5 Places in the Lower Peninsula to Plan Your Next Snowmobile Trip

(Courtesy/Traverse City Tourism)

By Lisa Green

December 13, 2022

You don’t have to go all the way up to the Upper Peninsula to have a great snowmobiling experience in Michigan. The Lower Peninsula is filled with options—like these five below-the-bridge hotspots. 

MICHIGAN—It’s impossible to visit the Upper Peninsula without spotting a snowmobile, or a few dozen of them. And sometimes, they’re the only viable way to travel across the snowier parts of Michigan’s great outdoors—particularly for the folks on the prettier side of the bridge.

But when the wintry weather cooperates, the Lower Peninsula is also filled to the brim with prime snowmobiling destinations. Here are five cities worth considering for your next trip:

Gaylord

(Courtesy/Gaylord Michigan Area Convention and Tourism Bureau)

Michigan’s “Alpine Village” is the perfect Up North snowmobiling destination—mainly because the city averages about 136 inches of snowfall every winter. Gaylord loves snowmobiles so much, it even hosts an annual festival just to celebrate the vehicles. 

In Gaylord, snowmobiles may drive on city side streets, but not sidewalks. They can also be parked within a specially designated block downtown, offering a great pitstop between rides. Don’t have your own sled? Snowmobiles may also be rented at local businesses such as Snowbelt Motorsports, Boathouse Marine and Powersports, and Country Wide Adventures.

The city also offers easy access to several trails—including the famous 73 mile-long North Central State Trail to Mackinaw City. Learn more about Gaylord at the official city website.

Cadillac

(Courtesy/State of Michigan)

For most Michiganders, Cadillac rests right on the edge of that fabled boundary line that divides “Up North” from the rest of the Mitten. And it also marks the northernmost point for one of the best snowmobiling treks in the state—the White Pine Trail. This 90-mile trek (located within the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail State Park) roughly aligns with US-131 and stretches all the way to the Grand Rapids area, and it’s an absolute snowmobile paradise.

The route stretches through more than a dozen cities and towns, and hundreds of local businesses await travellers who want to make a stop along the way. There are also several businesses in Cadillac that rent snowmobiles, including Blue Sky Rentals and Greater North Powersports and Rentals. K&R Outfitters also provides guided tours in the winter months.

Benzie County

(Courtesy/Benzie County Chamber of Commerce)

Benzie County is a bit of a hidden gem on Michigan’s snowmobiling scene—and we’re sort of spilling the beans by featuring it on this list. The region features two groomed trails encompassing more than 135 miles, with the Platte River Trail stretching north to Empire and Maple City, and the Betsie River Trail connecting Beulah and Thompsonville. 

Traverse City

(Courtesy/Traverse City Tourism)

You won’t find any snowmobile routes within the city of Traverse City itself, but the Cherry Capital is an Up North snowmobiling hotspot because of its close proximity to so many great trails. Ranch Rudolf is a great spot to meet up with friends to find most of them. Snowmobile rentals are available from Snowblitz. The DNR also publishes detailed trail maps online.

Cheboygan

(Courtesy/State of Michigan)

Cheboygan is another great snowmobiling hotspot. The city serves as a crossroads for four distinct trails—and the nearby Black Mountain Recreation Area contains more than 80 groomed miles for snowmobiling. Rentals are available at the Indian River Sports Center.

‘Gander Editor Kyle Kaminski contributed to this report.

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