Winter is officially here! Snow is falling, water is crystalizing and hot chocolate is once again an acceptable accompaniment to any meal. Pretty soon, Southeast Michigan will be a magical winter wonderland—creating one of America’s favorite winter destinations.
To help you maximize the season, we’re sharing several outdoor winter adventures worth embarking on in the Ann Arbor area, from sledding and skiing to snowshoeing and ice fishing. Happy winter!
We love snow and all the winter activities that come with it—snowshoeing, snowball fights, skiing, oh my! But while we love throwing a snowball as much as anyone, our favorite activity by far is sledding. In the Ann Arbor area, we are graced with a large number of hills that, when coated with just the right amount of snow, are perfect for slipping, sliding and racing. Some of our favorites include hills in Leslie Park, Mushroom Park, Buhr Park and Rolling Hills County Park.
Hiking isn’t just an activity for warm weather! Take a scenic winter hike and enjoy a special (and free!) exciting seasonal pursuit when it isn’t too snowy. We highly recommend taking on Rolling Hills Park in Ypsilanti, which offers 5 miles of paved trails and 3 miles of hiking trails that have stunning views of the landscape. Or head to the Border-to-Border Trail, where you can observe the Huron River and other magical, winter landscapes.
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Who says golf is only for the warmer months? While traditional golf may not be feasible right now, disc golf is just as fun as ever! There are several courses all across the Ann Arbor area for every skill level. There is a practice course at Rolling Hills County Park that will help you get started. Afterward, head to Hudson Mills Metropark, which offers challenging obstacles and wooded areas. Then, for a final round, don’t miss Bandemer Park which features a 9-hole course with three tee pads.
It just wouldn’t be winter without a cross-country skiing trip around one of our favorite parks! Rolling Hills County Park is one of the most popular recreation opportunities in the area year-round. And in the winter months, a whole new world of sports becomes available. With 439 acres ripe for exploring, you’ll have plenty of room to roam on cross-country ski.
Next to sledding and cross country skiing, snowshoeing is one of our favorite outdoor winter activities. There’s just something special about seeing our favorite Ann Arbor destinations covered in snow! You’ll need some special shoes to capture the magic, but afterward you can hike some of the more treacherous trails you wouldn’t be able to traverse without them. One of the best places to go snowshoeing in A2 is County Farm Park, which fills 127 acres with 3.5 miles of ungroomed, marked trails. While the unkempt trails aren’t conducive to cross country skis, they’re perfect for more experienced snowshoers. If you’re a beginner, check out Independence Lake County Park, offering more than 3 miles of groomed trails along the lake.
Fat Tire Biking
While you may not be able to hit the trails with your normal bicycle, fat tire biking was designed for snowy trails and ice patches! The wide tires and bicycle frame allow for a smoother ride when traversing rough terrain and unseen obstacles. If you’re ready to try it for yourself, you can get all the necessary equipment at Wheels in Motion, a family-owned bike shop that has been serving the Ann Arbor area for more than 85 years! Once you’ve got your bike and have donned ski goggles and proper winter attire, try exploring the popular DTE Energy Foundation Trail located within the Waterloo Recreation Area, which is a favorite for fat tire bikers in the area. If you’re looking for something a bit easier, don’t miss the Border-to-Border Trail, which offers miles and miles of smooth trails to explore.
Photo courtesy of Mt. Brighton
Located just a half an hour away from Ann Arbor, Mt. Brighton is one of Michigan’s best ski resorts featuring 130 acres of ski trails for all skill levels. During the COVID-19 outbreak, Mt. Brighton is doing everything possible to keep you and your family safe. They are requiring reservations to help with social distancing as well as mandatory face coverings, limited lift tickets and cashless transactions. For more information on their current health restrictions, click here.
If you’ve never tried ice fishing, one of Michigan’s iconic winter pastimes—this year is the year! There’s nothing quite like ice fishing in the morning, as you settle in the middle of the lake and watch the sun track over the city. Though A2 has several prominent ice fishing lakes, we adore Fourmile Lake in the Chelsea State Game Area. Here, you can catch northern pike, crappie and panfish. We also love Cavanaugh Lake, a 113-acre lake with a depth of 20 feet where you can catch smallmouth and largemouth bass, panfish and giant pike.
There’s nothing quite like ice skating with your family! While there are plenty of places to skate indoors in Ann Arbor year-round, we love the Buhr Outdoor Ice Arena that pops up every fall. Due to local COVID-19 restrictions, Buhr Park Ice Arena has been closed. But the City of Ann Arbor is hopeful that they’ll be able to reopen it again with strict social distancing guidelines later in the winter. We recommend keeping an eye on their website for the most up-to-date information.
Scenic Winter Drives
Frozen lakes, snow-covered forests, gloomy beaches and adventurous ski resorts are just some of the things we look forward to once winter arrives in Michigan. And during the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the most exciting and safe ways to explore the state is by car! So if you want to get a peek into how gorgeous Michigan is in the winter, here is a list of our favorite dreamy winter drives across the state.
Let it Snow!
What local outdoor winter activities in A2 did we miss? Let us know in the comments below!