If your going to live in Northern Michigan, or any place that has cold snowy winters, developing a desire to get outdoors regardless of the weather is a must! Being cooped up in the long winter months has been clinically shown to be detrimental to our physical, mental and emotional well-being. With a little planning, the right equipment and motivation being outdoors in the winter is magical!
The annual girls weekend to Marquette Michigan for the UP200 had to be reimagined to something a little closer to home this year. I have gone back to school and just couldn’t balance my studies with such a long drive to the Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Rather than scrap the weekend altogether we opted to spend time in the upper lower peninsula, using my lake house as our home base and exploring the much closer community of Grayling Michigan.
Downtown Grayling seems to be split into two distinct parts, and old section and a modern convenient section closer to the I-75 expressway. Old Downtown is about four city blocks in length and has many the typical cozy shops one would expect to see in a northern community. A local hardware, antique stores, cinema, pubs and diners all sandwiched together in what look to be original old brick buildings from the early 1900’s. The modern section is right off the I-75 exit ramps and this is where you find the gas stations, fast food restaurants and convenience stores.
A short fifteen minute drive north of downtown Grayling, on I-75, you will come to the village of Frederic Michigan. In about a mile you will arrive at Forbush Corner, a gem of a spot for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
When we arrived, the small parking lot was full; it was just by chance that we found a lone open parking space after our 2nd loop around. When we went inside to inquire about snowshoeing we learned that a cross country ski race was just finishing up; there were 91 participants! The visitor center is very cozy and since we had our own snowshoes and didn’t need to rent any it only cost us $5 each to use the designated snowshoe trail. Cross country skiing is by far the more popular activity of the two, most likely brings in the most revenue and is obviously the establishments main focus. That however does not mean that those who opt for snowshoeing receives a second-rate experience.
What I really appreciated about Forbush Corner is the designated snowshoe trail. This is a true trail all its own that doesn’t merely track alongside the groomed cross-country ski trail. At the very beginning of the trail, as you wind your way through the pine trees in thick, deep, soft snow, you realize you’re in for a special experience. The snowshoe trail meanders through the woods, crisscrossing the ski trail at different intervals, and making its way up and down hills and through thick outcrops of white pine. The scenery was beautiful and the weather was fantastic! Sunny, little to no wind and about 25 degrees Fahrenheit. We were slightly overdressed, but we had dressed in layers so we were able to peel off a layer and at times even walked without hats, gloves and our coats unzipped.
The trail was pristine…..having received four inches of snow just a few days prior to our hike. It appeared no one had snowshoed the trail recently as we had to forge through and create the path ourselves; which I really liked even if it was a bit more work.
The trail was marked with blazes of either blue, orange or red. We were on the blue trail which merged with the orange trail toward the end at a place called Oz’s Overlook; which had an amazing view. The snowshoe trail was 9km (5.5 miles) and we did it in 3 hours; taking in account for the times we spent stopping for photos, resting and looking for the trail marker to ensure we were going in the right direction!
Forbush Corner was a wonderful place to snowshoe and though I cannot personally attest to the cross-country ski trails I would venture a guess that they are just as wonderful. Many trail systems are not very welcoming to snowshoeing and very few actually have trails designated specifically with snowshoeing in mind so this was a fantastic find! I’m already looking forward to going back!!