When one hears the words “Michigan skiing resorts” the image of downhill skiing likely comes to mind first. But guests of Mountain Run at Boyne also enjoy the splendor of snowshoeing through the pristine snow-covered countryside of northwest Michigan’s Charlevoix County. Because Mountain Run is situated on the property of Boyne Mountain Resort, guests have full access to all the Mountain amenities, including the Nordic Center.
Boyne Mountain has about 3 miles of dedicated, marked snowshoeing trails to go with 24 miles of country country ski trails. The property—one of the most beautiful in the nation—also offers many unmarked areas in which to go snowshoeing. Picture the solace of slowly passing mountain streams and snow-covered hardwood forests, your breath often the only sound to accompany nature’s sparkling white splendor. Postcard-pretty terrain rolls out in every direction, beckoning you to explore via snowshoeing. Will you follow someone else’s tracks or be the first to press through new snow?
If you’ve never tried snowshoeing, Boyne Mountain is the ideal place to experience this popular sport. Trekking poles and snowshoes are available for rent on property; the only items you must pack or acquire include a backpack, the right clothing, and a good set of outdoor winter boots: waterproof, insulated, and high-top. If you don’t have your own, snowshoeing boots like this are sold at Boyne Country Sports, the resort’s ski and snowboard shop. Dress warmly in layers, and take energy snacks and plenty to drink. A few paper towels and a camera are also a great idea. As for your cellphone, it will work on the property, so if you want to take it for safety reasons, that’s not a bad idea. But staffers recommend turning it off and living in the moment and enjoy the beautiful woods.
The crew at the Boyne Mountain Cross Country Center provide maps for the trail system. The staffers recommend the buddy system and urge anyone going alone to first check in to receive a trail pass, which helps officials account for everyone. It’s also prudent to alert a friend or family member of your plans.
Snowshoeing is not difficult beyond the endurance needed for longer treks. No lessons are required. Once you attach the bindings to your feet, it’s simply a matter of adjusting to a larger stepping platform as you walk.
There are warming huts throughout the woods, available to provide breaks for snowshoers. Wildlife sightings are not uncommon for snowshoeing. Last year, a great horned owl frequented a portion of the trail. It’s possible to see wild turkeys, deer, woodpeckers and other birds.
Wonderfully fun as a friends-or-family activity during a vacation, or a great way for couples to make memories, this rejuvenating sport is good for the soul and body. Until now, you may have imagined that to experience the best of winter, you should ski Michigan. But to see Michigan in all her quiet majesty—snow-covered hills, deep green pines, bright red cardinals and searing blue skies – strap on some snowshoes. With minimal impact on the feet, and very little impact on the environment, snowshoeing is a winter activity in which the only drama is the scenery.
Tips for a Better Snowshoeing Experience
- Stretch and warm up before you start out
- Take small steps and walk slowly and naturally. Don’t lunge.
- Look ahead as you walk.
- Go in a small circle if you need to turn around; don’t back up.
- If you are breaking a new snowshoeing trail, switch off; the lead person will tire more easily.
- Use snowshoeing poles to take the load off your legs and knees.
- Wear sunscreen. Reflection from the snow increases the sun’s power.
- Always tell someone where you’re going snowshoeing, check the weather before you leave, and allow plenty of time to get home before dusk.
Much in the same way a bad sunburn at the beginning of a beach vacation can waylay plans, an overly aggressive snowshoeing trek can cause sore ankles, calves or feet in novices or those who haven’t exercised in a while. Use moderation while snowshoeing if you’re at risk for soreness so you can stay happily mobile during your vacation.