Winter Activities near Sleeping Bear Dunes
If you enjoy winter activities and you’re looking for snow, consider exploring the Sleeping Bear Dunes region in Northwest Michigan. Sleeping Bear Resort is located in the heart of the region and in the middle of a “mini snow belt”. Our proximity to Lake Michigan and the topography of the area are conducive to lots and lots of lake effect snow. We typically get more snow than even Traverse City which is located only 15 miles away. During the winter of 2014, we received over 200 inches of the white stuff!
Within a 20 mile radius of Sleeping Bear Resort are four ski resorts, nine cross country ski & snowshoe trails, two snow tubing destinations and over 135 miles of groomed snowmobile trails. In addition to the marked public trails, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is open all winter. Stop into the Welcome Center and one of the rangers can direct you to several snowshoe and x-country ski destinations that are off the beaten path.
One of the highlights of Sleeping Bear Resort during a wintertime visit is the Joshua’s Crossing Covered Bridge located just north of the resort. The bridge is on private property but thanks to our gracious neighbor the bridge is available for our guests to enjoy. Ski across the covered bridge and take a x-country ski trail along the north shore of Herendeene Lake. To help with planning your winter activities, we’ve put together a listing of some of our favorite local wintertime destinations.
Top X-Country Ski & Snowshoe Trails
Lost Lake Pathway
Lost Lake is a popular hiking, biking, and cross country ski trail connected to the Lake Dubonnet State Forest Campground. There are three loops with a total of 6.4 miles of trail. The terrain is relatively flat (less hilly than the Lake Ann Pathway) and in the woods. Part of the southern loop follows the Lake Dubonnet shoreline. The trail also passes two small lakes and a number of open bogs. Click here for more information about Lost Lake Pathway.
Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail
The Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail is a hard-surfaced, non-motorized, multi-use trail planned to span 27 miles from the northern end of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore at County Road 651 to the Leelanau/Benzie County line at Manning Road south of Empire. Currently the trail runs almost 22 miles between Empire and Bohemia Road, connecting to park attractions and the town of Glen Arbor along the way. The trail is one of few x-country ski trails that are groomed. Click here for more information about the Heritage Trail.
Lake Ann Pathway
The Lake Ann Pathway is divided into two main loops. To the east of Reynolds Rd, the 1.8 miles of trail gently loops around the state forest campground and along the shore of Lake Ann. The larger 3.6 mile loop to the west of Reynolds Rd is much more strenuous and hilly. It includes a few smaller loops that take you by Mary’s Lake, Shavenaugh Lake, and the Platte River. This loop is more often used by mountain bikers and cross country skiers. Click here for more information about Lake Ann Pathway.
Platte Plains Trail
The Platte Plains trail system has about 15 miles of trails through the maple-beech and pine forest that gives x-country skiers access to Otter Creek, Otter Lake, and Bass Lake. There area also several access points to Lake Michigan. Part of the trail follows a 2-track road from Esch Road and Otter Creek. Download a pdf version of a map here.
Good Harbor Bay Trail
The Good Harbor Bay Trail is almost entirely flat with just a few small grades. Near the beginning of the trail, there is a short section of low coastal dunes, where there is access to the beach. Then the trail turns away from Lake Michigan and becomes wooded for the remainder of its length. A portion of the trail passes through a swamp, and a small bridge assists in crossing a couple of wet spots. Download a pdf version of a map here.
Treat Farm Trail
This 2 mile trail starts at the corner of Norconk Rd. and goes into the woods for about a 1/2 mile until you reach the Treat Farm Homestead. It’s a slight uphill trek and it’s best with snowshoes but doable with x-country skis. Once you reach the farm homestead you can cross through the open field about another 1/2 mile towards a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan. Click here for more information about the Treat Farm Trail.
Windy Moraine Trail
A self-guiding brochure is available at the trailhead. From the Windy Moraine Overlook, you can see Glen Lake, Lake Michigan, and the Sleeping Bear Dunes. Download a pdf version of a map here.
Shauger Hill Trail
This trail crosses Shauger Hill Road twice and the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive twice. Be careful crossing roads. This trail is part of the Scenic Drive Ski Trail. This is a Designated X-Country Ski Trail between December 1 and March 31. Download a pdf version of a map here.
Old Indian Trail
Old Indian Trail has two loops of about 2.5 miles in length. It is a popular cross country ski and snowshoe trail. Most of the trail runs through maple-beech forest. Lake Michigan is a short distance from the junction of the two loops. Click here for more information about the Old Indian Trail.
Crystal Mountain Resort
This is a four season resort and the largest downhill ski hill in the area. It is located 20 miles from Sleeping Bear Resort and has 58 runs and 9 chairlifts. In addition to downhill skiing, they offer x-country ski trails, snowshoe trails and ice skating. Click here for more information about Crystal Mountain.
The Homestead Resort
This very small 3 chair lift/15 run ski hill has awesome views of Lake Michigan. The Homestead is also a four season resort located just outside the quaint village of Glen Arbor. Partial day ski passes are as low as $8 for juniors and $18 for adults on Friday evenings. They also offer ski equipment rentals. Click here for more information about The Homestead.
Betsie Valley and Platte River Trails
These trails comprise a total of 135 miles of groomed trails through Leelanau County, Benzie County and Manistee Counties. The trail can be accessed via fowler road just a 1/4 mile north of the resort. The trail goes north to Maple City and south to Thompsonville where it connects with the Manistee trail system. Click here for a link to the Benzie Manistee Snowbirds Club facebook page.