Letters

Letters 09-19-2026

81 Concerns The “81 on East Bay” proposed development on Peninsula Township is primitive and outdated in not having central water and sewage systems that a modern and updated zoning code would call for. The streets in the development, being in a snowbelt area, will probably be dedicated to the county. The school system will feel an impact as will police and fire services...

Common Core Truths I just read an article from the Associated Press regarding both presidential candidates and their stances on education. The author was under the impression that Common Core was developed by the states and adopted; not so. Governors did not get together to create national standards and nor should they. The folks who wrote these national “standards” were test company employees, none of whom ever taught K-12...

Disruption Ahead I would like to respond to the comments from W.D. Bushey in the September 12 issue regarding his hypothetical bee sting scenario. While I do not disagree with the premise, I would like to let you know there is hope for an alternative Epinephrine very soon. Pending approval by the FDA there may very soon be an inhalable form at a much lower cost...

Solutions For Old Mission In a recent article, Peninsula Township Supervisor Manigold responded to complaints that proposed developments are priced out of reach for working families with the retort that the township can’t do much about that. But the township’s zoning has a big role in shaping the type of new housing on OMP, while current zoning, which favors single-family homes on large lots, is partly to blame for consistently highpriced new homes...

Real World Voting This letter is in response to A.J. Fasel from Traverse City, who wrote that since there are many things that require identification, such as fishing, opening a bank account, etc., being able to vote should require identification as well. The problem with this viewpoint is that being able to vote is a right. It’s a right guaranteed by our Constitution. It’s more important that buying alcohol or cigarettes, more important than over-the-counter-medications or any of the other things he mentioned...

Home · Articles · News · Features · Skiing With Elk
. . . .

Skiing With Elk

Mike Terrell - January 16th, 2012  
in the Gaylord area

By Mike Terrell

If you like cross country skiing laced with nice amenities, an appealing village dressed for winter, and a touch of nearby wilderness boasting the largest elk herd east of the Mississippi, check out the Gaylord area.

Located just a snowball throw off I-75, Gaylord is arguably one of the best cross country towns in the Lower Peninsula. The village has a charming alpine motif that would fit right into the Swiss Alps, and there’s close to 60 miles of trails, both tracked and untracked, to choose from.

Downtown Gaylord resembles an alpine village. Mansard roofs, textured stucco and shake shingles mix with balconies, painted flower boxes, and A-frames to bring a bit of Switzerland to Northern Michigan. The supermarket even boasts a glockenspiel.

TRAILS NEAR THE CITY

Near town there are a couple of groomed state land trails that offer fairly easy skiing: Pine Baron Pathway and Aspen Park, only four blocks from downtown.

It’s impossible not to see elk at Aspen Park, which is adjacent to the city elk pen. It contains a herd of more than 30 of these magnificent large animals, crowned with an unbelievably large rack of antlers. You’re almost guaranteed an up-close and personal look. The park contains about two miles of single-tracked trails, and it’s lit for night skiing. Trails glide gently through a hemlock forest.

Pine Baron Pathway offers a little over six miles of fairly easy gliding through mixed pine and hardwood forest. It’s located about five miles west of the city off Old Alba Road on Lone Pine Road.

There are three loops, each about two miles in length, that you can mix and match.

The outside distance around the loops is 6.2 miles, which passes an old abandoned homestead that dates back to the 1930s. The trails are groomed for double-track skiing.

NEARBY WILDNERNESS

The other two state land pathways where you have a decent chance of seeing elk are Shingle Mill Pathway, located about 20 minutes north of Gaylord, and Buttles Road Pathway, about 30-some miles east of town off M-72.

The Pigeon River Country State Forest is a rugged land of contrasts in both terrain and weather. Both the highest and lowest temperature recorded in the Wolverine State has occurred here; from a bone chilling -51 to a sultry high of 112. The average mean temperature is a chilly 42. Winter is arguably the Pigeon’s longest season.

For a good dose of solitude there’s Shingle Mill Pathway, which is located about 11 miles east of Vanderbilt off I-75, a little over 20 miles from downtown Gaylord. This is a place Jeremiah Johnson would’ve been proud to roam. The pathway is surrounded by the 98,000-acre Pigeon River Country State Forest, home to elk, deer, wolves and several other critters.

It offers 11 miles of trails that is broken into loops of six, 10 and 11 miles. (There’s also a ¾ mile trail, but I can’t picture anybody driving to the Pigeon for this short loop.) It’s all untracked, but you often find skied-in tracks, unless you’re there after a fresh snowfall.

The trail meanders along the swiftflowing Pigeon River and then climbs into the highlands overlooking the river valley. Along the way you pass small, frozen lakes, some with beaver lodges. The trail finishes along a boardwalk that passes through a cedar swamp.

I’ve seen elk while cross country skiing here. Not as close as Aspen Park, but it’s a thrill to see these magnificent animals in the wild. Trails start in the back of the state forest campground you come to right after crossing the Pigeon River heading east from Vanderbilt. There’s only one road heading east out of the tiny village. You can’t miss it.

LAKES, HILLS – AND MORE ELK

Buttles Road Pathway is located about a half-hour east of Gaylord off of M-72 on Buttles Road. The state-land trail has been groomed off-and-on by local residents with a single-track lane.

The pathway offers three loops totaling a little over six miles. The most challenging terrain is the last loop, which skirts a couple of small scenic lakes on the back portion. The terrain is rolling with small, forested hills. It’s out in the middle of nowhere, and that’s what makes it so appealing. Locals say the elk hang around the area in the winter; the hoof prints I’ve seen would attest to that.

If you decide to spend the night to sample the various trails, there’s an abundance of lodging choices, from resorts to chain motels and quaint “mom and pop” motels, along with a wide variety of restaurants. There’s something to fit just about every budget and ski appetite.

For more information on the Gaylord area, log onto gaylordmichigan.net.

 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 
 

 

 
 
 
Close
Close
Close