Embrace the snow! Get outside this winter

Winter is in full swing, but that doesn’t mean you have to stay cooped up inside. Our latest roundup included Midland’s City Forest, and we’ve got even more outings you can add to your calendar for these cold-weather months. 

Chippewa Nature Center offers trails and structured programs

Midland’s Chippewa Nature Center is a family-friendly destination to encourage exploration in beautiful, wintry surroundings. Director of Programs Jenn Kirts has been at the Chippewa Nature Center for 20 years. 

She says the nature center “is a place where everyone can connect to the natural world. The ecosystems you will encounter here represent the fields, forests, wetlands, and rivers of this region and are a fantastic place to learn about this area’s natural resources.”

CNC is hosting several free programs this winter: Story Hours, Wigwam in the Winter, Animal Tracking, Stories by the Fire, and more.Visitors of all ages can share excitement over discoveries and enjoy hiking trails free of charge. 

“Whether you’re sitting in the Visitor Center enjoying the view of the Pine River with friends, running the three-mile River Trail after work, or strolling along the Picture Book Pathway hand-in-hand with a preschooler, people of all ages and abilities are welcome,” says Kirts. 

Popular winter activities include free naturalist-led snowshoe hikes, snowshoe sampler programs, full-moon strolls, and wildlife viewing area bird observations. Kirts says some of the lesser-known activities include free programs like Story Hours, Wigwam in the Winter, Animal Tracking, and Stories by the Fire. 

CNC's Visitor Center is open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sunday from noon-5 p.m.“These programs offer opportunities for people to have a guided outdoor experience in nature,” she says. “If folks want to come out on their own, we have 19 miles of trails available for hiking or snowshoeing and skiing if there’s enough snow.”

The Visitor Center is open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sunday from noon-5 p.m. While most drop-in programs are free and don’t require registration, special field trips like off-site birding trips, or basket-weaving workshops do require registration fees. 

To view the full calendar and register for events, visit the website or call 989-631-0830. 

Plowed walkways, cross-country skiing trails and more in Midland’s Parks

Midland County Parks and Recreation Director John Schmude has been in his role for six years. 

“As far as winter recreation, basically everything we do is considered passive recreation,” says Schmude. “It really boils down to two parks that we groom or plow: Pine Haven Recreation Area and the Rail Trail.”

Pine Haven Recreation Area is groomed and plowed throughout the winter.Schmude says there has to be at least six inches of snow acting as a base in order to compact the trails. The department plows four areas on the Rail Trail for a total of 9.8 plowed miles, primarily for walkers. Those areas are: Dublin Avenue to Hope Road; 7 Mile Road to 9 Mile Road; Barden Road to Alamando Road; and Lewis Road to North County Line.

Pine Haven Recreational Area is 9.5 miles of trail-compacted and 2.3 miles for cross-country and skate skiing. It’s open every day from dawn until dusk. Visitors can cross-country ski on the paths, with various trail difficulties marked at Pine Haven. There is no entry fee, but donations are accepted in order to maintain the trail system. 

Read more articles by Sarah Spohn.

Sarah Spohn is a Lansing native, but every day finds a new interesting person, place, or thing in towns all over Michigan, leaving her truly smitten with the mitten. She received her degrees in journalism and professional communications and provides coverage for various publications locally, regionally, and nationally — writing stories on small businesses, arts and culture, dining, community, and anything Michigan-made. You can find her in a record shop, a local concert, or eating one too many desserts at a bakery. If by chance, she’s not at any of those places, you can contact her at spohn9@gmail.com.