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Things To Do Outside in Manistee County, MI

Snowshoe in Manistee County

Manistee County is primed and ready for winter visitors, boasting more than 20 miles of groomed cross-country ski trails, 30-plus miles of groomed fat tire biking, 80 lakes and four rivers for winter fishing and paddling, access to 500 miles of snowmobile trails, and two neighboring downhill ski resorts.

“Winter in Manistee County is just breathtaking and is when our trails especially come to life,” said Kathryn Kenny, executive director of the Manistee County Visitors Bureau (Visit Manistee County).

“Manistee County is a perfect place to celebrate that sparkle and natural beauty of winter with our abundance of outdoor recreation opportunities plus holiday-themed events. And our new Winter Trails guide will make it easier to plan.”

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Visit Manistee County offers a new free, downloadable 36-page Winter Trails Guide with top photo spots in winter, winter nightlife, trails, lodging and dining lists, and a two-sided fold-out trail map with the regional snowmobile trail network on one side and area trails on the other side.

Visitors also can request a printed guide from the website in addition to downloading various trail maps, or contact the visitor’s bureau at 877.626.4783. 

Visit Manistee staff also will provide weekly “snow day” video updates sharing snow conditions in various parts of the county plus links to trail conditions to help with travel plans. Videos will be archived on Facebook.

Winter activities outlined in the Manistee County guide include:

Cross-country skiing

Manistee County is home to more than 20 miles of groomed skiing trails in a few major trail networks – Big-M Recreation Area that is home to 18 miles of groomed, classic skiing, and the Manistee Non-Motorized Park offering nearly four miles of classic and skate-style skiing.

Fat Tire Biking

The area offers two trails with full winter fat bike grooming.  Big M Recreational Area offers 25 miles of single-track biking trails at three levels of difficulty groomed throughout the winter season, one of the first bike trail systems in Michigan with dedicated grooming.

The Non-Motorized Park includes the MTB Terrain Park boasting 5.4 miles of groomed fat bike trail featuring boards, trails and obstacles great for the beginner to intermediate biker.

Old Mission Snowshoe Wine & Brew


Manistee County’s diverse hiking terrain becomes a snowshoer’s paradise when the snow accumulates. 

Top hiking trails become perfect snowshoeing destinations, whether along the lakeshore at Magoon Creek Nature Area and Arcadia Dunes/Old Baldy Trailhead, or inland on the North Country Trail and Manistee River Trail Loop. 


With a trail network extending well beyond the borders of the county, the region offers 250 miles of groomed trails in the county alone, plus access to 500-plus miles in a five-county trail network – connecting all of the northwest corner of the Lower Peninsula.

Find a downloadable snowmobiling map here

Winter fishing

As the temperatures drop and a thick layer of ice begins to form, fishermen flock to the 80 inland lakes and four rivers of Manistee County.

Throughout the winter months, ice shanties populate the surface of lakes as anglers cast lines for pike, walleye, perch, smelt, bluegill, and crappie.

Winter paddling

Paddlers can enjoy the Big Manistee River throughout winter and see the scenery from a new perspective in the snow-covered landscape.

Winter paddlers should take caution, however, and dress appropriately. Paddling the river in the summer first is recommended for safety.

Michigan Winter Fun

Downhill skiing

Manistee County has two popular downhill skiing options with nearly 100 ski runs within a 30-minute drive from Manistee County –Crystal Mountain Ski Resort and Spain Thompsonville and Caberfae Peaks in Cadillac.

Find more fun winter things to do near Manistee in Ludington, MI and northern Michigan winter fun.

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