Distinctive Chilly-Climate Recreation Experiences in Michigan

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One of only four facilities in the US to offer sledding to the general public, the 850-foot course is not refrigerated but is made out of natural ice and features six turns.

Riders receive proper training before lying flat on a luge and hurtling down the course at up to 30mph. Participants must be at least 48 inches tall and weigh at least 65 pounds.

The Muskegon Luge Adventure Sports Park complex at Muskegon State Park also features a quarter-mile ice skating track through the forest and a 7-mile cross-country ski trail that is lit at night. There is also a 2-acre outdoor ice rink where both ice skating and hockey can be played.

Snowshoe trails wind through the state park’s white pine forest to the top of the sand dunes with sweeping views of Lake Michigan and Muskegon Lake. Equipment rental for all activities is available. Muskegon Luge Adventure Park, 462 Scenic Drive, North Muskegon; 877-879-5843; msports.org.

Cross-country skiing at two of the best spots in the nation

Photo courtesy of ABR Trails

Cross Country Ski Headquarters in Roscommon and Ironwood’s ABR Trails regularly compile national lists of the best places to strap on skinny skis.

Voted the fourth best cross-country skiing destination in North America in a 2019 USA Today poll, ABR (pictured above) offers the most number of kilometers of groomed cross-country skiing (62.7) in a single location in Michigan. You are in a 1,100 acre area with a variety of scenery along the Montreal River on the Upper Peninsula.

ABR is open November through mid-March and trails range in length from 1 to 8.5 miles. There are also 12.5 miles of snowshoe trails. On-site accommodation ranges from luxury homes to rustic ski lodges next to hiking trails. Lessons, waxing and equipment rentals are available.

Dubbed the “Mecca of Nordic skiing” by Outside magazine, Cross Country Ski Headquarters in Roscommon has nearly 12 miles of trails for all skill levels that meander through deep forest and are groomed every morning.

A snow groomer can actually turn hard, icy snow into fresh powder snow. Skis and equipment can be hired or purchased on site (with custom fitted boots and skis). Certified instructors and staff are ready to enhance the experience.

Cross Country Ski Headquarters: 9435 N. Cut Road, Roscommon; 989-821-6661; langlauf.com. ABR Trails: E5299 W. Pioneer Road, Ironwood; 906-932-3502; abrski.com.

Ice climbing not far from home

Photo courtesy of Peabody Ice Climbing

Yes, this is possible not far from Metro Detroit at Peabody Ice Climbing in Fenton, where beginners are in the capable hands of American Mountain Guides Association-certified instructor Garrett Peabody.

Trials for the US Ice Climbing Team at the World Championships and national competitions have taken place here. Peabody features 45ft and 72ft plywood towers that are bombarded with water from giant fans and quickly freeze over.

Warm up between sessions in Peabody’s heated clubhouse and 10-person sauna. Peabody Ice Climbing, 12326 Foley Road, Fenton; 810-433-3304; peabodyiceclimbing.com.

Face Michigan’s highest vertical drop and only snowcat skiing experience east of the Rockies

JT Robinson drops knee while falling into Slide Path run at Mount Bohemia. // Photo by Joey Wallis

Nestled in a remote area south of Copper Harbor near Mohawk, Mount Bohemia is not for beginners. This UP resort operates without snow machines or snow machines, relying solely on the region’s annual snowfall of nearly 300 inches.

Mount Bohemia has around 100 runs on over 650 hectares of skiable area. The property is also home to Michigan’s highest vertical drop at 900 feet as well as the state’s longest run, the Ghost Trail, which stretches nearly 2 miles.

Mount Bohemia is also home to the only snowcat ski experience east of the Rocky Mountains on nearby Voodoo Mountain. Skiers and snowboarders ride up in the 20-person cabin of a snow groomer. There you can break untouched powder with a small group in a true wilderness environment.

Guides are present to help you find your way around the area. Accommodation options include yurts, cabins, a small inn and a hostel. Amenities include a Nordic spa consisting of a sauna, steam room, outdoor hot tub, hot outdoor pool, cold pool, and cold Nordic waterfall.

In 2020, USA Today ranked Bohemia as the fourth best ski resort in North America. Mount Bohemia, 6532 Lac La Belle Road, Mohawk; 906-360-7240; mtbohemia.com.

Take a sleigh ride through the forest

Photo courtesy of Fantail Farm

Fantail Farm in Benzonia offers 45- to 55-minute sleigh rides that whisk passengers through peaceful woods not far from Lake Michigan. Deer and sometimes even bald eagles can be spotted along the trail.

To accommodate groups of different sizes, drivers can choose between a cozy two-person carriage or a spacious carriage that seats up to 10 people. The sleighs are typically pulled by American Brabant horses, a strong draft breed.

Rides are offered almost daily, but reservations must be made in advance. Fantail Farm, 4700 Wallaker Road, Benzonia; 231-930-7216; fantailfarmllc.com.

This story is from January 2023 Issue of the Hour Detroit magazine. Read more in our digital edition.