The Highlands, MI

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25 thoughts on “The Highlands, MI

  1. afski722 January 31, 2020 / 11:33 pm

    Many of the Boyne Highlands lifts have been relocated over the years.

    North Peak – installed 1993 or 1994, relocated from original Leprechaun chair
    Interconnect – installed 1992 or 1993, relocated from original Little John chair
    Amy’s – original location
    Challenger – original location
    Heather Express – original location, replaced the Heather triple that was moved to become the Valley chair
    MacGully – original locaiton
    Camelot – original location
    Valley – original location, installed in 1990 when the Heather chair was upgraded. This replaced a T-Bar that used to run up the Slot slope by North Tournament.

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    • SpartySki February 18, 2020 / 9:19 pm

      Amy’s is a relocated lift. It was originally installed at the now closed Walloon Hills Ski Area. I believe this is actually the first quad chair built by Riblet. Amy’s was originally serviced by a T-bar. All other lifts at Boyne Highlands are original to Boyne Highlands. Some towers were added to the Valley chair when it was moved from Heather. You can see the few towers in the line that have the late 60’s Riblet tower head. Similar story with Little John however, this lift is much longer than it was when located at Little John. Many towers and I assume many chairs were added to this lift. No idea where they came from. Heather and Little John, formerly known as the North Triple were the first Triples in the world.

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  2. afski722 February 18, 2020 / 10:16 pm

    Ah, thanks for clearing that up. Some info I’m going off of recollection, some from my father, and some from what I’ve been able to research on my own.
    Boyne Mountain and Boyne Highlands have so many relocated lifts its hard to trace down their original history. I thought I’d seen a trail map with a T-Bar on Amy’s so yes that would make sense.

    Yes, Valley 3 is the original Heather 3 (worlds first triple) and the original vault drive still remains at the top of the hill, beyond the unloading zone from the Heather Express.

    The Interconnect 3 was originally Little John 3 and still retains some of the original towers but also has a bunch of newer Riblet towers as well as you mentioned.

    Here’s Walloon Hiils FWIW:
    https://milsap.wordpress.com/regions/northwest-lower-peninsula-areas/boyne-falls/walloon-hills-ski-area-walloon-lake/

    Also, there was tentative plans in the late-90s/early-2000s to add another High Speed Quad or High Speed Six at the Highlands to roughly replace the MacGully lift. The lift was to load in front of the Day Lodge and run up either the MacGully or up Rob Roy roughly on the alignment of the former Leprechaun lift. Plans got shelved, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see this happen in the next decade or so, particularly if Boyne recycles any HSQ from other resorts.

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  3. Nathan May 8, 2021 / 8:42 pm

    I did some research and agree that the table above is incorrect. Little John and Heather were the first triples at Highlands installed in 63. (and first in the world) The best evidence is https://skimap.org/data/407/916/1388771820.jpg which clearly shows those triples predating all others.

    Also of note is that Amy’s and Camelot were T bars before being replaced with chairs. Tournament was a poma before being removed when valley was installed. Leprechaun was known as Olympic in the 70’s.

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    • SpartySki May 10, 2021 / 7:29 am

      Tournament was actually a T-bar prior to the Valley lift. There was at one time a Poma previous to the T-bar but just prior to the Valley lift it was a T-bar. It ran up the run now named “The Slot”. The map you reference from the page is a fairly accurate representation to the layout in the early 60’s, There are other maps for Boyne Highlands from the 70’s that are not very good representations of the actual layout. Some of the maps show the Poma for the Tournament runs in a completely different orientation than it actually was. Even this map from the early 60’s shows some runs a lot narrower than they actually were and it shows the Little John lift starting further up the hill than it actually did. Heather and Little John started almost directly North and South of each other. This map shows Little John starting further up the hill which is not accurate.

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  4. John L May 16, 2021 / 5:51 pm

    When was the Olympic lift renamed as Leprechaun? It was removed in 1994, correct?

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    • Brian Lieber August 6, 2021 / 7:55 am

      I believe it was 1994. I do not know when they changed the name of it but I first skied here in 89 and it was called Leprechaun at that time.

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      • Bill Adlhoch August 10, 2021 / 2:23 pm

        1st started skiing there in 1980 – it was Leprechaun Lift by then-

        in those very early 80’s, you could only access the tournament runs via a Tournament catwalk at the top of Kath’s run – there was no poma or T-bar. I want told the amy t-bar got moved to tournaments and i took it many times up “the slot” South tournament was the better run, steeper, North tournament always has some moguls, but had a goofy fall line that always took you back over to the Camelot side

        I also remember going right off the challenger lift to “practice slalom run, , me and by brother loved that and then sometimes you could dart back to the right and get the bottom of north challenger if they didn’t have it fenced off, so many things could change year to year, or even within the same year

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  5. Mi_skier October 3, 2021 / 1:08 pm

    With Boyne Mountain putting out a bunch of announcements for future plans, I’m hoping they’ll release something about Highlands soon as well, as pretty much the whole lift network here needs some serious changes. My thoughts are they put in a 6 or an 8 (Boyne Resorts did say they want to put a signature 8 seat at all their resorts) in place of heather, and move the original quad to replace Interconnect. Challenger could be replaced with a fixed or detach quad with a lower bottom terminal (like Meadows at Boyne) since it’s current location is pretty awful. another fixed lift for Amy’s, and possibly some night skiing as well as the night skiing at Highlands is currently just Challenger, Heather, and the bunny hill. As for Valley and Camelot, another fixed quad could replace both with a mid for the beginners area. There are also rumors of an expansion off north peak, which could probably open with the old Camelot lift with some modifications.

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    • SpartySki October 3, 2021 / 2:05 pm

      Seems as though most people like the idea of the Heather Express moving to interconnect.

      As for Valley, 1 lift could not service both Valley and Camelot. The area between Valley and Camelot is flat and far apart. You cannot ski from the valley runs to Camelot. The only way out of the Tournament/Valley area is via the Valley lift. This area needs to have its own dedicated lift. If the lift servicing it where not made up mostly of parts from the original Heather lift, I would say other than the fact that it is slow, it is adequate.

      Camelot could move south some to provide more area at the Day Lodge base. If a Detachable goes in to replace MacGully, that might be necessary. It is a bottleneck on a crowded day.

      MacGully, Heather and Challenger are 3 lifts that are all necessary but mostly because of the way the base is laid out from the Day Lodge to the base of Challenger. You can ski from the bottom of the Heather run to MacGully so MacGully could become the primary lift line up the center. However, coming from the main lodge this would not be as convenient and it funnels a lot of people into one spot with no backup lift option at all. You need both a Heather and MacGully. Challenger is set up for lapping the Challenger runs. When the Little John lift was moved this forced everyone coming from Amy’s and Little John into this lift which starts too high. Put a new Challenger lift running up the center of the Challenger runs that starts down by the road. That will make this lift work better for everyone at the top and bottom. Skiing out to Heather and Little John would be much easier. Challenger is too short for a detachable. I just don’t think you need it. Most people are using the Heather Express when they can for its speed.

      Amy’s is just not that busy and even a fixed triple would work there.

      Interconnect is the worst and it makes people not want to go to North Peak. Moving the Heather Express over there would help a ton and might entice people to spread out more.

      North Peak is most of the way done as far as the original plan but the second phase would have its own high point so it would need a second lift. The second phase is roughly half as many runs as the first phase was and as you go north the max potential vertical starts getting lower so not a lot of additional expansion is really possible unless you are willing to settle for 200 feet of vertical. I agree, put a used lift here.

      If there is a demand for more night skiing it would probably be Amy’s and possibly Interconnect. Highlands just Isn’t that busy at night.

      If it were my money, which it’s not, I would do the following,

      Valley – fixed quad, same lift line.
      Camelot – fixed quad, move the start to the south and end at the same location.
      MacGully – High Speed 8, start in the same spot, end a little more South.
      Heather – High Speed 6, same orientation
      Challenger – fixed quad, start between the 2 runs and much lower and end at the same elevation but in the middle of the 2 runs. Same path as the original Little John chair.
      Amy’s – fixed triple or quad, same orientation
      Interconnect – move Heather and re-skin it to match the other detachables.
      North Peak – wait and see how skiers adjust to interconnect. Could replace with another fixed quad or maybe people take advantage and a Detachable 6 might be needed.

      This is a lot to hope for but this would be about as good as you could hope for other than Nubs and Highlands joining forces and running a gondola to connect the 2…. Would never happen but would be cool.

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      • Mi_skier October 4, 2021 / 6:00 am

        Oh, I just assumed you could get to valley’s runs from Heather since the Valley lift only runs on weekends. It’s been a few years since I’ve skied highlands so I don’t remember their layout as well.

        As for Heather/Macgully, they could probably replace Heather with a HS8 and leave Macgully as is. A HS6 and HS8 servicing the same area would be overkill and lead to having too many skiers on the runs.

        On north peak, they could probably relocate Camelot with some modifications for a new expansion, since it did get a new drive terminal and a super new/high capacity lift wouldn’t be needed, as you said.

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        • SpartySki October 4, 2021 / 6:28 am

          You can get to the Valley area from the top of Heather but you cannot get from the bottom of the valley runs to any other lift than Valley. The Day Lodge area gets very congested on busy days due to the only lift that gets you out of the beginner area being MacGully. You can take Camelot and crossover to Heather but that is annoying as Camelot runs slow and is longer than you would think for a beginner lift. Not to mention that it always has long lines. I agree that an 8 and a 6 is overkill for those 2 liftlines but if Boyne wants a signature 8. Macgully might be the best location for it. Boyne needs to do something with Macgully. Macgully, Valley, Camelot and most of Interconnect are all over 50 years old. Challenger is 50 years old and it and Camelot run from the moment there is enough snow to the moment there isn’t day and night. Both Mountain and Highlands have very old lifts, even by midwest standards, and for Michigan Boyne is as expensive as it gets. Investment is long overdue especially if they still want to be considered number 1 and 2 in Michigan.

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  6. afski722 October 5, 2021 / 8:50 pm

    Rumors and supposed plans I’ve heard about the Highlands:

    – Replacing the MacGully lift with a new high-speed lift (4/6/8?) with the lower terminal near the day lodge/similar location to MacGully, that runs up Rob Roy and the upper part of the old Leprechaun lift line. Allowing for better circulation / utilization to/from the day lodge and on Kath Run, Leprechaun, Rob Roy, MacGully areas

    – Additional lift and terrain pod on the Northeast side of North Peak.

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  7. Spartyski December 7, 2021 / 7:18 pm

    From the Boyne Highlands website…

    First major lift upgrade
    First Major Lift Upgrade
    Coming to the Highlands in summer of 2024, the new Doppelmyar D-Line 8 Place lift will be a large part of winter operations, replacing the Valley, Camelot and MacGully lifts, spanning from lower to upper Camelot. Construction will begin soon!

    Love to know how they are going to replace all 3 with 1. Camelot and MacGully I can see but Valley starts out way south and is flat from there to Camelot. They must be moving a lot of dirt. Looks like it will have a mid station to replace Camelot.

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    • Myles Svec December 7, 2021 / 8:48 pm

      I believe it will go from the bottom of the existing Camelot lift to the top of the Upper Camelot run. Based on the topography of Boyne Highlands, looks like you won’t be able to reach the runs Heather Express services

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      • Spartyski December 7, 2021 / 9:01 pm

        I am hung up on the fact that the terrain between Valley and Camelot is flat. If they dig out some and start the lift in the middle further down towards Bartley house you might be able to ski from the end of the Valley runs down to the new lift. Whatever they do I am sure Boyne knows what they are doing.

        No real beginner lift if there is no mid-station near the top of the current Camelot lift. Seems odd that there wouldn’t be one.

        I would expect a Heather replacement of some sorts as part of this plan.

        Still have 4 old Riblets that eventually need to be replaced. If they are taking out 3 with one replacement, I wonder what they plan to do with the rest.

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        • Mi_skier December 10, 2021 / 2:47 pm

          I’m thinking they go for a six on heather and move that to Interconnect. they could probably move the bottom station of heather to consolidate Challenger and Heather into one lift as well, and then just go for fixed quads on the other two (even a triple would be fine for Amy’s at least)

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  8. afski722 December 7, 2021 / 8:32 pm

    Seems like a bit of overkill but ok. Will be interesting to see how this works. Will be a big jump in terrain without the Camelot lift on the easy green beginner slope versus going all the way to the top. Not sure how a mid-station would work on an 8-pack.

    I will miss the Riblets when they are gone.

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  9. Mi_skier December 10, 2021 / 2:55 pm

    where’s the actual source on the new eight pack lift? I haven’t found anything anywhere on their 2030 site, lift blog, or anywhere else.

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    • Charlie December 10, 2021 / 3:34 pm

      It was on the site on Tuesday but has since been removed, I saw it myself.

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      • SpartySki December 13, 2021 / 6:44 am

        I noticed the removal as well. The 8 pack alignment they initially announced was hard to see working the way they wanted. I will probably be skiing there in February and want to get a better look at that area between Valley and Camelot. I just don’t see how they can put a lift in the middle that is downhill enough to replace both lifts. I think the 8 makes more sense at MacGully and a 6 makes sense at Challenger but further to the south. Between the 6 and 8 the you could replace 3 lifts with 2 and have much better uphill capacity. I do not think you need a Heather. I think a High Speed at Heather only makes sense if you are only wanting to have one high speed lift. If they remove the tennis courts you can ski from the bottom of Heather into MacGully. A little regrading is needed as well but it is possible. The Heather Express is mostly used by people skiing from Upper Camelot to Heather and the area in between. A lift at MacGully accomplishes the same task.

        Valley and Camelot need their own lifts unless they can figure out how to lower the Terrain that exists between them. Valley does not get that busy and it is open the least of any of the Highlands Terrain. Camelot is packed all the time with Beginner skiers. Having an 8 pack that is biased towards servicing the Valley area is a waste. Besides, Boyne needs to get skiers to migrate North, not South. The South gets packed full of skiers on Holidays and weekends when the North is relatively quiet by comparison.

        I am starting to wonder if someone at corporate had an issue of their plan that did not provide a lift for beginners and didn’t want an 8 pack on terrain that doesn’t really need it.

        Interconnect is still the worst lift at Highlands. If they plan on keeping the Heather lift they should move it here. Interconnect makes me not want to go North. The terrain at North is not as good, in my opinion, but it is usually less crowded. Spending 15 minutes on that lift prevents me from wanting to go over there.

        I agree that North Peak Quad and Amy’s do not need to be high speed lifts. I am curious though that over a 9 year time period for a 2030 plan if they aren’t more ambitious with their plans for their lift lines. Amy’s and Interconnect could be replaced by 1 High Speed lift with a mid-station. It would be a long lift with a 40ish degree turn at the top of May’s but would kill 2 birds with one stone and make both Amy’s and North Peak a better place to be. Highlands has made it 50 years without brining in new lifts with the exception of the Heather Express and moving Amy’s from a resort they closed. Get everything done to a high standard by 2030 and ride it out for another 50 years? The equipment they installed in the 60’s and early 70’s seems basic now but at the time was the top of the line and a big deal in the ski Industry.

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        • afski722 December 13, 2021 / 9:42 am

          Yeah…interesting its now gone from the website. Someone must have pre-emptively posted that before they were ready go live with the PR. A lift announcement for 2024 is a bit down the road.

          Yep… I just can’t see how they can get away without having a dedicated beginner lift & area. With an area that is supposed to be so family-friendly and great place to learn, its a big jump to go from a carpet to an 8-pack to the top of the hill. The winding greens down through Valley are nice, but aren’t the greatest teaching terrain since they are narrow and relatively long.

          I don’t see Amys or Challenger getting replaced with high-speed lifts.
          Amys only runs weekends & holidays anyways.

          North Peak area, there is an area thats already been semi-gladed several years ago to the north of the existing terrain and earmarked for expansion.
          In a master plan I saw several years ago, they had another lift planned for there. However, at this point, they could probably just put in a HSQ when they replace North Face and give them all the capacity they need.

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        • curtis December 28, 2021 / 7:47 pm

          The tennis courts have been gone for a couple of years, it’s still on google street view tho. You can skate from macgully to heather or vice versa

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  10. Mi_skier December 17, 2021 / 2:12 pm

    heres what I think should happen If highlands does scrap the 8 pack. to start they should build two six packs on the front side, one going up the center and one on the south side. the south side one would run from the base of Valley to the top of the upper Camelot run and cover the mostly begineer/intermediate terrain over there. the second would replace Heather and Challenger, with the top near the current Heather and the bottom between the Heather and Challenger lifts, at the base of the South Challenger run. they’d have to clear some trees but I think it could work. if they have to build an eight just to show off like Boyne is doing everywhere else, it’d probably make more sense to put it in as the Heather/Challenger lift just because that terrain is more popular.

    For Camelot, a fixed quad is fine, although an HSQ would be nice for beginners if they could make it work. Amy’s could get a fixed quad as well, it really only has a couple runs and doesn’t warrant a detachable. move the old Heather to interconnect and reskin it and that eliminates an horrible, slow ride up to get into North Peak. North face is fine as fixed grip as well and really doesn’t get busy. with all of these removed Riblets, they could probably scrap together a lift for the rumored expansion on North Peak as well.

    It’s been like 5 years since I’ve skied here so I’m not sure how well this will work with the topography. I’d just love to see some detachables and less lines on Heather, and for them to get rid of the super slow lifts (especially Valley and Interconnect. those are the worst)

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