Michigan snowmobile season now open
Local trails to attract guests, residents of the area
MECOSTA, LAKE COUNTIES — From snowshoeing to cross-country skiing, building snowmen or simply staying indoors with a cup of hot chocolate, Michiganders make the most of the winter months any number of ways.
For many outdoor enthusiasts, one of the best parts of the season is being able to ride their snowmobiles through one of the state’s numerous trails.
According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, these state-designated snowmobile trails opened on Sunday, and will remain open until March 31.
In Lake County, snowmobiling is a popular way to spend the winter months.
Loretta Wierenga, trails coordinator with the Irons Area Tourist Association, said the roughly 120 miles of trails attract thousands of riders each year.
"In the winter, all our hotels are completely booked," she said. "The trails are great for tourism in this area."
Wierenga added the trails in Irons connect to other Lake County communities, such as Baldwin, and outside of the county up to Cadillac.
Mecosta County Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Connie Koepke said the Frederick Meijer White Pine Trail, which runs through Big Rapids and up to Reed City, also is a draw for people from both inside and outside the community who enjoy snowmobiling.
Although snowfall has been hit or miss so far this season, Koepke explained the stretch of trail running through Mecosta and Osceola counties is maintained by the Pere Marquette Snowmobile Club, which monitors trail conditions and safety, including whether there is enough snow on the trail for people to get out and ride.
In addition to being a fun way to spend the day, she said the trail system can be a draw for tourism in the area.
Koepke noted even though there are not many Mecosta County businesses right along the trail, as people come to the area to snowmobile, they tend to stay and visit area businesses while they rest.
“Those who do come tend to stay, eat and spend money at local businesses,” she said. “I think, economically, the trails do help us.”
Although snowmobiling season is officially underway, Koepke said there are many other ways for people to enjoy the season in Mecosta County, including ice fishing on one of many local lakes or taking a walk through an area park.
“The Riverwalk in Big Rapids has beautiful scenery and we usually permit people to use it for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing,” she said.
For more information about snowmobiling or other winter recreation in Mecosta County, visit bigrapids.org/things-to-do.
To learn more about activities and events in Lake County or the condition of area trails, visit ironsarea.com.