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Watersmeet Ski Trails in the Sylvania Wilderness

I am not sure what the proper name of these ski trails are called. They could be called a myriad of names. They are located in the Sylvania Wilderness area in the Ottawa National Forest. The trail system begins at the Sylvania Outfitters located in Watersmeet, Michigan.  Skinny Ski calls it the Watersmeet Ski Trails, so I will follow accordingly.

Watersmeet Ski Trails

Entrance to the Watersmeet Ski Trails in the Sylvania Wilderness section of the Ottawa National Forest in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

White out conditions in northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

I drove up to Iron Mountain, Michigan the night before. A freezing rain storm washed away most of the snow in central and southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. I chose to spend my New Year’s in Iron Mountain because that was pretty much the snow line. I made good time to Green Bay, but as soon as I hit Crivitz, Wisconsin it was a white out. The last hour to Iron Mountain took two hours. Bad driving conditions equal great cross-country skiing as the already quality snow in the area got about six more inches.

Iron County Courthouse

The beautiful Iron County Courthouse in Crystal Falls, Michigan

Ottawa National Forest

Entering the Ottawa National Forest on the way to the Watersmeet Ski Trails

I absolutely love skiing the day after a storm. I knew that the already beautiful Upper Peninsula of Michigan would be pristine with a new blanket of snow. From Iron Mountain, the drive to Watersmeet was about an hour and a half. I went through picturesque towns like Iron River, Crystal Falls, and also drove through the Ottawa National Forest before finally making it to Watersmeet.

Sylvania Wilderness cross-country skiing

Down tree along the Watersmeet Ski Trails

Checking in at Sylvania Outfitters

I was the first car in the driveway and paid my $10.00 daily ski fee at Sylvania Outfitters. I was given a map and oriented on how the trails work. Some trails are two-way and some are one-way, so you have to pay attention to the signs and the map to avoid going the wrong way.

Watersmeet Ski Trails

Enjoying the beautiful Watersmeet Ski Trails

There is a little wooden archway that signify the beginning of the trails around back. I took a picture of the beginning and commenced skiing. There are a number of loops and trail junctions. I just kept hanging rights thinking this would get me to the end of the trails. I was told it was mainly uphill going out and downhill coming back.

Skiing the Watersmeet Ski Trails

The woods were absolutely gorgeous with a new batch of snow. The woods were a mixture of hardwood and coniferous. The pine trees were especially amazing. There were a couple of really scenic groves where the trail barely had enough room to squeeze through creating a pine tunnel.

Watersmeet Ski Trails

Beautiful pine grove along the Watersmeet Ski Trails

The terrain at the beginning is rather tame, but there are a couple of good downhill areas closer to the Outfitters. The loops at the end of the trail were even better. Once I got to the end of the trail system, I kept repeating the back end loops. The end of the trail is better for hills and for solitude. I saw only one skier for the majority of my time on the trails, and they veered away on another trail before I could pass them. The parking lot was empty when I arrived, but when I finished, there were about ten cars in the parking lot. I saw a few more skiers when I finished coming back, but I had the far southern trails almost to myself.

Watersmeet Ski Trails GoPro

GoPro shot of the Watersmeet Ski Trails

Great skiing conditions

Usually when a new snow falls, it can take a day or two for the location to adequately groom the trails. It can make for some slow skiing with new snow. This was not the case here as they obviously did some grooming in the morning as most of the trails were in peak condition. The back end loops were not as well groomed yet, but after a few loops, the tracks that I set became faster and faster.

Ottawa National Forest cross-country skiing

GoPro Hero4 black with a head strap on the Watersmeet Ski Trails

Skinny Ski cross-country ski reports

Skinny Ski did not let me down when they published reports from the Watersmeet Ski Area. Not only were the reports accurate, but they also led me to a new skiing area. I love finding new ski areas. You never can have enough options especially when the snow is not very good throughout most of Wisconsin. You can pretty much count on the Upper Peninsula to have snow when many areas do not, so I was glad to find that the Watersmeet Ski Trails had such quality trails and terrain. I definitely will be back. Sylvania Outfitters not only maintains the trails, but they also provide rentals. So give them a call if you need to rent skis.

Adventure on!

The goal of Traveling Ted is to inspire people to outdoor adventure travel and then provide tips on where and how to go. If you liked this post then sign up for the email newsletter. Notifications are sent out once or twice a month with what is new with Traveling Ted’s adventures. There is no spam and email information will not be shared. Other e-follow options include Facebook (click on the like box to the right) or twitter (click on the pretty bird on the rainbow above).

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8 Responses to Watersmeet Ski Trails in the Sylvania Wilderness

  1. Marlys Schuermann January 12, 2017 at 12:53 pm #

    A proper white wonderland!!! Hope you had great fun skiing here. It looks great!!!
    Marlys Schuermann recently posted..Our Short Sweet Walk to Chase Away Festive Stupor

    • Traveling Ted January 22, 2017 at 5:41 pm #

      It was a wonderful day skiing. I wish this place was closer to Chicago or that I lived closer to it.

  2. Erin Marie Musich January 25, 2017 at 12:10 am #

    These trails are really nice – good to know they had been maintained in the morning. Such pretty, perfect winter photos. I really do need to get outside and enjoy it!
    Erin Marie Musich recently posted..A Magical Day Trip from Lisbon to Sintra

    • Traveling Ted January 27, 2017 at 5:58 pm #

      As we say in the cross-country ski world, “carpeskium” 🙂

  3. Leah January 25, 2017 at 7:39 am #

    Oh, my! What a winter wonderland. I wish I liked cross-country skiing, because I’d love to glide through the trees of the Watersmeet Ski Trails.
    Leah recently posted..3 Surprising things about Visiting Dubai

    • Traveling Ted January 27, 2017 at 5:59 pm #

      Always great to find a new beautiful cross-country ski trail system.

  4. Katrin February 18, 2017 at 2:13 pm #

    I love skiing, both downhill and cross country, but the last winters here in south Sweden have left a lot to be wished for when it comes to snow and skiing. I really long to go skiing like in your post, hopefully I can make a trip next winter to some snowy location with well kept ski trails. It’s invigorating for body and soul alike to glide through the silence of a snowy forest, or panting while going uphill for that matter 🙂

    • Traveling Ted February 19, 2017 at 8:09 pm #

      Chicago has been pretty much the same Katrin. I have had to drive 5 to 6 hours to find snow in Michigan and northern Wisconsin. I have even driven 13 hours to Ottawa, Canada.

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