The Escanaba Pathway Trail System is one of those things I’ve been driving by for years but never made the time to stop and check it out. Well, thankfully that changed this year and I can now say with confidence that this little “in town” trail system is definitely a hidden gem.
Skiing, Snowshoeing and Sightseeing
The trailhead is right off Escanaba’s busy North 30th street, the street that many people take to bypass the downtown area if they’re just passing through. I read that the Escanaba Pathway trails were like a little sanctuary right in town. That once you got out on the trails you felt like you were in the middle of nowhere, even though you’re technically just a few miles from the nearest Wal-Mart.
Trust me, it’s true. Yes, it’s busy where you park, but once you get a few hundred feet of trail behind you, the vehicle noise quickly fades away and you’re left with the solitude of the woods.
Like many popular trail systems, the Escanaba Pathway trails are made up several stacked loops. Loop 1 is 4.2 miles, Loop 2 is 5.2 miles (when combined with loop one) and Loop 3 is 6.6 miles (when combined with the previous loops). Although, I spoke to a caretaker of the trail there on my last outing and he advised sticking to Loops 1 and 2 as Loop 3 hasn’t been groomed lately.
The trails feature traditionally groomed cross country ski trails with room to walk or snowshoe on either side. And they’re all beautifully groomed. I’ve been impressed with the trail conditions on every one of my visits.
The first part of the trail system is nice, but it’s when you get back on Loop 1 and Loop 2 that things really start to get interesting. The lowland brush you see at the beginning gives way to pine-covered ridges, and the flat areas become hilly ups and downs with moderate climbs and plenty of fun downhill.
We saw a few snowshoe tracks along the main trail, but a brand new snowshoe trail opened this season so that’s where most of the snowshoe traffic goes now. The snowshoe trail is a nice little loop that (I believe) is just over a mile long. Both times I was there the snowshoe trail was really packed down. I’m not sure if it’s technically groomed or not, but if not it looks like regular snowshoe traffic makes it a not-too-difficult walk on the shoes.
If you’re a cross country skier, snowshoer or just someone who isn’t afraid to go for a walk on snow covered trails, the Escanaba Pathway trails are well worth checking out!
How to get there:
In Escanaba, turn onto North 30th street from US 41 (you’ll be heading north) and drive .35 miles. Turn left into the small parking area. A green sign that reads “City of Escanaba Recreational Non-Motorized Vehicle Pathway” marks the spot. The main trails are all marked on that same sign, and the new snowshoe trail starts just a few yards beyond the gate to the right.