Find A Trail
Algonquin Cross Country Ski Trail
Although located in Lake Superior State Forest and groomed by the Michigan DNR, the Alognquin Cross County Ski Trail is a community trail.
After the DNR built the 9-mile pathway in 1987, a surge of local support resulted in making Algonquin the first state-operated trail to be equipped with permanently installed lights for night skiing. Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club and other civic groups donated money. All-Phase Electric Company provided the lights, Edison Sault Electric sent out a work crew to bury the wires and cables underground.
The volunteers turned Algonquin's first loop into 1.6 miles of illuminated trail. The 30 lights are so indiscreetly positioned among the trees you hardily notice them during the day.
Even though the Soo-Strongs Snowmobile Trail runs through the middle of the Nordic area - the ski trail actually crosses it three times - renegade snowmobilers are rarely a problem. People in the Soo don't put up with it.
Unlike many trails in the Upper Peninsula that are heavily forested, Algonquin is laid out in an area of extensive wetlands stretching from the doorstep of the city west to almost the St. Marys River. The various loops follow the lightly forested high ground between the marshes and then dip to the edge of bogs dotted with shrubs and covered with a maze of snowshoe hare tracks.
Algonquin is a series of five inter-connecting loops with the outside perimeter, the route described here, forming an 8.8-mile route. Loops D and E are rated moderately difficult but in reality the entire system is an easy ski with no long climbs or sharp descents. With a solid kick you can often glide three feet or more before losing momentum.
The entire trail system is groomed for classic skiing in the winter. A portion of the trail from the trailhead to post No. 4, including all of Loop A, is also groomed for skate skiing. The night skiing makes Loop A, a round-trip ski of 2.4-miles from parking area, the most popular section.
Although built for skiing, Algonquin is a multi-use pathway open to hikers and mountain bikers as well. The terrain is flat and the riding would be easy if it wasn't for areas of loose sand. If you want to escape the heavier sand, then bypass Loops D and E by using the cross over from post No. 6 to post No. 12 to return to the trailhead.
In the summer hikers and mountain bikers can also utilize the Soo-Strongs Trai. But keep in mind the many wetlands and marshes makes the Algonquin a buggy place from late May through July.
The vast majority of people who ski Algonquin never make it past Loop A, a loop that is lit beginning at dusk. The most interesting sections, however, are Loops C, D and E at the west end of the system, reached at post No. 5 at Mile 3.1. Beginning here the trail has a pleasant roll to it as it winds through stands of paper birch and pines, including a handful century-old red pine that towered above you.
At post No. 7, Mile 3.7, you cross the snowmobile trail for a second time and then follow a trail that skirts a lowlands area before reaching post No. 8. This post is located in a gasline corridor that is crossed to a "No Snowmobiles" marker on the other side.
The most significant hills are encountered just after post No. 8. Dipping and climbing, the trail eventually swings back east for the return to the trailhead, crossing an open area formed by the gasline corridor and the snowmobile trail at post No. 9, Mile 5.3. At post No. 10, Mile 5.8, you veer right to stay on the outside loop and begin by following a low ridgeline, forested by pines on one side and a lowland wetland on the other.
The skiing levels out after post No. 13, reached at Mile 6.9. In a little more than a mile you’re back at post No. 4, recrossing the snowmobile trail the fourth and final time. The trailhead is 1.1 miles away and includes two earlier sections of trail.
At the trailhead is a large parking area, vault toilet and an information kiosk.
Night lights for the Algonquin Cross Country Ski Trail begin operating in December and automatically turn on at dusk and turn off at 11 p.m.
A state recreational passport is required to park at the trailhead. Also in the parking area is a donation tube for the grooming of the trail. Checks should be made out to "State of Michigan, Algonquin Ski Trail Donation." Please donate.
From I-75, depart at the Three Mile Road exit, 2 miles south of Sault Ste. Marie. Head west on Three Mile Road for a mile and then north on Baker Road and west on 16th Avenue. The trailhead will be a mile west on 16th Avenue, on the south side of the road.
Shop Our Trail Maps & Guidebooks
Need a good trail map or a guidebook to what lies beyond the pavement? Check out the MichiganTrailMaps.com Trail Shop stocked with our latest backpacking maps and books personally autographed by the authors who wrote them! It's the best and most affordable way to purchase maps and trail books to Michigan.
Heading up north and need a map right away? Stop at one of our growing network of
outdoor shops, visitor centers and stores that sell MichiganTrailMaps.com books
Click here for a complete list.