One of the most popular winter things to do in Michigan is snowmobiling. Michigan has one of the nation’s largest interconnected snowmobile trail systems, with over 6,500 groomed snowmobiling trails, made even better by the state’s plentiful and consistent snow as part of the nation’s snow belt.
This famed network of trails allows snowmobilers to explore miles of trails from county to county across the Great Lakes State’s Upper Peninsula and Lower Peninsula alike.
Where to Snowmobile in Michigan
You might be wondering… Are any snowmobile trails open in Michigan? Are Michigan snowmobile trails open? Where is the best place to snowmobile in Michigan?
Use the Michigan DNR’s interactive Michigan Snowmobile Trail Map detailing over 6,000 miles of trails to find “a Michigan snowmobile trail near me” and get started on planning your snowmobiling adventure!
Upper Michigan Snowmobile Trails
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is blessed with a winter season that often begins in late October and stretches throughout March, if not into April. As a result, it’s one of the best places to go snowmobiling in the state.
There are many options for Upper Michigan snowmobile trails, and you can select a trail based on your own experience and skill level.
Can you snowmobile on Lake Superior?
Snowmobiling on Lake Superior is generally not recommended, as the lake may not freeze over completely and there is a risk of falling through the ice. However, there are many snowmobile trails that wind around Lake Superior, allowing you to enjoy fantastic views as you race across the snow.
Munising Michigan is the “Snowmobile Capital of the Midwest”.
The Munising Snowmobile Trail System provides the best Michigan snowmobile trails for you, your family, and your friends. Averaging 232.9 inches of snow each year, the groomed snowmobile trail system in Alger County spans over 300 miles and offers a wealth of sights and activities along the route.
Alger County has ten groomed trails that are maintained seven days a week, depending on the weather conditions. Take time to see the beautiful Pictured Rocks and the numerous frozen Michigan waterfalls during your Upper Peninsula snowmobile trip.
Snowmobiling in Tahquamenon Falls State Park
Located in the heart of the Upper Peninsula, there are many snowmobiling trails in and around Tahquamenon Falls State Park.
In fact, the Tahquamenon Area Snowmobiling Association is located in nearby Newberry, and this organization provides a daily trail report so that you can get the most recent information about trail conditions in this area.
The trail report will tell you whether the local trails nearby have been groomed or how much snow there is on the trails. Many of the trails are located in Paradise, which is known for its lengthy, groomed trails that attract snowmobilers from around the state.
Upper Peninsula Snowmobile Tours from Sault Ste Marie
If you are interested in touring the UP on your snowmobile, then the best place to begin your trip is in Sault Ste. Marie. There are more than 100 miles of groomed trails in Sault Ste. Marie, all of which connect snowmobilers to other Upper Peninsula destinations, including Paradise, Pickford, and St. Ignace.
This town also hosts one of the most iconic snowmobiling races in the country, the International 500 race, which takes place at the I-500 Snowmobile Race Track.
Northern Michigan Snowmobile Trails
Alcona County Snowmobile Trail System
The Alcona County Snowmobile Trail system consists of more than 65 miles of trails that wind through the Huron-Manistee National Forest. It is maintained by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, so you can be confident that the trail is going to be groomed and well-cared for.
It’s an ideal trail for experienced snowmobilers who want to enjoy wooded views and glimpses of ponds, streams, and rivers along the way.
Blue Bear Trail System
The Blue Bear Trail system is connected to the Cranberry Trail system in Kalkaska County. With two staging areas that are located nearby restrooms, restaurants, and shops, it is one of the most convenient snowmobiling trail systems to traverse in Northern Michigan.
Lovells Trail System
In Crawford County, snowmobilers will find the Lovells Trail system, which features more than 150 miles of groomed trails that are managed by Go Sled Grayling. For adventurers who are in search of a scenic destination, this trail system is perfect.
From this system, snowmobilers can easily access Starvation Lake or the Blue Bear Trail system. In fact, you can even get on a trail on this system and find yourself all the way up north at the Mackinac Bridge.
Gaylord to Mackinaw Trail Map
For those who are truly passionate about snowmobiling, the Gaylord to Mackinaw Trail Map is a dream come true.
Situated in the center of the northern Lower Peninsula, Gaylord receives hundreds upon hundreds of inches of snow each year. This means that conditions are usually just right for snowmobiling throughout the entire season.
In addition, the Gaylord to Mackinaw Trail Map connects snowmobilers to more than 500 miles of groomed trails, allowing you to glide across the snow to many of the best places in the state. The best part about this system is there are trails for all skill levels.
For example, Trail 7 has earned a reputation for being a thrill-seeker’s paradise, while those who are looking for a gentler ride prefer Trail 4. The variety of trails allows people of all skill levels to feel confident as they go snowboarding in Gaylord and beyond.
West Michigan Snowmobile Trails
The West Michigan Snowmobile Council maintains many West Michigan snowmobile trails and consists of members of the Yankee Springs Snowmobile Association, Wayland Snowmobile Club, and Byron Center Snowmobile Club.
In the southwest corner of the state, avid snowmobilers can utilize a snowmobile trail in New Buffalo. The Snowbusters Snowmobile Club operates and maintains this well-groomed trail, which begins at the intersection of Wilson Road and M-239. It runs all the way down toward the Indiana border.
North of Muskegon, there is a series of snowmobile trails that are maintained by the DNR. There is a parking lot at the W.F. Memorial Hart-Montague Trail State Park near Montague, and it is a convenient place to park your vehicle and hop on board your snowmobile.
Allegan County is a premier destination in West Michigan for snowmobilers, largely because of the lake effect snow that takes place in this community throughout the entire winter. In Allegan County, you will find more than 98 miles of groomed trails that are almost always in perfect condition for riding.
Mid-Michigan Snowmobile Trails
In the middle of the state, residents and visitors alike enjoy inches upon inches of snow throughout the entire winter season. Known as the snow belt, this part of Michigan benefits from lake effect snow as well as the normal snowfalls that occur in the middle of the state.
Some of the best snowmobile trails in Mid-Michigan can be found in the Cadillac area, where there are more than 200 miles of groomed trails.
Perhaps the most widely-used trail in this part of the state is the White Pine Trail, which is located inside the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail State Park. Extending 92 miles, this is one of the largest groomed trails in the state, and it is a favorite among avid snowmobile riders.
East Michigan Snowmobile Trails
If you are looking for a place where there is endless snowfall throughout the winter months, head to the Thumb. In this unique section of Michigan, snow is always plentiful, and snowmobile riders appreciate the pristine beauty of the Thumbs Up Snowmobile Trail that is located in Sanilac County.
This trail system — which is considered to be one of the best systems in the state — extends for more than 100 miles. It is located on private land, and the trails are well-cared for, which means that you can enjoy a safe and smooth ride as you enjoy the serene beauty of the Thumb.
Southern Michigan Snowmobile Trails
Southern Michigan does not always receive the same high snowfalls as the middle and northern regions of the state and the Upper Peninsula, so as a result, there are not as many groomed snowmobiling trails.
The best snowmobile trails in southern Michigan are often found in the southwest corner, due to the lake effect snow. In Cass County, there is a snowmobile trail that circles Dowagiac, allowing riders to conveniently travel to other nearby communities, including Van Buren, Cassopolis, Niles, and Edwardsburg.
Snowmobile Trail Safety Tips & Snowmobile Laws in Michigan
When can you snowmobile in Michigan?
In Michigan, the snowmobiling season begins on December 1 each year, and lasts until March 31. During this time, the trails that are run by the DNR are groomed when there is enough snow. It is important to check on the trail conditions in the area that you are in before you head out for a day of snowmobiling throughout the state.
Are snowmobile helmets required in Michigan?
If you are operating a snowmobile on a groomed trail that is maintained by the state of Michigan or by another private organization, then you must wear a snowmobile helmet at all times.
You should note that your helmet must be a crash helmet that is approved by the Department of Transportation. The only time that you are not required to wear a helmet while snowmobiling in Michigan is if you are operating your snowmobile on your personal, private property.
Is there a speed limit on Michigan snowmobile trails?
There is not a specific state-wide speed limit on snowmobile trails in Michigan. Rather, the snowmobiling laws in Michigan state that the speed limit for snowmobiling must be posted on the trail, and must be visible to those who are operating snowmobiles.
In addition, all posted speed limits must be safe and reasonable. If you are within 100 feet of a building or an individual who is not on a snowmobiler, you can only go fast enough to continue your forward motion.
Can you ride a snowmobile on state land in Michigan?
Yes, you can ride a snowmobile on state land in Michigan. Some of the best snowmobile trails in Michigan are maintained and managed by the DNR. However, you also have the option to go backcountry snowmobiling on public land in Michigan.
If you decide to go backcountry snowmobiling, it’s important that you keep in mind that the land will not be groomed, and that there are some restrictions to be aware of. You are not able to operate your snowmobile on private property or in active logging areas. You also need to avoid protected and sensitive plant and wildlife preserves.
The DNR publishes a map of public lands where you can enjoy backcountry snowmobiling, and it’s important to consult this guide in order to come up with a plan before you head out for a day of snowmobiling on rough and rugged terrain.
Can you ride ORV on snowmobile trails in Michigan?
In some cases, off-road vehicles, or ORVs, are permitted on snowmobile trails in Michigan. However, it is recommended that ORV riders use alternative trails during snowmobile season that snowmobilers are not permitted to go on. This is because ORVs can undo the work that has been done in order to groom the trails and make them safe for snowmobilers.
If you decide to traverse a snowmobile trail on your ORV, keep in mind that you need to respect the current trail conditions and any road closures. ORVs are not permitted on privately-owned snowmobile trails or on snowmobile trails that are located on federal lands.
Are Michigan snowmobile trail permits required? What are the snowmobile trail permit fees?
Yes, all snowmobile riders in Michigan are required to have a snowmobile trail permit. Permits are valid for one year, and can be purchased online or in-person at a DNR facility.
New permits are issued beginning on October 1 each year, and they are valid until September 30 the following year. A snowmobile permit in Michigan costs $52.
Can you ride a snow bike on snowmobile trails in Michigan?
Modified ORVs, which are commonly referred to as snow bikes, are only allowed on snowmobile trails in Michigan that accept ORVs. You cannot ride a snow bike in Michigan on a trail that is reserved for snowmobile use only.
Tips for Beginners
- Check the Michigan snowmobile trail report for the most up-to-date Michigan snowmobile trail conditions before heading out. Fishweb.com is the best source for current Michigan snowmobile trail reports, sharing snowmobiling trail maps, photos, videos, and stories.
- Download Michigan snowmobile trail maps and plan your adventure, including where you’ll stop for food, fuel, and fun along the way. Since you will likely be venturing outside of cellphone signal range, having a download snowmobile trail map and knowing how to read it is crucial to being safe while snowmobiling in Michigan.
- If you are new to snowmobiling, consider taking a snowmobiling safety course. This course is required for some snowmobile riders, depending on their age, but it is recommended for riders of all ages who are trying out this sport for the first time. The course will give you a run-down of what you need to do to stay safe and have fun while traversing along a snowmobile trail in Michigan.
Snowmobile Races in Michigan
Snowmobiling is more than just a recreational activity in Michigan — it’s a competitive activity that people enjoy participating in and also watching. The Michigan Snowmobile Association is host to many snowmobiling races throughout Michigan each year.
A few of the most popular Michigan snowmobile races include:
- The Gladwin Vintage Snowmobile Races take place in January each year in Gladwin.
- The Snow Outlaws Race in Mancelona takes place in January each year.
- The I-500 Snowmobile Race takes place in Sault Ste. Marie in late January and early February each year.
- The Marion Snowmobile Snow Fest is hosted in Marion each year in the middle of February.
Michigan Snowmobile Rentals
Are you interested in snowmobiling, but unsure if you should invest in your own equipment? Don’t worry, there are many places where you can rent snowmobiles and try out the trails before you make a commitment.
If you’re looking for the best snowmobile rental Michigan experience, here are a few places where you can rent snowmobiles in Michigan:
Upper Michigan Snowmobile Rentals
- Munising Snowmobile Rentals — This snowmobile rental facility in the northern portion of the Upper Peninsula offers convenient and affordable equipment rentals to visitors. Snowmobiles can be rented for a daily rate, but lone rentals are not allowed. For the sake of safety, this rental facility requires there to be at least two people accompanying one another on their ride.
- Grand Marais Powersports — Grand Marais Powersports is considered to be the headquarters for snowmobile rentals in the Upper Peninsula. Not only can you rent a snowmobile from this equipment rental company, but you also can rent all of the gear that you need to safely enjoy your adventure.
Northern Michigan Snowmobile Rentals
- Greater North Power Sports and Rentals — This snowmobile rental company is located in Cadillac, near some of the best snowmobile trails in the state. This company primarily focuses on renting snowmobiles, and rentals are available for a 24-hour time period. The only gear that you can rent from this company is a helmet. You will have to have all other additional gear available for your ride.
- Sledhouse Snowmobile Rentals — Sledhouse Snowmobile Rentals is based out of Gaylord, making it a convenient option for anyone who wants to enjoy the many miles of trails in the snow belt of the state. Not only can you rent a snowmobile from this company, but you also can add a snowmobile suit, helmet, or trailer to your reservation. This allows you to easily get everything you need for a day on the trails.
Michigan Snowmobile Resorts
As you travel throughout the state and discover the endless miles of snowmobiling trails, you will find that there are many hotels, motels and lodges that will accommodate both snowmobile riders as well as their equipment. In addition to these convenient and comfortable accommodations, there also are a few snowmobile resorts in Michigan.
These resorts often offer equipment rentals and may even have snowmobile trails on-site, making it convenient for you to stay and play in the same place.
One snowmobile resort in Michigan is the Garland Lodge and Golf Resort, in Lewiston. Another resort that offers snowmobiling packages is Crystal Mountain, which has partnered with a local tour company to provide guests with an easy and comfortable snowmobiling experience.
More Michigan Snowmobile Trails FAQ
Where is the best place to snowmobile in Michigan?
Ultimately, the best place to snowmobile in Michigan is up to you. However, many consider the Upper Peninsula and the northern portion of the Lower Peninsula to be some of the best places to snowmobile in Michigan, because these areas receive consistent snowfalls throughout the year.
In addition, these regions have many miles of groomed snowmobile trails that connect to other systems, allowing you to traverse the entire area on your snowmobile.
Can you snowmobile on lakes in Michigan?
You can snowmobile on public lakes in Michigan as long as they are completely frozen. However, you cannot snowmobile on a public lake that is frozen if you are within 100 feet of individuals on the lake who are not snowmobiling, if you are within 100 feet of a fishing shanty or if the public body of water has been designated as an ice-skating lake.
How old do you have to be to snowmobile in Michigan?
There is no specific age limit on snowmobiling on Michigan. However, children who are under the age of 12 can only operate a snowmobile if they are being directly supervised by an adult.
Children between the ages of 12 and 17 can operate a snowmobile on their own if they have a valid snowmobile safety certificate or if they are under the direct supervision of another adult who is at least 21 years old.
Adults age 18 and older can operate a snowmobile on their own.