Anyone who lives in Michigan is familiar with sledding and ice skating. Some may have even experienced the thrills of snowboarding and skiing at one of the many ski resorts around the state. However, there are very few people who have discovered one of the most exhilarating, heart-stopping, and unique winter activities Michigan (and the Midwest) offers.
Most of you watch it every four years during the Winter Olympic Games. There are only a few tracks in the entire United States open to the public. Helmets are required, there are no promises you’ll leave without a bruise, but I can guarantee after you’ve tried it you will be begging for more.
The answer: luging.
Luging is a type of tobogganing that includes racing down icy tracks on a small sled. The difference between luging and sledding is that a luge must be completed on a specific track that brings riders to much higher speeds. A luge sled can accelerate to speeds as high as 35 miles per hour, and professional lugers can reach speeds as high as 90 miles per hour.
Located in Muskegon, inside the Muskegon Winter Luge & Sports Complex, the Michigan luge track is designed and tested by a former Olympian. The track sends riders cruising down an 850-foot track in roughly 20 seconds. Even on a crisp winter day, the adrenaline is bound to keep riders warm. This is a great addition to the many offerings of the Muskegon State Park.
After a short briefing, riders have complete freedom to ride the tracks as many times as possible within their session. The more you try it, the better you get, and the more your track time improves. At the bottom of each run, a red timer flashes your speed, only encouraging you to try again and beat it.
On my personal trip to the track, my best was 19 seconds. I can’t remember exactly how many times I ran back up the stairs to go again, but I know it was many. By the end, I was begging for more runs and already posting photos encouraging others to experience the thrill. Ask my friends, they’ll confirm I couldn’t stop talking about it for the next week (sorry not sorry).
Luging is perfect for families and couples alike because nothing says bonding like seeing who can conquer the tracks with the fastest time. The lodge offers warm beverages and snacks for those who worked up an appetite and the luge track isn’t the only thing the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex has to offer.
Although luging might be the excitement of the complex, those who visit might want to end with a more relaxing activity. There are two acres of outdoor ice skating rinks along with sledding, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing, all offered in the exact location as luging. No extra driving, no extra gas.
Michigan’s winter season has only just begun, and it’s common for us to forget all there is to do in our state, especially when the weather turns and the snow falls. A luge track is always best after cold weather, so next time a polar vortex encompasses The Mitten, trade slippers for snow boots and prepare for an adventure!