Hanson Hills opens for skiing, tubing with a few modifications
Tue, 12/22/2020 - 10:59am caleb
Grayling Recreation Authority implements some new policies to keep people distanced and safe during pandemic
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
Hanson Hills Recreation Area is now open for skiing and tubing with some adjustments to avoid gatherings inside the lodge due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Hanson Hills had a “soft opening” during the weekend of December 19-20, offering tubing and ski lessons on Saturday and downhill skiing on Sunday.
Justin Andre, Director of Operations for Grayling Recreation Authority, said a good number of people showed up to ski on Sunday.
“It was a decent showing,” Andre said. “We’re fortunate to get the doors open.”
Andre said recent warm temperatures hampered the snowmaking efforts at Hanson Hills.
“We still have a lot of snowmaking to do to get ready for the season,” Andre said.
Grayling Recreation Authority, the governing body for Hanson Hills, is implementing some changes to its procedures to keep people distanced and outside as much as possible this season. Hanson Hills added more picnic tables and fire pits outside and it’s allowing people to bring things like deer blinds and pop-up shanties if they need to warm up, Andre said. The lodge’s concession stand will be open for carry-out food; the usual dining area seating will not be available.
“We’re discouraging indoor seating. We’ve created kind of a new atmosphere outside,” Andre said.
Andre said Camp Grayling brought a small shack to Hanson Hills for the tubing area, allowing tubers to go straight to the tubing area instead of going to the lodge.
Grayling Recreation Authority is asking people to wear masks and practice physical distancing while at Hanson Hills.
The restrooms will be open at Hanson Hills, and people can still rent skis and snowboards.
“We’re just taking extra precautions to sanitize boots,” Andre said.
Andre said the new regulations due to COVID-19 are a different experience for Hanson Hills since it closed for the winter of 2019-2020 just before the stay-at-home orders were issued in March.
“It’s kind of a new challenge for us. Employees seem to be taking the changes well,” Andre said. “We’re trying to make it work.”
Hanson Hills Recreation Area recently posted its upcoming hours of operation schedule for the days that the Crawford AuSable School District will be out of session for the holiday break.
Hanson Hills is offering “advanced lift ticket and rental sales” starting at 9 a.m. to help avoid lines. Lifts for downhill skiing and tubing begin operating at 11 a.m.
Downhill operations and the lodge will be closed on December 24 and 25 but the cross country ski trails will be available for use on those days.
On December 26 through January 3, downhill operations will be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays, Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Cross country ski trails are open from 9 a.m. to dusk, according to the schedule.
Andre said GRA will assess its operations and possibly modify its hours after January 3. The Hanson Hills website – hansonhills.org – lists the current schedule.
Grayling Recreation Authority is offering online purchase options for season passes. Andre said season pass holders can “boot up” in their vehicles and go straight to the hills, bypassing the need to go in the lodge.
“We’re excited to be open,” Andre said. “We know a lot of people are itching to do something outdoors.”