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What to do this winter in the Porcupine Mountains
Get ready for fun when the snow flies—the Porcupine Mountains and Ontonagon County in Michigan’s western Upper Peninsula are home to some truly outstanding winter recreation options, from downhill skiing to backcountry snowshoeing to fast-paced snowmobiling. Here’s a closer look.
Want a great skiing and snowboarding experience with an incredible view of Lake Superior? Head to the Porcupine Mountains Ski Complex—now under the management of the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park and the Michigan DNR—to explore 15 groomed trails and four glade trails in a stunning setting along the shores of Lake Superior. Also, if you’re up for a day trip, the Porcupine Mountains is located within a 90-minute drive of five other ski hills: Mount Bohemia, Mont Ripley, Big Powderhorn Mountain Resort, Snowriver Mountain Resort, and Blackjack Ski Resort.
The Porcupine Mountains Ski Complex is the starting point for several cross-country ski trails—skiers will find more than 25 miles of trails to explore, and the ski complex rents out skis and snowshoes. The Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park also opens its nearly 90 miles of trails for ungroomed cross-country skiing in the winter but note that the park’s South Boundary Road is closed and the road to Lake of the Clouds is unplowed in the winter.
The western Upper Peninsula routinely tops more than 200 inches of snow a year—in the last 15 years, it’s averaged more than 250 inches and reached as high as 325 inches—so that means great opportunities for not only skiing and snowshoeing, but also for sports that move a little faster. Ontonagon County is home to more than 350 miles of groomed snowmobile trails that take riders along the shores of Lake Superior and through the old-growth forests of the Porcupine Mountains. One popular destination is Lake of the Clouds inside the state park—the road to the overlook is closed to car traffic in the winter, but snowmobiles are able to ride along M-107 to take in the outstanding views. Ontonagon County’s snowmobile trails also connect to hundreds more miles of great riding in Houghton, Keweenaw, and Gogebic County, with bars, restaurants, and gas stations all along the way, so riders can enjoy a great day of snowmobiling throughout the western U.P.
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