Michigan's new motto, "Pure Michigan," exemplifies the pure white, lake effect snow that snowmobilers flock here for. With more than 6,100 miles of snowmobile trails, Michigan is a snowmobiler's heaven. Whether you're traveling by scenic waterfalls or over picturesque pine-lined trails, there's always a place for you to enjoy!
Starting with Central Lower Michigan, three spots you won't want to miss include Grayling/Mancelona, Houghton Lake and Mio. Grayling and Mancelona are near Hartwick Pines State Park in Crawford County. The trails in Crawford County connect to the largest trail system in the state, so you won't run out of trail to trek.
Houghton Lake is Michigan's largest inland lake and has 30 miles of shoreline trails to explore. About 88 miles of trail surround the area, and the 200 miles in Roscommon County connect with the state trail system.
Mio lies in the Huron National Forest on the Au Sable River in the Lower-Peninsula. It meets up with the Manistee National Forest. The area provides you with 700 miles of good riding on well-groomed trails.
Gaylord welcomes snowmobilers too. Popular areas to ride include the Blue Bear Trail, scenic Jordan Valley Trail, North Branch Trail, Indian River Trail and Shingle Mills Pathway, where you may find the largest elk herd east of the Mississippi in Pigeon River State Forest. Slow down if you do!
In Northwest Lower Michigan, you'll also find some great riding in Traverse City, Petoskey and Irons. These areas have plenty of shopping, gaming, and other activities to keep the whole family entertained while you're exploring the trails. Apparently there ARE other things to do in the winter besides snowmobiling.
Join the Yoopers in Michigan's Western Upper Penninsula for more than 2,500 miles of trail where you can see the Lake Superior Ice Caverns and much more. Gogebic/Ontonagon counties are great places to zip around the trails, as we've seen lots of snow here year after year.
There are 155 miles of trail on 5 routes around Lake Gogebic, the largest inland lake in the U.P. This area receives an average of 200 inches of snow. It's centrally located in the Upper Peninsula making this a favorite place for snowmobilers to seek accommodations for lodging and food. Trails include forests, scenic overlooks, railroad grades, bridges, hills, lakes, cedar swamps and logging roads.
Other popular spots include the Watersmeet/Land O' Lakes Rail Trail, 450 miles of groomed fun in the Ottawa National Forest, Penokee Mountain Range, Porcupine Mountains, Cisco Chain of Lakes, Bruce Crossing and Ironwood, which is across the Montreal River from Hurley, Wis., marking the boundary between the two states. (see AmSnow TV 2008, at www.AmSnow.com) Don't miss Sledfest in Michigan's Western U.P. too, located in Ironwood, where you'll find races, snowmobile shows and activities for everyone in January. Visit www.sledfest.com for updated info.
Baraga County has 150 miles of trails that connect with the more than 2,500 miles of U.P. trails. Many trails follow logging routes through the forests and make for gorgeous rides. Popular routes include the 60-mile L'Anse Big Bay Trail and the 58-mile Lac Vieux Trail.
Just north of Baraga, the trails in the Keweenaw Peninsula also connect with those throughout the U.P. Many riders take the Bill Nicholls Trail to reach the area, which is an abandoned railroad grade that serves as a super highway to the region. The Freda Trail loop connects with the Bill Nicholls just north of Toivola, and it isn't too far from Lake Superior. Many other trails connect to take you through "Copper Country." Here you can find snowmobile family attractions at 14 winter events, a ghost town, Copper Harbor and mining ruins.
The snowmobiling centers of the region are Houghton and Hancock. Some great trails to check out include the Clark Mine Trail, Mandan Trail and Brockway Mountain Trail. Heavy snow is found near Lake Superior where the elevation rises to almost 1,000 feet above lake level, offering tremendous views of the coldest of the Great Lakes.
And a snowmobiling trip to Michigan would not be complete if you didn't visit Munising! (See AmSnow, Oct. 2006, p. 68)
Snow accumulates early here and sticks around. Area residents are welcoming, and the views are great; don't miss the Pictured Rocks area near Lake Superior's shore. You can take a short romp or a long winder, as trail networks reach from Shingleton to Grand Marais, Seney, Deerton, Chatham, Manistique and Rapid River.
Between Munising and the Keweenaw Penninsula lies Marquette County which gets 140+ inches of snow yearly, and has been known to have twice the population in winter than in summer! Nature lovers will enjoy Trail 5 and 8 in Champion that will take you to Michigamme and Three Lakes.
A favorite stomping ground for snowmobilers is the quaint city of Ishpeming in Marquette County. This city has everything a snowmobiler could need: restaurants, lodging, entertainment and shopping. Not to mention the city can be seen as a hub for snowmobile trails heading off in every direction and beckoning you to more snowy rides!
Another great place to ride is beautiful Paradise (See AmSnow, Oct. 2005, p. 77) at the northeastern tip of the U.P. Ride to the state's largest falls, Tahquamenon Falls, or the towns of Newberry and Whitefish Point. The 35,000-acre Tahquamenon Falls State Park is just southwest of Paradise - FYI, bring your camera. Make reservations early here. There are plenty of places to explore on and off trail, including the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum and the old Whitefish Point Lighthouse.
You can have a good ol' snowmobiling time in Michigan, every which way you turn, there's another trail!
Mich. Snowmobile Association: www.msasnow.org
Mich. Department of Natural Resources: www.michigan.gov/dnr
Mich. Tourism: www.michigan.org/travel
Bear's Nine Pines Resort
N 9426 State Hwy M-64, Marenisco
850 US Hwy 41 W Ishpeming
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