The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is expanding winter recreation opportunities at Leelanau State Park with the addition of a new, marked winter sports trail open to hikers, cross-country skiers, snowshoers and fat tire bikers.
The new trail route opened Dec. 1 and will stay open through April 1. It is located north of the existing hiking trails in a relatively undeveloped area of the park. The new trail follows old logging roads and is open to nonmotorized recreation, including cross-county skiing, hiking, snowshoeing and fat-tire biking. Fat-tire bikes will be permitted only when there is 6 inches of snow or more.
After April 1, the trail markers will be removed and maintenance of the corridor will halt. The area has traditionally been enjoyed by hunters seeking a more “backcountry” feel in the spring and fall.
This state park is situated at the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula, just north of Northport. This beautiful 1,300-acre park offers visitors stunning views of Lake Michigan, a rustic campground, two mini-cabins, nonmotorized trails and a picnic area.
The new winter trail came to fruition after local community members approached park staff to spearhead a trail that would expand winter recreation at the park. The Northern Michigan Mountain Biking Association volunteered to groom the trail for fat-tire biking.
"The new winter sports trail is an incredible addition to the park," said Kasey Mahony, supervisor at Leelanau State Park. "The volunteers have been at the heart of this project and the DNR would like to thank them. In particular, we would like to recognize the Northern Michigan Mountain Biking Association for their involvement in every aspect of the project from volunteer coordination to providing and posting grooming reports."
This trail model began when fat-tire bike enthusiasts were looking for a place to ride that would not interfere with current cross-country skiing opportunities along the Cadillac Pathway near Mitchell State Park in Wexford County. As a result, a new seasonal trail was created that now runs parallel to the pathway and offers additional opportunities for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, hiking and fat-tire biking. The result has been very successful, and Leelanau State Park staff hopes to replicate that seasonal trail model.
“The new Cadillac winter sports trail helps showcase the immense winter recreational value of the Cadillac area and has been a win-win for the entire community," said Scott Slavin, manager at Mitchell State Park. "The volunteers who groom and maintain the trail have not only created new recreation experiences in the area, but have spurred additional interest in trail volunteerism and promoted economic development by hosting a number of trail-centered events.”
Grooming reports are made available at www.nmmba.net/grooming-reports