Traverse City, MI

Traverse City Ski Area with Cross Country and a Terrain Park

By Dylan

Authentic. Quintessential up north. Step back in time and become a kid again.

Meghann said she feels spoiled having been raised at Boyne with high speed chair lifts, heated pools and fancy locker rooms. Hickory Hills is truly a skier's mountain: cheap lift tickets, no fluff, great runs, warm smiles and a roaring fireplace.  Meghann's favorite takeaway from Hickory Hills was skiing a run without viewing a single building, road or anything man-made, including other skiers! "It felt being in Utah," Meghann said. It might not be Utah but I can honestly say I made powder turns in northern Michigan two days after it snowed!

Everything about Hickory's ski lodge says "classic". Some of my favorite attributes were the circular fireplace, day skier cubbies, absence of a rental shop and the youth sized drinking fountain.


  1. Meghann in Fresh Snow
  2. Meghann Skiing down Pete
  3. Dylan Touring the Terrain Park

When I have kids, they will be skiing hickory. A few hours skiing our snowboarding in Traverse City on rope tows without stopping to sit on chairlift means kids will be sleeping soundly by 9:00! Hickory was the first resort in Michigan to have night skiing and the snow-lit romance still happens until 8:30pm for night sessions all winter long.

We layered up to endure the 15 degree windchill on a sunny February day. After three runs and rope rides it was back to lodge to remove our thermal layers and hand warmers! Sweat once a day and twice few you're lucky. Ski for an hour at hickory and you'll be sweating, guaranteed.

Hickory offers inspiring views of Traverse City and Lake Michigan from its peaks. A state of the art groomer laid down perfect courderoy and with the 11 am Sunday opening we had first tracks until we left at 1:00 pm.


Surface Lifts

Tow rope surface lifts are generally thought to be a skiing relic but Hickory has turned them into its strongest asset. Rod Kivell, the chief ski patroller, explained how strong the rope tows make all the difference in their racers.  After understanding how rope tows build upper body strength, endurance and balance, it made perfect sense why the Grand Traverse Ski Club race program has cranked so many successful skiers for over 50 years!

There are a handful of freestyle features including one table top jump, a large berm and half a dozen rails or jibs.  I would like to see some resorts like Boyne donate their old freestyle rails and boxes to Hickory to improve the terrain park.  Watch this GoPro video touring the Hickory Hills Terrain Park in Traverse City

My vision of a skier pump track would be perfect for Hickory.  Pump track tracks were created by bikers to practice on a never ending looped course.  A pump track is a series of rolling mounds in a loop so that once you start you never need to stop until you fall or tire.  Just keep pumping your legs on each roller to keep your speed.  A pump track would be very in keeping with the hard work and endurance conditioning that hickory hills is known for.  A snow pump track can built on flat ground in an oval shape like a race track.

The Grand Traverse ski club was at Nubs Nob for the weekend so the Sunday races were not happening, which also kept the "crowd" to about 10 cars.  We had our own ski resort the for they day!

Ski patrol has filed out only nine injury reports this entire season. That safety record is unparalleled. Hickory is actively recruiting young ski patrollers. High school skiers looking for a great opportunity to boost their college applications should look into joining the patrol.  You can be CPR certified at 16 and drive snowmobiles at 18!

I would compare Hickory's terrain to Ranch Rudolph and Avalanche recreation area in Boyne City.

View Traverse City Ski Area with Cross Country and a Terrain Park on Google Maps

What Do You Think about Traverse City, MI?

Adventure Rating: B+

If you truly love the sport of skiing you owe it to yourself to visit Hickory Hills.  Put it on your bucket and then check it off the following weekend! Cross country (nordic), snowshoeing, dog friendly, perfect for kids under 13, family place, safe... Hickory Hills is a must see.

Many ski areas focus more on the apres ski activities (bars and alcohol) rather than the sport.  Hickory does not serve booze and you won't want any.  This is a skier's and rider's resort without any fancy glitz.  Hickory Hills radiates positivity and confidence.  You will leave feeling energized and ready to take on the world.

Locals Tip

Rope tows will shred your gloves.  Thick glove protectors are available for sale in the Hickory Hills office.  Try to grab onto the rope tows without stopping.  Make a wide, swooping turn towards the rope tow and grab the rope as you start skiing back uphill next to it.

up north michigan poster

"So fun!  I felt like a kid again bombing around the hill." Meghann "Spending two days at Hickory is exactly what the doctor ordered" Dylan

Geocache Winner

Post a photo of yourself skiing at Hickory Hills to our Facebook page and we will send you a free copy of the book "Light the Night".  The book was published in 2011 and written by two Traverse City high school students who have done an outstanding job!  I learned a lot about Stein Erickson and how Boyne's investors used international ski celebrities to create a skier culture in northern Michigan.  "Light the Night" is an excellent photo journal and history of Michigan skiing explaining the rise of Traverse City recreation along with the Grand Traverse Ski Club.