Winter in Charlevoix is dazzling. The quiet beauty, fresh snowfall, and small-town charm are the perfect trifecta for a winter destination. It’s no secret that Michigan winters are highly underrated. We would like to share several reasons why we think Charlevoix winters are simply the best.
Candlelight Hikes at Mt. McSauba
First up is one of Charlevoix’s best-kept secrets! Every Friday night during the winter, you can enjoy a candlelight hike at Mt. McSauba where you can set your own pace. This weekly event is free to the public (donations are appreciated). You can rent snowshoes at the ski hill, but most times you can hike on the trails in snowboots. At the end of the trail, stop by the campfire to warm up and experience the beauty of the woods and dunes at Mt. McSauba. This is by far one of our favorite winter activities.
Snowshoeing, fat tire biking, cross-country skiing, and ice skating
Ahh winter, there’s something so magical about fresh snow glittering in the sun's reflection. It’s a wonderful time of year to grab your snowshoes, cross country skis, or fat tire bike to experience all of Charlevoix’s great trail systems.
Hit the trails
Visit Lake Michigan Beach and the park area to experience windswept shores, ice caves, the occasional Petoskey and Charlevoix stone, and so much more. Bring your camera with you to capture amazing photos of the Charlevoix lighthouse and the amazing ice formations along the beach. Looking to get out for an extended hike? The Susan Creek Nature Preserve is a great place to spend a snowy afternoon exploring the Charlevoix countryside. Charlevoix boasts more than 20 nature preserves, but our favorites for winter fun are Charles Ransom Nature Preserve, Nick Adams Nature Preserve, Antrim Creek Nature Preserve, and Driggers Nature Preserve.
Explore Mt McSauba Recreation Area
We don't issue this statement lightly, but the ultimate place for winter activities is Mt. McSauba! If you're traveling with kids, Mt. McSauba is a great place for kids to go sledding (bring your own), ice skating, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and skiing or snowboarding. Mt. McSauba is perfect for the beginner or intermediate skier/snowboarder with six runs, four rope tows, lighted skiing, and a terrain park. It's also known for great ski lessons! The 80 acres of wooded trails at Mt. McSauba are the perfect combination of groomed and natural powder trails. These trails are great for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. For the thrill-seeker looking to try something new, rent a fat tire bike and explore the trails via pedal power.
For our readers that are avid downhill skiers and snowboarders, Charlevoix is centrally located to all major ski areas in Northern Michigan. While Mt McSauba is in Charlevoix and an excellent place for beginners, Boyne Mountain, Boyne Highlands, Nubs Nob, and Schuss Mountain are 30-45 minutes away. Whatever style of lodging you like, you’ll find it here in Charlevoix and much less expensive than staying at a resort! Whether you’re looking for historic properties, upscale amenities, condo conveniences, lake view rooms, or family-friendly, there’s an option perfect for you.
Experience the Quiet Wonder at State Parks
There is something awe-inspiring about Michigan's state parks; especially in the winter! Situated a few miles south of Charlevoix along the shores of Lake Michigan, Fisherman’s Island State Park offers miles of ungroomed and rugged trails with spectacular lake views. This park is great for snowshoeing and cross country skiing. Located between Charlevoix and Boyne City, Young State Park has an easy-to-navigate trail system that offers guests low-impact and gently rolling trails with dazzling views of Lake Charlevoix. This state park is perfect for snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and general exploring. Each of these state treasures is a must-see where you can enjoy breathtaking water views along the trails and the quiet serenity that can be found in winter.
Try a new (to you) winter sport
If you're traveling without your snowshoes or want to try something new, Charlevoix has equipment rentals available. One of the easiest places to rent skis, snowshoes, cross country skis, or ice skates is at the lodge at Mt. McSauba. Their awesome staff will help fit you to the right equipment and send you on your way. They offer equipment rentals daily or hourly. If you're looking to try a fat tire bike, Revolution Bike has a great selection of rentals available and their knowledgeable staff is ready to assist first-time fat tire bikers. Fun fact: you can even rent snowshoes from the Charlevoix Public Library.
Stargazing and Dark Skies
The Aurora Borealis is a bucket list item for many. Did you know that winter is one of the best times to view this impressive phenomenon? Crisp winter nights and more hours of darkness make viewing conditions optimal. Words cannot describe the sheer majesty of the Northern Lights dancing across the sky. Even if the aurora is not happening, the stars and dark skies of Charlevoix will have you mesmerized.
The Charlevoix area is home to many fish species as there are a variety of water bodies, including Lake Michigan, Lake Charlevoix, inland lakes, rivers, and many streams. Lake Charlevoix waters hold numerous fish species as the depth and character of the lake vary greatly from one area to another. In January, Lake Charlevoix is the best time of year to catch pike while in February you are likely to catch Cisco and the occasional Lake Trout. Click here to learn more about ice fishing. To learn more about fishing in Michigan click here.