Lifestyle

Get Outside and Play!

Spring gets all the affection.

It’s a season of too much undeserved reverence. Poets drone endlessly about renewal and rebirth. Curmudgeons bemoan how it can’t arrive soon enough before returning their attention to those darn kids on the lawn. Romantics wax about how it’s the time of year equated with budding young love. Blech!

Well, I say, where’s the love for winter?

If spring is the snooty belle of the ball – all gussied up in uptight “look-at-me” arrogance – then winter is the party gate-crasher who has spiked the punch and is coaxing you into the back alley to shoot a quick game of craps. Sure, you know that rascally winter is a bit rough around the edges – what with the cold temperatures, shoveling and somewhat precarious driving conditions – but, holy cow, he is so much more fun to hang around with!

It’s time to ditch the belle because winter is bringing his own party to Michigan. And just like in any other northern state, he tends to party a bit harder here. Fortunately, the Great Lakes Bay Region is always an ever gracious and well-prepared host for winter’s rambunctious annual arrival.

Leave the chestnuts roasting over an open fire, let Jack Frost nip at your nose and embrace your inner child by gleefully romping around in the winter wonderland. The area offers a wealth of wintertime outdoor activities for kids of any age. The convention and visitor’s bureau serving the Great Lakes Bay Region, the Go Great Lakes Bay team, has compiled a list of the hottest local winter spots in one of their always-informative blog posts. Here’s a look at a few of the offerings they found.

CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING
Explore nearly 100 miles of the Great Lakes Bay Regional Trail, rent equipment at the Midland City Forest and trek the 7-mile trail for beginners or tackle the 11K loop for advanced skiers, travel the 4-mile Anderson Nature Trail inside the 2,000-plus-acre Bay City State Recreation Area, or bask in the 19 miles of trail open to skiing at the Chippewa Nature Center.

SNOWSHOEING
“With almost 100 miles of snow-covered outdoor trails, places to snowshoe in Michigan are plentiful here in the Great Lakes Bay,” according to the Go Great Lakes Bay website. “Go snowshoeing from dawn to dark on 19 miles of scenic trails inside our 1,200-acre Chippewa Nature Center or try Midland’s City Forest for another snowshoeing adventure along 11 kilometers of gorgeously groomed trails.”

FAT-TIRE BIKING
No need to put your two-wheeler in mothballs until the warm weather returns. Fat-tire biking opens the door to making cycling a year-round activity. If you don’t own a fat-tire bike, they can be rented from Jack’s Bicycle Shop in Bay City or Ray’s Bike Shop in Midland and Bay City to explore the winter miles across the region.

According to Go Great Lakes Bay, the roughly 100 miles of the Great Lakes Bay Regional Trail offer ideal outings, including the 11 miles that take you through the Shiawassee State Game Area from St. Charles to Saginaw on the Saginaw Valley Rail Trail, the 30-mile Pere Marquette Rail Trail from Midland’s Tridge to the outskirts of Clare, and the 21 miles of frozen woods and wetlands on the Bay City Area Riverwalk/Railtrail.

SLEDDING, TOBOGGANING AND ICE SKATING
Those looking for faster wintertime thrills can turn to more traditional activities such as sledding, tobogganing and ice skating. The Midland City Forest Winter Sports Park offers all three. Rent a toboggan and race down snow-packed ice runs, enjoy sledding on a groomed and lighted hill until 10 p.m. or cruise across the glass-like lighted skating rink.
Other area where skating can be had include the Emerson Park Ice Hockey Rink near downtown Midland, Hoyt Park in Saginaw and the Nickless Family Community Pavilion in Bay City’s Wenonah Park.

ICE FISHING
What did one ice fisherman say to the other?

Drop me a line anytime.

“Venturing out with the pro anglers of Mark Martin’s Fishing Vacation School or setting up a shanty for your own Michigan ice fishing adventure, a winter fishery full of world-class walleye awaits on the frozen Saginaw Bay of Lake Huron,” according to Go Great Lakes Bay.

RISING ABOVE IT ALL
The 1,400-foot canopy walk at Whiting Forest of Dow Gardens in Midland overlooks 54 acres of forests, ponds, meadows and orchards from 40 feet off the ground. Designed to be accessible for all ages and abilities and open in every season, the canopy walk has three arms with each ending at a unique viewing platform.

For more information on events and activities to be discovered throughout the Great Lakes Bay Region, visit the Go Great Lakes Bay website at gogreat.com.

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