson Hills 9/30/16 and snapped several pics outside and inside the lodge( they were preparing for a 5k run the next day).

    I emailed them to the publisher here to post them as he sees fit. Some old pics from the early days of tobogganing. I hope they can be accessed for all to see. I believe there were more than the current one TBar and perhaps a chairlift.

    I hope to ride that TBar on a Friday night( $1 ski pass) and then up to Otsego club( formerly Hidden Valley Gaylord) in which my grandsons 4th grade ski free pass will gain grampa’s access to a” private ” ski area experience and also Sylvan Knob ( Treetops)

    Also see Skyline in which I emailed over 20 pics here and hope more than the current one beginner pic can be posted.

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