Winter can be a challenging time to stay fit. The cold temperates and icy terrain make it easy to stay inside under the covers. However, winter in Northern Michigan offers lots of recreation opportunities and stunning views for those who venture out into the snow-covered paradise.
Snowshoeing is a classic winter sport that’s ideal for beginners and more experienced users. It’s stable (especially if you use poles), easy to learn, and allows you to exert yourself at a level that’s good for you, regardless of your fitness level. If you’re just starting on a healthy living plan, just walk slowly along a trail. If you’re looking to work up a sweat, try adding in a few hills or a faster pace.
According to Snowshoe Magazine, snowshoeing can burn up to 45 percent more calories than walking or running at the same speed. Cold weather increases your metabolic rate, and there is added resistance from the snow and extra weight on your feet.
The terrain is also a factor in how many calories you burn. Northern Michigan’s extensive network of trails offers a variety of options for every skill level. While beginners may want to start on flat terrain with packed snow, those with experience can take on more challenging hills. Here are a few trails for you to try:
Seven Bridges, Kalkaska County
Despite the name, only four bridges still exist today on the property. The bridges, along with a trail and boardwalk, take you under a canopy of cedars and across the Rapid River and its tributaries. Though the formal trail system is only about 1,000 feet, it leads out to a beautiful field that’s fun to explore and hike around. The 314-acre property is protected and managed by The Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy.
Grand Traverse Commons, Grand Traverse County
The Village at Grand Traverse Commons sits among 480 acres of preserved parkland. The park-like grounds and European-style buildings are beautiful backdrops for the numerous groomed trails. In the “front yard,” flat terrain with 100-year-old trees makes a captivating and easy place for first-timers. “Out back” forested hills and valleys and a pretty stream keep things interesting for those wanting to take it up a notch. There are about 8 miles of formal and informal trails throughout the grounds.
Lake Ann Pathway, Benzie County
The 5.8-mile trail goes through the Pere Marquette State Forest following a stretch of the Platte River and passing by several lakes. The trailhead is located at the Lake Ann State Forest Campground.
If you don’t own a pair of snowshoes, affordable rentals are available. Here are a few local spots to start your search (prices are per pair).
- Frankfort Park District: $5 for 2 hours
- Suttons Bay Bikes: $18 a day—multiple day discounts are available starting at two days
- Brick Wheels: $15 for the day or $75 for a week
- Don Orr Ski n’ Beach Haus: $15 for 24 hours
- Paddles and Pedals: $15 for the day or $75 for a week
Before you hit the trails, be sure to dress appropriately for the weather and wear plenty of layers. Keep your body warm and dry with synthetic or wool clothing that will wick away moisture.