Shape Up This Winter in Michigan

Winter is well under way in Pure Michigan, but that’s no excuse to stay inside and let your fitness regimen fall to the wayside. In winter there are plenty of ways to get in a good workout while enjoying the great outdoors. We’ve rounded up some fun ways to work on your fitness this winter. So bundle up and get outside!


Ice Skating

Ice skating is a great workout and can be fun for the whole family. While skating can also be done indoors at the many local skating arenas throughout Michigan, in the winter many cities and parks feature outdoor rinks like Campus Martius in Detroit, Millenium Park in Portage and  City Forest in Midland.

Downhill Skiing and Snowboarding

Skiing and snowboarding in Michigan offers excitement at any level of skill. With a combined total of 51 ski areas, boasting over 260 lifts and about 1,000 runs, the silvery slopes of Michigan offer the best Alpine skiing in the Midwest. Whether you want to hit some jumps, make fresh tracks or just take a lesson you can find it all in Michigan at resorts like Alpine Valley, Shanty Creek and Marquette Mountain.

Cross Country Skiing

If downhill skiing isn’t your thing and you’re looking for something more tranquil, Michigan is home to over 3,000 miles of cross country ski trails. Distance yourself from the noisy crowds while working on your fitness and enjoy the quiet beauty of a glistening white winter cross country skiing in Michigan.

Sledding

The terrain and amount of snow in Michigan makes it a great place to go sledding! In addition to traditional backyard sledding there are also places like Fitzgerald Park, William Burchfield Park and Rolling Hills County Park that claim to be some of the best sledding spots around.

Hiking

It may take a few extra layers then in Michigan’s other seasons, but hiking in the winter is a great way to take in the sights and be active. Michigan has the largest state park and state forest system of any state and offers hundreds of great hiking trails to explore and enjoy. Among the popular hiking spots in Michigan is The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Empire.

This is just a summary of some of the activities that can be done in Michigan this winter. For more, take a look at the Pure Michigan Winter Video Series or visit michigan.org.

How do you stay in shape during winter months?

Dog Sledding in Pure Michigan

If you’re looking for a fun way to get out and enjoy Michigan’s glistening landscape this winter, dog sledding is your answer. With 11,000 frozen inland lakes and a number of brilliant, snow-covered national forests, there are plenty of options for experiencing the rush of dog sledding throughout the state. Here are some places to check out.

Nature’s Kennel Iditaord Sled Dog Racing & Adventures in McMillan offers a variety of “drive-you-own-dog team” adventures ranging from overnight trips to full day and half day trips. No experience is necessary, as guests have the option to drive their own team or take a ride in the sled.

At the Last Chance Kennel at Russ-Stick Acres you’ll feel like you’re experiencing an amazing Alaskan experience without ever leaving the state. Guests to this rustic farm in Mancelona will explore the history of dog sledding, while gaining “hands on” experience.

If you’re near Cadillac, there are several places to check out the fun. Shemhadar Kennels offers hourly rides for the whole family through northern Michigan’s scenic trails. If you head a bit north, check out S & L Arctic K9’s Sled Dog Adventures, where customized training and tours are available.

The Double JJ Resort in Rothbury is a family favorite destination during all four seasons. During winter months, families can take part in various outdoor activities – including dog-sled rides.

At the Otter River Sled Dog Training Center & Wilderness Adventures in Tapiola, dog sled experiences include a three mile ride, a half day adventure, overnight camping, and an opportunity to drive your own team.

Partnering with the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa and Caberfae Peaks Ski & Golf Resort this winter, Wiggi’s Mountain-Side Huskies offers one of the best dog sled rides in town. Be sure to make an appointment for Saturday or Sunday if you’re in the area!

For more information on dog sledding throughout the state, please visit www.michigan.org.

Downhill Skiing in the Western UP

The rugged hills and reliable snows of the Western Upper Peninsula make it a favorite destination for skiers. Tina Lassen, a longtime Michigan Travel Ideas freelance writer and avid skier, writes about a recent getaway to Ironwood-area ski resorts.

As if on cue, the snow begins falling in earnest when I cross the border into the Western Upper Peninsula’s “snow belt.” As I drive along US-2 near Wakefield, it floats down fluffy and thick, piling up to the windowsills of farmhouses and draping across broad hemlock boughs.

Excellent timing, since I’m meeting up with three Yooper friends (UP locals, that is). We’ve planned a day each at Big Powderhorn Mountain and Indianhead Mountain Resort neighboring destinations northeast of Ironwood.

Big Powderhorn

On day one we opt for Big Powderhorn with meticulously groomed runs winding through the pines. Powderhorn is great for beginners, families, or anyone with rusty ski legs. I particularly like starting out on runs such as Alpen and Little Horn, bathed in morning sun.

We spend much of the day carving up the corduroy on long, mellow cruisers, then cap off the afternoon with a stop at one of Powderhorn’s slopeside wine huts. New this year, you can call ahead to reserve one of the three wine huts for a private lunch spot. The ski area provides the grill and charcoal, and will transport food to your hut.

Indianhead

The next day, I’m primed to tackle the steeper terrain of Indianhead. We charge down the headwall on West Winnebago and careen through the bumps on Crazy Horse. I even steel my nerves to try a few of the smallest jumps in the Big Chief terrain park. I quickly decide it’s probably better for my middle-age knees to watch others get air.

Indianhead does a great job with this park, building jumps and rails for all ability levels. By the time we call it a day, a lively après scene is taking shape in the Sky Bar, where old chairlifts get a second life as booth seats.

Around the ski areas

Plenty of restaurants, lodgings and gear shops scatter between Indianhead and Powderhorn, creating a fun, mountain-town atmosphere. The Caribou Lodge (906/932-4714) at Big Powderhorn Mountain is one of my favorites, for its great from-scratch soups, huge salad bar and hearty specialties like bacon-wrapped pork loin. You can find great Italian food around here, too—Tacconelli’s in Ironwood is a sure bet.

After a social day of skiing, I love the solitude of the Black River Lodge. Although it’s just a short drive from the slopes, it feels like a wilderness outpost thanks to its 65-acre spread along the Black River. It’s also pretty sweet to kick back in the lodge’s wood-fired hot tub and 54-foot-long swimming pool.

Freelance writer Tina Lassen has spent more than 25 years exploring and writing about Michigan’s outdoor adventures. She is a frequent contributor to Midwest Living magazine and has written extensively about Michigan in guidebooks like National Geographic’s Guide to America’s Outdoors: Great Lakes.