The Upper Peninsula is one of the world’s largest winter wonderlands, where you can enjoy all your favorite snowy activities. Snowmobiling is one sport that you can enjoy as a beginner to break up your time on the ski slopes. Or, as an experienced pro who loves exploring new trails to indulge your sense of adventure, you might have made snowmobiling the prime activity on your itinerary.
With over 2,000 miles of trails nearby, Ironwood represents one of the main trailheads where people find the best Upper Peninsula motel to stay at for easy access to beautifully groomed trails. Now, all you have to do is select which one of these five best snowmobile trails will fit your need for a fun-filled trip. Or, you could plan for enough time to enjoy them all.
After snowmobiling through one gorgeous area, you’ll find that each new trail you hit seems to get better and better each time. Who knows, you might even spot some beautiful Michigan wildlife as you explore the great outdoors.
1. Plan a Trip to Lake Gogebic
Lake Gogebic is often referred to as the Upper Peninsula’s best-kept secret for finding snowmobiling trails that offer magnificent views and problem-free sledding. This area receives several hundreds of inches of snowfall every year. It is common to find yourself enjoying the beautiful surprise of having lovely flakes falling as you head out for your adventure.
As you head out from your Ironwood hotel, you’ll also have the opportunity to pass through Bessemer, which also offers exciting snowmobiling trails. Once you reach the lake, you’ll be treated to winding, snowy forest trails with scenic overlooks, bridges, and hills that turn your sledding trip into one you’ll never forget.
2. Sled Through the Porcupine Mountains
The Porcupine Mountains are only about an hour from your Ironwood hotel, making it possible to explore more than 350 miles of groomed trails that wind their way through some of the most untouched parts of the forest.
In the wintertime, Lake of the Clouds is accessible by snowmobile, and you can reach it by taking Trail 1, which begins in Silver City and is located on the park’s east side. If you choose to take this trail, keep in mind that you’ll experience a rapid elevation gain, but most people find the trip up is worth the fantastic views.
If you’ve got waterfalls on your mind, then consider opting to take Trail 3. This route will take you to Bond Falls, which takes on a whole new look in the winter compared to the summer. Seeing the falls in all of their frozen glory is an amazing experience since the freezing of the water turns this site into a constantly changing work of art.
3. Take an Overnight Trip to Copper Harbor
Some people enjoy stocking up their saddlebags for a longer excursion, and you can leave Ironwood to ride the trails to Houghton. Once there, you can spend the night exploring the 230 trails that run along the Keweenaw Peninsula.
Before you head out on this massive trail system, you’ll want to make sure to download or request a map to make sure you don’t get lost on one of the many side loops or backcountry adventures. You’ll also want to check out the weather and trail conditions before you head on a mid-winter snowmobiling trip. This part of the Upper Peninsula gets even more snow than surrounding areas, so you’ll have plenty of time to ride fresh powder.
After you’ve spent the day gliding along groomed trails or engaging your thrill-seeking senses to the max on adrenaline-filled paths through the pines, you can stay another night in Houghton before riding on back to your cozy Ironwood hotel.
4. Go South to the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest
If you point your snowmobile south, you can take a drive into the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in Wisconsin, which is 1.5 million acres of pure natural beauty. Local snowmobile clubs and other avid winter adventurers partner with the U.S. Forest Service to groom the more than 800 miles of snowmobiling trails. Here, you’ll find designated trails marked for snowmobiling, but you can also ride along unplowed roads when the snowfall exceeds four inches.
If you’re new to snowmobiling, you can find guided tours and rentals here that give you more confidence as you discover the joys of sledding through pristine forest areas. This is also such a popular area for snowmobiling that you can even find local diners nearby that you can sled on up to for a quick bite before you return to your big adventure.
5. Spend a Day in Paradise
With a name like that, you know you are bound to discover a wintry wonderland filled with scenic trails for your snowmobiling excursion. Located about 10 miles from Tahquamenon State Park, Paradise opens up to trailways that allow you to visit the area’s defining feature, which is the beautifully oversized Upper and Lower Falls.
After admiring the Falls, you can take one of the many well-marked trails on up to Whitefish Point Lighthouse before heading back again. One of the best parts about this massive trail system is that there are so many trails that you never have to take the same one twice. Being able to change up your ride as you travel through the unspoiled wilderness makes each leg of your journey just as exciting as the last.
Finding snowmobiling trails is only part of planning a successful Upper Peninsula trip. Next, you’ll also want to prioritize space for parking your snowmobile or trailer when you look for where to stay in Ironwood. Staying at a hotel with a large parking lot and fast access to trails helps you to maximize every moment of your snow-filled adventure trip. You can also lean on the support of the front desk team to help you get up-to-date on the latest forecasts and trail conditions.
Whether you venture out to Lake Gogebic or choose to visit the Lake of the Clouds, make sure to dress warmly, carry plenty of snacks, and stock your snowmobile with a first aid kit. Then, always begin your day’s adventures by inspecting your snowmobile and checking to ensure you’ve got the most up-to-date map. With all your gear in place, you’ll enjoy a stress-free day sledding through one of the most beautiful winter landscapes on earth.