The Petoskey State Park is a destination in all seasons, and with the 75-plus inches of snowfall this area has already experienced, cross country skiers are taking full advantage of snowy shoreline and woodland exploration. Throughout the area nature preserves and area ski hills are boasting top notch conditions for nordic and alpine adventures. (Harbor Light Newspaper photo/Mark Flemming)
This holiday season northern Michigan transformed into a giant snowglobe, with almost daily flakes falling and piling up the powder in woods and ski hills across the region. For an area that has been waiting for an epic return of true winter weather, enthusiasts have been rejoicing at local ski resorts and cross country trails, thrilled to be taking advantage of some of the best snow this part of the state has experienced in years.
With the exception of a one-day thaw between Christmas and New Year's Eve, the holiday week was filled with flurries and cold temperatures. More than five-inches fell during that time, adding onto to an already way-above average amount of snowfall this season. According to the National Weather Service in Gaylord, Petoskey has received more than 75-inches of snowfall this season, up 30-inches from average rates. Nub's Nob, just northeast of Harbor Springs, reports more than 65-inches of base, as the does Boyne Highlands. For cross country skiers who depend on natural snowfall, this season has been a dream come true.
"If ever there was a winter to invest in snowshoes or cross country skis, this is it," said Josh Baker, owner of The Outfitter in Harbor Springs. "This year's early snowfall brought out the best northern Michigan has to offer in backcountry trails. You can pretty much hit any backwoods in the area and go adventuring. It's the best we've seen in a long while."
Cross country skiers can also explore groomed trails at area ski resorts and free trails at many of the local nature preserves. Conditions there are prime for some good ol' fashioned slide and glide, said Doug Fuller, director of stewardship for Little Traverse Conservancy.
"Volunteers and staff have been busy grooming trails at nature preserves from the Birge Preserve in Cedarville to The Hill in Boyne City," he said. "There is nothing quite as inviting as a groomed two-track on a snowy winter day."
Erin Ernst, communications director for Boyne Resorts, said both the Mountain and Highlands have had a jam-packed week, with lots of events happening on and off the snow.
"The holiday schedule has been packed with events including rail jams and equipment demos, and there is even more in store with our New Year's Eve celebrations at both resorts," she said, adding that since the New Year holiday falls on a Wednesday, "many families are also opting to stay for the long weekend, which is great and has really extended our holiday business."
Jim Bartlett, general manager of Nubs Nob, said the Christmas holiday week was defined by stellar conditions, and noted he's looking forward to another great week of families hitting the slopes.
"We had solid pre-Christmas business, and strong counts after Christmas leading to an almost record breaking day Saturday (December 28)," Bartlett said. "All in all, it's been a great week with spectacular conditions."