Snowmobiling in Northern Michigan
Northern Michigan is many a snowmobiler’s paradise.Long stretches of trail criss-cross the landscape, and the views are as spectacular when covered in white as they are before the snow flies.
Groomed by local clubs, the routes lead to top destinations for dining and sight-seeing. So suit up, and get ready to ride.
What’s new this year
While snowmobilers might not notice a difference on the trails, there have been changes to the range of the Jordan Valley Trails Council. In previous years, the council groomed trails from the northern end of Charlevoix County to the end of Kalkaska County. The council is now grooming 108 miles of trail over Charlevoix and Antrim counties, while the newly formed Kalkaska County Snowmobile Association will maintain the balance.
In the Petoskey area, a section of trail has been modified and reopened for the season. This four-mile stretch will run from the Petoskey Snowmobile Club to Odawa Casino Resort, running parallel to River Road for the most part. There will be access to the Meijer gas station from the trail. The snowmobile club and the casino partnered to reopen the trail, working with Bear Creek Township, the city of Petoskey and property owners to make it a reality.
Where to ride
Popular routes include the trail that connects Charlevoix and East Jordan. Continuing on the route, snowmobilers have access to the Jordan Valley Trail via Pinney Bridge Road. Jordan River Valley is a premiere expanse in northeast Antrim County, covering 18,000 acres of state-owned forest land. The trail features scenic views and stretches along the Jordan River, and passes the Jordan River National Fish Hatchery.
The Harbor Springs area offers three main trails for a variety of skill levels. Most beginner friendly is the ride from Alanson to Mackinaw City and back, which follows a railroad grade near U.S. 31. To the east of Pleasantview Road is a loop that offers access to Alanson and Pellston, as well as rentals and gas available near the Harbor Springs airport. To the west of the Pleasantview Road is a scenic ride up to Larks Lake, a popular destination because of the Moose Jaw Junction restaurant there.
Another scenic route is accessible by heading to Weber Lake and accessing the Chandler Hill loop. This trail through mostly hardwood forests features windy and less-trafficked terrain near the Sturgeon River Valley.
Area snowmobile clubs and associations
Following is a list of snowmobile clubs in the area. Many offer Sunday morning breakfasts or bean pots on weekends, and they also organize weekend rides.
Antrim County Snowmobile Club
5515 Kragula Road, Alba, Mich. 49611
Charlevoix Snowmobile Club
P.O. Box 627, Charlevoix, Mich. 49720
(231) 547-5511; (231) 373-9546
East Jordan Sno-Mobilers Inc.
5586 Mount Bliss Road,
East Jordan, Mich. 49727
Harbor Springs Snowmobile Club
3151 Kernow Lane (groomer barn and parking), Harbor Springs
Indian River Snowmobile Grooming Club
Inland Lakes Snowmobile Club
Jordan Valley Trails Council
Petoskey Snowmobile Club
5125 Evergreen Trail, Bear Creek Township
Michigan Snowmobile Association
State association for snowmobiling clubs and trails
Reports available for the entire state
Snowmobiling in Michigan
Trail network is officially open Dec.1-March 31.
There are more than 6,500 miles of marked, groomed trails and more than 30,000 miles of undeveloped trails (two-track roads) in state and federal forest.
Nearly 70 snowmobile clubs, businesses and county recreation departments maintain the trails.
The snowmobile trail system is paid by snowmobilers through registrations, trails permits and a small portion of gasoline tax.
Total dollars raised and expended are a little more than $12 million for the snowmobile program.
More than 50 percent of snowmobile trails are on private land.
Source: Michigan Snowmobile Association, www.msasnow.org