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.
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