Sugar Loaf Resort – Cedar

On Fri., Jan. 25, 1952, The Ludington Daily News winter sports report listed Sugar Loaf in Leelanau Co. as having 12″-15″ of new snow and excellent conditions.

Sugar Loaf Mountain is listed on a map in a Consumers Power brochure listing top ski areas in the northern lower peninsula. The brochure appears to be circa 1959. They report it had 4 slopes and 4 tows, with a slalom bowl, ski trails, snacks and instruction on premises. By Feb. 3, 1966, The Cass City Chronicle listed Sugar Loaf in the AAA Guide to Winter Sports Fun in Michigan as having 50 acres of ski runs, 2 double chairlifts, J-Bar, and snowmaking. displays the picture postcard below for “Leelenaw Schools.” The caption on the reverse of the card identifies it as Sugar Loaf Mountain. The plural “schools” seems to date this card between 1940 when the girls school was established and sometime around 1950 when the schools were combined.

The Leelanau Schools, Glen Arbor, Michigan. Winter brings not only sports but brighter beauty to Sugar Loaf Mountain where the Leelanau Ski School is organized for beginners, intermediates, and experts.

The Leelanau School, combined from separate schools for Boys and for girls after WWII, was a prestigious private residential prep school outside Traverse City. For many years, they made skiing and other outdoor winter activities a big part of their program. According to Wikipedia, the school,

 “pioneered alpine skiing as a Michigan high school varsity sport during the 1950s and was instrumental in its adoption as an official MHSAA championship sport, but was forced to abandon the sport when the nearby Sugar Loaf Resort closed in 2000. Leelanau was the MHSAA boys’ skiing state runner-up (open classification) in 1992, beaten at the state finals only by Traverse City (now Traverse City Central), a school over 30 times larger. [3] Leelanau is by far the smallest school in Michigan ever to place so high in an MHSAA open (unrestricted by enrollment) state championship.”

Rick Desrochers found this newspaper clipping in an old book. It is apparently an artist’s rendition of a concept for Sugar Loaf Winter Sports Development in 1945. It would be interesting to know how close this came to reality.

Sugarloaf Concept 45

When it closed a few seasons ago, Sugar Loaf had 20 skiable acres on 490 vertical feet. The summit elevation is 1100′ and the base elevation is 610′. Sugar Loaf had 6 Lifts: 1 triple, 5 doubles with an uphill capacity of 3600/hr. Terrain Mix was 30-40-30 and the longest run was 5100′. It had night skiing Mon.-Sat. with rentals & lessons. Annual Snowfall was 182″ and it had snowmaking.

There have been repeated reports since the area closed that various parties have been working to acquire and reopen it.

Much of the information above is from the Michigan Ski Area Guide.

Chris VanderHart sent along the following photos from Sugarloaf:

Bob Sisco sent along this photo of the “lost” lift on the backside of the Loaf.

Sugarloaf backside lift

19 Responses to Sugar Loaf Resort – Cedar

  1. Trucker Mark says:

    I skied there once when I was maybe 11 or 12, which would have been 1968 or 1969. I remember crashing and losing a ski, in the era before safety straps or ski brakes, and having my ski take a bee line for the lift line. A ski patroller that had just arrived to help me raced after my runaway ski and caught it just before it got to the lift line, which seemed to me like a super-human effort back then. They even came up with a snowmobile and took me back down to get my ski, which was right nice of them. I got my first set of safety straps at Sugar Loaf.

  2. Mike Yates says:

    What a shame to see a resort like that go under. I remember the views from the top as being some of the best in the state. It had two legendary runs, Aweful Aweful, and Manitou.

  3. Susan Jarvis says:

    I did not know that Sugar Loaf closed it’s slopes…what a shame

  4. It Should be Open. I think it was burdened with debt and had a few bad years and needed better maintenance programs. It could be a world class terrain park…

  5. Tom Fullerton says:

    The Loaf was glorious in its heyday. Family friendly, nice outdoor pool, good live music upstairs in the bar after skiing, and cute girls. The line down Auwful-Auwful next to the towers was my favorite as well as Manitou. On a sunny day, the views of Lake Michigan and The Islands was fantastic.

  6. Trucker Mark says:

    I think that the Leelanau School at one time had its own rope-tow hill too, as I remember walking up it in the summer once in the early 1970s on a visit there. It might have been 125 feet of vertical drop.

  7. jeff golemba says:

    loved making snow there in the 90’s !

    • Davd says:

      Very cool! Must have been nice to be part of a developed vision. A shame it has so much stacked against it now. Would be awesome if that could be overcome by someone, or perhaps a group of people. And reopened with a fresh vision and ownership.

  8. John says:

    We’ll my wife &I have watched the Loaf since it has closed. I have always said if we hit the lottery the Loaf would be our dream to rebuild and reopen. I was a lift op. In 1986 learn how to ski. We moved to northern mich from bay city. I often drive by the Loaf and picture it alive. If I knew I could get investor . It would be a dream to see the light on and snow guns running. Planes sitting near the runway. Special Olympics flags up , the high school kids coming from around the state to help out and camping out in the sugar barn. I work construction . I’ve worked all over mich. On all kind of demo repair rebuilding site. With the right plan . The Loaf’s will rise to the top again. John

    • Dave says:

      Hey John like to hear your optimistic overview. If you win a portion of that lottery, or better yet, and much more controllable, come across any business owners or investors who would like to make a go of it…I would talk it over with my wife and I would like to be in for a hopeful 8-10% stake in it. Such a shame to see it getting more and more run down.
      Sincerely, Dave. Prev Business owner, Skier and present Painter.

  9. Mark Edmund says:

    I learned to ski at the Loaf! Spent 15 years making yearly trips there with friends during 80’s and 90’s. Very fond memories. Enjoyed every second. Can close my eyes and still picture the whole resort. Married a skier so started too late to be great but still managed to get my “I skied Awful , Awful ” shirt. Wife got sick and died so been out of skiing for awhile. Just lately been looking at Sugar Loaf again. Very sad. I know things change but looking at pictures what I see now breaks my heart. I’m with John. Seeing lights and snow guns with the cat’s grooming would be wonderful! I understand the effort and risks involved. I’m going to buy some lottery tickets! I would be there to help! While extremely unlikely nobody can erase my memories. Mark

    • Dave says:

      Right on Mark!! And I am SO SORRY, about your wife getting sick and passing. I just paused and prayed for you. I hope you have found Jesus the risen Savior as your source of comfort…and hope for the present, future and eternity.
      Sincerely, Dave

  10. Tom Groenevelt says:

    We skied there almost every weekend in the late 70’s its biggest problem was its owners not reinvesting into the ski hills. use to hate waiting in line for the lift, this would have been an ideal place to have Quad lifts triples and even high speed detachable chairs. that and trying to keep snow on a pimple on the peninsula. would love to see it reopened and to ski there once again.

    • Bob Sisco says:

      Here’s a 94/95 trail map and ticket prices.
      Skied here once1st week after moving here from out east on Super Bowl Sunday ’91


  11. Bob Sisco says:

    Backside of Sugarloaf with lost Hall double


  12. Bob Sisco says:

    Front side


  13. Todd says:

    Yeah I can’t think of a better way to spend a lottery ticket than getting Sugarloaf back up and running.

    Some of the greatest terrain in Michigan for sure, and awesome views.

    The days of expensive lift tickets really seemed to hurt our regional hills than it helped. Got to be an expensive sport and many just gave up on it.

    I hope someone will be able to get it back in business.

  14. Robert W Rulison says:

    I also learned to ski there. About 6 years old in 1971. Skied there til 84 when I moved away.

    I remember going there in 84 with my Burton performer snowboard. First one in the county I believe. They said No Way! Embracing the future may have helped but who knows.

    I knew one of the then owners, Brian K, and he said the debt was astounding and one or two bad seasons would kill the place. It lasted 15 years after that, so people worked hard to keep it open

    I never tackled awful awful. Maybe it will reopen and I can finally get my shirt

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