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Park rangers hope the snow will not melt anytime soon so you can explore Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (National Lakeshore) on snowshoes throughout the winter! Space is currently available for the first hike of the regular season on Saturday, January 9, 2016 at 1:00 p.m. Then, snowshoe hikes will be offered every Saturday at 1:00 p.m. through March 5, 2016. If there is not enough snow, winter hikes will be provided. Meet at the National Lakeshore’s Philip A. Hart Visitor Center in Empire. If you don’t have your own, snowshoes will be loaned at no charge. Participants need only purchase the park entrance pass or have an annual pass to join in the fun. Reservations are required whether you need to borrow snowshoes or have your own. Park ranger-led snowshoe hikes have a limit on the number of participants. Please call 231-326-4700, extension 5010, for details and to make reservations. If you make a reservation, but then need to cancel, please call and let us know so we can contact visitors on our waiting list.
Snowshoe hikes are fun for all ages. Inside the visitor center, park rangers will first provide basic snowshoeing instructions and then everyone will travel by car to the trailhead or area of the National Lakeshore pre-selected for that day. Once there, the park ranger will help participants learn about the park’s unique features and winter’s effect on them by exploring and discovering clues on site. Be prepared and plan to be outside until about 3:00 p.m. Dress in layers and wear waterproof boots to be most comfortable.
Not only is snowshoeing easy, fun, and good exercise, it is also an activity that can be enjoyed by all ages. The park ranger-led hikes are mildly strenuous, yet they proceed at a leisurely pace for only one and a half miles at the most. The National Lakeshore is excited to offer programs such as the snowshoe hikes as a way to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service (NPS) in 2016. The goal of the NPS Centennial is to connect with and create the next generation of park visitors, supporters and advocates.