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A Ski Trail in the Heart of Town

Skiers enjoying the trails at Al Quaal Recreation Area in Ishpeming.

Sometimes you just want to ski all day. And sometimes you just want a quick Nordic workout before heading out for dinner or turning in for the night. Urban trails are for the latter. Trail systems right in the middle of the city where you live or are staying for the weekend. Skiing and snowshoe opportunities not more than five minutes from your motel room. Here are our favorites:

One of the best in-the-heart-of-town skis is Gaylord’s Aspen Park. Only four blocks from a K-Mart, this 100-acre city park features rolling terrain of hardwoods and hemlocks, 2 miles of trails groomed for classic Nordic skiing and trailside lights for night skiing. Located between Petoskey and Harbor Springs, a short drive from resorts and hotels in either town, is Petoskey State Park with a groomed 1.5-mile loop that at times puts you near the frozen sculptures stacked along Little Traverse Bay.

They have been downhill skiing at Hanson Hills Recreation Area in Grayling since 1929. The city-operated facility not only offers affordable downhill skiing but also snowboarding, tubing, snowshoe trails, and  more than 35 kilometers of groomed Nordic ski trails along a hilly and wooded terrain. 

In Traverse City they call the hills and trails perched above the western neighborhoods “the big Hickory.” Hickory Meadows and the Hickory Hills Ski Area lie adjacent to each other and offer more than 8 kilometers of trails including a kilometer lit for night skiing. Likewise, in Charlevoix adjoining North Point Nature Preserve and Mt. McSauba Recreation Area can be combined for short ski with access to Lake Michigan and almost a mile of lit trail for a night skiing.

In the Upper Peninsula, there’s seemingly a groomed trail in the middle of most towns. Our favorites are Al Quaal Recreation Area in Ishpeming and Michigan Tech Trails in Houghton. Al Quaal has 20 kilometers of groomed for ski trails that includes the Teal Lake Trail, a scenic 4-kilometer intermediate loop that is lit for night skiing. The Michigan Tech Trails is an amazing 35-kilometer system that begins on campus across from the Student Development Complex and during the winter is groomed daily. With Houghton’s average snowfall of 250 inches, the ski season this far north begins in early December and continues well into April and sometimes May. 

 

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Mt McSauba Road
Charlevoix, MI 49720
United States

Phone: (231) 347-0991
Web site: http://www.landtrust.org
Region: Northwest

Charlevoix can be a busy place, especially in the summer. But just north of the city, tucked behind Mount McSauba, is a small preserve where its easy to escape the crowds of tourists. North Point Nature Preserve is a 27-acre tract that includes wooded and open dunes, forests in various stages of succession and 2,800 feet of shoreline on Lake Michigan.The small preserves was purchased in 1988 in an effort spearheaded by the Little Traverse Conservancy that included applying for a grant from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund and organizing a local fundraising campaign. The land was eventually deeded by the Little Traverse Conservancy to Charlevoix Township as a public nature preser ...

2475 M-119 Hwy
Petoskey, MI 49770
United States

Phone: (231) 347-2311
Region: Northwest

Petoskey State Park has a limited ski trail system that often serves as a place where locals go for a quick outing. Everybody else who has driven this far north usually searches for something more extensive.The 1.5-mile loop is posted with blue markers and is occasionally groomed when there is snow and staff available. The ski trail is ideal for novice and beginners as it winds through the closed campgrounds, into the woods and then back along the unplowed park road. Even after recent snowfalls the trail is popular enough that there is often a good set of skier-set tracks for classic skiing.When the trail enters Tanner Creek Campground at the south end of the park there will be tracks ev ...

239 Commerce Blvd.
Gaylord, MI 49735
United States

Phone: (800) 345-8621
Region: Northwest

There is great cross-country skiing all around the city of Gaylord and right in the middle of it as well. Aspen Park is a 100-acre city of Gaylord park whose rolling terrain of hardwoods and hemlocks is only four blocks from a K-Mart in the heart of town. Its Northwoods setting is even more produced because the park is adjacent to the city elk pen, a 105-acre enclosure that contains a herd of more than three dozen animals.Winding through the park are five paved trails that total 2 miles and are groomed for classic Nordic skiing. Even better theyre lit with the trailside lights popping on at 6 a.m. until daylight and again at dusk until 11 p.m.Night skiing is some of the best entertainmen ...

09223 McSauba Rd
Charlevoix, MI 49720
United States

Phone: (231) 547-3267
Web site: http://www.cityofcharlevoix.org/city-departments/TheCityofCharlevoix-ParksandRecreationMt.McSauba.html
Region: Northwest

Named after a local Indian chief, who probably never downhilled in his life, Mt. McSauba Recreation Area dates back to 1956 when 10 fathers approached city officials about starting a ski club to give children something to do in the winter.The city donated a steep dune on the north side of town, the fathers each tossed $100 into a kitty to purchase equipment and locals pitched dirt that summer to increase the height of their new ski hill. When the first snow arrived somebody backed up a Ford Model T, deflated a rear tire, rigged a tow rope off it and pulled the first skiers up the slopes.Theyve been skiing at Mt. McSauba ever since, making it one of the oldest downhill areas in the state. ...

M-72
Traverse City, MI
United States

Region: Northwest

Hickory Meadows is a classic urban trail system that is perched high above city neighborhoods but bounded on three sides by even taller hills. It offers 2 miles of unpaved paths that wander over hills, across meadows and through woodlands. Overall the hiking is easy but the park is located at the foot of the Hickory Hills Ski Area where the ambitious can finished their outing with a 230-foot climb to the top of Hickory Hill itself. In the summer, Hickory Meadows is a popular destination for hikers, dog walkers and families looking for an easy outing on their mountain bikes. In the winter cross-country skiers arrive to follow the well-marked trail system along skier-set tracks.
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Aspen Park: Ski Trails

Distance:
1.7 miles
Type:
Groomed classic skiing
Terrain:
Flat to rolling woods
Difficulty:
Easy
Nearest City or Town:
Gaylord

Hickory Meadows

Distance:
2.2 miles
Type:
Foot path, cross-country ski trail
Terrain:
Meadows, woodlands
Difficulty:
Easy
Nearest City or Town:
Traverse City

Mt. McSauba Recreation Area

Distance:
0.7-mile loop
Type:
Cross-country skiing
Terrain:
Lake Michigan and dunes
Difficulty:
Easy
Nearest City or Town:
Charlevoix

North Point Nature Preserve

Distance:
0.65-mile loop
Type:
Multi-use trails
Terrain:
Sand dunes
Difficulty:
Easy
Nearest City or Town:
Charlevoix

Petoskey State Park: Ski Trails

Distance:
1.5 miles
Type:
Cross-country ski trails
Terrain:
Woods and unplowed road
Difficulty:
Easy
Nearest City or Town:
Petoskey

showing 1 through 5 of 5
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