Sub 32 Degrees

Sub 32 Degrees

One might imagine that in an area where the pursuit of outdoor activities consumes its citizenry throughout spring, summer and fall, folks might pull back in a bit in winter. A little hibernation might be I order once the snow rolls in and the waters turn to ice.

Winter doesn’t send people inside around here. The weather just opens up a whole new set of recreational pursuits for those of us lucky enough to live here and the many who visit our area during the months requiring a bit of layering. We embrace both ends of the whole “Water-Winter-Wonderland” nickname with reckless abandon here in Newaygo County, all in pursuit of having a good time.

And we take having a good time pretty seriously…

Like your fun motorized?

Snowmobiling routes are abundant throughout the county with the White Cloud Trail embarking from the Sports Park Complex and winding its way north to the county line and beyond on well-groomed paths. Sled riders can witness a wide variety of wildlife as they wind their way past wooded wilds and rolling hills, then stop for lunch in White Cloud or Woodland Park to take in some local fare. The trail connects to trails throughout Lake County to our north with over 100 miles of continuous riding available.

Newaygo County is very snowmobile-friendly, hosting large groups from throughout the region and beyond who come for the outstanding trails to be ridden and return time and again for the friendly atmosphere they find.

Prefer your woods and water a bit quieter?

Cross country skiing is not only great exercise but a way to enjoy the feel of skis under your feet without having to wait in line for a ride up a steep hill you are then forced to somehow find your way down in one piece despite not having a clue what you’re doing.  Or maybe that was just my experience.

While obviously not well acquainted with the downhill variety of ski’s, many of my most enjoyable hours have been spent on the cross-country kind in the company of friends or just a canine companion, gliding through the wood-lined lanes our area offers. Whether breaking trail or following a pre-broken path, the Visitor’s Center, Hungerford Lake Trail, Branstrom Park and the Coolbough Natural Area are just a few of the places offering a scenic saunter through wintry wooded wonder.

Snowshoeing allows for exploration into places not always navigable or even reachable in warmer times. Beyond accessibility into a wider variety of areas there are no special boots required and with its unhurried pace snowshoeing gives the hiker more opportunity for pausing to take in the snow-laden surroundings. Any of the many hiking trails favoring our county are great spots to spend a bit of time walking on top of the snow, always a pleasant experience.

Enjoy the solitude of the ice?

The ice fishing community that springs up on inland lakes as well as on Croton and Hardy ponds is substantial in numbers and enthusiasm. On any given day on any of the over 100 lakes in our county the ice men and ice women of the sport can be found. Some are in shanties ranging from the portable pop-up variety to opulent hand-crafted creations seemingly suited to housing a couple of fair-sized marching bands.

Others arrive with only a sled and ply their craft while sitting on a solitary pail. Most are aiming for a plethora of pan fish and a few set their sights on spearing a pike or two but all share a passion for pulling in their catch from beneath the ice.

The Croton Pond area has been host to one of the stops on the North American Ice Fishing Circuit professional tournament in recent years as well as the annual Dam to Dam Ice Fishing Tournament, a festival where fun is as central to the purpose as fishing. Both take place during February.

Hit the hills?

The Visitor’s Center and Branstrom Park boast a pair of premiere sledding hills where kids of all ages flock after a snow-fall to catch some gravity enhanced thrills. There is nothing quite like speeding down a snow-covered hill on a disc, tube or the more traditional flexible flyer and the ride off these hills makes the obligatory climb back up worth every step.

Skating ponds in Newaygo and White Cloud allow those potential future Olympians a bit of practice as well as providing an outstanding workout for anyone who laces up the blades for a few laps on the ice.

Newaygo County is a winter recreation hub with over half of the county’s area consisting of National Forest. In addition to providing visitors with an exceptional environmental experience, the restaurants, motels and bed and breakfasts in the area as well as a diverse group of businesses, cater to visitors with outstanding customer service and a welcoming spirit.

Winter in Newaygo County is a time to take it outside when it comes to having fun.

And like I said, we’re pretty serious about our fun.

Writer: Ken Delaat is a local writer and supporter of outdoor recreation in Newaygo County

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