Hiawatha National Forest
The Hiawatha National Forest's winter landscape is beautiful. Snowmobilers will find over 3,000 miles of roads, abandoned railroad grades, and special snowmobile trails through hardwood stands, pine forest, and frozen swampland awaiting them. The average snowmobile season extends from December 15 to March 15. All roads and trails on the Hiawatha National Forest are open to snowmobiling unless otherwise posted. However, any cross-country travel, either off-road or on the hiking and skiing trails, is fervently verboten. But take heart. The Munising District has more than 55 miles of groomed trails, while Manistique District weighs in with 35 miles. Nahma Railroad Grade, an abandoned logging route, is historic, but more importantly, lots of fun to whiz down. And you can actually get your machine out on the (frozen) lake at the Pictured Rock National Lakeshore.
Munising Ranger District
The Munising Ranger District has six groomed and marked trails that run a total of 55 miles. These trails, described below, connect with the Manistique and Rapid River Ranger Districts.
North Hiawatha Trail: 18 miles. The North Hiawatha Trail runs from the Forest's northwest boundary, near Rock River, to M-94 south of Christmas. At M-94 it connects with the east-west running Coal Wood Grade ORV Trail. North, at Rock River, the North Hiawatha Trail connects with a trail that leads west near M-28 towards Marquette.
Chatham Trail: 1.5 miles. This is a short, well-defined trail that serves as a link between the town of Chatham and the North Hiawatha Trail. Services available in Chatham include phone, fuel, groceries, and taverns.
Christmas Trail: 7 miles. The Christmas Trail links the North Hiawatha Trail with the towns or Christmas and Munising. Services available in both of these towns include phone, fuel, groceries, lodging, taverns, restaurants, and snowmobile repair. Munising also has a hospital, ambulance service, state police, and county sheriff. Neither the Munising-Christmas link nor this trail is marked or maintained. Access to this link can be obtained either at the west end of Varnum Street in Munising, or one mile south of Christmas on the Perch Lake Road.
Coal Wood Trail: 10 miles. The Coal Wood Trail is located approximately 8 miles southwest of Munising on M-94. This east-west running trail connects the North Hiawatha Trail with the haywire Grade located to the east in Shingleton. Services available in Shingleton include phone, fuel, groceries, bar, and restaurant. This trail also provides access to the Baldy Lake Trail, located 1 mile east of M-94, southwest of Munising.
Baldy Lake Trail: 13 miles. The Baldy Lake Trail begins 1 mile of M-94 along the Coal Wood Trail and proceeds south to Delta County Road 440 where it links with the Nahma Grade Trail. Phone, food, and fuel are available 1/4 mile west of the trail on FR 2254. Phone, food, and supplies are also available along FH-13, 1 mile east of the intersection of Baldy Lake Trail and Delta County Road 440.
Manistique Ranger District
On the Manistique Ranger District over 35 miles of marked and groomed snowmobile routes have been established.
The Haywire Grade: Covers about 10 miles within the Manistique District, but has an overall length of around 37 miles. Many users enter the trail from the "S" curves on M-94, which is about six miles north of town. Food, telephone, and fuel are available along the trail at Steuben and Shingleton.
The Big Spring Trail: 18 miles. The south trailhead begins at Richard's Mill, which is about a mile north of the Palms Book State Park off Forest Road 2417. The north trailhead is at FH 13. About half of this trail winds through plantations and lowlands with the remainder along unplowed roads.
The Murphy Creek Trail: 9 miles. A spur route connecting the Haywire Grade and the Big Spring Trail. The main access points are from the Haywire Grade or Big Spring Trail and signs are provided indicating these turn-offs.
Nahma Grade Snowmobile Trail
The logging industry was an important part of life in the Upper Peninsula in the late 1800s. Logging camps had sprung up all along the Sturgeon River and its branches. Logs were floated down-river to the docks at Nahma, then loaded on barges and shipped to lumber mills. By 1901, it became obvious that a train route was necessary to facilitate the increased logging in the Peninsula. The Nahma and Northern Railway at one time had over 75 miles of track. It was not until after World War I that logging trucks started to make the old steam locomotives obsolete. The beginning of the end for the old logging railroads started in 1947 when the first of the tracks were removed. It is over some of these old roadbeds that much of the Nahma Grade Snowmobile Trail is now located.
The marked and groomed Nahma Grade Snowmobile Trail is 31 miles in length. Connections can be made to other trails to increase your total ride. Maps and regulations are available at the District Ranger's Office or the Supervisor's Office of the Hiawatha National Forest.
The trailhead is on I-40 near County Road 509, two miles east of Rapid River, in Delta County. The first segment is 11 miles long and is located on a natural gas pipeline. It passes through lowlands, stands of jack pine, and sand flats.
Near Forest Highway 13, the trail takes you north 20.3 miles to connect with the Baldy Lake Trail at County Road 440. Much of this segment uses the old abandoned logging railroad grades. The trail traverses cedar swamps, low wetlands, bogs, and dunal ridges. You will be near deeryards; and may encounter some signs of beaver activity.
There is a trail bridge at Mormon Creek. The Sturgeon River is crossed by the Fourteen Mile Bridge on Forest Highway 13. The trail on the Northern section takes you through rolling hardwood hills.
The entire Nahma Grade Snowmobile Trail covers 31.3 miles from the beginning near County Road 509 to the connection with the Baldy Lake Trail at County Road 440.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is covered with a deep blanket of snow for five months of the year, thus lending itself to a great variety of winter sports.
Snowmobiling is a popular pastime in and around the lakeshore. There are a number of unplowed roads within the park boundaries leading to the major points of interest. Snowmobilers are asked to use only those unplowed roads or trails specifically designated for snowmobile use.
For a rewarding experience, turn the key of your snowmobile off and listen; quiet solitude is at a premium in our modern society. If you enjoy what you hear or don't hear, we invite you to try out those snowshoes you have been carrying around for safety reasons, and explore the park a little on foot.
Snowmobile use is permitted on designated portions of roadways and lakes in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The designated routes for snowmobiles are the frozen waters of Lake Superior and Grand Sable Lake, and on the major Lakeshore visitor use roads that are unplowed or on road shoulders of plowed park roads in conformance with state law.
- Sand Point Road from the park boundary to Lake Superior.
- From the park boundary off City Limits Road, southwest to Becker Farm, and down to Sand Point Road.
- Miners Falls Road, Miners Castle parking area, and the Miners Beach parking area.
- From the park boundary in Section 32, T48N, R17W, to the Chapel parking lot.
- Road from H-58 at park boundary to the Little Beaver Lake Campground.
- Road from H-58 at park boundary to Twelvemile Beach Campground.
- Road from H-58 to Hurricane River Campground.
- Road from 11-58 to Log Slide.
- Michigan Dimension Road from the park boundary to the Log Slide.
- The frozen waters of Lake Superior and Grand Sable Lake.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication