18 Nov Cross Country Skiing and Snowshoeing in the Mitten State
You may not know this, but Michigan is steeped in skiing history. Michigan is home to the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame and some of the first and largest ski jumping competitions originated here back in the early 1900s. While not many of us want to hurl ourselves off an Olympic-regulation ski jump, getting out on Michigan’s cross-country trails is something everyone can enjoy. Cross-country skiing, or XC skiing, is defined as the sport of skiing across the countryside, often through woods and usually on relatively flat terrain, using narrow skis with boots that can be raised off the ski at the heel when striding.
“Michigan is the perfect state to enjoy cross-country skiing,” says Michigan Snowsports Industries Association (MSIA) Executive Director Mickey MacWilliams. Our treed, rolling countryside, low elevation and lake effect snow combine to provide ideal conditions for the sport,” she adds. “Ski along national lakeshores, through wooded wonderlands, on groomed and tracked trails or go off and break your own trail. It’s all available in Pure Michigan.”
The Michigan Snowsports Industries Association offers programs to help you ski affordably. Here is a rundown:
Kids in fourth and fifth grades can ski for free across Michigan with the Cold is Cool Ski & Ride Passport. Twenty-nine ski areas have each contributed up to three trail passes and/or lift tickets for this program, so students can cross-country and downhill ski all winter long, all over Michigan for free! An application is available online at Cold is Cool. The association charges $25 for processing.
For those who don’t know how to ski or snowboard and want to learn, January is the month. That’s when ski facilities across Michigan offer an exciting and affordable learn-to-ski program called Discover Michigan Skiing. Beginners receive a lesson, equipment rental and a cross country trail pass or downhill lift ticket for just $45. To get started, pick up a Discover Michigan Skiing voucher at participating Michigan McDonald’s restaurants or online at goskimichigan.com
MSIA wants all skiers to know before you go! Last season ski areas worked together to develop COVID-19 protocols. This winter each ski area has different safety precautions. MSIA has put together a page with COVID information from ski areas across the state and highly suggests checking it before heading out. Some places may require advance ski lift ticket purchases, masks indoors, or proof of vaccinations to dine inside. Also dress for the weather! Last winter outdoor dining was extremely popular and many ski areas are continuing to offer it this season.
If you want to get out onto Michigan’s cross-country trails, there are plenty to choose from. The ski areas on the list below are MSIA members. In addition, there are state and county park that offers cross-country skiing across the state. Check the Pure Michigan listings for additional information.
Big Powderhorn Mountain Ski Resort – N 11375 Powderhorn Road, Bessemer, MI 49911 http://www.bigpowderhorn.net/ 906-932-4838. This is an alpine ski area with 17 km of XC ski trails, rental equipment, and lodging.
Mount Bohemia – 6532 Lac La Belle Road, Lac La Belle, MI 49950 http://www.mtbohemia.com 906-360-7240. Mt. Bohemia is an expert only ski area with steep slopes, off-piste terrain – not for beginners. There are 585 acres with 900 feet vertical drop, 2 chairlifts and 4 buses. Lodging options such as cabins, yurts, hostel, and camping. Snowshoe rentals $15. The daily lift rate is $85, and Saturdays are for season pass holders and reciprocal partners only.
Mt Zion E-4946 Jackson Road, Ironwood, MI 49938 https://gogebicsamsons.com/recreation/Mt._Zion 906-932-4231. Mt Zion is located on the campus of Gogebic Community College and is the oldest winter recreation complex in “Big Snow Country”. Owned and operated by GCC, Mt. Zion is open to the public and has free XC ski trails. The complex also serves as a laboratory for the college’s nationally recognized Ski Area Management Program.
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park Michigan Highway 107, Ontonagon, MI 49953 http://www.porkiesfun.com/ 906-885-5209. This is an alpine ski area with 30 km of XC ski trails and snowshoeing on trails maintained by the Michigan DNR. Two warming shelters and lantern-lit snowshoe trail. Rental equipment available.
Ski Brule 397 Brule Mountain Road, Iron River, MI 49935 http://skibrule.com/ 906-265-4957. This is an alpine ski area with 33 km of tracked and flat groomed XC ski trails along the Brule River, with snowshoeing, rental equipment for XC skiing, snowshoeing, or fat biking and lodging. Wooded and rolling terrain along the Brule River in a series of trail loops of varying lengths and levels. Alpine ski area lift ticket includes access to the XC and snowshoe trails. XC trails alone are $11, fat bikers $15, and snowshoers pay $6. There are 30 km of fat bike trails, and a half day fat tire bike rental is $30 or full day is $50. Helmets are mandatory of fat bikers.
North Lower Peninsula
Boyne Highlands 600 Boyne Highlands Drive, Harbor Springs, MI 49740 https://www.highlandsharborsprings.com/activities 231-526-3000 or directly 231-526-3029. This is an alpine ski area with 10 XC ski trails for 35 km, snowshoeing, fat biking, rental equipment, lessons, and lodging. One lift ride included with trail pass to access upper trails. For the cross-country center directly, call 231-526-3029 and to book for XC ski lessons 231-526-3056. Trail access $21, youth and seniors $16. Rentals XC package $25, skate skiing $30, snowshoeing $12, 2-hour fat bike $40. Group lessons start at $46 and private one hour $96 with $37 for each additional person.
Boyne Mountain 1 Boyne Mountain Road, Boyne Falls, MI 49713 http://www.boyne.com/boynemountain 231-549-6000. This is an alpine ski area with 10 XC ski trails for 35 km, snowshoeing, rental equipment, lessons, fat biking, and lodging. One lift ride included with trail pass to access upper trails. Introduction to Cross Country Package is $58 (includes rentals, 30-minute lesson, and trail pass) offered hourly starting at 10 AM. Group lesson is $41 per person and private lesson is $84 and $33 for each additional person. A 2-hour guided tour for intermediate or better skiers includes the chairlift ride to the upper trails for $75 for one skier and $20 per additional skier. Rentals are $25, skate skiing $30, Age 8 and under $15. There is a fat tire 5 km trail and fat tire bike rentals on weekends – one hour $25, 2 hours – $40. Call the Cross-Country Center directly at 231-549-6088.
Caberfae Peaks Ski & Golf Resort 1 Caberfae Lane, Cadillac, MI 49601 http://caberfaepeaks.com/ 231-862-3000. This is an alpine ski area with XC ski and snowshoe rental equipment and lodging ($36 for adult, $31 for teen and $26 for junior). The Mackenzie Cross Country Ski Trail has 10 miles of trails in the Manistee National Forest providing marked trail loops of varying lengths and levels and there is no fee to use the trails.
Cross Country Ski Headquarters 9435 North Cut Road, Roscommon, MI 48653 http://www.cross-country-ski.com/ 989-821-6661. A leading XC ski outfitter and ski area in Michigan since 1974 and a premier destination for XC skiing in Midwest. The Higgins Lake location is in the heart of Michigan, with 18 km of trails on site meticulously groomed for classic and skate skiing for skiers of all abilities and there are also miles of trails all around the region. XC Ski HQ is known for its friendly and experienced staff and retail operation. Trails are groomed for classic and skate skiing 5% hilly, 40% moderate, 45% flat. Rentals and lessons available. For a full page of info click Cross Country Ski Headquarters.
Crystal Mountain Resort & Spa 12500 Crystal Mountain Drive, Thompsonville, MI 49683 http://www.crystalmountain.com/ 231-668-6628. This is an alpine ski area with 14 XC ski trails for 25 km, snowshoeing rentals and tours, rental equipment, lessons, tours, fat bike rentals, and lodging. Michigan Legacy Art Park is a destination for XC skiers and snowshoers at with a 30-acre land preservation outdoor art exhibit that celebrates Michigan’s history. Cross country center direct 888-968-7686.
Hickory Hills 2000 Randolph Street, Traverse City, MI 49684 http://www.traversecitymi.gov/hickory_hills.asp 231-947-8566. Hickory Hills Ski Area is owned and operated by the City of Traverse City. There are 4 km of XC ski trails including 1 km of lighted trails for night skiing, and snowshoeing. Open M-F 4:00 – 8:30 PM; Sat 11:00-8:30; Sun 11:00-5:00 Trail pass $12 and $14 on Sunday; Seniors and students are $10 and $12 on Sunday. Rentals $20 and $15 for seniors and students.
Nub’s Nob 500 Nubs Nob Road, Harbor Springs, MI 49740 http://www.nubsnob.com/ 231-526-2131. This is an alpine ski area with 4 XC ski trail loops and 21 km, snowshoeing, rental equipment, lessons, and lodging. Snow is plentiful in this part of Michigan and Nubs Nob gets snow early and often. Trails accommodate classic or skate skiers and on Wednesday nights there is a skill clinic and time trial series followed by free appetizers in the pub.
Shanty Creek Resorts 5780 Shanty Creek Road, Bellaire, MI 49615 http://www.shantycreek.com/ 231-533-3000. This is an alpine ski area with 28 km of groomed and tracked XC ski trails, snowshoeing, rental equipment, lessons, fat biking, and lodging. Trail pass is $15 per day for adult and $10 for child 12 and under. Rentals are $20 and $15 for child. Snowshoe rentals at $15. There are trailheads from 3 Shanty Creek resort villages. Separate trails for snowshoeing and fat biking at Schuss Village. There is snowmaking on a trail that outlines Schuss Mountain
The Homestead 1 Woodridge Road, Glen Arbor, MI 49636 http://www.thehomesteadresort.com/ 231-334-5000. This is an alpine ski area with 6 XC ski trails for 18 km, snowshoeing, rental equipment, lessons, and lodging. Bay View Trail is only steps from the resort village. Snowshoeing at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. (Photo on left)
Hanson Hills Recreation Area 7601 Old Lake Road, Grayling, MI 49738 http://www.hansonhills.org/ 989-348-9266. This is an alpine ski area with 35 km of XC ski trails groomed daily for classic and skate skiing, and 5 km of snowshoe trails in loops from 2 km to 12 km on trails that are 60% hilly, 30% moderate, 10% flat. Trails are groomed for classic and skate skiing. Rentals and lessons are available. Trail pass is $12 and free for kids 12 and under. Weekend daily pass is $15 Rentals for XC ski package is $15 and $10 for 12-year-olds and under. Tuesday $9 passes starting on Jan 4 and for Seniors again on Thursdays.
Otsego Club & Resort 696 M32 East Main Street, Gaylord, MI 49734 https://www.otsegoclub.com/ski/ 989-732-5181. This is a private alpine ski area with 6.2 miles of marked trails for XC skiing and snowshoeing, and lodging. Snowshoe rentals are $15. Membership is required to use the facilities.
Treetops Resort 3962 Wilkinson Road, Gaylord, MI 49735 http://treetops.com/?nck=msia 855-318-0678. This is an alpine ski area with 3 connected XC ski trail loops for 9 km, snowshoeing, and lodging. The Skiable Feast Getaway Package offers a 6 km winter gourmet adventure on 6 km with 5 buffet food stations on 7 dates during Jan-Mar and Spudtacular is a 2-hour snowshoe lunch of stations with potato dishes. Book on Treetops website.
Muskegon Winter Sports Complex 462 North Scenic Drive, Muskegon, MI 49445 http://www.msports.org/ 231-744-9629. There are 15 km of trails (including 2.5 km of lighted trails) for XC skiing and snowshoeing with rental equipment and lessons available. The majority of the terrain is gentle and winds through the woods, along the dunes, Lost Lake bog and nearby Lake Michigan allowing you to explore a variety of Muskegon State Park’s natural features. The trails are groomed for both skate and classical skiing when conditions allow.
Michigan Snowsports Industries Association (MSIA) was formed in 1991 as the trade association for the ski and snowboard industry in our state. Our main purpose is to increase awareness of snowsports such as skiing, snowboarding, cross country skiing, snowshoeing in Michigan and to introduce new individuals to the sport.