We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Snowshoeing and cross country skiing for beginners?

Which Michigan hotels are on sale?
mm/dd/yyyy mm/dd/yyyy
See hotels
Detroit, Michigan
posts: 56
reviews: 57
Snowshoeing and cross country skiing for beginners?

Hi,

Any suggestions on the best area to visit for snowshoeing and cross country skiing? My husband and I would like to try out these winter sports on a weekend getaway. We don't have accommodations yet, so any area of Michigan is fine. We will need to rent equipment. We would prefer to stay away from the big resorts, but will settle for a resort if it will best meet our needs.

Thanks for the help!

11 replies to this topic
Thompsonville...
posts: 506
reviews: 137
1. Re: Snowshoeing and cross country skiing for beginners?

I can speak to Crystal Mountain as it is nearly in my backyard. They have both snowshoes and XC rentals as well as an extensive trail system for both. Lessons and guided hikes are available. Other amenities that makes for a wonderful weekend getaway. Groupon has some specials out right now involving Crystal I believe - check it out.

Ann Arbor, MI
Destination Expert
for Michigan, Ann Arbor
posts: 1,878
reviews: 146
2. Re: Snowshoeing and cross country skiing for beginners?

You can rent snowshoes and cross country ski equipment from REI. That way you can go anywhere you want to give them a try, even the local metroparks if the snow is good.

Northern Michigan
Destination Expert
for Petoskey, Michigan
posts: 1,794
reviews: 30
3. Re: Snowshoeing and cross country skiing for beginners?

Crystal's great and there are several other resorts around that would meet your needs, but you mentioned you wanted to stay away from resorts.

I'd suggest a stay in the Petoskey area. There are several shops that offer XC ski and snowshoe rentals and plenty of great trails for both. Petoskey has a great kind of ski town vibe and a fun downtown area with nice shops, great restaurants and entertaining pubs. The main difference is that if you're not in a resort, you'll likely have to drive to the trails. Here's a link to some in the area: petoskeyarea.com/x-country-skiing--snowshoei… Play around on the Petoskey.com site, there's a lot of good info there.

My favorite is the Wildwood hills pathway...nice ski trails, well groomed and a good mix of terrain with several loop options for varying difficulty and length.

The Little Traverse Conservancy has a lot of great conservancy properties that are wonderful for snowshoeing but most are not groomed for skiing. If you have a smartphone, they have an app called LTC Trail Explorer...it's a slick app, but there's a flaw...when you click "find a trail" there's a drop down menu in the upper right corner where you can select by county or "all places". Not nearly all the trails are listed under "all places" so you have to select by county...Emmet, Charlevoix and Cheboygan are what you want to look at...though mostly Emmet.

The Bahnhof is my ski shop of choice: www.bahnhof.com but shop around and see who has the best deal. Other shops are: www.boynecountrysports.com http://www.webstersproshop.com/ http://www.outfitterharborsprings.com/ (in Harbor Springs).

As far as where to stay, it really depends on what kind of stay you're looking for. My favorites include Stafford's Perry Hotel (disclaimer, my wife is a Stafford's Employee) which is right downtown in the gaslight district...walkable to everything downtown. It's an historic hotel which for most people is kind of a take it or leave it thing...but Stafford's is pretty much the benchmark of hospitality in the area and the Perry is very nice. Noggin Room Pub downstairs is a fun pub with entertainment and good food.

I also like the Apple Tree Inn...it's just out of downtown, kind of over in the "big box store area". Not a bad location, but you won't be walking to downtown. The owners are generally onsite and take great pride in providing a top notch experience.

After that you have the chains...IMO, the Hampton Inn is the best choice, then Holiday Inn Express...both are in the same area as Apple Tree...which, I forgot to mention is also near the casino. I've not heard good things about the Odawa Casino hotel, but the casino itself is nice, if that's your thing you'll probably like it.

One other thought, if you're looking for an "up north lodge" kind of feel is Stafford's Crooked River Lodge...it's about 10 miles North of Petoskey in Alanson, but it's a really cool property...gets great reviews on here. It's reasonably priced and it's a beautiful log lodge right on the Crooked River...also has a very nice pool and hot tub, which most other hotels don't offer...great for soaking those snowshoeing muscles. Also, CRL has snowshoe and sled rentals onsite and complimentary for houseguests as well as trails right out the back door. Downside is that there's no restaurant onsite, though there are a several good options within a few miles drive. Alanson is also centrally located to Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Indian RIver, Mackinaw City and I-75.

Hope this info helps, feel free to ask any other questions!

Detroit, Michigan
posts: 56
reviews: 57
4. Re: Snowshoeing and cross country skiing for beginners?

Thanks for all of the great information!

After doing more research about cross country skiing and snowshoeing, it seems like staying at a resort will probably be easiest because we can rent equipment on site and don't have to drive to find the trails. The only reason I was trying to avoid the resorts is because they are so busy. I used to do a lot of downhill skiing when I was a kid, and I remember the resorts as being pretty busy. I never tried the XC or snowshoeing, though.

Between Crystal, Boyne Highlands, and Boyne Mountain, which is your favorite?

We have visited both the Frankfort and Petosky areas in the summer. Both towns are awesome! I have family in the Frankfort area and spent many summers at the beach. :) We have visited Petosky for the biking trail that goes to Charlevoix, and stayed at the Apple Tree Inn the last time we were there.

My husband is interested in the Aonach Mor moonlight dinner. Have you ever done this?

Luv2snorkel - Thanks for the tip about rentals at REI. I have heard that Kensington Metropark has great cross country skiing, and that Lyon Oaks has nice snowshoeing trails. We are going to try the sports on our winter get-a-way, then will go to REI in the future for rentals or to buy equipment.

Edited: 9:30 pm, January 21, 2014
Thompsonville...
posts: 506
reviews: 137
5. Re: Snowshoeing and cross country skiing for beginners?

While the ski resorts are busy on winter weekends, you will still find peace on the XC trails. They aren't nearly as busy as the downhill runs. You should swing into Frankfort in the winter if you choose to go to Crystal - the difference in the winter is amazing. The lighthouse is often caked in ice offering stunning pictures if you can stand the wind off the frozen lake. The Garden Theater shows movies on the weekends still and StormCloud next door is still hopping with awesome food including mussels on Saturday nights. It is a great way to wind down after a full day of skiing and is only about a 25 minute drive from Crystal.

Also, March weekends will be slower than February weekends as snow is often in poor condition downstate and people start thinking spring. Conditions are usually still fantastic upnorth and crowds are a bit smaller if that is a concern.

Northern Michigan
Destination Expert
for Petoskey, Michigan
posts: 1,794
reviews: 30
6. Re: Snowshoeing and cross country skiing for beginners?

Good advice from upnorth98. Personally, of the three resorts you listed I'd go with Boyne Highlands, even though I feel Crystal is superior to Boyne in terms of Customer Service. My reasoning is that with the Highlands you also have Nubs Nob right across the street. Nubs is my favorite ski resort in Michigan, but they don't have any lodging. If you stay at the Highlands, you can ski and snowshoe at both if you so desire (I feel like Nubs does a better job grooming). If the ski resorts wind up being too busy for you, several of those Little Traverse Conservancy properties are within a few minutes' drive. Personally, I'd probably ski the nice groomed trails of the resorts and bust out to get on my own a little more for snowshoeing. There are also some great trails along Lake Michigan 15 minutes from Highlands.

Another resort you might consider is The Homestead in Glen Arbor. It's quite a bit smaller than the others you mentioned, but it's RIGHT on Lake Michigan...and Sleeping Bear Dunes. Should be some fantastic XC skiing and shoeing. thehomesteadresort.com/activities/…

Ann Arbor, MI
Destination Expert
for Michigan, Ann Arbor
posts: 1,878
reviews: 146
7. Re: Snowshoeing and cross country skiing for beginners?

There used to be a cross-country ski rental at Island Lake State Rec area, right by Kensington but I don't see it listed on their website so maybe it isn't there anymore. You've picked a nice snowy winter to try these sports!

Kansas
Destination Expert
for Mackinac Island, Mackinaw City, Kansas
posts: 3,747
reviews: 102
8. Re: Snowshoeing and cross country skiing for beginners?

For something completely different, you might try Mackinac Island. Parhaps on one of the three or four weekends when they light the trails for night skiing.

Detroit, Michigan
posts: 56
reviews: 57
9. Re: Snowshoeing and cross country skiing for beginners?

I booked three nights at Crystal in the Pinehurst unit. I know this unit is not in the core section of the resort, but it looks close the the XC ski rental area and has easy trails nearby. I also like that it has a fireplace and sitting area. For dining, we will probably only eat dinner at the restaurants and will have breakfast and lunch at the condo. I decided on Crystal because it looks like the trail system for our level (beginner) was comparable to other resorts and the accommodations were better for our dates.

We will take a drive to Lake Michigan and are looking forward to seeing it in the winter. We'll plan on spending an afternoon taking trip to the Point Betsie lighthouse and Sleeping Bear Dunes for snowshoeing, then will get dinner in Frankfort on the way back to the resort.

Deadhead - I have heard a lot of good things about The Homestead. We will stay there the next time we head to that area in the summer. We went to Sleeping Bear Dunes last summer, but stayed in Beulah.

Lighthouse - My husband loves Mackinac Island and is already talking about trying that next winter. He also wants to XC ski at Taquamenon Falls.

Thanks again for all of the help! We're looking forward to this winter get-a-way.

10. Re: Snowshoeing and cross country skiing for beginners?

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

TripAdvisor staff removed this post because it did not meet TripAdvisor's forum posting guidelines with prohibiting self-promotional advertising or solicitation.

We ask all of our members to keep their forum messages free of self-promoting advertisements or solicitation of any kind - members affiliated with any tourism-related business should not include commercial contact information or URLs in their forum messages.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 9:43 am, March 05, 2014
 
Reply to: Snowshoeing and cross country skiing for beginners?
Get notified by e-mail when a reply is posted