• Lake Superior in a stormy mood. Photo copyright Craig Blacklock

    Pictured Rocks

    National Lakeshore Michigan

Snowshoeing

Two visitors trek through the snow covered forest on snowshoes.

Snowshoeing

NPS photo / Gregg Bruff

The national lakeshore consists of some 73,000 acres along 42 miles of Lake Superior shoreline. Of that 73,000 acres, 33,000 acres are owned in perpetuity by you, the American public.

Of that 33,000 acres, the only places you cannot snowshoe are probably obvious - on roads open to vehicular traffic and on the park's 20 miles of groomed cross-country ski trails. The entire remainder of the lakeshore is there for you to enjoy via snowshoeing or skiing.

One good thing about snowshoes is once you have gone about half way, turn around and follow your tracks back to the car! Barring a blizzard, your record of tracks is pretty easy to follow home.

The benefits of snowshoeing are many, including the opportunity for solitude in a relatively deserted environment. If you strike out in the park on an old road or logging trail, the only sound you may hear is the beating of your own heart and the wind in the pines.

Though wildlife is pretty scarce in winter, tracks of otter, red squirrel, American marten, fisher, deer, grouse, raven, and snowshoe hare are often seen.

The park does not mark any specific snowshoe trails, with the exception of occasional winters when a trail is marked on Sand Point.
 
Your Safety Comes First!
As you can imagine, winter is one of the best times to be completely prepared!

An unexpected slip into a creek, the loss of a tarp in a blizzard, a broken snowshoe binding can quickly spell disaster. The old scout adage of “Be Prepared” is the best medicine.

The lakeshore staff encourage you to carefully plan your winter excursion into the park. Here are a few helpful suggestions.

  • Before you leave home, let someone know where you are going, how long you plan to be out, a description of your vehicle, where it will be parked, and when you plan to return. Write It Down!
  • Take plenty of liquids and snacks or food along with you ... maybe a little to spare in case something should happen.
  • Take repair materials for skis, snowshoes, or your snowmobile.
  • Don’t expect your cell phone to work in the park. Many areas do not receive reception due to a lack of towers, cloudy conditions, hilly topography and heavy forest cover.
  • If you are camping overnight, be sure to obtain a backpacking permit at the Interagency Visitor Center in Munising.
  • Know the local weather forecast and watch the weather. A southeast or northeast wind will often preceed a heavy snowfall.
  • Take a compass and map and know how to use them. It is easy to get turned around in portions of the lakeshore when the days are short and the clouds block the sun.
  • Realize that the park ranger staff is reduced in winter and response times are extended due to winter conditions.

Having considered all of this, remember that winter is one of the most incredible seasons at the lakeshore. You will likely see very few people, a lot of animal tracks, and will be able to enjoy a type of solitude unknown at other times of the year. Happy trekking!

 

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