Are you interested in learning about the forests of Hartwick Pines and Michigan in the winter? You now have a chance to experience the forests in the deep snow! After a successful first year, Hartwick Pines State Park will again offer several guided snowshoe hikes through the Old Growth Forest. Snowshoeing has become a popular winter activity and these hikes will give visitors of Hartwick Pines a chance to try-out snow shoes and hike through the large stand of White Pines, guided by the park’s interpreter and historian to learn about the forest in the winter and to hear how winter was important to Michigan’s logging industry in the 1800s.
The hikes begin at the Michigan Forest Visitor Center with an orientation and introduction to Hartwick Pines, a short talk on winter survival and equipment, and then depart form the auditorium of the visitor center for the woods. The hike is approximately one mile and will head through the old growth forest of white pine and hemlock and stop at deer beds, look for signs of porcupines and other animals that use the forest in the winter, and stop at the logging museum, where participants will have a chance to warm up with a cup of hot cider around the “camboose”, the elevated fire pit at the logging museum, and hear stories about the “shantyboys” enduring a winter in the woods. Participants may return to the visitor center on their own or explore other trails in the park.
Four guided hikes will be offered Saturdays, January 15 and 29, and February 12 and 26, beginning at 1pm and lasting until about 3pm. The hikes will be limited to twenty participants for each hike, so advance registration is required. The hikes are free, but please call the Visitor Center at Hartwick Pines at (989) 348-2537 or stop in at the Visitor Center (normally open daily 9am to 4pm, but with limited hours during the holidays) to sign up. Some snowshoes are available to use for free, however check for availability when registering.
Besides the snowshoe hikes, other winter activities at Hartwick Pines included Cross-country ski nights on January 22 and February 5 and 19. Cross-country skiing on groomed ski trails are available everyday, weather permitting. A warming room is available in the Visitor Center during open hours every weekend and most weekdays.
There is no charge for the snowshoe hikes, however a state park motor vehicle permit is required for park entry. Daily permits for $6 or annual permits for $24 are available for purchase at the visitor center. For more information on this or any other program at Hartwick Pines, please call (989) 348-2537 or visit us on the Web at www.michigan.gov/hartwickpines.