Jan 10, 2019

Snowmobiling Paradise

With dozens of feet of lake effect snow each year, the Lake Gogebic area is a hub for ‘sledheads’ to tour all of the Western U.P.

By Mary Beth DeFazio 

In most parts of the country, getting dumped on with three feet of snow in two days would give folks a good reason to stay inside and hibernate.

However, in the Upper Peninsula’s Big Snow Country, it’s a welcome sight as it signals adventure and good times are on the horizon. No matter what trails they travel or how much they ride, all those who know Gogebic County in the U.P. of Michigan have one wish in common – let it snow!

When you enter the Lake Gogebic area you have entered every snowmobiler’s utopia. The “sledhead” culture is intense here, and locals and visitors alike wouldn’t have it any other way. In these parts, it’s not uncommon to find more snowmobiles than cars at the local gas station or restaurant.

Voted one of the Top Snowmobile Destinations by Snowmobiler Magazine, this region receives 200 to 300 inches of snow each year complemented by some of the best-groomed trails and gorgeous scenery on virtually every turn. Trails officially open Dec. 1 and won’t close until Apr. 1. While January and February are prime season, some of the best riding and lodging options are attainable during those shoulder periods. 

Hub of UP trails

What’s exceptionally nice about Gogebic County is that it’s centrally located in the heart of Big Snow Country and has been coined the snowmobile “hub,” as there are many choices of great rides whether you fancy a weekend getaway, a week of family fun, or just an overnighter.

There are more than 600 miles of beautifully groomed trails that offer riders the opportunity to experience winding forest trails, scenic overlooks, railroad grades, waterfalls and bridges, hills, lakes, and logging roads – all in a day’s ride. Lake Gogebic itself is less than 20 miles from Lake Superior, Porcupine Mountains and Lake of the Clouds. Lake Superior graciously provides the moisture, and the Porcupine Mountains provide the lift to the moist air that brings down that wonderful lake effect snow that lasts for days and days!

If you snowmobile into town, you’ll likely hear many stories offered up by snowmobilers eager to share their favorite adventure on Lake Gogebic. Down at Antonio’s Restaurant in Bergland one morning, an avid sledder was overheard boasting to his friends about his adventures on a beautiful winter day, riding a slick trail that led out to Lake Gogebic where he could feel the wind moving past him as he built speed upon the snow-paved highways.

“On this lake, you can just go,” and as he put it, “You can Go-Go-Gogebic!”

This remarkably beautiful area has created tens of thousands of snowmobile-centered memories over the years. There are some trails around Lake Gogebic where you feel you are nowhere. You can turn off your engine, listen to nature, and soak in the beauty of this pristine region. Also, it’s only on Lake Gogebic can you ring in the New Year twice as this 18-mile-long lake occupies two time zones!

One will find plenty of dining and lodging on Lake Gogebic. On the north shore you can stop in Bergland Bay Bar, grab a bite at JW’s BBQ and Brew, fill up with gas at the Outpost, and have a choice of several lodging options.

If you don’t own a sled, that’s not a problem as you’ll find Timberline Sports right on the north shore of Lake Gogebic, and they can help you out with whatever you need.

Established rides

You can’t visit Lake Gogebic without riding the Lake Gogebic Loop. Circling the lake on trails 1, 100, 13 and 8 will take you on a ride of about 72 picturesque miles. This is a good family ride as it’s not too challenging and there most likely will be wildlife. There are several other restaurants located right on the lake including Fishtails and Root Cellar on the east shore. On the south end, you can always find a good time at Gogebic Lodge, which was voted Top Pitstop by readers of SnowGoer Magazine.

One of the most popular rides on a sunny winter day is what’s known as “Lake da Lake,” which takes riders fromLake Gogebic to Lake of the Clouds. This tour starts on the north shore of Gogebic at AJ’s Walleye Lodge and follows Trail 1 north toward White Pine to Silver City.

In White Pine you will find Konteka which is a good place to stop off and get a bite to eat, fill up for gas, and catch up with other riders. Continuing Trail 1 north to Silver City, then west to the Porcupine Mountains and Lake of the Clouds for an amazing view. You can head back the same way, or on the way back down from Lake of the Clouds, you can pick up Trail 11 South and follow that to 102. Follow 102 back down to Lake Gogebic where you can end the ride at the iconic snowmobile pitstop the Hoop.

One favorite destination for both the diehard rider as well as the seasoned novice is the “Copper Harbor Cruise,” which you can make as either a day trip or an overnighter. From Lake Gogebic, head north on Trail 13 out of Bergland to Rockland and Greenland. There you pick up Trail 3 – known as the Bill Nichols Trail, which is an extremely popular trail for riders as it’s scenicand you’ll also cross the famous Firesteel Trestles. These former railroad trestles soar hundreds of feet over deep gorges. Continuing into Houghton, take Trail 3 to Trail 132 and into Copper Harbor.

These are just some suggested routes to tour the U.P. by snowmobile, but the possibilities are endless. Here in the heart of Big Snow Country, you’ll find a whole community of businesses and friends who go out of their way to make sure riders have a safe and fun experience while visiting.

Gogebic Area Groomers are a very active club and do a great job of not only maintaining trails, but also in communicating conditions and updates on the trails so that guests know what to expect before they arrive. You can follow Gogebic Area Grooming on Facebook and on their website at gogebicareagrooming.com.

Don’t let another winter go by without visiting the Lake Gogebic area. Get your family and friends together and come on U.P. to create memories that will last a lifetime.