Bundle up and head north! If snowmobiling has you hooked, go no farther than the Great Lakes. Michigan’s lake effect snow and vast trail systems offer snowmobile enthusiasts a top-notch experience. The trail system was designed with long-distance snowmobiling in mind – connecting riders with food, gas and lodging. Whether riding on national forests, Michigan state forests or private lands, permits are required to operate a snowmobile in the state of Michigan. Watch the forecasts for snow totals (many areas require certain snow totals for winter maintenance) and check with local area organizations for groomed terrain on the more than 6,000 miles of designated trails.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Found on the Upper Peninsula hugging 40 miles of Lake Superior shoreline, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore has several options for snowmobilers. The lakeshore permits snowmobiles on designated portions of roadways and lakes. Easily accessible, the Miners Castle Road is a great place to start exploring. Just east of Munising, plan a stop at the Park Headquarters for snow conditions and tips for making the most of your visit.
Huron-Manistee National Forests
The Manistee National Forest offers more than 380 miles of snowmobile trails. Trails begin as far south as Newaygo, Michigan, continuing north through the Cadillac and Manistee areas. You could plan a multi-day vacation while riding on your snowmobile the entire time!
Located in the Northwestern Lower Peninsula, both the Cadillac Area Snowmobile Trail and Caberfae Snowmobile Trail are sure to exhilarate and get you started on the area’s trail network. Volunteers keep the area groomed, trails cleared and signed.
Heading east from the Manistee National Forest, ride over to the Huron National Forest, east of Grayling, Michigan. The Oscoda Snowmobile Trail awaits those looking to explore the local area and beyond to the Au Sable River and Alcona County. Trail maps of the area can be found on the Michigan Department of Natural Resources website for this trail and the connecting system trails.
As you explore the Huron-Manistee National Forests, keep in mind, snowmobiles are permitted only on designated trails.
Hiawatha National Forest
The Hiawatha National Forest is located on the Upper Peninsula on both the east and westerly sides. If you’re heading west on the peninsula, check out the trails in Chippewa County. As old man winter settles in, snowmobilers may even have a chance to head east of the forest over to Drummond Island.
Lodging is available throughout the trail systems in Michigan. If you’re looking for something unique on the Hiawatha, visit Grand Island Cabins, remotely located on the forested Grand Island, surrounded by Lake Superior, a 1/2 mile from the mainland community of Munising, Michigan.
Northwest of Manistique, Michigan, visitors can explore area snowmobile trails while staying at Tom's Lake Cabin. Built in 1991, the cabin is situated on a small knoll overlooking Tom’s Lake, a 23-acre lake in the heart of the Hiawatha National Forest.
Ottawa National Forest
With more than 450 miles of trails, the woodlands of the Ottawa National Forest provide snowmobile enthusiasts a wealth of options. Snowmobilers are also permitted to ride unplowed forest roads. Following March 31, the area which lies south of M-28 and east of Highway M-64, is closed to cross-country snowmobile use to prevent disturbance of nesting eagles.
Aloha State Park
Open December 1 through March 31, try the multi-use North Eastern State Trail. This rail-trail awaits snowmobilers looking to discover the beauty of the Northern Lower Peninsula. Head north from Aloha State Park to Cheboygan State Park and from Cheboygan, head south and east towards the densely forested P.H. Hoeft State Park. Stop-off at the Black Mountain Forest Recreation Area with more than 80 miles of groomed trails.
Hart-Montague Trail State Park
Extending 22 miles, the Hart-Montague Trail runs north-south near Lake Michigan beginning in Hart and connecting to the White Lake Trailway through the cities of Montague and Whitehall. Snowmobilers will enjoy the rolling hills of the northern section which gives way to flats as one heads south on this rail-trail.