If you’re looking for a great place to go snowshoeing in the Upper Midwest, the Porcupine Mountains (aka the Porkies) are a great spot. The Porkies hug the southern shore of Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. These mountains are also considered a wilderness area and together comprise Michigan’s largest state park.
One of the reasons the Porkies are a great place for snowshoeing is that some 200 inches of snow fall in the wilderness every year. That snowy bounty transforms them into a paradise for skiing and sledding, as well as snowshoeing.
Logistics of Snowshoeing in the Porkies
There are some logistics involved when it comes to traveling to the Porkies in winter. Actually, for traveling anywhere in the Upper Peninsula, or U.P. First, not all of the roads in the U.P. are plowed in the winter, due to the large amount of snow the entire area gets, coupled with the low number of visitors. So make sure to contact UP Michigan Travel beforehand, or the Porcupine Mountains folks, so you know how to get in and out.
Next comes lodging. There are some heated yurts and rustic cabins available for those who want to ski or snowshoe right from their door. But you also have to ski or snowshoe in from the parking area, too. If you’d prefer a less rustic experience, try booking the intriguingly named Kaug Wudjoo Lodge. For me, staying at the AmericInn in Silver City is the way to go. That’s because the cost is reasonable, the rooms are clean and you get a free breakfast in the morning. Plus it’s just six minutes away!
So, there are no snowshoe-only trails in the Porkies. Rather, snowshoers hike on the cross-country ski trails. But, of course, you need to stay off the tracks so you don’t ruin them for the skiers. Luckily, that’s easy to do.
Make sure to try the Superior Loop for wonderful views of Lake Superior. In addition, the East Vista and West Vista trails are worth the climbs because the views are great. You can also snowshoe to the top of the downhill skiing area for prime lake views.
In case things get nippy, there are three warming huts along the trails. So make sure to bring along hot dogs to roast over the stove or marshmallows for s’mores. If you’re lucky, you might schedule a trip when the park holds a candlelight hiking event, which ends with a roaring bonfire, hot chocolate and goodies.
My recommended gear: Northern Lites snowshoes. They’re feather-light and super easy to get on and off. I recently switched to these from an aluminum pair and am thrilled with the purchase.
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