Powder Ridge Ski Area is a currently non-operational ski area located in Middlefield, Connecticut. It began operations in 1959, and closed in 2007. It is located on Besek Mountain.
Powder Ridge began operations in 1959 under the name of Powder Hill. It initially operated with only surface lifts, but constructed three newdouble chairs between 1963 and 1965. In 1970, the area changed its name to Powder Ridge; during the year, it was planned to host the Powder Ridge Rock Festival, which was later cancelled. In 1972, after resolution of local opposition and legal action, Powder Ridge embarked on a major expansion, which included the construction of the first quad chair in New England, dubbed the “747 lift.”
In 1990, Powder Ridge was purchased by a company called White Water Mountain Resorts, which planned to build the ski area into a year-round resort. In 2001, two chairlifts, the quad chair and a double chair were both converted to triples. At some point during the mid-2000s, White Water’s plan to build a water park at Powder Ridge were denied by the town of Middlefield. White Water subsequently announced it would try to sell the ski area, and though the town initially agreed to purchase the Powder Ridge for $3.6 million and lease it to White Water, it later voted against the plan.
On 23 September 2006, it was announced that Powder Ridge would not operate during the winter of 2006-2007, a time when the ski area was more than $2.5 million in debt to TD Banknorth. While the ski area later chose to operate that winter, it would permanently close after the end of the 2006-2007 skin season. That spring, Middlefield voted once again to purchase Powder Ridge, but was unable to, and a private operator, Middlefield Holdings LLC, bought the ski area during summer 2008 for $2.75 million. On 29 December 2008, though, the town of Middlefield bought Powder Ridge, at a price of $2.55 million.
The town planned to sell Powder Ridge to a private company, and in 2009 chose CDF and Associates, a New York-based company, to operate the area. CDF, however, pulled out of the deal in February 2010, citing the high costs of doing business in Connecticut. The ski area was placed back on the market, and by the spring of 2010 three entities were reportedly interested in buying the property. Plans changed sometime over the summer of 2010, and the town chose to retain ownership of the ski area while leasing it to a separate company, Alpine Associates. On 22 December 2010, the Connecticut State Bond Commission approved $500,000 to be spent on maintenance on Powder Ridge. On 24 May 2011, the town of Middlefield approved a plan to sell the ski area to Alpine Ridge LLC, a Pennsylvania-based operator of ski areas. At the time, Alpine Ridge said it planned to upgrade facilities at the area, with a reopening by December 2013. However, on 25 October 2011, the town of Middlefield announced that Alpine Ridge had on 20 October informed the town’s board of selectmen it no longer plans to buy the ski area.
In February 2012, Middlefield approved a $1 million bid from Brownstone Exploration & Discovery Park, based in Portland, Connecticut, to buy Powder Ridge. In July 2012, the two parties signed an agreement for Brownstone to buy the ski area for $700,000, to be paid in $100,000 annual increments. Brownstone also agreed to invest $2 million into Powder Ridge to restore the ski area, though the company estimated it would cost an additional $1.5 million to bring the facilities to current standards. The sale closed on 13 September, and Brownstone plans to open the ski area for the 2013–2014 season.
Powder Ridge has either 18 or 19 trails over a total of 250 acres (100 ha). Of the trails, 25% are rated easy, 50% are rated intermediate and 25% are rated as advanced. The area has a total skiable terrain of 88 acres (36 ha) and a vertical drop of 500 feet (150 m). Powder Ridge receives an average of 60 inches (150 cm) of snow per year. There are a total of five lifts at the ski area.