2017-01-05 / Front Page

Programs Planned On Trails Saturday

Stomp the Park Ends Day With Evening Hike, Beach Bonfire, and View of Bridge

This Saturday, January 7, people can put on coats, hats, gloves, and snowshoes or skis and explore the trails of the St. Ignace area during Winter Trails Day, from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. It is a free event for the entire family. Activities begin with Hike the Hiawatha, a guided trek on skis or snowshoes from noon to 3 p.m. Participants will pack a lunch and meet at the North Country National Scenic Trail Crossing on Brevort Lake Road for a “High Noon Brown Bag Lunch” and bonfire.

From 2 p.m. 4:30 p.m., the Hiawatha National Forest Office on US-2 west of St. Ignace will host an open house. Participants can enjoy hot chocolate and treats, ask the Forest Service employees questions, and ski or snowshoe the groomed, looped, Gros Cap Trail. Beginners and experts alike can enjoy a hike on one of seven groomed cross-country ski trails that wind 10 miles through forest and the sand dunes near Lake Michigan.

The day concludes with Stomp the Park, an activity hosted by Straits State Park. Hikers will meet at 5 p.m. in the parking area of the park, off Paro Street, and hike to the beach to enjoy a bonfire, s’mores, and a nighttime view of the Mackinac Bridge. A lantern-lit trail will lead participants back to the park. Straits State Park will sponsor Stomp the Park twice more, Saturday, February 11, and Saturday, March 4.

This is the fifth year for the Winter Trails Day. The weather impacts participation, but the event has seen between 20 and 50 participants each year.

Tom Walker, vice president of the Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore (HSS) Chapter of the North Country Trail Association, says the Winter Trails Day is a fun way to experience and celebrate winter.

“We have this marvelous resource right in our backyard in the Hiawatha National Forest, and the North Country Trail runs right through it,” he said. Mr. Walker also said that hiking the trails is a quiet and inexpensive sport. “It doesn’t require $5,000 machines to experience the trails, and they are open year-around.”

With a small amount of snow on the ground, participants will likely be able to hike the trails even if they do not own skis or snowshoes.

Kay Kujawa, communications coordinator for the HSS, said the goal for Winter Trails Day is to “expose local [residents] as well as guests to the North Country National Scenic trail, and the available snowshoe and skiing in Hiawatha National Forest and the Straits State Park.” They also hope to create interest in healthy outdoor winter activities.

“Ultimately,” said Mr. Walker, “we want people to come out and have a good time.”

In addition to Winter Trails Day, Saturday, January 28, hikers can take part in the Snow Lovers Tahqua Trail Trek. This is part of the Winter Carnival at Paradise, and takes place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Participants will hike along the Tahquamenon River, on a portion of the North Country trail that is easily accessed and easily hiked. Those interested will meet on Tahqua Trail Road about ¾ mile off M-123.

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