Michigan Bucket List: Snowshoeing Trails to Try
| 4 min read
OK, so you’re comfortable on your snowshoes. You’ve made tracks on your hometown trails, maybe you have hit up your area’s city and county parks for some nice snow-covered expanses. Now you’re ready to find new corridors for snowy adventures. We’ve got a Michigan Bucket List of snowshoe trails to try. Some offer quiet loops through deep woods, while others have wintry waterfront views. There are even some snowshoe trails crisscrossing Michigan’s most iconic spots. If your motto is “Have Snowshoes, Will Travel,” we’ve got some fun spots for you to try.
Groomed or ungroomed? Before you head out, know the basics of what you’re looking for when it comes to a snowshoe trail. If you love the rush of traversing over deep-snow areas, you probably like your trails ungroomed. This will mean you’ll encounter less-crowded conditions in most spots, since a lot of snowshoers don’t want to put quite this much work into breaking a trail.
If you love the convenience of groomed trails, there seems to be more options across Michigan every winter. It’s important to know what good trail etiquette is, though, because some trails are specifically groomed for cross-country skiers – not snowshoers. You don’t want to be that snowshoer who ruins the groomed ski trail for everyone behind you. Here are the rules, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources:
- Snowshoers should travel off to the side of a groomed ski trail, not on the track. Stepping on the track ruins the trail for the skinny ski crowd.
- Any downhill skiers always have the right of way on a trail.
- Taking your dog? Keep dogs on a 6-foot leash and clean up after them.
State Parks. Almost any state park, state recreation land or state forest can be used for snowshoeing. But Michigan state parks also have a list of nearly 200 pathways and trails that are great for this. These range from ungroomed pathways at the tip off the Keweenaw Peninsula, to stretches along Lake Michigan, to trails in Detroit and near Ann Arbor. All require vehicles to have a state recreation passport. To see the full list from the Michigan DNR, check the website and map here. Some snowshoe trail highlights include:
- Belle Isle: This 982-acre park is really an island that sits in the Detroit River between Canada and the U.S. It makes for a great daytrip adventure. Snowshoeing here offers beautiful city and water views. There’s also an aquarium and Great Lakes museum on the island.
- Fort Custer Recreation Area: This spot near Kalamazoo features more than 40 miles of trails.
- Muskegon: Muskegon State Park has access to both Lake Michigan and Muskegon Lake, for snowshoers who love a little winter waterfront scenery. For some beautiful wooded trails, try the nearby Muskegon Luge Adventure Sportspark. There is a trail pass fee, but they also offer snowshoe rentals. Some trails are challenging, allowing you to snowshoe across sand dunes. While their trails are not lit at night, you can do an after-dark snowshoe adventure in the woods if you wear a headlamp.
- Leelanau State Park: The park’s Cathead Bay trail system stretches for more than 8 miles in this spot, which sits at the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula, edged by Lake Michigan.
Vineyards. Northern Michigan especially is heavy with vineyards. Several of these invite snowshoers to use their trails. Always check in with a winery before you head out. Some have marked trails and some even groom them for snowshoers and cross-country skiers. Some wineries with trails include:
- Shady Lane Cellars in Suttons Bay
- Rove Winery near Traverse City
- Chateau Chantal on Old Mission Peninsula
- 45 North Winery in Lake Leelanau
Iconic spots. Some places in Michigan invite you to snowshoe while taking in some pretty remarkable scenery. Here are a couple that are bucket-list worthy:
- Tahquamenon Falls: The largest waterfalls in Michigan make a pretty spectacular backdrop for a day of snowshoeing. The state park has five different trails and loops that are good for this. See Pure Michigan recommendations and video here.
- Traverse City: This popular vacation spot is known for its trails. Snowshoers can choose from a network of corridors behind the old Northern Michigan asylum, or walk through a spot known as the “Valley of the Giants.” For details, check this list from Traverse City Tourism.
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