No time to stay inside during winter break, here’s how students can get out and enjoy it


A WINTER FAVORITE—Fatbiking has recently become a winter trend in Marquette. NMU Campus Recreation and Fitness Manager Katie Moe said that it’s become more surprising to see people who are not fatbiking. Photo courtesy of NMU Rec Sports.

Travis Nelson

The semester may be coming to an end, but winter is well on its way, and you can take advantage by participating in outdoor activities. Now more than ever due to COVID-19, the beautiful surrounding area of Marquette can be used to partake in different pastimes safely outdoors.

 The U.P. is known for its long, harsh winters, and the best way to thrive here is to get outside and play. Just five minutes from NMU’s campus, you can go fat biking, snowshoeing, cross country and alpine skiing, winter camping or even ice climbing.

“These activities are the perfect way to exercise, get some fresh air, responsibly socialize and maintain your mental health,” Downwind Sports Co-owner Bill Thompson said.

A trend in Marquette as of late is fat biking, where Downwind Sports and other bike stores like Sports Rack Marquette and Quick Stop Bike Shop sell fat bikes from Giant Bicycles and Borealis. Students can also rent fat bikes from the NMU Outdoor Recreation Center. Five or six bikes are available at the Fit Zone and three are at the PEIF, said Campus Recreation and Fitness Manager, Katie Moe. 

Rentals are typically the best option for NMU students, because fat bikes can be too expensive for financially strapped college students, Moe said. The bike rentals have helped from a recruitment and retention standpoint to where it has become a regular sight to see fat bikes in the winter, she said.

“I would definitely say that it’s an added bonus that students have access to a piece of equipment like that, which has really gained popularity in the last five years,” Moe said. “It seems in Marquette that everybody’s on a fat tire bike.”

The Rec Center is currently unable to rent out bikes or other equipment to students due to the COVID-19 restrictions, but the plan is to allow rentals again beginning Dec. 1, Moe said. Previously when the fat bikes have been available, they’ve been rented often, she added.

 “We had all of the bikes out at one point on any given day which is awesome, and so with such a small number, it’s definitely meeting the demand from what we’re seeing from the students,” Moe said.

Students can also rent out equipment or fat bikes at the Noquemanon Trailhead at Forestville. The Noquemanon trail has cross country ski trails with point-to-point and loop trails ranging from beginner to expert according to their website. There’s no foot traffic allowed on the trails, but snowshoeing is allowed only if not disturbing the ski tracks. All students need to do is show their ID to rent equipment at the trailhead, Moe said.

Getting outside during the pandemic is not only important but it’s been recommended, Thompson said.

“It is super important. It’s the one thing you can do during a pandemic and the CDC actually recommends it. What better university than NMU to provide this type of access to the outdoors?” Thompson said. “We are super fortunate to live and go to school here where we have such easy access to the natural environment.” 

There are many safety concerns caused by COVID-19, but it’s important to be safe in the cold, too, by dressing appropriately, Moe said.

“It is that time of the year where we have to start reminding people about the fact that if you are going to go out into the woods, you better make sure that you’re wearing the appropriate attire,” Moe said. “Having multiple layers, having the ability to tell someone where you are going, having a first aid kit, having some kind of fire source if you do need to start a fire [is important].”

With winter break upcoming, the outdoor options to enjoy the longest season up here in the U.P. are endless. For students staying in Marquette, you don’t have to go far to find the newest adventure.

“That is what is great about NMU. Sure, you can go snowshoeing at other universities downstate, but NMU is pretty much the only university where you can do all winter activities five minutes from campus,” Thompson said.