First Chairlift in NY

"Forever Wild" in the Catskill Mountains

Belleayre Mountain is located off of State Route 28 in Highmount, NY, just 2.5 hours from New York City. The land was declared “Forever Wild” by the New York State Forest Preserve in 1885. Early on, skiers would side-step or hike their way more than 3,000 feet to be the first to make tracks down un-named and woody trails.

Since the very beginning of the American skiing experience, skiers gazed at the steep, rugged inclines of Belleayre Mountain and dreamed of refining them. In the 1940s, skiing enthusiasts pressured politicians to develop Belleayre as a safe and fun mountain for families and extreme skiers alike. In 1947, bills were introduced allowing New York State to create Belleayre Mountain.

Construction began and in 1949 Belleayre began its premier winter season with five trails, an electrically powered rope tow, New York’s first chairlift, a summit lodge, a temporary base lodge with a cafeteria with dirt floors and parking to accommodate 300 people. Belleayre would become the center for winter sports in the region and an economic catalyst for surrounding communities.
From the very beginning, Belleayre was an immediate hit with winter enthusiasts. Some local residents still remember how skiers pitched tents outside the lodge to be first in line to be able to make first tracks on the trails. Since the first lifts were installed in 1949 each decade brought improvements and refinements. As business increased, Belleayre expanded.

Twelve trails, three lifts and a new base lodge were added in the 1950s. Innovative snowmaking technology was introduced between the 1960s and 1970s. From 1985 through 1993, six million dollars was spent to upgrade machinery and equipment, assuring that Belleayre would maintain the quality and reputation of its important recreation program. From new lifts to new lodges to new trails, Belleayre strives to continually break new ground – and stay at the forefront of the ski industry – by successfully operating for over five decades with its extraordinary staff, state-of-the-art equipment and a constant vision of the future.

Belleayre now stands as a model in the ski industry. Continued improvements include the Area 51 terrain park, two progression parks, several mogul trails ranging from intermediate to expert bumps, extensive glade skiing and segregated beginner area. Skier and snowboarder visits have grown from 70,000 in 1995 to more than 175,000 skiers and snowboarders from all over the world. With 64 trails, parks and glades, 8 lifts including a high-speed gondola and quad, Belleayre Mountain has certainly evolved from humble, yet promising beginnings into an efficient and growing organization – perfection in progress.