Belle Mountain
Lambertville, NJ
~1965-1998 (last skied in 1997)

 History Personal Memories ~ By The Year ~ Current Photos


Belle Mountain was a small, community type of ski area that operated in Mercer County. It was founded sometime in the late 1960's, and closed officially in 1998, though it was last skied in the first few months of 1997. 

Initially, there were just 2 rope tows, from 1965-1968. A chair was installed in 1969, which, according to, was a 786' long Hall Double, that moved 350'/min, served 1000 skiers per hour on a 175' vertical drop. Later on, the ski area had 4 lifts, and about 7 "trails", though there were only really three ways down from the top (longest trail just 1100'), and a couple of smaller beginner slopes near the bottom. The main lift was a a top to bottom Hall double chair. A top to bottom rope tow also brought skiers to the summit. A Pony lift and a smaller rope tow served the beginner's area.

Here's an overhead view of the mountain, looking from the base to the summit. This map has been reversed - true north is where south usually would be. 1's are rope tows (one on far right was top to bottom), 2 is the Hall Double Chair, and 3 is the Pony lift.

Belle "Mountain" was really just a hill though, with about a 190' vertical. In later years, guidebooks listed this as 235'. But as you can see by topo map on the left (1 marks the site of the ski area), the vertical does not exceed 200'. Note too how close the ski area was to Pennsylvania. 

Many skiers learned at this small, friendly family mountain. Its gentle slopes, surely introduced many to skiing, and its night skiing gave local residents a chance to ski after work.

Unfortunately, in its final years, the mountain operated at a severe loss due to some terrible winters. According to an email from Frank Ragazzo, of the Mercer County Park Commission, to David Cronheim, during the last 3 years of the ski area operating, it was operated by a management company. The County lost about 70-100K per year in those last 3 years. The management company had a 5 year contract but terminated it 2 years early. The County could not afford this loss (prior to the management company they had lost 100k-200k / year!), and unfortunately had to close the area. Its an understandable action, while we would all love to have small areas like this operate, somebody has to pay for it.

Skiers last rode the lifts in 1997, and the area officially closed in 1998. It's a shame, but unfortunately, some ski areas can not operate due to the market conditions.

Many lament the loss of smaller areas like this. In an article by Martin Griff, Times of Trenton, dated Dec 13, 1998, and sent to NELSAP by J. Bewley, the former head of ski patrol, Bruce Runkle, is interviewed. In it, he talks about the mountain and what it meant to him. He had learned at the mountain in 1970, and says the area opened around 1966. He talks about how great it was watching young people to learn to ski, and how much fun everybody had at the mountain. 

In recent years, the Mercer County Wildlife Center was considering building a center at the mountain. No news if this has happened yet or not.

For a discussion forum on Belle on, please click here.

Personal Memories

Ed Millerick: In 1965 through 1968, we did not have a chairlift.  That came a bit after.  Through the initial years the area was serviced by two rope tows.  The long tow serviced the main hill and would appear on the right side (looking up), the hill.  The short tow serviced the center area that was the beginner area.

In essence, we had three "trails": The main trail on the right/west side of the hill was the steepest; this was our "expert" trail. The "intermediate" trail was serviced by the main/west tow rope.  You skiied across the top of the ridge for access.  It was on the east side of the hill and was more of a pleasant meadow than a trail. The "novice" area only went half way up the hill and was located in the center portion of the area, serviced by a slower rope tow.

Rates at the time are a bit of a hazy memory, but I recall a "student, in-county" rate of something like $2.50 for a night session. The last time I skiied the area was in 1992.

S. Neuhof: Belle Mountain in Hopewell Township NJ. ( central NJ ). where I learned to ski. located next to the Delaware River. Vertical was 200'. One chairlift, 3 rope tows, 5 slopes. The main slope was pretty steep. It had a warming hut / refreshment stand, and a ski rental trailer. It was subsidized by the County of Mercer. I believe it opened in 1964, and its last season was 1997/1998.

After several warm or inconsistent seasons the County did not want to subsidize operations any further. They had a primitive snow-making system that needed to be replaced. Lots of fond memories of learning to ski there and my two kids learned to ski there also.

Matt Danilchick: Belle Mountain was the first place I ever skied, along with my two younger sisters.  My aunt Vicki took us skiing there during the winter of 1986-87 when I was living in Northern NJ and was a junior in high school.  I remember starting out on the practice slope using 135 cm skis, but by the end of the day was able to successfully make it down the main slope on longer 155 cm skis.  I immediately became a skiing fanatic and still remember that first skiing experience at Belle Mountain like it was yesterday.  My wife, daughter, and I now live in Colorado and our daughter got her first pair of skis before she turned two, getting up on them at Breckenridge.  A far cry from learning to ski at Belle Mountain!

Ellen Leonard: I have may fond memories of Belle Mountain.  I grew up in Bucks County, PA (just across the Delaware River from Belle) and spent many a school day skiing there.  My sister and I would "cut" school and drive over to Belle and spend the day avoiding the hay bales at the bottom of the main slope.  The hay bales were there to stop you from skiing into the street!  Later in life, a close friend and ski school director of Belle urged me to become an instructor.  In the late 80's and early 90's I taught skiing, worked in the ticket office, worked as a lift attendant, office manager and then joined the National Ski Patrol.  Throughout the entire time I worked there, I met some wonderful people.  Belle has quite a following and was just mentioned in today's Star Ledger (Editorial page "We're heading downhill without nuclear power").  During it's hayday, we did make money!  But, mostly...we just had fun! 

Eckart A. Weeck: I learned  to ski at Belle Mountain in the late 60's and throughout the 70's. Rope tow ticket prices were $1.50 and the chairlift price was $2.50. These rates were in effect through the mid 70's. The hill  opened at 10:00AM andclosed at 4:30PM . It then re-opened at 6:00PM for night skiing until 10:00PM

It was the best deal in skiing and great place to go whether you were a kid, teenager or adult. Typically, the season began in mid-December and closed early March.

Nick Bharucha: This is where I started skiing in 1976.  76/77 was a cold and snowy winter so people were skiing off the trails.  At this small ski area that meant going 10 to 30 feet off the trail.  This area was run by the Mercer County Park Commision so it was weird (looking back at it) having a "resident" card to get a discount.  The prices were very cheap and I still skied at this little 190' ski area at nights even when I was a expert skier doing most of my skiing in the Catskills and Vermont.  The rightmost main trail was the steepest and you could get a few good turns in. Then there was the curved trail that went left to right.  This trail was not used when you were better because you couldn't get many turns in.  Then there was the rope tow and t bar trails.  These were 2 trails with probably 50 to 75' vertical and for novices only.  Originally the ski shop/rental shop on premises was run by Lange's ski shop out of Trenton. I believe it was someone from the Trenton Ski Club that noticed this tall hill at the edge of Mercer County was ripe for a small ski area. 

Although this was a very small ski area it provided my start in skiing since it was so close to home.  I remember taking private lessons (they were affordable) with an instructor with an Austrian or German accent.  Yes, these were different times.  Rising insurance costs, mild winters, and the County of Mercer not wanting to subsidize skiing any more brought it to an end around 1998.

Tom Howard: I learned to ski there on a pair of wooden Warwick skis with segmented metal edges, cable bindings, and lace up leather boots in 1966. I do not recall that that was the first year as your web report indicates.  At the time, the area had two rope tows, one to the top on the right and one for the beginner area on the left.  The intermediate trail started at the top and came around behind the beginner area.  There were no permanent buildings.  The ticket office was a trailer next to the snow fencing at the bottom.  If you failed to stop, you went into the fence, a regular occurrence.

My last year there was in 1968.  I usually skied with Bill and Bob Hike, Burke Sinclair, Peter Gross, Fritz Bayless, Henry Wilson, and others in various combinations.  The chair lift came later. I remember sneaking in one night in 1967-1968 with Bob Hike to go tobogganing, with his girlfriend, Chris Murphy, and Pam Fisher.  Pam was my date. We rode on the intermediate trail and had a great time rolling in the snow. As your site indicates, I had heard that it closed in 1998.  It was  a good place for a teenager to hang out on a Saturday.

Jason Dively: I must say I was thrilled to see Belle Mountain has not been completely forgotten. I have not been there since I was about 12 but I remember it like it was yesterday. I can tell you it still sits the way it did when the pics on your web site were taken and the Mercer County Wildlife Center still has yet to take up residence on the hill. Many of my friends and I learned to ski there, as we got older it became affectionately known to us as Belle Bump! Keep up the great work, I am very into history and now I can combine two of my favorite things!


By The Year

Year Lifts Trails Rates Other Info Source
~1966 unknown, likely at least the double unknown unknown Approximate year mountain opens  
1977 1 double chair, 3 rope tows 5 trails, longest 1100' "low" Operates daily 10am-430pm, 530pm-10pm for night skiing, snowmaking Skiing USA
1982 1 chair, 3 tows, 1500 skiers/hour Vertical drop: 190' none Operates 10am-430pm, night skiing, open weekends/holidays, open December-March Billy Kidd's American Ski Guide
1987 3 tows, 1 chair, 1500 skiers/hour 4 trails over 20 acres, Vertical drop: 190' Adults: $8 weekend, $10 Holiday, $7 halfday, $9 night
Kids: $6 weekend, $8 holiday, $5 halfday, $7 night
Open daily 9am-5pm, night skiing 6pm-1am, halfday begins 1pm. Ski school director: Barry Vuolo, snack bar, rentals White Book of Ski Areas
1995 4 lifts 7 trails, vertical 235' none none Ski Atlas, USA Today

Current Photos

Many thanks to George Pace who visited this area in late March, 2004, and took the following photos, helping us to document this lost area. George also sent us some links with information on this area.

Base Area

A view of the base. Double chair loading area visible at far left. You can also see the double line through the trees.
A view of the base buildings, all boarded up. Looks like the ticket window to the right.

A "Return Rental Equipment" sign.

Far Right Rope Tow

A view of the loading area of the tow. Quite the contraption, with numerous pulleys.

Looking up the rope tow slope, a relatively moderate slope.

Double Chair

Double chair loading area.

Looking down the Hall double chair lift line.
The unloading ramp of the old double. Note the unique umbrella shaped cover to the bullwheel.

Beginner Lifts

Looking up the Pony lift line.

The beginner pony lift and far left rope tow.
The top of the beginner rope tow and Pony lift.

Summit Area

The top of the double chair and the wide open slopes under it.

At the top. Notice the rope tow pole, snowmaking 

2007 Photos
Many thanks to Joe Silvestri who took the following photos of Belle on March 17, 2001, after a recent snowstorm. As you can see, the area is still used extensivle by sledders. Please click on each image for the larger version.

The beginner area/sledding hill.

The beginner area/sledding hill.

The "expert" slope.

Base of the ski area, showing drive for double chair. More around the base. View of the base and rope tows.

If you have more information on this area just let us know.

Last updated: Dec 30, 2007

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