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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Wax Those Skis and Get Ready for 50 Miles

working to build trail
Mary Jo Bakker and Ellen Lightle work to remove
a stump from a ski trail at Crystal Valley.
Plenty of labor is required before snow season
to ensure good trails.
by Joan H. Young

Within 50 miles of Ludington you can cross-country ski 50 miles of groomed trails, and if that’s not enough to get you through a winter, there are another 50 miles that are open for, and somewhat designed for skiing but are not groomed.

High on the list of exciting news is that two additional loops are being opened this year at the Crystal Valley Ski Trails, bringing the total miles of trail at that location to 10. Crystal Valley and the Pentwater Pathway, with over 7 miles, are groomed and maintained by the Oceana Cross Country Ski Association. Both of these trails are in wooded hills with occasional open areas, and have loops ranging from easy to difficult.

Big M, just east of Manistee has the most miles of groomed trail– about 18. The six loops there range from beginner to definitely difficult. These trails are maintained by volunteers of the Manistee Cross Country Ski Council. Big M is within the Udell Hills, a circle of unusually steep terrain for the local area. It is the site of a former downhill ski slope. Daily $3 or yearly pass required from the Manistee National Forest.

Ludington State Park grooms the 2.5 mile Logging Trail and four loops at the south end of the park for an additional 6.5 miles of trail. Trails traverse both wooded areas and shrubby dunes. State Park Entrance Fee required.

Pine Valley Pathway is located in Lake County on M-37, north of Baldwin. The 8 miles of trail there are groomed by the Michigan DNR. This is another wooded area of mixed hardwoods and conifers, with easy to moderate skill level required.

In addition to these groomed trails there are several popular local areas for skiing if you are willing to settle for conditions that might be a bit rougher. Perhaps the most popular of these is Bowman Lake, southwest of Baldwin. The parking area is plowed in winter, and there are 6 miles of trails (and another 3 of North Country Trail). The inner 3 miles are the most skied. There will usually be tracks to follow unless you are the first traveler after a snowfall. Bowman Lake area is a delightful glacially carved region of small hills and kettle holes, and the lake itself is always a brilliant gem in winter.

Several other nearby trails are open to skiing and have plowed parking. Scottville Riverside Park has about one mile of trail. Not all of it is well marked, but you can ski around on the easy terrain, and it’s very close to the population centers of Mason County.

West Shore Community College opens its cross-country course, and short nature trail to skiers in the winter. These trails follow a creek, and then wander across a rolling field resulting in a medium difficulty run.

The Ludington School Forest has another 3 miles of easy trail through both wooded and open sandy areas. Parking may be occasionally plowed, Sherman Road edge parking is suggested.

Orchard Beach State Park has 2.5 miles of easy to moderate trails. Parking is occasionally plowed, but there is space on the road edge.

The entire Hart-Montague Rail Trail is open for skiing, but it is also open to snowmobiles if there are more than four inches of snow cover, so this may be less than appealing. Of course it is entirely near-level, so it also offers less interest for anyone other than a novice skier.

Two other Lake County Trails on state land are open to skiing but you will need to park wherever you can manage to get off road. There are 4 miles of Silver Creek Pathway which loop along both sides of Silver Creek near Luther. And the Sheep Ranch Pathway has two loops for a total of 4.5 miles of trail just east of Baldwin. These trails are easy to moderate in difficulty.

Snowshoeing is permitted at all these locations, but especially where trails are groomed it is considered good etiquette to walk beside the trail, rather than in it.

With gas prices down, there is no reason at all to leave the skis in the garage this winter. We live in an area rich with winter recreation opportunities, most of which cost little or nothing.

See Oceana Cross Country Ski Association
See Manistee Cross Country Ski Council
These links are checked on the date of the article. As the article ages, some links may become invalid

Go To www.getoffthecouchnews.blogspot.com for all the news
See Skiing
See Get Off The Couch

1 comment:

Shellmo said...

Great info! Glad you visited my blog - i will be adding you to my links at northern michigan experience.

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