Snowshoeing at Pictured Rocks

Kids snowshoeing in March
Snowshoeing is a great way to get outdoors in winter.

NPS photo

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

Within the national lakeshore boundary 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 available for you to enjoy via snowshoeing or off-trail skiing.

The park does not mark any specific snowshoe trails. Snowshoes work well on the short walking path to Munising Falls and the 1/2 mile Sand Point Marsh Trail. Both trails are easy to access by car as those parking areas are plowed and remain open all winter. Other destinations within the national lakeshore may be a longer trek from where you are able to park your vehicle.

Also, you can access the North Country National Scenic Trail from the beach parking lot near the end of Sand Point Road or the Grand Sable Visitor Center parking lot and follow the trail for many miles.
One good thing about snowshoes is once you have gone as far as you wish, turn around and follow your tracks back to the car! Barring a blizzard, your record of tracks will be easy to follow.

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

Your Safety Comes First!
The old scout adage of “Be Prepared” is the best advice for snowshoeing or any outdoor activity in winter. An unexpected slip into a creek or a broken snowshoe binding can quickly spell disaster. The lakeshore staff encourage you to carefully plan your snowshoe 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.
  • Make sure you have the proper clothing. Consider bringing along hand and feet warmers. Also bring along repair materials for your snowshoes.
  • 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 backcountry camping permit online and prepare well for winter camping conditions.
  • 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!


Last updated: February 19, 2020

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P.O. Box 40
Munising, MI 49862


(906) 387-3700

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