Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park boasts plenty of good downhilling. Yet, it’s particularly popular with the cross country ski crowd. That’s because more than 40 kilometers of groomed Nordic trails fan out from the ski area west of Ontonagon along Lake Superior.
By day, traditional Nordic skiers step and glide as they whisper along quiet wooded trails. Steam huffs from the mouths of “skaters” speeding down trails using the technique favored by racers.
But, the excitement doesn’t stop at sunset. A number of Michigan State Parks offer cross country skiing on trails lit by old-fashioned lanterns or candle-lit luminaries. People of all ages are encouraged to come out on cross country skis -- or even snowshoes -- to navigate their way down the edge of the groomed trail. Park staff will be on duty, greeting visitors and pointing them in the right direction.
The Porkies’ Superior Loop Ski Trail boasts a full one-mile loop lit by 80 old-fashioned kerosene lanterns, which winds around the shore of a nearby lake. Skiing at night is what presents the challenge. A peaceful resting place, located halfway through the loop at the warming shelter, offers the comfort of a wood burning stove, hot cocoa and marshmallows for roasting on the bonfire just outside the shelter.
Some of the Michigan State Parks hosting lantern lit or candlelit skiing events this year include:
• P.H. Hoeft State Park
• Hartwick Pines State Park
• Proud Lake Recreation Area
• Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park
For more great winter outdoor activities, visit Michigan State Parks.