The Upper Peninsula Luge Club is renowned for its natural setting and challenging course, designed to cater to both beginners and advanced lugers. The natural luge track’s construction and maintenance are a community effort, involving local volunteers and sponsors, which fosters a strong sense of unity and shared purpose.
The club’s activities, particularly its public sliding sessions and involvement in national competitions, have made it a local winter sports hub in the greater Marquette area, attracting enthusiasts from across the region and contributing to the area’s tourism and economy.
About the Lucy Hill Naturbahn Luge Track
The Lucy Hill Naturbahn luge track holds a distinct place in the world of this sport. Designed in the early 1990s by Per Vinberg, a civil engineer from Stockholm, Sweden, this track is a testament to the sport’s close ties with natural landscapes.
Unlike the artificially elevated curves of the Olympic-style luge tracks, Naturbahn tracks like Lucy Hill closely follow the contours of the terrain, embracing the natural undulations and turns of the landscape.
This adherence to the natural topography of the land brings a unique challenge to Naturbahn luge. Athletes must demonstrate not only skill in steering but also precision in braking. Unlike Kunstbahn luge, where the track’s design aids in navigating turns, Naturbahn lugers rely on spiked boots for effective braking.
This requirement adds an extra layer of skill and strategy to the sport, as athletes must carefully manage their speed and maneuver through the track’s naturally occurring curves.
The combination of natural track design and the requirement for precise braking makes Naturbahn luge an exciting and skill-intensive sport. It places a premium on an athlete’s ability to harmonize with the natural course, ensuring each run is not just a test of speed but also of agility and tactful control.
About the U.P. Luge Club
The Upper Peninsula Luge Club (UPLC), located in Marquette County, Michigan, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting Natural Track Luge as a fun, safe, and family-friendly sport.
Celebrating over four decades of memorable experiences, the club operates primarily during the winter season, with public sliding hours typically scheduled on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings from late December to early March.
The club’s natural luge track is a central feature, offering a thrilling experience for both seasoned members and newcomers. For those interested in trying out the sport, the club provides online reservations for sliding sessions.
In addition to local activities, the U.P. Luge Club has made an impact on the national stage. In February 2023, the United States Natural Track Luge team, which includes athletes from the club, achieved commendable results at the World Championship. This included a fifth-place finish in the team race and a top half result in the U23 men’s competition by U.P. native Torrey Cookman.
Visiting the UPLC
Upper Peninsula Luge Club’s Lucy Hill Luge Track is not just reserved for professional athletes; the natural track luge run is open for public sliding sessions, allowing beginners and those new to the sport an opportunity to experience the thrill of this Olympic sport in Michigan.
To ensure a spot and for the club to manage participants safely, it’s ideal to make a reservation, which can be done through their online reservation system.
Upon arrival, you’ll be provided with all the necessary equipment and a comprehensive safety briefing. The club prioritizes safety, offering initial training to familiarize you with the luge and the track.
Expect to spend around 2 to 3 hours here, including the instruction time and your runs down the track.
“This is such a unique place! It is so fun to slide on the intro track and to watch the experienced club sliders on the competition track. There is a warm fire going in the fire pit and the volunteers are so helpful and eager to tell the history of this luge track.”Zane F, Tripadvisor review
Remember to dress warmly in comfortable clothing suitable for outdoor winter activities, and avoid any loose garments that could potentially interfere with the sled. While luge is an exciting and fast-paced sport, remember to slide responsibly and within your comfort level.
More Winter Things to Do in Marquette County
- Skiing & Snowboarding at Marquette Mountain: This Michigan ski resort offers a variety of slopes suitable for all levels, with well-groomed runs, backcountry trails, and a terrain park. It also has rental facilities and a restaurant.
- Fat-Tire Biking: With over 60 miles of manicured trails, Marquette is a prime destination for fat-tire biking. The Noquemanon Trail Network (NTN) provides trails for different skill levels, including gentle, low-grade terrain and more challenging routes.
- Snowshoeing: Miles of scenic hiking trails in and around Marquette are perfect for snowshoeing. This is a more relaxed activity, offering a peaceful exploration of the winter landscape.
- Snowmobiling: Marquette offers an extensive network of well-groomed snowmobile trails, perfect for exploring the snowy wilderness of the Upper Peninsula.
- Horse-Drawn Sleigh Rides: Sleighman offers private and group sleigh rides, providing a unique and scenic winter experience.
- Ice Skating at Lakeview Arena: This arena offers a wonderful ice skating experience with beautiful surroundings and various activities.
- Cross-Country Skiing at Blueberry Ridge Trail System: This trail system, just a few miles northwest of Marquette, offers over 12 miles of groomed trails for all experience levels.
- Ice Fishing on Nearby Lakes: Lakes around Marquette, including Lake Superior and Lake Independence, are popular for ice fishing during the winter.
- Visiting the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame in Ishpeming: Explore the history and heritage of skiing and snowboarding in America, located about 20 minutes from downtown Marquette.
- Ice Racing: Organized by the Upper Michigan Ice Racing Association, this thrilling sport involves bike and quad races on snow-covered tracks.
- Exploring the Iron Ore Dock in Marquette: A stroll around the historic waterfront leads to the impressive Iron Ore Dock, a landmark in Marquette.
Suggested Marquette Winter Day Trip Itinerary
Morning: Cross-Country Skiing at Blueberry Ridge Trail System
- Start your day with an invigorating cross-country skiing session at the Blueberry Ridge Trail System. It’s a great way to enjoy the winter scenery and get some exercise. The trails cater to all skill levels, offering a perfect start for your active day.
Midday: Lunch in Marquette
- Head to Marquette for a well-deserved lunch. You can choose from various local restaurants that offer hearty meals to refuel after your morning activity.
- Recommendation: Try a local eatery that serves U.P. specialties like pasties or cudighi.
Early Afternoon: Visit the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame
- On your way to the luge track, make a quick stop at the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame in Ishpeming. It’s a unique opportunity to learn about the history of winter sports in the U.S.
Late Afternoon: Luge Experience at Upper Peninsula Luge Club
- Head to the Lucy Hill Luge Track for an exhilarating luge experience. Whether you’re a beginner or have some experience, this is a unique and thrilling activity.
- Note: Check the availability and schedule in advance, as booking might be required. Don’t forget to dress warmly!
Evening: Relaxing Dinner and Northern Lights
- Finish your day with a relaxing dinner in Marquette. Choose a cozy restaurant for a quiet meal to wind down after an active day.
- Post-Dinner: If the conditions are right, head to a spot like Little Presque Isle, McCarty’s Cove, Sugarloaf Mountain, or Presque Isle Park to potentially catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights, a beautiful way to end your adventurous day.
Tips for Your Trip:
- Dress Warmly: Ensure you’re well-equipped with winter gear, including thermal layers, waterproof outerwear, and suitable footwear.
- Stay Hydrated: Engaging in winter sports can be dehydrating, so bring along water bottles.
- Check Weather and Trail Conditions: The weather can be unpredictable, so it’s essential to check the conditions before heading out.
Remember, this itinerary is just a suggestion, and you can adjust it based on your interests and available time. Enjoy your winter adventure in Marquette County!
U.S. Luge FAQs
Where Can I Luge in the U.S.?
There are only four luge courses in the U.S. These locations offer varying levels of luging experiences, from beginner-friendly tracks to those used in Olympic training. Whether you’re a novice or seeking a new winter adventure, these luge tracks provide an exciting opportunity to try out this unique sport.
Located at the Utah Olympic Park, the Wasatch Luge Club offers beginner opportunities as part of its program. This is an excellent option for those looking to try luge in a more structured environment. The program includes track fees, instruction, equipment, and a one-year membership to the Wasatch Luge Club.
Known for having the only natural full-length luge track in the U.S. (Naturbahn), the Upper Peninsula Luge Club in Negaunee, Michigan, provides a more natural luge experience. Visitors can show up dressed appropriately and participate without reservations, although they are recommended.
Situated next to Whiteface Mountain, the Adirondack Luge Club offers a chance to experience luging on the famed Lake Placid Olympic luge track. For a modest fee, you receive instruction and are outfitted with a helmet and sled, allowing you to experience the thrill of luging at speeds up to 30 mph.
This complex features one of only four luge tracks in the U.S. It’s unique because it’s a kunstbahn track made from natural ice and is not refrigerated. Designed by three-time Olympian Frank Masley, this 850 ft. track offers an approachable Olympic thrill, suitable for first-time luge athletes. The track consists of six curves and two starting areas, and the public can participate in luging here after receiving equipment and training.
What are the safety requirements and guidelines for luging?
Luging requires adherence to specific safety guidelines, including age and weight restrictions. Participants must wear helmets and other protective gear. Tracks often provide safety training sessions before allowing individuals to luge, emphasizing proper positioning and control of the sled.
Can beginners try luging, and what kind of training is provided?
Beginners can indeed try luging, with most facilities offering introductory sessions. These sessions typically cover the basics of luging, such as sled handling, steering, and braking techniques, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience for first-timers.
What is the difference between Naturbahn and Kunstbahn luge tracks?
Naturbahn tracks follow natural terrain and are usually unrefrigerated, while Kunstbahn tracks are artificially made and refrigerated. Naturbahn tracks tend to be less predictable and more reliant on natural weather conditions, offering a different kind of challenge compared to the more uniform Kunstbahn tracks.
Are there any competitive luge events open to the public to watch or participate in at these locations?
Some luge tracks in the U.S. host competitive events that the public can watch. Participation in these events usually requires a higher skill level and experience in luging. Local clubs and tracks often provide information on upcoming events and participation criteria.
How does the luge experience vary between the different tracks in the U.S.?
Each luge track in the U.S. offers a unique experience due to variations in track length, design, and setting. For example, tracks like those in Lake Placid or Park City are designed for high-speed luging and often used for professional training, whereas others like Muskegon’s track cater more to beginners and recreational lugers.