Snowshoe Your Way Through a Pure Michigan Snow Day

Tahquamenon Falls State Park is an ideal destination to snowshoe, whether you are trying it for the first time or are looking for someplace new to explore. Theresa Neal with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, sells readers on why snowshoeing is a great way to get outside this winter season.

Winter can be a tough time for people to stay active. It’s cold outside, it gets dark early, and curling up in a blanket with a tablet or book sounds SO good! But if you are feeling a bit dreary, maybe gained a few pounds over the holidays, or find yourself in a routine that is getting a bit old, I would suggest giving snowshoeing a try. Many people are intimidated to strap giant paddles to their feet and try walking around, understandably so. I find that once people are outfitted correctly, and given a few pointers, the majority are amazed at how easy it is to snowshoe.

Photo Courtesy of D. Kenyon

Photo Courtesy of D. Kenyon

Snowshoeing Tips:

  1. If you can walk, you can snowshoe! You may need to adjust your stride slightly, and many people find poles helpful in the beginning.
  2. Aluminum snowshoes are best for icy or hard-packed snow conditions. The crampons (pokey-grips on the bottom) will give you traction, but can trip you up if you drag your feet.
  3. Traditional wooden snowshoes are great for deep, fluffy snow conditions. They are very quiet (no squeaky noises) compared to aluminum, and they leave beautiful tracks in the snow where you have walked!
  4. Used cross-country ski poles from a second-hand store or garage sale work great for snowshoeing.
  5. Expect to sweat! Avoid cotton base layers, as they soak up moisture and can make you cold. Fleece, polyester and wool are good options. Dress in thin layers so you can easily adjust your body temperature while snowshoeing.
Photo Courtesy of T. Neal

Photo Courtesy of T. Neal

Benefits of snowshoeing:

  1. You burn twice as many calories snowshoeing versus walking!
  2. You can be outside WITHOUT getting cold!
  3. After the initial investment of purchasing snowshoes, it’s free! Many state parks offer free snowshoe rental, including Tahquamenon Falls, Ludington, Hartwick Pines and Porcupine Mountains.
  4. You can explore places that are inaccessible during the summer. At Tahquamenon we hike ‘off-trail’, across marshes and through forests that are usually too wet or thick with vegetation to get through.
Bonfire

Photo Courtesy of Michigan DNR

My favorite part of winter is snowshoeing at night. The cold, crisp air seems so clean and refreshing, forcing the fog from my head and waking up my senses. The light from my headlamp glistens off the snow, and I enjoy scanning the trail for animal tracks to see who has been out since my last hike. Red fox, coyote, snowshoe hare, ruffed grouse and deer mouse tracks are most common. The best nights are those without cloud cover, when the moon is shining and the sky is filled with stars, lighting my path without needing a headlamp.

With an average annual snowfall of over 15 feet, Tahquamenon Falls State Park is a great place to explore winter on snowshoes. The park is open year-round, with two main destinations for snowshoeing (Upper Falls and Lower Falls). Check our website to print winter maps and join us on Facebook or Twitter to stay up to date on current conditions and events.

Have you ever been snowshoeing? Comment on your experience below!

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Theresa has served as the park interpreter at Tahquamenon Falls since 2005. She began her career as a naturalist with the DNR at Holland State Park as an Adventure Ranger, delivering nature programs and leading hikes for park visitors. She was then hired as a naturalist for DeGraaf Nature Center in Holland, designing and presenting programs for children and school groups. During the summer of 2005, she again worked for the DNR Explorer Program as a mentor for the Explorer Guides in southeast Michigan. Theresa is a proud graduate of Michigan State University.

Plan your Perfect Pure Michigan Summer Fishing Trip!

Many anglers in Michigan are constantly looking for tools and resources that equip them with better knowledge when they are planning trips. Now, with the help of many Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) partners, trout anglers don’t have to go much further than the DNR’s website!

The East Branch Black River Highbanks, Photo Courtesy of the Michigan DNR.

The East Branch Black River Highbanks, Photo Courtesy of the Michigan DNR.

Michigan is nationally known as a trout fishing destination with nearly 20,000 cold, quality streams and hundreds of lakes. Michigan’s Trout Trails was recently launched online in an effort to connect anglers with lesser known trout waters all around the state. This new tool highlights several of these waters – specifically those located in the western Upper Peninsula, north central Lower Peninsula, and southwestern Lower Peninsula.

Trout Trails will be rolled out in several phases, with the first featuring 129 locations that include detailed descriptions and photos for each site and information for area lodging, restaurants, and guide services if available. Additional information includes trout species available, fishing regulations, presence of stocked or naturally reproducing fish, driving directions (with a link to Google maps), and note-worthy information (such as presence of fast water, canoe/kayak/tube accessibility, best times to fish, and much more).

Breathtaking Forest Lake. Photo Courtesy of the Michigan DNR.

Breathtaking Forest Lake. Photo Courtesy of the Michigan DNR.

The goal of this site is to help anglers find new places to go and how to plan the best fishing trip possible. Each location has been verified by DNR fisheries biologists to ensure the information is accurate and up-to-date.

The information on Michigan’s Trout Trails is presented in a map format that makes it easy to glean all the necessary information from each destination point. The site is mobile-friendly and accessible via any type of device. Additionally, information for each of the 129 sites is available in a printable format.

The St. Joseph River Shamrock. Photo Courtesy of the Michigan DNR.

The St. Joseph River in Berrien Springs. Photo Courtesy of the Michigan DNR.

Don’t forget – this is just the first batch of locations that will be featured within the Trout Trails application. Each year the DNR is looking to add additional sites to eventually provide statewide trout trails. We hope it will entice anglers (both residents and non-residents) to explore new fishing locations, opportunities and adventures they haven’t had before.

To access Michigan’s Trout Trails, visit Michigan.gov/trouttrails.

SuzanneStoneSuzanne Stone is the Education and Outreach Specialist for the Fisheries Division of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Stone earned a B.S. in Natural Resources Management in addition to a secondary science teaching certification. Stone is an avid trout angler.

 

Learn to Fish with the DNR’s Hook, Line and Sinker Program

Have you always wanted to learn how to fish? The Michigan Department of Natural Resources launched a new program this summer designed to help you get started! Today, Elyse Walter of the DNR’s Fisheries Division fills us in on what the Hook, Line and Sinker program entails.

“Hook, Line and Sinker” is a weekly fishing program now offered at more than 30 state parks, recreation areas and visitor centers. Instructors will teach you everything you need to know to get started, including setting up your fishing rod, knot tying, casting, selecting and using bait, and removing fish from the hook. After 20 to 30 minutes of instruction, you’ll be able to test your recently-acquired skills on the water.

Along with detailed instruction, you can borrow a fishing rod and reel if you don’t have your own. This program is being offered all summer long from mid-June through August.

Hook, Line and Sinker is a free program open to everyone, however you’ll need a Recreation Passport to enter many locations hosting this program. The Recreation Passport replaces the state park sticker and is required for entry to all Michigan state parks and recreation areas. If you haven’t already purchased yours when renewing your license plate at the Secretary of State, you can still purchase your Recreation Passport at a state park or recreation area. Michigan residents pay $11 for vehicles and $5 for motorcycles. Non Michigan residents pay $8.40 per vehicle for a daily pass.

Children under the age of 17 are not required to have a fishing license, but anyone age 17 or older planning to cast a line into the water during  the Hook, Line and Sinker program will need to buy one. A variety of licenses are available, ranging in price from $7 to $42.

If you are interested in joining a Hook, Line and Sinker program, visit michigan.org/hooklineandsinker for a complete list of participating locations and their schedules.

Don’t let the summer pass you by without getting the chance to become an excellent angler!

Will you be taking advantage of the Hook, Line and Sinker program? Share with us below, and learn more about fishing in Michigan at michigan.org.

Elyse Walter is a communication specialist for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. She specifically works with the DNR’s Fisheries Division to help educate and promote the state’s fishing opportunities and aquatic resources.