2017-02-02 / Outdoors

Go to the hills for snow for skiing

By Amy Hubbell
Of The Enterprise staff

Kerry Kelly was hoping for some snow to groom for cross country skiing on the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail.

He got the snow — just not where he had hoped.

In the past week just over 16 inches of snow was recorded at the National Weather Service (NWS) weather station in Maple City. That included 7.3 inches alone Monday.

And snow was expected to continue falling today followed by some sunshine to go with seasonably chilly temps through the weekend.

But snowfall earlier this week didn’t pan out for the Heritage Trail, which is prone to miss out on lake effect snows which pass right on over to inland sites.

“We ran the groomer from Empire to Glen Arbor Tuesday but the amount of snow was so small that ski poles will easily hit the asphalt,” said Kelly, chairman of the Friends of Sleeping Bear. “After rolling the trail, there was only about one inch of base.”

But it wasn’t all bad news on the cross country ski front.

Kelly reports conditions are excellent on trails in the Palmer Woods Forest Reserve, owned by the Leelanau Conservancy, and groomed by Heritage Trail volunteers.

“There is a compacted based of about four inches with corduroy and one set of classic tracks,” he said. “If you want to ski groomed trails in the Glen Arbor area, head to Palmer Woods.”

Becky Hill, nature area and preserve manager for the Conservancy, strapped on her skis in the midst of last month’s thaw and had a great time skiing Palmer’s 3 1/2 miles of trails.

“There was no snow in Leland and had to make a trip down to Palmer Woods, so I brought my skis just in case,” she said.

Hill was thrilled to find ample snow for skiing.

“I think Palmer Woods is in that Maple City/Cedar snowbelt that gets more snow,” Hill said. “There are also sheltered spots that keep the snow from thawing.”

Access to the trails at Palmer Woods is available from Wheeler Road.

And if you like snow, you’ll like the NWS forecast for the coming week that calls for some new accumulation with high temperatures well below the freezing mark.

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