Van Riper State Park holds snowshoeing, XC skiing events

MICHIGAMME – Three years ago, some of the folks at Van Riper State Park decided to host a candlelit trail event one evening during the winter months for guests to come and snowshoe or cross-country ski at a site near the old Rustic Peshekee Cabin.

“I think the first year we started, we maybe had seven people come,” said DNR accounting associate Melanie Brand. “We moved to having two events (in 2013), and it slowly increased in popularity.”

She said that after the success of their first event of 2014, which was held in January, they’ve decided to hold three events this year.

“Our January event already doubled in capacity to what we’ve had previously,” she said.

The trail walk is a 2K (1.25 mile) hike that begins by winding around part of the Peshekee River and then slowly makes a big loop back around to the cabin. There are more than 90 lanterns scattered along the trail’s edge, and Brand said they are hoping to add 10 more before the next event on Feb. 7.

“Sometimes, people are hesitant because they don’t know how much light there is going to be on the trail,” she said. “But they are welcome to come and do the hike any time during the day to get used to it beforehand. If anyone is interested, I recommend coming to check it out.”

She said that there are many spots along the trail that guests are able to stop if the distance is too far, including a bench just off the beaten path.

There is no charge to attend the event, and Brand said there is a fireplace at the cabin for guests to warm up when they return from their trip, along with hot chocolate, coffee, and light snacks.

She added that many different varieties of people have come to experience the trail; everything from parents with their children, seniors, groups of friends, and couples looking for a romantic date night.

The trail begins at the Rustic Peshekee Cabin, which is located one mile west of the Van Riper campground’s main entrance on the north side of the road. Scheduled hours for the event are from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., and there is another event set for March 7. For more information, call the park at 906-339-4461.

Justin Marietti can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 245.