Whether downhill isn’t your thing or you’re just wanting to try something different, there are some terrific places in the Petoskey Area to give cross-country skiing a go.

You might not be surprised to find that the absolute best place to hit the cross-country trail is at the downhill ski resorts. Why? Because they have a paid staff to keep the trails in tip-top condition. Boyne Mountain in Boyne Falls and The Highlands in Harbor Springs offers more than 35km of terrific trails that are groomed and track-set by expert crews. Both have rental equipment for adults and kids and each charges a minimal fee to enjoy the experience. While you’re at it, maybe a lesson isn’t a bad idea, and both resorts have instructors who can make learning a breeze.

At Nub’s Nob in Harbor Springs, they also cater to cross-country enthusiasts with rentals available, a 1km loop that’s lit for night skiing, and an assortment of terrain for classic skiers. The scenery here, like many places in this region, is breathtaking and serene with varied topography. An added bonus is the 18-foot-wide trails.

Short and sweet is a good way to sum up The Hill Nature Preserve in Boyne City. This is not an all-day tour by any means, but the two miles of trails which are groomed by volunteers are a fantastic way to work up a sweat before a hearty breakfast. As the name implies, you’ll be heading in an upward direction where you’ll find a couple of nice views of Lake Charlevoix. Oh, and breakfast? Head to nearby Sunnyside for a hearty stack of buttermilk pancakes or eggs benedict that is worth every gram of cholesterol.

In Petoskey, the Allan and Virginia McCune Nature Preserve is heavily used by cross-country skiers, snowshoers, and hikers. We’ve found that those who hike and snowshoe are good about steering clear where the trail has been tracked by previous skiers. Quite a bit of the three-mile trail is flat but there are a couple of good hills for you to conquer and the views along the Minnehaha Creek are gorgeous.

There a several wonderful nature preserves in Harbor Springs, but the Offield Family Viewlands is one to check out when you strap on the cross-country skis. This preserve is a former golf course with both flat land and hills, and lots of room to stretch your legs. And did I mention the views? Spectacular! Fat-tire biking enthusiasts will find this location is also very worthy of a visit.

Goodhart Farms Nature Preserve was at one time, just that . . . farms. Here you will see a nice mix of open hayfields and wooded trails. 3 ½ miles of the trails on this property, located north of Harbor Springs, is groomed throughout the season for guests and residents of the area to spend time outside. There are three parking lots associated with Goodhart Farms, but in the winter months, you want the one on Robinson Road.

The Chaboiganing Preserve Indian Point Memorial Forest is about 5 miles from Alanson with 2 ½ miles of trails laid out for the new or casual cross-country skier. Not everyone wants to challenge themselves too much, and Chaboiganing is the perfect place to just have fun and take advantage of the beautiful scenery.

About the author

Diane Dakins is passionate about all of the communities that comprise the Petoskey Area of Michigan: Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Bay Harbor and Boyne City. As assistant director of the Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau, she has “been there – seen that” when it comes to virtually every area attraction. She strives to create informative content that gives potential visitors the scoop on planning a northern Michigan vacation