Snowshoe: People of all ages and levels of ability can enjoy this fun sport. For those who love to hike or jog, it provides a fun winter alternative to these two activities. Snowshoes are a reasonably priced type of equipment ranging from beginning styles to specific terrain models. Just strap the snowshoes over your regular winter boots and you’re off! Snowshoeing offers a communal experience with nature allowing you to go at your own pace to take in the beauty of the winter landscape. No grooming of trails is necessary for this activity as it is more fun to walk over large amounts of snow. See The Powder of 5: Snowshoeing the Sanctuary of the Great Lakes for a complete description of our trails and snowshoe experiences.

Try it out at: Rockport State Recreation Area

Cross-Country Ski: Northeast Michigan is a perfect cross-country ski destination with elevation levels that are just right. The flat trails with an occasional soft rolling ridge provides just enough change in pace to make for a thoroughly enjoyable outing. Gliding through the forests is a great winter exercise option and gets you outside soaking up the benefits of spending time in nature.

People wearing snowshoes

Snowshoeing around Northeastern Lower Michigan provides access to stunning vistas otherwise difficult to navigate on foot. Like this view of the abandoned limestone quarry at Rockport State Recreation Area. Photo: Jason Lampel.

Try it out at: Trails are groomed at Norway Ridge Pathway, Chippewa Hills Pathway, and the Alpena City Golf Course

Ice Skating: From the spin of a figure skater to the drop of a hockey puck, ice skating is an Alpena tradition. Locals grow up skating on frozen ponds and lakes, attending skating practice in the wee hours of the morning and continuing the tradition with adult league hockey and figure skating. The indoor ice arena in Alpena features two ice rinks offering numerous options for organized skating and free community skate events sponsored by local businesses. Skates are available for rent.

Try it out at: Northern Lights Arena

Winter Camping/Winter Hiking: For those who love conquering the cold, winter camping is a fun adventure. Winter camping and hiking spark one’s trailblazing spirit. Nights spent around a campfire, under the crisp starry sky are truly exceptional. Nature wears a new wardrobe in winter, making the camping experience completely unique. Gather some friends and hike into a backcountry campsite to create one-of-a-kind memories. Don’t forget to research the proper methods for staying safe and keeping warm in the cold climate.

Try it out at: Negwegon State Park

Snowmobiling: The adrenaline rush of speeding over crystalline snow has drawn snowmobile enthusiasts away from the warmth of home and into the wilds for generations. Able to cover great distances in short amounts of time; snowmobiling adventures are a popular draw through heavy snowfall months. Northeast Michigan offers a number of trails groomed for the sport, and a few places within the Alpena city limits where snowmobilers can even drive to restaurants (check out the map of where you can ride within the city limits). Don’t forget to drive responsibly.

Try it out atNEST TrailDevils Lake trail

Ice Fishing: Fishing is one of the few activities Northeast Michigan residents enjoy all year round. When the lakes freeze over, the boats are put away and the ice augers and fishing shanties come out of storage. Many find the serenity of ice fishing to be the draw, while others enjoy the camaraderie of fishing together. Ice fishing tournaments keep the fun going until spring arrives. Species to be on the lookout for include pike, perch, and walleye to name just a few.

Try it out at: Long LakeGrand LakeHubbard LakeFletcher’s Pond (Floodwaters)

Fat Tire Biking: Did you know you can still ride a bike in the snow? Fat tire biking is becoming popular in Northeast Michigan as a great way to enjoy two favorites, biking, and winter. Fat tire bikes have wider tires making it easier to glide through the snow. Thunder Bay Trails Association grooms a fat tire bike trail behind Northern Lights Arena and hosts the Groundhog Classic fat tire bike race in February. Enjoy winter with this fun sport!

Try it out: Behind Northern Lights Arena on Woodward Ave.

A couple ice fishing

Perch on! When the lakes freeze over, we keep fishing in the Alpena Area. Plentiful lakes provide ample opportunity for hard water fishing. Photo: Jessica & Joel Bauer.

Snowman Building/Snow Angels/Sledding: Fun, free, and easy! Sometimes good old-fashioned wholesome fun is just what the doctor ordered. Snowmen and snow angels aren’t limited to children. Take your date night outdoors and head to the nearest park to create a snowman; or drop where you are, and leave your mark as a snow angel in the fresh powder. Whoever happens upon the creation that you leave behind will surely be inspired to smile.

Try it out: Any local park! The hill at the Alpena Band Shell is a great sledding location for young children.

Winter Photography: Sunrise over an ice-covered Lake Huron. A wooden bridge spanning a frozen river. Fluffyflakes weighing down pine boughs. Trails transformed by the cloak of winter. Bring your camera and you can snag all these beautiful scenes and more!

Try it out: Island Park at Duck Park

Lighthouse Hikes: The buildings may be closed for winter, but the beauty remains on the trails and routes to Northeastern Lower Michigan’s majestic lighthouses. This activity is even more exciting when you consider the history of one of the most unique collections of Great Lakes lighthouses in the Midwest, located along Shipwreck Alley. Centrally located to seven different lighthouses, life-saving stations, and range lights, the Alpena area is a destination for Narnia-like hikes to find hidden gems … like a lighthouse covered in snow.

Try it out: Grab a copy of the Lighthouse Adventure Guide and plan your route!

Lighthouse on snowy shoreline

Alpena’s Little Red Lighthouse, embracing more than 100 winters, keeps watch over Lake Huron’s Thunder Bay. Photo: Chase Gagnon.

Bonus … Snowmobiling!

The Alpena Snowdrifters Club is under contract with the MDNR to sign, brush and groom 93 miles of snowmobile trail in the Alpena area. There are presently three staging areas for snowmobilers to park and ride from. In addition to the Devils Lake, a series of trails in a state forest, there are three other trails in the system. For trail conditions, a map and more visit the Alpena Snowdrifters Club. Riders can also bring their sleds into town near the NEST trail and stop for a bite and brew! But, please drive responsibly. Check out our blog, The Beginners Guide to a NEST Trail Snowmobile Adventure for a step by step, and trail by trail riding description.

Alpena Snowmobile Map

Northeast Michigan Snowmobile Map

A brush with wildlife is just around the corner on the NEST Trail. Photo: Paula Clutter.