Long before a skiing frenzy gripped the winter resorts of the United States, there was the Signal Point Ski Resort in Post Falls, Idaho.


From 1950 until almost the end of the decade, Signal Point offered weekend skiing and lessons, providing a total of three runs down the east side of the mountain and, at one point, six rope tows. Only the arrival of the world’s first double chair lift at Mount Spokane could spell the end of the operation. Before then, the closest chairlifts were at Mount Hood or Sun Valley.

Maitland E. Wilkins, an early skier and tugboat operator on Lake Coeur d’Alene, spotted Signal Point from the lake, and having dreamed about a ski run close to home, one day bought 570 acres at the mountain top for only a few dollars per acre.

The lodge was the first structure to be built and was a three-story building, heated by a wood furnace. The lodge was built from trees volunteers felled themselves, skidding them off the hill with a horse. The main floor included a kitchen with a view of Lake Coeur d’Alene, the city and the mountains to the east. The third floor contained sleeping quarters for the caretakers.

Volunteers then built towers for the rope tows, and finally got them installed. Wilkins constructed the snowplows from Army 4×4 and 6×6 trucks. Keeping access open in winter was no easy task, as Signal Point Road from the base to the Lodge was a long one.

Realizing that the operation would require funds, Wilkins started the Signal Point Corporation and sought investors. Most local businesses and clubs contributed something, either in money, equipment or labor.

Many hundreds of volunteer hours went into clearing and grooming the three runs, including much help from Coeur d’Alene High School students. Local teacher Robert Young recalls, “I started teaching in 1950, and my wife and I never went up there without at least a half-dozen or so kids to clear and cut brush and to drag ropes up the hill.”

The wives of the founders usually cooked hamburgers for sale, with the meat donated by grocers and the rolls homemade by a Mrs. Young. All proceeds went back into the cost of keeping the enterprise going.

During operation, lift tickets were $1.50 per day. The resort had no ambulance, so instead used a station wagon driven by the lodge staff. The splints were homemade, but the safety record was impressive.

Beginner skiers were challenged by the runs which, at today’s ratings, would be considered either intermediate or expert.

The lodge was like a family home. Experienced skiers provided lessons for beginners. There were no “groomers”, so skiers would side step down the slope to pack the run.

With the arrival of chairlifts at Mount Spokane and “Schweitzer Ski Basin”, there began an irreversible decline in attendance. In 1956 the property was sold to Neil Udell, who soon closed it due to a lack of business.

Another even closer ski area — called Holiday Hills — operated in the 1970’s on the slopes of what is known today as Legacy Ridge in Liberty Lake.

Now that Signal Point’s ski facilities are gone, the peak is home to microwave relay towers repeating Spokane radio signals. But athletic activities other than downhill skiing still attract visitors to the mountain. Now the area is used by cross-country skiers, mountain bikers, hikers, cyclists and ATVs.

Photos courtesy of the Museum of North Idaho. Many thanks for their research help. Excerpts taken from an article by Fred Glienna in the MNI quarterly newsletter, Fall 1996.

Finding the Historical Remains

If you didn’t know where the ski area was, you would never find it today. Trees have filled in the runs, but the lodge foundation is still barely there, a small reminder of a forgotten era.

Name Discrepancy: “Signal Point” is the nickname for the peak that is officially called “Mica Peak”, although the road to the top is named Signal Point Road, and on some maps referred to as Ski Lodge Road. Take West Riverview Drive across the Spokane River in Post Falls, then take a left on Signal Point Road. Park at the end, then hike up the rest of the way.

Location of the Runs: The ski area was located on the east-facing slope shared by Signal Point (Mica) and Big Rock, the commonly used names for two peaks that can be seen from both Liberty Lake and downtown Coeur d’Alene. In fact, if you were sitting on the CdA City Beach and looked up over Cougar Bay, you would see the ski runs in the 50’s.

Location of the Lodge: The Lodge was located 2800 feet below the aviation beacon on Mica Peak (now the radio tower). To get a bearing in the right direction, you can still see the powerline cut from Mica Peak, down to the top of the 2nd tow rope line. Coordinates are: 47.627518, -116.981307