Apple Mountain is an operating ski area with convention facilities, near Freeland, MI. It previously operated as Bintz Apple Mountain. John and Joan Bintz opened the area for the 1961-62 season with a 30′ hill after they had purchased the land including an apple orchard. They improved the property year after year, building the hill and adding more tows and buildings, including a restaurant and chapel. Between 1961 and 1994, almost 800,000 students went through the Apple mountain Learn-to-Ski program. Apple also claimed to be the 1st area in the state of Michigan to offer skiing as a college course through Delta College. (Although Mont Ripley in the UP has been owned and operated since 1936 by Michigan Technological University which may have offered skiing courses during that time.) In 2012, the Michigan Ski Industries Association inducted John and Joan Bintz into the Michigan Ski Hall of Fame.
Around 1998, the Bintz’s sold the area to Mike Bierlein from Midland who continued operations and added a golf course and conference facilities. Apple Mountain closed as an operating ski area at the end of the 2016-17 ski season. That fall, they announced plans to rework their snowmaking system with the hope of re-opening the following season. In October 2018, they announced they had ceased winter operations. Restaurant, golf and conference operations continue.
At its close, Apple Mountain boasted a 220′ vertical drop, with 12 slopes, 1 quad Chairlift and 4 tows.
Apple Mt was started around 1962. John and Joan Bintz inherited an apple orchard. He rented a bulldozer, dug a pond, moved dirt in a pile, added some ropes and Apple Mt. started. It is in the Saginaw Valley so it is the only hill in the area. In the summer they sold apples, cider, donuts, etc. They added an Apple Chapel for weddings. About 15 years ago, it was purchased by Mike Bierlein, who owns a very large demolition company in Midland. The old steak and lobster restaurant was torn down along with the ski shop. Many of the apple tress have been chopped down for the golf course. In the summer, you can tee off from the top of the hill. I could write about “Bintz’s Bump” for many hours, because I spent my childhood out on that hill, worked at the ski shop, and after college became a ski instructor.
I broke my leg skiing on “Bintz’s Bump” when I was 10 years old! (51 years ago) It was a crowded Saturday and the sky was dim and grey. I was going down a run (the area is small, there weren’t many to choose from) and I found myself heading right towards a small jump someone had built on the run. I either had to go over it, or angle to the right or left and run into another skier. I opted to go over the jump and fell and broke my left tibia which resulted in a plaster cast from my foot to my thigh. That thing was on my leg for 6 weeks. I initially went back to school in a wheel chair and graduated to crutches. It was a big deal that winter. I spent many a weekend at Bintz’s with my sisters. I remember well the apples, the cider-making, the warm, delicious donuts and the ski hill. I’m in Colorado now … where our ski runs are located on mountains 🙂
Hello Terry! Great story! Enjoy a Happy Thanksgiving and a very Merry Christmas!
It appears that Apple mountain will not open for skiing during the 2017-2018 season