Ride serpentine trails through forests and fields driving a team of sled dogs at Russ-Stick Acres in Mancelona near Traverse City. Kennel owners rescue snow dogs and help them get down to their passion of running sleds through the Northern Michigan woods. Russ-Stick will tailor your experience to your skills and wishes. Lots o’ hecommunity.mynorth.com/eventslp? Little help? ($250/PERSON, ALL AGES, RUSS-STICKACRES.COM). Keep the Jack London vibe going by spending the night onsite at the Bear’s Den, a private retreat for two with wood heat and no running water on an isolated 10-acre wood ($45/NIGHT). If you prefer a hot shower, try the Inn at Torch Lake in Alden, with spa tubs, fireplaces in all suites and European-style breakfasts ($99–$149, 231-331-4845, INN-AT-TORCHLAKE.COM). Add more adventure to your weekend by snowmobiling the Northern Michigan trails from the inn to Russ-Stick Acres, then over to Pearl’s New Orleans Kitchen in nearby Elk Rapids just north of Traverse City. We suggest the oysters Rockefeller, étouffée and blackened alligator (231-264-0530, MAGNUMHOSPITALITY.COM/PEARLS).
Go Fly (on) a Kite
You see them all summer long catching air above the lakes, but kiteboarders also know the chill thrill of being on ice after a major snowstorm. When Northern Michigan lakes are covered in powder, take a daylong lesson (with gear included) from the guys at Broneah and discover the wicked fun of winter kites ($400, 231-392-2212, BRONEAH.COM). After a full day of boarding, tap into the five house brews and three rotating recipes at North Peak Brewery in Traverse City. Feed your winter hunger with a rack of ribs or one of North Peak’s signature big burgers (231-941-7325, NORTHPEAK.NET). Sleep close to the action at a local favorite, the Bayshore Resort (FROM $73, 800-634-4401, BAYSHORE-RESORT.COM) in Traverse City.
Pitch a tent or cuddle in a cabin at an area state park on a winter backcountry trip in Northern Michigan, which you can plan yourself or can be planned for you by a local sporting goods shop like The Outfitter in Harbor Springs. Go with a guide or without, and snowshoe or ski on frozen lakes, explore snow caves like the ones at Wilderness State Park (check with rangers about ice safety) north of Petoskey. Hunker down in seriously warm gear for a night under the winter sky, or just add some more wood to the rustic cabin’s woodstove. You haven’t lived till you’ve tried it (231-526-2621, OUTFITTERHARBORSPRINGS.COM, SHOE RENTAL FROM $17, XC SKI RENTAL FROM $10; 231-436-5381, WILDERNESSSTATEPARK.NET).
Stop in to the Good Hart General Store (M-119, six miles south of Wilderness State Park) to pick up a picnic lunch of world-famous pot pies and private label wine to enjoy on a Lake Michigan bluff (231-526-7661, GOODHARTSTORE.COM).