Snow Much Fun: Getting Outdoors In Winter
Written by Allison Kay Bannister.

Winter may have been late to the party, but it sure made up for it by making a grandiose entrance in January! If you’re holed up at home, looking out your window wondering when it’s going to end, we have news for you: it might be a while. Might as well get out and enjoy it! 

West Michigan has so many options for outdoor, cold-weather activity, it’s almost like we have some experience with it. Let’s look at some of the best places to go to get your chill on. 

Richmond Park & Mulick Park
Multiple Locations |

There are plenty of hills for sledding around town, but these two spots have something a little extra: self-serve sled stations brought to you by GR Outside. Richmond on the NW side and Mulick Park on the SE side both offer this service, so you don’t even have to BYO. They just ask that you return sleds when you’re done so others can give it a whirl. Richmond is also a great spot for hiking. And, though they don’t have sleds to borrow, Manhattan, Belknap, Mary Waters, and Johnson Parks are other list-topping sledding hills. 

Wittenbach Wege Center
11715 Vergennes St. SE, Lowell

This large, 140-acre property in Lowell is a favorite among winter hikers, and they also offer snowshoe rental. There are five miles of trails to enjoy, and they host special events, too, including WWC Winterfest on February 3. This all-day, opt-outside event will feature crafts, games, recreation, demonstrations, and hot cocoa available for purchase. 

Blandford Nature Center
1715 Hillburn Ave. NW

Another excellent spot for hiking and snowshoes rental, this Westside gem is known for its beautiful trails, wildlife ambassadors, educational experiences, and enriching activities out in nature. Blandford runs events year-round, and on the calendar for February are Snowshoe with Your Sweetie, Guided Shinrin-yoku Series, Galentine’s Hike with the Animals, and more.

Indian Trails Golf Course
2776 Kalamazoo Ave. SE

If you’re on the Southeast side, this is another place where you can rent snowshoes. And, if you’ve ever been curious about fat-tire biking, you can try-before-you-buy with on-site bike rentals. Both snowshoes and fat-tire bikes are available first come, so they recommend calling first at 616-245-2021 to check availability. 

Muskegon Luge Adventure Sports Park 
462 N Scenic Dr., Muskegon

Head out to the lakeshore to Muskegon State Park for a full day of fun. The sports complex rents snowshoes, cross-country skis, hockey equipment, and ice skates, and they have a number of trails to explore for each activity. Plus, there’s an 850-foot luge track—one of only a handful in the U.S. Equipment and training is provided for the luge. They pride themselves on their commitment to accessibility, and have adaptive equipment and accommodations for many needs. Also, right nearby is Lost Lake Trail, which is popular for hiking. 

Pigeon Creek and Hemlock Crossing 
12524 Stanton St. & 8115 W Olive Rd., West Olive

These two parks within the Ottawa County system stand out for their offerings and events. At Pigeon Creek, you can rent cross-country skis and snowshoes and traverse miles of groomed trails, plus take ski lessons and avail yourself of their sledding hill. The 239-acre Hemlock Crossing has six miles of trails through the woods and along Pigeon River, and rents snowshoes out of the Nature Center. Follow Ottawa County Parks and Recreation on Facebook to stay on top of their many events, including winter walks, birding, astronomy programs, and nature journaling. 

Howard Christensen Nature Center
16190 Red Pine Dr., Kent City

Lesser known, but no less charming, this 135-acre preserve is just a short drive from the city center. There’s a small fee to visit the grounds, which is waived for members. Along with great hiking through the woods on marked trails and loops, they put on regular special events. Head over for the Cabin Fever Craft Day and Yard Sale on February 10 and Valentine’s Snowshoeing on February 17, which concludes with hot beverages and s’mores.

Downtown Grand Rapids 
Multiple Locations

Since World of Winter hit the scene, downtown GR has become a hub for outdoor enjoyment. As if skating at Rosa Parks Circle and meandering the Riverwalk Promenade weren’t draws on their own, this outdoor event spanning several months really brings it, with all kinds of cool art installations and activities. It’s a great way to get some steps in and shoo away the winter blahs, and most everything is either free or low cost. It’s located within the three-square-mile social district, too, with more than 60 participating venues. 

Cannonsburg Ski Area
6800 Cannonsburg Rd., Belmont

Definitely a mecca for outdoor recreation enthusiasts, this resort located northeast of Grand Rapids rents downhill skis, snow boards, fat-tire bikes, and snowshoes. They also offer tubing, and you can rent tubes by making your reservation online. Cannonsburg caters to all experience levels, and boasts nine lifts and 21 runs, including three chair lifts, four rope tows, and two magic carpet transports. There are cross-county ski trails on the premises, as well, though you will need to bring your own equipment. 

If you’re inspired to get out, keep in mind that rentals are only available during each location’s regular business hours, and many activities require a minimum snowfall or cold enough temperatures to be sustainable.