Brown Bridge Quiet Area, a 1,310-acre nature preserve with 6 miles of trail, just 15 minutes south of Traverse City. Though close to TC, you can feel a world away while wandering the trails on snowshoes. The northside trail (access off Ranch Rudolf Road) winds along the ridge that overlooks the deep and wide Boardman River Valley and descends to the valley floor to meet up with the river. You snowshoe onto a boardwalk that cuts through a beautiful cedar swamp and leads to a forest of enormous white pines—pines that you might expect to see in an old black and white image of lumberjacks during the Michigan lumbering era.
I sourced a couple pairs of snowshoes from the garage and headed to the quiet area with family and friends. It was midday on a warm weekend in early March. The sun was occasionally poking out from the clouds, and there was no wind from the north blowing in the cold. We walked along the ridge and stopped at a lookout to take in the stunning views of the valley before taking the trail down. A flight of stairs takes you to the river basin where the boardwalk starts. Even though the temp was above freezing, the lush green of the cedars was coated with a fresh coat of snow that had fallen the night before. We walked the boardwalk to the river while staying on top of the deep snow with our snowshoes. Despite the snow, the forest was alive with sounds of spring’s awakening. We heard deer busting off through the brush, birds singing, squirrels scurrying over the snow to break into their winter stashes, and the sound of the river current surging with snowmelt over stones and logs. The perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Here’s the trail map.
Good quality socks can make your snowshoeing experience much more enjoyable. They wick the moisture from your feet (moisture can cause blisters) and keep your feet warm. Good socks also provide a cushion that helps keep you on your feet longer. Upshot: Socks are an essential gear piece you should invest in. My favorite socks to wear are the Patagonia Merino Hiking Crew Socks, in either midweight or expedition weight, depending on the temperature. They are made from a blend of merino wool, nylon, and spandex, which offers incredible breath- ability and itch-free comfort.
Chasing the Snow
Enjoy the last of the snow with a trip to the Upper Peninsula. Munising and the Keweenaw Peninsula should still have enough white stuff for a week or two (fingers crossed!). March is an enlivening month, with longer days, milder temps and strong sun, it’s the ideal time to grab a pair of snowshoes and take a walk through the woods, where the protection of trees keeps snow deeper, longer.