The nonprofit corporation Hilltop Youth, Inc. was established in Anchorage in the 1950s with a focus on providing recreational and educational opportunities for Anchorage-area youth. In 1962, Hilltop Youth installed a rope tow powered by a surplus military troop carrier motor in a gravel pit west of what is now known as the Old Seward Highway where the current ball fields at O’Malley and Lake Otis are located.
The rope tow was moved in 1967 to a new location near the intersection of the newly constructed Abbott Road and Hillside Drive. In the early 1980s a 10-meter jump for novices designed by Karl Eid was also built on this site. This site, the original Hilltop Ski area, was in operation from 1967 to 1983, when Hilltop Ski area was moved to its current location about half a mile north of the original site. In 1983 Hilltop entered into a land use agreement with the Municipality of Anchorage.
This agreement allowed for the chairlift to be installed. In 1984 a snowmaking system was installed to help add more consistency to snow conditions. Then in 1986 ATCO trailers were donated and Hilltop had its first ski school and rentals space. The last of those can still be seen today which is the current ski patrol building. In 1997 the Platter Lift was installed along with night lighting to support evening operations. In 1998 Hilltop Youth Inc became Youth Exploring Adventure Inc. the non-profit overseeing Hilltop operations. In 2000 a long-term lease for 30 year was entered into with the Municipality of Anchorage through a vote of the people.
With a generous grant from Special Olympics the current lodge was built to be able to host the 2001 Special Olympics World Games. Hilltop hosted over 90 countries for the snowboard competition. In 2020 The Municipality of Anchorage extend the lease to 2030 by exercising the original lease extension. Most users don’t know that Hilltop relies on the generosity of Alaskans to sustain operations.
Whether through ticket sales, donations, or sponsorships all money earned goes back into offering more programs and activities for Alaskans. Hilltop receives no money from the Municipality of Anchorage for operations. All of us here at Hilltop are excited for what the future brings.