Learn How to Snowshoe or Cross Country Ski This Weekend for Free

Rapid River, Michigan 

The Hiawatha National Forest is teaming up with Brampton Bike and Ski to help people get out and enjoy winter! On Saturday, February 16th the public will be able to try their hand (or rather their feet!) at cross country skiing and snowshoeing as part of the Third Annual National Winter Trails Day event at the Rapid River Cross Country Ski Trail.

Winter Trails Day is designed to encourage folks to get outdoors and enjoy winter and to help folks get started, Mike Williams of Brampton Bike and Ski will have cross country skis, boots and poles as well as snowshoes available free of charge for the public to use at the Rapid River Ski Trail from noon until 4:00 PM.  Equipment will be available for both adults and kids.  In order to ensure that adequate equipment and instructors are on hand, folks are asked to pre-register for the event by calling Brampton Bike no later than 4 PM on Friday, February 15th at 428-2135.   Volunteers who groom the ski trail during the winter will be on hand to outfit everyone with the proper gear and to teach the fundamentals of both skiing and snowshoeing. Hot cocoa and a bonfire will keep everyone toasty!

Snowshoeing and cross country skiing are lifetime sports and are a wonderful way to get outdoors in the winter.  And they are easy to learn!  With a nearly immediate learning curve, snowshoeing provides hours of fun for adults and children of all ages.  Simplicity is perhaps one of the biggest draws to this sport. Snowshoes can be used in various types of snow conditions so, no matter what the weather, everyone can enjoy the great outdoors. It is a very inexpensive way to spend time with the entire family.  

Snowshoeing also offers a low-impact, safe form of exercise. It requires modest physical effort with no fancy techniques to learn.  Anyone can snowshoe – it is as simple as walking!  It is a great aerobic exercise that will improve or maintain cardiovascular fitness as well as burn calories.  You’ll burn 45% more calories snowshoeing than walking or running at the same speed.  An adult weighing 155 pounds will burn 563 calories in an hour of snowshoeing, and a youngster weighing 90 pounds will burn over 300 calories in an hour.  And snowshoes can take you places where cross country skiers and snowmobiles cannot.  

Cross-country skiing is another lifetime sport that is easy to learn. Learning with an instructor on a groomed trail is the easiest way to begin enjoying the sport and once you know how to cross-country ski, you don’t have to go beyond your backyard to enjoy the sport. The latest advances in boot and binding systems and shorter skis give today’s cross country skiers more control, comfort and support.  Cross country sking is also a family friendly, multi-generational activity, ideal for young children and grandparents.  At the last Winter Trails Day event, the oldest participant was close to 70 years of age; the youngest participant was 3 years old!  Cross country skiing uses natural movements which result in a very short learning curve. 

In addition to the social benefits of cross country sking, it is also a great way to get in shape!  Cross country sking burns more calories per hour than any other sport and it offers a low-risk, low-impact aerobic form of exercise.  It is advocated by medical professionals as the best cardiovascular fitness activity and is an excellent low-stress exercise.   

National Winter Trails Day is one of several Kids in the Woods events hosted by the Hiawatha National Forest each year.  Other events include Kids Fishing Day in June, Pocket Park August, and the eight week long Kids in the Woods summer program with the Northern Lights YMCA.  Mike Williams of Brampton Bike and Ski, honored as a “Family Friendly Business” by the Delta County Great Start Parent Coalition, also partners with the Forest Service in other Kids in the Woods programming, another example of how Mike works with the community to offer outdoor family activities.

The Rapid River National Cross Country Ski Trail is located 6 miles north of Rapid River on US 41 and includes 5 classic loops ranging from 1.2 to 10 miles in length, 2 skating loops of 4.7 and 7.4 miles, and a 1.3 mile snowshoe trail.  The trail system is groomed entirely by volunteers and donations are encouraged for the purchase of grooming equipment.  Volunteer groomers are always needed and if anyone is interested they are asked to call the Forest Service at 474-6442 x 119.   If there are any questions about this year’s National Winter Trails Day event, they can call the Forest Service or Brampton Bike at 428-2135.  See you there!