Sugar Loaf Ski Lodge – Cedar, Michigan - Atlas Obscura
Free iron-on Atlas Obscura badge when you preorder our new kids’ book. Shop now.

Cedar, Michigan

Sugar Loaf Ski Lodge

A crumbling mountain resort that looks like it was abandoned in an instant.  

The preserved remains of this ski resort near Traverse City, Michigan, create a quiet nostalgia you won’t find in most abandoned sites. After the mountain closed in 2000 due to heightened competition on nearby slopes and poor management, the resort was left vacant. But oddly enough, it isn’t empty.

This shuttered ski lodge, still filled with hastily-scribbled paperwork, snow-stained lift tickets, slightly-faded race bibs, and sun-washed vintage posters, brings to mind the memories of a real, living, breathing business in the way that a crumbling, graffiti-covered factory cannot. This place was abandoned, it feels like, instantaneously, leaving an ever-present snapshot of that moment in history. Finds like these are a gem in urban exploration, rarely existing and even rarer to find.

The site comprises a main ski lodge, a hotel with an outdoor pool, and a ski hill with deserted lifts hanging at eternal standstill. The entire place has the eerie feeling that it was simply paused instead of ended. The route map at the base of the hill proclaims that most of the runs are “open” and plowed, despite being closed and empty for years.

Peek through the windows, and you’ll see that the hotel bedrooms are still neat and made-up, sheets tucked in, and trash cans emptied as if they will be accepting residents tomorrow. The lodge’s dining hall holds empty carousels meant for soft pretzels and slushie machines that sit unplugged on surfaces covered in a layer of dust that can’t conceal the neon logos beneath. The resort’s office space contains more scattered paperwork than they use for the school’s-out scene of a high school movie.

Catching a glimpse of the interior of Sugar Loaf is cool enough to be its own adventure, but don’t leave before climbing to the top of the mountain itself. You’re going to have to make the hike up a black diamond slope without the help of automated lifts (although five of them sit, vacant, to mock you), but the view at the top is worth it.

The resort was purchased in 2016, and its new owner has said there are plans to one day reopen it. 

Know Before You Go

Be sure to view the resort from the outside, as attempting to enter is trespassing.