Winter in the Upper Peninsula comes quickly and this year’s early snowfall in October was not much of a surprise to many Yoopers nor to the adopted population of NMU students. Blessed with small hills and large-scale dense forests, the U.P. is known for its outdoor recreation. The dropping temperature creates a whirlwind of adventure. These winter activities are right at your glove tips:
Cross country skiing
Noquemanon (Forestville) – Marquette Township:
The Noquemanon Cross Country Ski Trail in Marquette is the site of the annual Noquemanon Ski Marathon. A premier cross-country event in the Midwest, the trail system offers 31 miles catering to all ability levels. The terrain ranges from gentle hills and flat lake crossings to significant climbs including views of Lake Superior and Hogback Mountain. Trailhead amenities include restrooms, ski and snowshoe rentals, snacks, a lighted trailhead, a wood-fired social area and free parking. There are ski and snowshoe rentals available at the Forestville Trailhead. The trails are dog friendly, and there is a $10 daily suggested fee for a grooming fund, donate by using the pay pipe.
Follow Wright Street north off of U.S. 41 for approximately one mile to Forestville Road. Turn left. Follow Forestville road for 2.3 miles. Watch for railroad tracks to the right. Turn right and cross tracks following the plowed road. Watch for signs to the trailhead. $10 per day suggested donation to the grooming fund can be made in the lodge.
County Road 510 Trailhead:
Take U.S. 41 two miles west of the WalMart traffic light, turn north (right) on County Road 502 (Midway Drive). In one quarter of a mile, turn north (right) onto County Road 510. The trail- head kiosk is 6 miles down on the east (right) side of the roadway. This trailhead features difficult terrain.
Tourist Park Trailhead:
Located on CR 550. Turn left off of Sugar Loaf Ave and travel a half mile. Parking and trailhead are on the left.
With the holidays approaching, sledding is a great way to get outside and spend a day with friends and family without opening your wallet too much. And the best part is, you don’t have to be an experienced sledder to have fun. A saucer is perfect for steep-elevated hills whereas if you’re looking for distance and something a bit more entry-level, you might consider the classic wooden toboggan. Known for its wooden J-shape form, this hallmark-holiday sled fits around three to five people and makes for a long ride down a clear slope. If you’re looking for a sled that works better on hard-packed or icy snow, consider a wooden flexible flyer with steel runners. You can sit upright or be a dare-devil and lay on your stomach while steering the wooden cross piece equipped at the front. Once you’ve found the ideal sled, choosing a destination is relatively easy as long as there’s snow. Many people sled behind Whitman Hall or there’s a hill with an elevated incline in Harlow Park
that makes for a long ride down, according to Down Wind Sports. And some venture to Sugar Loaf Mountain to find a steeper sledding spot.
Just past the Superior Dome on Fair Avenue, this arena offers public open skating for all ages every day from 1 to 2:50 p.m. at the Olson Arena. Admissions for adult residents is $4 ($5.25 for non-resident), youth (12 and under) $3 for residents ($4 for non-residents) and senior residents is $3 ($4 for non-residents). Skate rentals are available at the Skate Shack for $4 per pair, and skate aides are also available for $2. Note, during the weekends, the Lakeview Arena only accepts cash where you check in at the Skate Shack. During weekdays, you check in at the Parks and Rec office. Visit: www.marquettemi.gov/de- partments/community-services/lakeview-arena/ for more information on ice skating.
Outdoor Ice Rinks:
Currently, there are no public outdoor rinks at this time. Marquette Commons generally tries to get a public rink open around New Year’s, late December at the earliest, if it’s cold enough. It’s all dependent on the weather.
Harlow Lake Area:
Just past the Superior Dome when you come to Wright Street, take a left and follow this street until the first traffic light where you’ll take a right onto Sugarloaf Avenue. The road will come to a “T” at Big Bay Road, then take a left onto Big Bay Road and continue for 6.5 miles. Harlow Lake Road will be on the left.
Eben Ice Caves:
Located near Eben Junction, this hike takes you through some wilderness for about 20 minutes until you reach the ridge of the canyon. Follow the ridge for a short distance until you see the top of the ice caves. And if you follow the trail behind the caves, you’ll also see the “impressive” ice sheet, according to Downwind Sports.
Yellow Dog Falls:
The Yellow Dog River runs through Marquette County and has several small waterfalls and rapids. This route consists of about 85 tributaries and the Yellow Dog Falls is one of the more accessible and larger features. The falls are located off of County Road 510, and just south of the bridge over the Yellow Dog River there’s a small parking area on the east side. Here you’ll find the trail to the main falls which are about one mile downstream. At the Yellow Dog Falls, the river drops over 20 feet in a short distance, and there’s a large boulder splitting the falls in two.
Walking through the rich blend of hardwood and pine, you’ll come across the massive rock outcrops. Traveling from Marquette, drive three to four miles to the Wetmore Pond parking area where you’ll take the trail that starts on the northwest end of the parking lot. For about a half mile, you’ll pass through some wilderness and swampy areas and then at the signed fork, stay left. The sign will point the way to Hogback Mountain. The elevation makes it for a difficult climb but the view from the summit with Sugar Loaf Mountain and Lake Superior in range is one worth climbing for.
During the cruel, windy winters in Marquette, before the ice starts to form around the lake, the surf scene is at its most extreme. Lake Superior takes until early January to ice over as the waves are too vicious to freeze for most of the winter. Depending on the wind direction, Presque Isle State Park on the Sunset Beach side, referred to as “The Zoo”, will fill up with surfers looking for a cold winter swell along with McCarty’s Cove by the Marquette Harbor Lighthouse.
Fat Tire Biking
Fat tire bikers will discover crunching snow underneath their tire and expansive views, and challenges for all levels along the Northern Trail Network Forestville and on the Noquemenon trails. Fat tire bikes are available to rent at the Wildcat Fit Zone and NMU students can access the NTN Forestville for free. Wipe out in the white out on the Noquemenon Trails after 5 p.m. on Wednesdays and after 3 p.m. on Saturdays.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and Grand Island are made up of 190-foot sandstone cliffs that secrete water and form massive frozen waterfalls that are of recreational delight to the adventurous ice climber. Climbers work their way up a thick, vertical slab of ice with talon-like crampons that attach to the boot and jab an ice pick in with technical precision.
Life’s a Pitch (The Dryer Hose) (70 feet) -found along Sand Point Rd
Dairyland (190 feet)
Sweet Mother Moses (70 feet)
AAA wall in Big Bay