Mother Nature finally decided to bless us with some fresh snow so we can enjoy our winter this year! Now, I realize not everyone loves winter. It’s about this time of year when folks are ready to be done with the cold and move on to the warmer seasons. If you are not a lover of winter, you may relate with this feeling. As the popular social media meme states, however, “If you choose not to find joy in the snow, you will have less joy in your life but still the same amount of snow.” I think we can agree that we all need more joy in our lives, right?! So maybe the goal is to find ways to enjoy the snow and make the most of its presence over the next month.
What are the best ways to take advantage of the snow, you might ask?
Well, in NE Michigan, there are numerous ways to get outside and play throughout the entire region. This list is by no means exhaustive, but hopefully it will give you a few ideas to whet your appetite and help you get out and explore. Check out the NE Michigan Winter Activities page for a complete listing of all the trails, activities, and options!
Pigeon River Country is always a great choice! Shingle Mill Pathway has 4 different loop lengths: 1.2, 6, 10, and 11 miles. The High Country Pathway also continues beyond the Shingle Mill Pathway in either direction. The trailhead parking for both trails is east of Vanderbilt. It’s a beautiful drive and a beautiful hike, snowshoe, cross-country ski, or fat tire bike ride.
Hartwick Pines State Park in Grayling. Snowshoe in the old growth forest and get up close and personal with the old trees. It’s beautiful! And you can borrow snowshoes for free! Recreation Passport is required.
Rifle River Recreation Area in Ogemaw County is also a great spot with miles of trails to explore. A Recreation Passport is required.
Louis Groen Nature Preserve in Johannesburg is a beautiful trail system. There are multiple miles of loops to choose from to get out in nature and enjoy the solitude and sunshine.
Photo: Snowshoeing in Pigeon River Country
Black Mountain Recreation Area is a beautiful trail system in Cheboygan County and is wonderfully groomed and maintained by a group of volunteers. If you want to enjoy the beauty of nature and get some miles in on a larger trail system, this would be the place to go! (See photo below taken by NE Michigan Regional Ambassador, Tracy Hardin-Gravlin)
Thompson’s Harbor State Park in Presque Isle County. NE Michigan’s Regional Ambassador, Kim Kleber, recently shared beautiful photos from her cross-country ski adventure along the Lake Huron shoreline. Be sure to check out NE Michigan’s Instagram to see the photos!
Forbush Corner is a nonprofit facility in Frederic – just off the highway for easy access. It has miles of trails, some great hills, more challenging terrain, and snow machines to help assist with our lack of snow this year. Definitely worth the trip.
XC Ski Headquarters in Roscommon. What a cool location! This place has a great ski shop, kitchen, hang out area, and live music on Sundays! Miles of trails and terrain for every type of adventurer. Check out the NE Michigan regional calendar to see what events are on tap.
Norway Ridge Pathway: Beautiful tall pines line this trail on the outskirts of Alpena, allowing one to escape into nature without a big drive. This 7 mile trail system is groomed for cross country skiing by volunteers. If you are traveling to Alpena, make a day of it: hit up the trails then stop by Downtown Alpena for some food and drinks as a reward!
Corsair Trail and Silver Valley Trail Systems in Iosco County offer 28.3 miles of groomed trails in the Huron-Manistee National Forest. There is $5.00 Recreation Enhancement Fee at all trailheads.
Ogemaw Hills Pathway outside of West Branch in the AuSable State Forest. This trail system is located on the corner of Clear Lake Rd and Fairview Rd – and offers 13.6 miles of groomed trails for cross country skiing. Be sure to check out Downtown West Branch when you are done!
Be sure to visit Grand Lake in Presque Isle, Houghton and Higgins Lake in Roscommon, Otsego Lake in Gaylord, or Lake Margrethe in Grayling. It should go without saying, but always check ice conditions before heading out on the ice. Especially since this winter has been a little precarious with the cold temps.
Treetops and Otsego Resort in Gaylord are both wonderful options. Otsego Resort has bump day specials on Wednesdays and Thursdays through the end of the season: $15 lift ticket, $15 rentals, and $15 meal specials. If you’ve always wanted to try out downhill skiing, this could be a great way to do it! Hanson Hills in Grayling often has some great Friday night specials: $5 night skiing from 3:30-9:00pm. So, be sure to check out their Facebook page for updates and deals!
Again, Treetops, Otsego Resort, and Hanson Hills all offer great snow tubing fun! Check out their Facebook pages for specials. Hanson Hills has offered some great deals lately.
There are tons of great trails all throughout the region! Check out NE Michigan’s Snowmobile page for trail info in each county.
Cook Family Farm outside of Gaylord is a fun option for friends and family. Ride in an open sleigh and enjoy fresh baked cookies and hot cocoa. Rides are by appointment only, so be sure to touch base with them to set up your sleigh ride experience.
Thunder Bay Resort in Hillman offers a horse drawn sleigh ride to see elk, enjoy wine tasting, and experience a gourmet dinner. Sounds like a festive and unforgettable date night!
Photo: Thunder Bay Resort Sleigh Ride
Sturgeon River Paddlesports in Wolverine and Big Bear Adventures in Indian River both offer guided winter rafting adventures. The pictures look amazing and the word on the street is that winter rafting adventures are pretty incredible. Check out their social media pages to see for yourself!
Fat Bike Riding:
Pigeon River Country is always a great choice! Shingle Mill Pathway has 4 different loop lengths: 1.2, 6, 10, and 11 miles. The High Country Pathway also continues on beyond the Shingle Mill Pathway in either direction. The trailhead parking for both trails is east of Vanderbilt. It’s a beautiful drive and a beautiful hike, snowshoe, or cross-country ski, or fat tire bike ride.
Hanson Hills also has a fat tire snow bike trail!
Don’t have the right equipment? Be sure to check out our Outdoor Gear & Outfitters page to buy, rent, or book a tour to make the most of your winter experience this year!
May you find the remainder of your winter filled with more joy as you get out and explore. Happy Trails!