Photo taken from Hickory Ski Center overlooking a snowy forest

Hickory Hill - The Legend Rises

By Bob Olden on April 05, 2024
3 min read

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After years of sitting idle, the famous Hickory Hill is open once again as of this past weekend, January 20th, 2024. Many avid skiers learned to ski here and went on to work at other ski areas throughout the Northeast and in the West. If you had what it took to ski Hickory you could ski anywhere.  

Hickory is by far not the biggest or tallest mountain but what it lacks in size is made up for by its 1200’ vertical drop. Many of the trails were just too rugged for snow machines to work. Initially opening in 1946, it was founded by veterans of the 10th Mountain Division, an elite US Army division of soldiers who used skis to break enemy lines. These men worked diligently over the next decades to cut additional trails and add a second poma lift to get skiers to the top. The mountain operations rely on natural snow and the people committed to keeping it alive, capturing the resort's essence of grit, dedication, and love for getting people into nature.  

Dive into the full story of this living piece of ski history here.

Bob Olden, hailing from Warrensburg, NY in the Adirondacks, is a contributing writer with a background in skiing. Raised on the slopes of Hickory Hill, he gained recognition for his daring nosedives. With the mountain officially re-opened, Bob reflects on growing up skiing at Hickory Hill and how it shaped his life as a skier and ski patroller.

What I remember most about Hickory is the small-area vibe. Everyone looked out for everyone. My first memories there from age three involved getting up the rope tow. If you did not have cowhide gloves you didn’t have a chance to get up the few hundred-foot “lift”. The two-inch rope seemed to go so fast that for a little kid, it was a challenge to hold on. There was no lift attendant, just a person at the top in case the lift had to be stopped and restarted. 

Beyond the rope tow you could graduate to the t-bar. From there, there were two vintage 1950’s pomas. The second poma, which goes to the top, was the crown jewel of the mountain. You could put some vert down when it was running. The trails accessed off the poma weren’t groomed. If they needed to be, we would gather in groups for side-stepping with the ski patrol. It was these moments that made the community at Hickory so special.   

Eventually, I became a ski instructor and enjoyed sharing my passion with beginners who came up from NYC on bus tours and teaching local kids how to ski. Learning to ski at Hickory gave me the skills to go on to accomplish amazing things in the ski industry; like being the youngest fully certified ski instructor, winning numerous telemark races, and working at some of the most iconic ski areas, such as Gore Mountain and Whiteface in New York and Snowbird Resort in Utah. The legendary Hickory Hill allowed me to become a legend in my own right. I hope that type of freedom and empowerment can be passed on to generations to come now that Hickory has reopened. 

The community of Hickory Hill has gone to great lengths to preserve the ski area as well as the surrounding environment and ecosystem thanks to Hickory Hill Legacy Foundation. This foundation behind the ski slope focuses on enriching the community through youth outdoor sports and education, historic preservation, and environmental education programs.

This effort to rekindle a mountain steeped with tradition is a testament to the 10th Mountain Division Veterans’ resolve to share their passion for skiing. May their commitment resonate in all of us to continue to bring healthy opportunities to Warrensburg, surrounding communities, and to all that come to visit.

To learn more about Hickory Ski Center, have a look at "The Legend Rises" video on their YouTube channel. And if you're interested in donating, check out the official donations page on Hickory Ski Center website.

Bob Olden
Bob Olden

Bob Olden is a contributing writer from Warrensburg, NY in the heart of the Adirondacks. He grew up skiing at Hickory Hill and became well known for his lawless nosedives.


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