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Learn to ski on Winter Trails Day

Tue, Jan  7, 2014 - By Mike Muha

2014 Winter Trails Day. Learn to cross country ski!If you are new to winter sports, snowshoeing and cross country skiing are quick to learn and fun for all ages making them perfect for families and groups and they are a great way to get some exercise. On Saturday, January 11, 2014 (Winter Trails Day), you can learn for free at a Winter Trails location.

“Winter Trails events are designed to be simple and fun while introducing people to new winter activities,” said Reese Brown, director of the Winter Trails program. “Our goal is to get people excited about getting outside in the winter. Snowshoeing and cross country skiing appeals to a very diverse group and Winter Trails makes it simple and free to try.”

With over 100 locations around the country and an estimated 11,000 new enthusiasts trying the activities each year through Winter Trails, is the perfect way to begin building a love of snow sports. After you try it once you can simply arrange for return visits to your location of choice. Most event sites operate daily with rentals and instructors.

Winter Trails locations, hours and offerings are posted at Venues include alpine resorts, Nordic centers, state parks, National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service land. Details accompany each event’s listing on the Winter Trails website. Advanced registration is suggested, though many sites also offer on-site registration. Check the location listing for specific information. There is no charge for the use of equipment or trails. Most locations offer snowshoeing AND cross country skiing. Some locations only offer snowshoeing.

Michigan locations:

Lower Peninsula

Boyne Mountain Nordic Center
1 Boyne Mt Road
Boyne Falls, MI
(231) 549-6088

Participants must register in advance for the cross-country skiing event and there is limited space at both resorts. Those who choose to try out the winter sport can participate in a half-hour group lesson and then use free trail passes to give it a shot. "We're trying to promote cross-country skiing, promote active lifestyles," said Kirk Ikens, Boyne Mountain's cross-country ski director. He said the instructors strive to make the lesson and the overall experience a positive one, particularly for those unfamiliar with cross-country skiing. Also, complimentary equipment rentals will be available at the event for those who don't have their own gear, Ikens said. 

Cross Country Ski Headquarters
9435 N. Cut Road (county Rd 100)
Roscommon, MI 48653
(800) 832-2663

Entering its 17th year, the Pure Michigan Winter Trails Day offers children and adults who are NEW to snow-shoeing and cross country skiing, the chance to try both activities for FREE. Come join us and discover how fun winter fitness can be, and enjoy the social aspects that accompany these easy-to-learn winter sports.

Check-in is at 10am. Please make sure to pre-register, and remember, this program is aimed at XC ski and snowshoe NOVICES only. Check-in is followed by free outfitting in snowshoes, boots, skis and poles.

10:30: X-C Ski & Snowshoe clinic. Learn how to get the skis and snowshoes on, how to hold the poles, and how to start cross country skiing and snowshoeing. Also learn the important skills of how to fall down and how to get up!

11:10: Go on a tour to Trappers Cabin for Hot Dogs, bonfire and Hot Cocoa, all on the house. After lunch at the Cabin, skiers and snowshoers will have the choice of exploring more trails, or be guided back to Cross Country Ski Headquarters.

3 PM (or earlier): Skiers return from their tours and return snowshoes, boots, skis & poles. They are invited to relax in front of the Fireplace in the Stone Turtle Day Lodge.

We ran completely out of equipment last year, so we insist upon pre-registering! We have a limited number of skis and snowshoes. If we are fully booked we will reschedule you to a Saturday later into January. Please pre register by emailing your name, address, age, shoe size, and choice of X-C Skiing or Snowshoeing to: We will respond to your registration and we will confirm your reservation for participation and equipment (based on availability of equipment) with a return email confirmation.

Crystal Mountain Resort & Spa
12500 Crystal Mountain Dr
Thompsonville, MI 49683
(231) 378-2000

Free 2-hour Trail Pass and Rental equipment available from 1pm-5pm with free trailhead clinics.  Please register at the

TART Trails/Timber Ridge Resort
4050 Hammond Road East
Traverse City, MI 49686
(231) 941-4300

Free ski lessons provided by Vasa Ski Club.  Free cross-country ski and snowshoe rentals. Free fatbike/snowbike demos. Equipment rentals are first-come-first-serve. Rentals may be picked up at Timber Ridge on the morning of the event starting at 10:30am, for use onsite until 2pm.Online registration opens late December at

Upper Peninsula

Michigan Tech Trails & Recreational Forest
Michigan Technological University
Houghton, MI 49931
(906) 487-2578

Designated trails are available for skiers, snowshoers, dog walkers and winter-bikes. With Houghton’s average snowfall approaching 250 inches, the ski season usually opens in early December and continues into April. The 35 kilometers of trails are nationally recognized for quality, variety of terrain, and maintenance. Grooming takes place daily and the system includes 7.5 kilometers of lighted trails. Children 17 and younger are eligible for a free trail pass; other users must purchase a reasonably priced pass. Ski and snowshoe rentals are available.

Rapid River National Cross Country Ski and Snowshoe Trail
Trail is located 6 miles north of Rapid River on Highway 41
Rapid River, MI
(906) 474-6442

Have you ever wanted to try snowshoeing or cross country skiing but lacked the equipment or the instruction to do it? Well, you’re in luck! The Hiawatha National Forest together with Brampton Bike and Ski are celebrating National Winter Trails Day and will have cross country skis, boots and poles as well as snowshoes available free of charge for the public to use at the Rapid River Ski Trail from noon until 4:00 PM, Saturday, January 11. Equipment will be available for adults as well as youngsters and volunteers will be on hand to teach the fundamentals of both skiing and snowshoeing. Hot cocoa and a bonfire will keep everyone toasty! In order to ensure that adequate equipment and instructors are on hand, folks are asked to pre-register for the event by calling Brampton Bike no later than 4 PM on Friday, February 15 at 906-428-2135. The Rapid River National Cross Country Ski Trail is located 6 miles north of Rapid River on US 41 and includes 5 classic loops, 2 skating loops and one snowshoe trail. See you there! 

Soldier Lake Hiawatha National Forest
the interesection of M-28 and Dick Rd. Park on Dick Rd.
St. Ignace, MI
(938) 350-2826

Snowshoe or Ski two miles to the Soldier Lake Pavilon for a FREE hotdog roast and cookie buffet.   Create your adventure and explore "The Red Plaid Nation"-- the North Country National Scenic Trail,  the Soldier Lake  shoreline, and the surrounding Hiawatha National Forest.

RSVP is helpful with planning!

Sponsored by Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore chapter of the North Country Trail Association.