Glacier Hills – Bellaire

A lady named Patti, who works at the Bellaire Chamber of Commerce reports that her father, Everett Ash, started working on the area in 1952, but opened Glacier Hills in 1953 when she was 8 years old. She remembers it as having 7 slopes, 1 trail and 3 rope tows.

In 1959, her father took a new job which required he be available 24/7, so he leased the area to the Bellaire Chamber of Commerce for $1 for the season, with the stipulation that Bellaire school students be able to use the area for free. Patti recalls that season tickets were $15 each ($25/couple), and $10 for students from outside Bellaire. Day tickets cost $1.50 for adults and $1.00 for students from outside Bellaire.

She thinks the BCOC was not interested in operating the ski area on a continuing basis, so a group of citizens stepped up to form Glacier Hills, Inc., a non-profit, joint stock company invested in by 154 local families to preserve the skiing opportunity the area represented for local families.  In 1963, the area purchased a Poma lift which was installed in time for the 1963-64 season.

Glacier Hills is listed in a Consumers Power brochure from about 1959 of top ski areas in the northern lower peninsula. It was located 1 mi. west of Bellaire with 7 slopes and 6 tows. They had a separate beginners area, shelter house, snack bar and rentals on premises. On Feb. 10, 1961, The Ludington Daily News ski report listed Glacier Hills with 6″ new snow on a 9″ base and excellent skiing.

On Jan. 4, 1968, The Cass City Chronicle printed the AAA Michigan Guide to 1968 Winter Sports Fun. It Listed Glacier Hills as having 7 slopes, 3 trails, a Poma lift and tows. The Poma lift had been added since their listing in 1966. On October 27, 1968, The Detroit Free Press listed Glacier Hills among 7 ski areas that would cease operations that year. Patti believes that the area became less viable after the opening of Shanty Creek in 1964 and Schuss Mountain in 1967. Apparently, skiers were demanding higher verticals and chairlifts, not to mention restaurants, bars and other fancy amenities Glacier Hills and other small ski areas could not provide.

On Nov. 27, 2011, I visited Bellaire but failed to locate the site of the area. According to Patti, you proceed north through town on M-88, turn left on W. Forest Home Ave. Then you proceed about .4 mi. west until you come to a fork in the road. You take a slight right onto Orchard Hill Rd. Glacier Hills was about .25 mi. ahead on the left. Next time I am in the area I will look it up.

If you have any recollections of skiing at Glacier Hills, please leave a post or send your information following the instructions on the ABOUT page.

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6 Responses to Glacier Hills – Bellaire

  1. Mike Agrusa says:

    Back in the late 1980s, my girlfriend (now wife) and I were two-tracking through the woods behind the high school in Bellaire. I enjoyed traveling on unfamiliar trails just to see where they go. We came to an intersection in the trail and I stopped the car to determine which trail I should take….. and just out my driver’s side window was a POMA LIFT!!!

    …..OUT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE WOODS!!!

    This was Glacier Hills, as I learned later. I believe this is private property, now….. the last time I drove back there, there were three or four houses where they hadn’t been before. I’ve been meaning to knock on some doors and see if anyone has a Poma Lift in their backyard, and If I could get a tour….. but I haven’t made it back there, yet.

    When I scan the area in a satellite photo, I can’t even make out where the slopes used to be. Everything has been overgrown for so long that there is no evidence of any ski facility anywhere in the area. (Unlike Mount Mancelona… which is still very much identifiable).

  2. dharmafiend says:

    Used to ride my motorcyle up and down this hill as a kid. First my Suzuki RM-80 and Later my Honda XL250 all through the early 1980s. Also used to ride snowmobiles up and down this hill in the winter. Loved seeing the old Poma tow stuff hanging out…eerie

  3. mwharton says:

    My husband and his family skied there in the late 50s. His sister was ‘Snow Queen’ or some such title there in her Senior year at Bellaire High. I probably have photos around here some place. I’ll look.

  4. Jackie Thayer Culp says:

    What a delight! My parents, Fern and Virgil Thayer, were friends with the Ashes. My first pair of wooden skis with cubco bindings were purchased from Mr. Ash. In the forties I played in their huge-home in Bellaire. All the Best, Jackie Thayer Culp

  5. Bob Felton says:

    We are the current owners of the property. We purchased it 1998, and we have since built two homes on the property. The Poma Lift had been removed by the time we purchased the property, but the cement foundations of the lift poles and several remnants from the rope tows were still present (some of which are still visible.) One of the homes we built is directly over the old site of the warming house for Glacier Hills, and our home is at the top of the hill.

    The home at the base of the hill is now a vacation rental, so, if you used to ski there and want a trip down memory lane, check it out on VRBO.com.

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