Kalamazoo's first snow was December 1st. Every day since then, I'd been tempted to get out my skis, even though I knew the snow wasn't deep enough for cross-country yet. Then I remembered that Outside Magazine's guidebook, Urban Adventure Chicago, recommended Love Creek County Park for its early lake effect snow. Love Creek is outside Berrien Springs, just over an hour southwest of Kalamazoo. On Friday, I decided to try it.
As the book promised, Love Creek had substantially deeper snow than Kalamazoo. The trails pass through a mix of woods and open prairie with some rolling hills. In many sections, they are groomed with both traditional double tracks and a wide flat section for skate skiing. I started with the 2.5 mile yellow loop with the intention of trying one of the three other loops afterward.
It had been overcast when I left Kalamazoo but, by the time I started skiing, the sun broke through the clouds making a glorious clear day. The trail was great until that bright sun softened the snow enough to make it sticky. Towards the end of the loop, I was stopping to scrape snow off the bottom of my skis every few minutes. Rather than slog through a second lap, I declared it a successful inaugural run and changed into boots and walked their winter hiking trail.
Ski rentals are available in the park visitor center. Current trail conditions are updated daily on the Berrien County Parks homepage. More information is available in the Berrien County Parks Cross Country Skiing brochure (pdf).
Love Creek County Park
9292 Huckleberry Road
Berrien Center, MI
Directions: Take I-94 to exit 30. Follow Napier Avenue east to US 31 South. Take US 31 south to exit 15 onto M-139 (Old 31) southeast to Berrien Springs. Cross the river & turn left to Deans Hill Road, then immediately right onto Pokagon Rd. Follow signs to the park.
Entry fee. Trail fee. Season passes available.
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