Though Mother Nature cannot seem to decide how much winter to bring just yet, there is no doubting the snows are now likely here to stay.
This means there are plenty of familiar ways to get out and enjoy northern Michigan in the snow. One of the best ways certainly in this area to enjoy the snow and the cold is atop a pair of cross-country skis.
Because of the many trail systems, both maintained and rustic, the area offers an abundance of spots to step into your cross-country bindings and glide—or skate– into the quiet.
For those in search of well-maintained and easily accessible trails, the Nub’s Nob ski area offers a Nordic center comprised of nearly 13 miles of interconnected loops, ranging from beginner to expert. Leave the crowds behind and kick your way through the towering pines and hardwoods, angling back to the main lodge and enjoy a memorable doughnut in the cafeteria when you finish. There are lights on some portions of the trail, midweek after work skiing is possible. Season tickets run $149, with a day option available for $18. Trail information and maps can be found at www.nubsnob.com/trail-guide.
On the other side of Pleasantview Road from Nub’s, Boyne Highlands also offers groomed trails for Nordic enthusiasts. The trail system here ranges over 35 kilometers, offering traditional kick and glide through woods and over some challenging hills as well, while also offering ample tracks for the skate enthusiast. Daily tickets run $16. You can find everything you need to know about Boyne Highlands Nordic skiing at www.boynehighlands.com/activities/cross-country-skiing.
For skiers preferring a less structured experience, northern Michigan boasts an abundance of these locations as well. East of Petoskey off Mitchell Road, for example, is the Wildwood Hills trail system, made up of a series of interconnected loops offering skiing for everyone from beginners to experts, with hills and flats and plenty of parking. The trails here are groomed only through use, the parking lot is typically plowed, and the nearly 9 miles of trail means skiers can often enjoy a full day of skiing while avoiding crowds, even on busy weekends.
Other unimproved spots offering easy access include the shorter loops along the Bear River adjacent North Central Michigan College, as well as the dunes and trails at the Petoskey State Park.
Golf courses can also be great winter locations, providing rolling terrain and open spaces suitable for Nordic skiing. A great spot for golf course skiing is Birchwood Farms Golf and Country Club, where about 8 kilometers in trails offer mostly gentle undulations. The Blue Trail does include a couple of significant hills also. The Outfitter in Harbor Springs provides grooming and parking is available at the clubhouse. Trail maps are available at The Outfitter or online at www.birchwoodcc.com.
Whether you prefer groomed trails or unimproved loops, there is plenty of cross-country skiing of every type close to wherever you might be in Northern Michigan. Now that Mother Nature is cooperating, it’s time to get out the skis and log some time in the snow.