The stunning vistas and historic sites of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore are just a few glides away from The Homestead resort in Glen Arbor.
“It’s amazing to be able to access the trail right from The Homestead,” Max Gilbeau said with a grin as he clipped into his cross-country skis on a chilly, though sunny, winter day recently.
The trail he referred to is an approximately six-mile loop within the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore’s Bay View trail system. A special spur of the trail begins, literally, steps (or glides if you’re on skis!) from the edge of The Homestead’s charming and bustling Mountain Village. No flat, boring golf-course terrain here! This loop winds through majestic stands of hardwoods and pines, past Lake Michigan panoramas and through a national park-designated rural historic district dotted with scenic 19th-century barns and farmhouses.
The trail’s terrain, a combination of intermediate and beginner segments, is a happy medium for Max and his friend, Allisa Norris. Max was practically born on skis, so he is comfortable on any amount of vertical a trail can serve up. But Alissa wasn’t quite as confident on cross-country skis, so the intermediate/beginner combo proved just right for her. For both skiers, the adventure would be a workout, but there was an incentive at trail’s end: the roaring fire that awaited in the outdoor fireplace at Mountain Village and a fresh-baked pizza and cold beer from Cavanaugh’s, the grocerant that is also tucked into the village.
Once in their gear, the pair skied off into the forest. After a stretch of uphill skiing, they were rewarded by a swath of Lake Michigan shimmering on the horizon. Down a hill below them, they could see the rooftops of Thoreson Farm. The postcard-perfect farmstead, built in the early 1900s, is a part of what is called the Port Oneida Historic District. Port Oneida being the name of the port (really not much more than a dock) that serviced passing steamers with cordwood.
After taking in the view, Max and Alissa set off again, passing more Lake Michigan vistas along the way. After winding down a small hill, they found themselves skiing into history. At least that’s how Alissa felt as she skied right into the farmstead with its bright red barn and quaint white farmhouse. “It was like we went back in time to when the original settlers were here,” she says.
The farmstead, known as the Oleson Farm, is actually headquarters for the Port Oneida Rural Historic District. The pair made a mental note to come back in the summer when it is open and learn more about the early pioneers of this beautiful landscape.
In the meantime, they paused for a fab photo-op against the red Oleson barn, #mychristmascardpic! The last mile or so back to the Mountain Village was an easy glide. Yes, the fire was crackling in the fieldstone fireplace. And yes, the pepperoni pizza and Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale (on draft!) were amazing!
*While Max and Alissa both have their own cross-country gear, The Homestead offers quality rental cross-country ski packages.