Sunday, February 26, 2012

Ski Yankee Springs

Yankee Springs Recreation Area offers a wide range of outdoor activities; I've gone camping, hiking, mountain biking, and canoeing there but somehow I'd never skied Yankee Springs. I took advantage of the late February snow to try it on Saturday.

The cross-country ski trails are in the center of the park. A series of signs led to the "Winter Sports area" which was a small parking area off Gun Lake Road where the ski trails, and a separate snowmobile trail, begin. A nearby small lot, on the road to the Long Lake Outdoor Center, also offered trail access.

The ski trails are laid across several hiking and mountain bike trails which made for a somewhat confusing system. There are plenty of signs and trail markers (labeled alphabetically) but the trail maps [pdf] don't offer the same level of detail. I came across a handful of other skiers and half of them asked if I knew where we were. No one was really lost, since the trails are easy to follow, but no one was well-oriented. I'm sure after a few visits, it seems obvious.

The trails run through an attractive mix of hardwood and pine forests. There are a good number of hills that, while not technically demanding, would be hard for a beginner. The park has over 5000 acres so there are miles of skiable trails. I skied for two hours without coming close to finishing the entire trail system.

Yankee Springs State Recreation area is about 35 miles north of Kalamazoo. (North on US 131 to exit 61. Then east on M-179 to the park entrance.)

Yankee Springs State Recreation Area
2104 S. Briggs Road
Middleville, MI 49333
Phone Number: (269) 795-9081

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