Snowmobiling in Michigan
Did you know that Michigan has over 2,600 miles of groomed snowmobile trails? The sport is huge in the state, and the resulting revenue from gas, food, lodging, and attractions fuels many small businesses in the area.
A group of our friends and neighbors decided to take an overnight snowmobile trip in northern Michigan. We gathered at a central meeting point and reviewed safety protocol. Our group leader explained communication while on the trails.
Although the outside temperature was only in the teens, we were prepared with snow pants, thick winter jackets, helmets with heated face shields, heated grips, and warm mittens on the sleds. The exhaust runs under the seats of our snowmobiles, and our feet are tucked up near the warm engine; we were all very comfortable.
It's All About the Journey
After settling in on our sleds, we headed to the lake, which had been frozen for several weeks. We wanted the trail north of the lake, and it was easier to cross the lake than to load the snowmobiles on a trailer and drive to a trailhead. We stayed near the shoreline as we traversed the frozen water. Our group leader warned us of ice shifts and pressure cracks using the hand signals we had just reviewed.
After exiting the lake on the north side, we hopped on the trail and headed north. Although it was cold, the skies were a bright blue, and the wind was pretty calm. The scenery was beautiful, with multiple wild animal sightings.
Thirty-five miles into our trip, we detoured off the trail and over to the Dead Bear Brewing Company in Grayling, Michigan, for lunch. The venue provided warm food, restroom facilities, and a chance to stretch. Once we finished our leisurely meal, we headed back to the snowmobile trails.
There were several “snirty” (snow mixed with dirt) spots on the trail today. Unfortunately, the trail conditions were not as good as those we had just left, but we continued our journey via these bumpy, rock-filled lanes arriving at our destination just before the dinner hour.
After securing our snowmobiles, we checked into our rooms at the Lewiston Lodge in Lewiston, Michigan, and rested for a time before we met for dinner. The Lewiston Lodge is a lovely little resort on the lake just outside the central part of town. The motel rooms are uninspired but, for the most part, clean. It provided a warm place to lay our weary heads for the night, so we weren’t complaining.
At the appointed hour, we gathered for dinner and discussed the day’s ride. Although the service was prolonged, with some meals arriving after others in the group had already finished eating, the food was good. A meeting time for the following day was agreed upon, and after a three-hour meal, we headed to our rooms for the night.
We were bone tired after being out in the elements all day, but, as often happens when sleeping in a strange place, our sleep was fitful.
Good Morning Sunshine
I’m an early riser, it’s the best part of my day. I bundled up and went outside to watch the sunrise over the lake.
Day Two Trail Ride
In the morning, we gathered to prepare for another day on the trails. After packing our gear and warming up our snowmobiles, we zigzagged our way into town for a hot breakfast at a little diner called The Menu. The coffee and food were hot, and the service was excellent.
We stopped for gas at the local convenience store on our way back to the trails.
Back to the Trails
It was colder today, in the single digits, and the wind had picked up considerably. This worked in our favor over the dirty section of the snowmobile trail, as the snow had blown over them to cover a lot of the dirt. It appeared the trail groomers had also been out to try and cover the sections that needed it. However, in the vast open areas, outside the forest cover, the wind was blowing so hard it was not easy to see the person in front of you. This caused us to slow down in those areas just to be safe.
We stopped at the Dead Bear Brewery for a light lunch and restroom break before continuing on our final leg of the journey.
The wind was strong as we approached the lake; sometimes, there were near white-out snow conditions. Nevertheless, with the guidance of our group leader, we navigated around the ice heaves, pressure cracks, and ice fishing huts to our home base.
It was a great trip with our friends; I highly recommend snowmobiling in Michigan!