Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Ski Pigeon Creek

I first read about Pigeon Creek Park in the guidebook Michigan Winter Trails but I didn't have a chance to ski it until yesterday.  Pigeon Creek is an Ottawa County park between Holland, MI and Grand Haven, about an hour's drive northwest of Kalamazoo.  The park offers over 10 miles of ski trails.  All the trails are groomed for traditional, diagonal-stride skiing and some trails are also groomed for skate-skiing.  About three miles of trail are lit for night skiing.  The park features a separate snowshoe trail and a lighted sled hill near the lodge.

Pigeon Creek is close enough to Lake Michigan to get lake effect snow, much like Love Creek County Park to the south, so it's worth checking when Kalamazoo's snow is insufficient.  The county regularly updates trail conditions on their Winter Sports Hot Line: (616) 738-9531.  Yesterday, their snow seemed just as deep as Kalamazoo's.

The trails are well-marked and there are many inter-connections making it easy to create loops of varying distances.  I skied for about an hour which certainly didn't exhaust all of the options.  The loops I took were very beginner friendly, with no steep hills or difficult sections.  There are steeper, more challenging, sections and these are well-marked.  Easier alternative routes are always available.
The county provides an online trail map (pdf).  Physical maps were posted at most interesections, making orientation simple.

The park's lodge is open weekday evenings and all day on weekends.  They have ski rentals available during those times and a concession sells snacks, like hot dogs, chili, and hot chocolate.  I didn't have a chance to try it since I visited in the morning.

There were only a handful of people in the park on a snowy Tuesday.  I imagine it's more popular on weekends and evenings.

Pigeon Creek is named for the now extinct Passenger Pigeon that used to flock to the area.  The trails pass through mature maple-beech forest, hemlocks, and planted pines.

directions: From US 31, north of Holland, take Stanton Road east three miles to the park entrance.

Pigeon Creek Park 
12524 Stanton Street
West Olive, MI 49460