Well-known for its collection of downhill ski resorts, the Big Snow Country of the Western Upper Peninsula of Michigan is also home to some of the most challenging and most scenic cross country ski trails in the midwest.
Every winter a succession of snowstorms blows in over the waters of Lake Superior and turns the rugged terrain and old growth forests of the region into a pristine and spectacular white landscape. Here in the Western U.P. the blessings of winter are bestowed upon the cross country skier with a great and wonderful abundance.
“The secret to our popularity is that we get a lot of snow and we get a lot of snow early,” says Eric Anderson, owner of ABR Trails in Ironwood. “We attract a lot of competitive skiers early in the year who use our trails to train for the race season later in the winter.”
The professionally groomed trails of ABR Trails generally open in November – with the season starting some years as early as the last couple of weeks of October.
ABR Trails – Ironwood, MI
ABR Trails offers 60 km of trails groomed for skating and tracked for classic cross country skiing with the latest, and most advanced grooming equipment available. The trails – winding through a varied terrain along the Montreal River – can be enjoyed by everyone – from beginners to recreational skiers to competitive ski racers.
The facilities at ABR Trails include a full-service ski shop with skis, bindings, poles, waxes, clothing, etc. for sale and rental skis available for those who need them. ABR also has a heated warming cabin with light concessions, change rooms, indoor restrooms, and a large heated wax area with many wax benches. There is additional room for tables and chairs available for teams or groups to use. Lodging is available on site at two rental vacation homes – The Hilltop House and the River Houses – as well as three rustic cabins along the trails.
Trail fees at ABR Trails are $12 for adults and $6 for children ten or under.
Wolverine Nordic Ski Club – Ironwood, MI
The Wolverine Nordic Ski Club is located east of Ironwood Michigan just north of US Highway 2. The trail may be accessed through several different trailhead locations. The main lodge and warming building is located off of Section-12 Road (North of the new WalMart). The hospital trailhead is located behind Grand View Hospital. Skiers may also access the trail system from Big Powderhorn Mountain by purchasing a one ride lift pass.
The Wolverine Nordic Ski Club trail system consists of five different loops that provide 24 kilometers of skiing for both striders and skaters. The Club operates on a donation basis and the donation boxes are located at all major trailheads and our chalet.
Porcupine Mountains State Park Cross Country Ski Trails – Silver City, MI
The cross country ski experience at the Porcupine Mountains State Park can be as wild as you want to make it. The groomed trails that wrap around the downhill ski area at “The Porkies” offer a range of terrain from gentle stretches for the beginner to trails for the more advanced skier. The 42 km of cross country trails are groomed and tracked for the classic skier.
Trails are track set with a power-tiller equipped groomer. Warming huts are located along the Log Camp Loop and Union Spring Trails. Winter interpretive activities include guided snowshoe hike and lantern light skiing. Lantern Light Cross-Country Skiing: On Saturdays, Dec. 27 and 31, 2008, and Jan. 3, 10, 17, 24 and 31, 2009, from 6-9 p.m. EST; also Feb. 7, 14, 21 and 28 from 6:30-9 p.m. Check at the chalet for complete scheduling.
Would you like a true winter wilderness experience? Try spending a winter night or two (or more) in the Porcupine Mountains in a yurt. Yurts are sturdy, tent-like structures, that originated in central Asia. The park’s three yurts provide visitors with a snug, weather tight shelter that is close to the park’s hiking, biking and cross-country ski trails. .
Each of the 16-foot-diameter yurts are available year-round, will sleep four people and are equipped with bunk beds, mattresses, wood stove, axe, bow saw and cooking and eating utensils. Running water and electricity are not provided, but an outhouse is nearby and wood is provided for heat in the colder months. For more information on Yurt Lodging in the Porkies click here.
Lantern Light Cross-Country Skiing: On Saturdays, Dec. 27 and 31, 2008, and Jan. 3, 10, 17, 24 and 31, 2009, from 6-9 p.m. EST; also Feb. 7, 14, 21 and 28 from 6:30-9 p.m. Old-fashioned kerosene lanterns illuminate the trail during this night ski. Lanterns are placed along the entire one-mile loop for a remarkable night skiing experience. Stop about halfway around the loop at the warming shelter where the park naturalist will have a blazing fire going. This trail has an “easy” difficulty rating; however, skiing at night is always a challenge.
This program may be canceled due to weather. To inquire about cancellations call (906) 885-5206.
Milje’s Cross Country Ski Trails – Wakefield, MI
From the log cabin warming hut to the whimsical finnish signs along the trails, Milje’s Cross Country Ski Trails are a treat for the recreational skier, who wants to spend a morning or an afternoon enjoying the winter wonderland of the Western U.P. You can take the family or some good friends to Milje’s and ski the gentle terrain and return to the warming hut and enjoy a snack and a hot beverage. The narrow Milje’s Ski Trails – consisting of two loops of about 4.5 km each – wind through the high forest just south of Wakefield. They are groomed and tracked for the classic skier and a donation box is located at the trailhead.
More Ski Trails Online Soon
The Western U.P. is home to many more cross country ski trails in addition to the trails mentioned above. Check back often as we post more information about cross country skiing in the Western U.P.
Sylvania Wilderness Cross Country Trails
Bergland Cross Country Ski Trails