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Avalanche Preserve Recreation Area
There is no record of an avalanche ever barreling down Avalanche Peak into Boyne City, but the hill is incredibly steep—so steep that in the 1950s, it was a downhill ski area with rope tows and even a chairlift. Located on the southwest corner of the city, Avalanche Peak rises to 1023 feet or 439 feet above Lake Charlevoix to provide the most commanding view of any high point south of the Mackinac Bridge.
This towering ridge is the center piece of Avalanche Preserve Recreation Area, a 300-acre Boyne City park that is predominantly a forested sloping terrain. The exception is its northern slope that was the site of a downhill ski operation beginning in the early 1950s. By 1958 the downhill had a 1500-foot poma lift and later a double chairlift before closing in the 1960s.
In the fall the hill is a favorite for leaf peepers who scale a 462-step stairway to a pair of observation decks near the top from which they can gaze down at Boyne City, practically all of Lake Charlevoix and even a sliver of Lake Michigan on a clear day. In the winter the park is renown as one of the most thrilling sledding hills in northern Michigan.
Winding up and around the ridge is a 7-mile trail system that includes a 4.2-mile mountain bike loop and almost 3 miles of trails open to cross country-skiers and snowshoers in the winter and hikers the rest of the year. The park also features an 18-hole disc golf course with much of it laid out along the walking trails.
Needless to say, mountain biking and Nordic skiing at the park are rated challenging due to the extensive change in elevation experienced along both loops. Just climbing the stairway to the view at the top can be a workout for many people.
At the base of the hill is the Avalanche Warming Shelter that includes restrooms, drinking water and loaner skates for the ice skating ring. At the observation area at the top is a pair of viewing decks with benches.
There are no entry or vehicle fees for Avalanche Preserve Recreation Area. The warming shelter is open during the winter hours from 4-9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
From US-131, north of M-32, follow M-75 into Boyne City. Once in town head west on Division Street and then turn left on Lake Street. Signs at the south end of Lake Street direct you left to the entrance of Avalanche Preserve Recreation Area at 1129 Wilson Street.
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