It’s finally winter, and snowy trails beckon. Answer the call. These getaway ideas make for a perfect Northern Michigan January vacation.
Winter water wonderland
Three lakes and a captivating stretch of the Platte River are part of the view in less than four miles when you glide the Lake Ann Pathway, notable for its rolling hills, multiple loops, and easy-to-reach location just 15 miles from Traverse City. Make it a small-town getaway, though, with a stay at Lake Ann’s Sleeping Bear Resort on the shore of Herendeene Lake (named Northern Michigan’s Red Hot Best cabin resort), gourmet macaroni and cheese at The Stone Oven, and a Lake Ann Amber at Lake Ann Brewing Company (get to know the brewer with this Q&A). Novices have a great option too. Lost Lake Pathway, right along Lake Dubonnet, lets you practice on flats without sacrificing the lake view.
Ski to your feast
Your picnic—gourmet stops that begin with a breakfast scramble and mimosas and move on to campfire boar chili, pan-fried cod sliders and more—is well spaced over the 6K trail at Treetops Resort’s Skiable Feast. The four-hour outing with five food and beverage stations and optional overnight is offered every Saturday in January. Make it a weekend and ski Aspen Park, lit until 11 p.m., where the 100 acres of woods and trails share a boundary with Gaylord’s City Elk Park, where you can view herds of elk and deer (more info here).
An island of your own
Where horses step and bicycles glide in summer, snowshoes step and skis glide in winter. Best of all, you may have Mackinac Island nearly to yourself—or at least feel like you do—when you fly over via Great Lakes Air and book at the Pontiac Lodge and Village Inn Suites (lodging info). Tote your own snowshoes or rent skis onsite at Cawthorne’s Village Inn, then explore trails groomed by the Mackinac Island Ski Club. One route heads through the woods to Arch Rock and a view of Lake Huron from the eastern bluff. Meet behind Fort Mackinac at 5:30 p.m., January 7 to traverse a two-mile trail by lantern, warm up by the bonfire and hot chocolate station (event info). Plan your Mackinac Island getaway in any season here.
Glide by the falls
Watch for the tracks of resident mink and pine marten, and listen to the roar of the root-beer-colored falls flowing between snow and ice formations when you explore Tahquamenon Falls State Park. Cross-country trails are groomed, and hikers are encouraged to explore off-track with snowshoes amid the park’s 50,000 acres. In-park Tahquamenon Falls Brewery and Pub is itself worth a visit for the roaring fire, Black Bear Stout oats and hearty food options, like pesto pasta with wild forest mushrooms. Overnight in Paradise.
Two guided outings
Manistee: Ski with a group by the light of the full moon 7 p.m., January 7 at the Big M cross-country ski trails near Manistee, where dessert and hot chocolate will be served in a heated shelter. Les Cheneaux: Book Woods and Water Ecotours for a three-hour shoreline excursion along Lake Huron ($45, dates flexible), in which trained guides add to the experience sharing tidbits about the history of snowshoeing, helping spot animal tracks and more. They also bring lunch.