POWDER investigates: What ever happened to Sugar Loaf, Michigan?

One of the most heartbreaking experiences any skier can go through is watching a beloved ski hill go the way of the dinosaur. The history of ski resort construction across the United States is one of boom and bust, with resorts sometimes experiencing periods of huge popularity only to seemingly fizzle out overnight.

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And that phenomenon is what drew POWDER to the long-abandoned Sugar Loaf Ski Area in Michigan, a spot that was once one of the most popular ski destinations in the Midwest that has sat dormant for over 16 years:

The four-minute video titled “Decay,” was filmed and edited by David Reddick, POWDER’s director of photography.

It details the sadness and bewilderment of skiers in the nearby small town of Traverse City, Michigan, over the demise of Sugar Loaf, which shut down in March of 2000 without much explanation to locals as to why the beloved hill suspended operations, or what its future might hold.

Sugar Loaf Michigan
A once beloved mountain that played host to thousands of visitors each day, Sugar Loaf has fallen into disarray in the years since its closure. Photo: Courtesy of David Reddick/POWDER

“Roaming around this old ski area, it was as if time had stopped, Reddick told GrindTV about shooting at the deserted ski area. “In that sense, it lent itself to shooting stills and video simultaneously. I could just take my time to explore without any distractions, aside from the occasional whistle of wind or an eerie creaking sound coming from the open door of the old lodge.”

Sugar Loaf Michigan
The mountain was revered for is terrain, which stood out among its Midwestern peers. Sugar Loaf, Michigan. Photo: Courtesy of David Reddick/POWDER

Now, in the wake of the hill being purchased by a California-based developer in November, and with Sugar Loaf’s future as uncertain and murky as ever, POWDER has examined its demise in its February issue, which you can subscribe to both online and in print.

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