Six Ways to Get Fit and Enjoy Michigan’s Outdoors in 2016

Happy Holidays! As we look forward to an eventful and adventure-filled New Year, guest blogger Shalee Blackmer from The Awesome Mitten shares some Pure Michigan ways to get active while enjoying the incredible scenery and outdoors the Great Lakes state has to offer.

New Year, new beginnings. By now, we know the beauty that Michigan offers, and with that beauty comes hard work. Sometimes in order to get the benefit of the stunning Michigan shorelines, high cliffs, and spectacular sunsets, we must work for it. We summit, hike, and climb to the destination, and we are rewarded with pure simplicity. A far away land miles from the nearest freeway, cubicle, or stop light.

Photo Courtesy of Shalee Blackmer

The start of 2016 is the best time to commit to becoming a healthier you. Fortunately, we’re able to go beyond the gym to gain the benefits. There are hiking routes that span the entire state, rock walls that are begging to be climbed, and hidden lighthouses that are patiently awaiting our arrival.

For some starter inspiration, I’ve combined some of my favorite Michigan outdoor activities that are fun, healthy, and always involve a little adventure.

Snowshoe

Right now is the perfect time to invest in a pair of snowshoes and prepare for when temperatures drop and snow begins to fall. Snowshoeing is more of a work out than most people believe, but is easy enough to do with a group of friends. One of the best times to go snowshoeing is in the woods right after a winter storm. A winter wonderland surrounds you, but not a sound can be heard.

Photo Courtesy of Shalee Blackmer

Kayak

Kayaking weekly will build arm muscles and allow you to enjoy the surrounding beauty in one. Michigan has hundreds of prime kayaking locations. Everything from the three-mile journey to Turnip Rock, to an afternoon down the Muskegon River, or a casual paddle around Presque Isle Park. Viewing some of Michigan’s most beautiful areas from the water offers a whole new perspective, and you’re guaranteed to feel the soreness at the end of the day.

Photo Courtesy of Shalee Blackmer

Ice climb/ Rock climb

If you’re ready to build that arm and finger strength, this one is for you. Both activities involve considerable workouts, and have different difficulty levels from beginner to expert. Places like Planet Rock, an indoor rock climbing facility, will train and teach you everything you need to know before you start. Eventually you can take those skills to the real outdoors, and climb everything from rocks to frozen waterfalls.

Photo Courtesy of Shalee Blackmer

Go backpacking

Nearly everyone is fit enough to backpack, even if it is just for a day. Finding routes that have more elevation changes (sand dunes, Porcupine Mountains) will allow for a more strenuous workout. Beginners can start on shorter and flatter hikes and then can set a year end goal of a week-long backpacking trip on Isle Royale or through the Huron-Manistee National Forests.

Ski/Snowboard

One of the most common winter activities in Michigan is skiing and snowboarding, which also happens to be one of the best winter workouts. No matter how many years someone has hit the slopes, they will be sore at the end of a long day filled with snow and friends. Lucky for us, there are dozens of ski areas around the state, and you can always find one within a few hours drive. Those who are beginners will soon learn why it is such a common activity in Michigan, and will want to do it over and over.

Surf or body board

Michigan waves are some of the most powerful waves in the world. When the waters are choppy, those who take on the Great Lakes power will endure a non-stop workout in attempt to catch the perfect wave. Those who are interested can visit Third Coast Surf Shops in New Buffalo or St. Joseph to rent surfboards, wet suits, and even get lessons from experienced freshwater surfers.

Photo Courtesy of Shalee Blackmer

 

What is your favorite Michigan outdoor activity?Shalee

About the author: Shalee Blackmer is a 21 year old college student who grew up in the small town of Mecosta. She currently attends Michigan State University as an advertising student and spends her time exploring the outdoors. Her hobbies include running her own travel blog, which aims to inspire college-age students to see explore on a budget and taking photos to share her story. She enjoys camping, road trips, hiking and cliff jumping and enjoying Pure Michigan beauty.

Six Ways to Beat the Winter Blues in St. Ignace

When you think of winter, do you think about golf or a bike race? In the town of St. Ignace, located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, a little snow never stops the fun. In fact, Yoopers know there’s only one thing to do with the annual 60 plus inches of snow and that’s enjoy it. Guest blogger Mindy Rutger shares six ways to beat the winter blues in St. Ignace.

1.  Take a Swing at Ice Golf

Photo Courtesy of Dave Kunze

Photo Courtesy of Dave Kunze

The U.P. Ice Golf Scramble and Glow Ball Challenge (March 4 – 5) features a rather unconventional version of hitting the links. Carts are replaced with sleds and colored balls look like a Technicolor rainbow on frozen Lake Huron, which serves as the course. It’s a two-person, best-ball scramble with no handicaps, no pros, just lots of laughs and bragging rights to those who golf on 12-plus inches of ice. Friday night’s Glow Ball Challenge involves glow-in-the-dark balls, live music and beer tasting.

2. Hold Tight and Take Flight

You’ll feel like you’re flying when you sail down the hills of Silver Mountain Ski Area and Tubing Hill, grasping your inflated tube with a good case of the giggles. Thanks to tubing runs and snowboard hills, there are plenty of ways to catch some air in St. Ignace and a tow rope is never too far away to return you to your status as king or queen of the hill.

Photo Courtesy of Dave Kunze

Photo Courtesy of Dave Kunze

St. Ignace has elevated the sport of pond hockey to a whole new level, hosting the more than 200 teams who will compete in four-on-four action in a variety of age divisions from Feb 11-14.  More than 16 acres of ice will be cleared by Zamboni and divided into 30 rinks for the tournament The event has become a UP jamboree with food, a beverage tent, outdoor ice bowling, a snow cab and live entertainment.

4. Serene, Snowy and Silent.

For those who prefer the more serene nature of silent sports, there are a variety of scenic cross-country ski trails throughout the region and plenty of snowy woods to explore via snowshoes. Quietly make your way through the woods of Hiawatha National Forest for a chance to glimpse area wildlife and the sparkling, crystal trees of an Upper Peninsula winter.

Photo Courtesy of the St. Ignace Visitors Bureau

Photo Courtesy of the St. Ignace Visitors Bureau

 

When snow blankets the area, snowmobiles take to the region’s trails that provide access to the entire Upper Peninsula. More than 100 groomed miles of trails can be found in the St. Ignace area, woven beautifully through frosty forests. Get a glimpse of wildlife or simply make tracks for the quaint towns that gives the U.P. a distinctive personality.

6. Bicycle Ride Anyone?

There’s a new twist on playing in the snow when St. Ignace hosts its first Fat Tire Bike Race on Feb. 26. With a 16-mile and 32-mile course to choose from, racers will trek along the Lake Huron shoreline on bikes equipped for snow and ice conditions. A special beer tasting event will be held the evening before the race and the soup luncheon following the event is sure to warm everyone. The after-race party will conclude with an awards ceremony for competitors.

Find out what Yoopers know about winter fun and choose St. Ignace as your next winter vacation destination.

Mindy Rutgers is an Upper Peninsula native and the executive director of the St. Ignace Visitors Bureau. She has worked in Michigan’s tourism and hospitality industry since 1996. Find out more about Mindy and the visitors bureau at StIgnace.com or at facebook.com/stignaceVB.

5 Can’t-Miss Winter Sports to Experience This Season

To love Michigan is to love living in a four-season state.Whether you’re a full-time resident or just visiting the Great Lakes state, coming to Michigan means that for a few months out of the year, you’ll experience the beauty of winter and all of the activities and events that come along with it.

When temperatures falls, so does the snow, giving all a chance to participate in some of their favorite winter activities. From a friendly snowball fight in your backyard to cross-country skiing adventure in the back woods, Michigan offers some great ways to make memories during the winter season.

So, grab your favorite hot drink and take a look at five ways to celebrate the winter season in Michigan:

1. Skiing

Michigan offers many ways for people to enjoy skiing, from the rush of going downhill to witnessing the beauty around them by leisurely traversing a wooded trail.

With some of the best downhill skiing in the Midwest, Michigan’s pitch and vertical drops are are some of the most thrilling in the nation. The state is home to 51 ski destinations, ranking it second in the country in number of ski areas. For a slightly slower, but no less of a fun time, consider cross country skiing.  Enthusiasts and newcomers to the sport can enjoy the tranquility of more than 3,000 miles of snow-covered trails with beautiful winter landscapes serving as the backdrop. And don’t forget the snowboarding!

Photo Courtesy of Treetops Resort

Photo Courtesy of Treetops Resort

2. Sledding

Probably one of the easiest and the most fun you can have on a Michigan winter day is spending time just being a kid. Want some thrills and know of a big hill in the area? Grab your sled and go have some fun. Another great way to have fun that is also growing in popularity is snow tubing. Check out one of Michigan’s state or your local county parks for facilities set up especially for sledding and snow tubing, where you can feel the sting of the cold air on your face as your sled careens down a hill.

3. Snowmobiling

Feel the rev of an engine as you race through snow-covered trails and frozen lakes on a snowmobile during a Michigan winter. With more than 6,500 groomed snowmobiling trails, Michigan has one of the most extensive systems of interconnected trails in the nation. From state and national forests, to 11,000 frozen lakes, snowmobilers can experience a great adventure each time they head out for a ride.

Photo Courtesy of Instagrammer @AndyPeninger

Photo Courtesy of Instagrammer @AndyPeninger

4. Snowshoeing

Snowshoeing in Michigan is a great way to see the tranquil beauty of the winter season.Not all of Michigan’s wildlife scurries off for warmer climates or hibernation as you might get a chance to see rabbits, deer and fox as you trek along the state’s thousands of miles of trails. Snowshoe through the woods, breathing air filled with smells of the forest, hearing nothing but the sound of your own footsteps. Snowshoeing in Michigan offers outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers a respite among picturesque trails and terrains.

5. Pond Hockey

Michigan has a strong tradition when it comes to hockey, and winter weather provides the perfect chance to lace up your skates and have a blast. With more than 11,000 frozen inland lakes, there’s an opportunity to drop the puck anywhere you turn. Whether you’re just learning how to skate or are dreaming of one day playing at Joe Louis Area, all you need is some thick ice, skates, a hockey stick and some friends, and you’re ready to spend an afternoon enjoying the outdoors. Be sure to check out the Labatt Blue U.P. Pond Hockey Championship in St. Ignace this February!

PondHockey

What are your favorite winter activities? Share with us below!