Find the Best Snowshoeing in Southwest Michigan | Southwestern Michigan Tourist Council

Find the Best Snowshoeing in Southwest Michigan

A group of friends snowshoeing in the winter snow.

One of the best things about snowshoeing in Southwest Michigan is you don’t need to be in great shape or have special skills. If you can walk, you can snowshoe no matter your age or fitness level. All it takes is six inches of snow on the ground.

A group snowshoeing at Dablon.

Top Places To Snowshoe 

Snowshoeing opens your world to the serene landscapes of Southwest Michigan. Take a relaxing walk through peaceful, snow-laden forests. Climb our majestic dunes for a vigorous workout. Look out at frozen lighthouses and ice formations along Lake Michigan’s beaches. Drive into our countryside to cross frozen lakes and make tracks through dormant vineyards and over rolling hills. 

Here are our favorite places to snowshoe. 

Lake Michigan’s Shoreline 

Southwest Michigan has many beaches where you can park and snowshoe along Lake Michigan’s shoreline. Most of them are free in the winter. The top spots are Warren Dunes State Park, Weko Beach, Tiscornia Park, Jean Klock Park and Van Buren State Park. 

SAFETY TIPS: Some areas of the lakeshore you cannot access because of erosion. Ice on Lake Michigan is NEVER SAFE to travel across.

Warren Dunes State Park

Besides the amazing shoreline, this park in Sawyer features wooded trails and towering dunes. The park is large enough that you could spend an entire day exploring, so pack snacks and beverages. If any of your family or friends like to sled or snowboard (there are no lifts or tow ropes), bring them along. The views of Lake Michigan at the top of the dunes are spectacular and the rides down are exhilarating. 

Warren Woods State Park

This is a quiet destination for a relaxing snowshoe hike that is seven miles from Warren Dunes State Park. It has a one-mile trail through a beech and maple forest along the Galien River. You will especially enjoy stopping on the footbridge and gazing up and down the river. 

They close the parking lot during the winter. Visitors can park along Warren Woods Road near the trailhead.

Grand Mere State Park

Want a great cardio workout? Bring your snowshoes to this park in Stevensville with its towering dunes and mile-long beach. For a less strenuous hike, walk along the shore at North Lake Park, which is just north of Grand Mere State Park and sits between two Lakes.

Riverview Park 

This south St. Joseph park along the St. Joseph River is perfect for beginners. Its flat, forested trails offer wintry views of Michigan’s third-longest river. 

Jean Klock Park

This park in Benton Harbor offers stunning views of Lake Michigan. It also gives you access to the 12-mile Harbor Shores Nature & Fitness Trail SystemWind down from your trail adventure with a taste of Benton Harbor's charm. The Arts District offers a delectable array of cafes, restaurants and bars, from morning omelets to sunset cocktails.

Sarett Nature Center

Explore diverse trails winding through hardwood forests and alongside frozen wetlands at this Benton Harbor nature center. Sarett has designated trails for snowshoeing, plus five miles of groomed trails for cross-country skiing. Its mostly flat terrain is perfect for beginners and families. 

When there is sufficient snow, the center rents snowshoes and skis during regular business hours. On weekends, warm up before or after your snowshoe adventure at the outdoor firepit and seating area. Restrooms are also available inside the nature center during open hours. Check their site for family, adult and senior winter events

Ross Coastal Plain Marsh Preserve

These trails near Covert meander through a coastal plain marsh, a rare find in the Great Lakes region. Typically, you will find them on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Out of the 42 coastal plain marshes in Michigan, this one boasts three of the highest quality. 

Snowshoe on five miles of trails around the marshes and small ponds. Watch for red fox and coyote tracks and listen for wintering birds.  

Van Buren Trail State Park

This 14-mile linear, multi-use trail runs between Hartford and South Haven. Its level terrain is a favorite for beginners. Along the way, keep your eyes open for deer, rabbits and foxes. Make either city a destination for food and beverages after your snowshoeing adventure.

Mt. Tabor Trails

This is a great place to meet up with family and friends. Snowshoe 3.5 miles of trails between Round Barn Winery & Estate in Baroda and Tabor Hill Winery & Restaurant in Buchanan. Start or end at either location, purchasing a to-go beverage to sip as you go through woods and vineyards. 

At Round Barn, you can also enjoy a heated igloo or fire pit on a first-come basis.  Tabor Hill’s restaurant has a roaring fireplace — this is one of the best warming houses around. 

Love Creek County Park & Nature Center

This Berrien Center park is one of the most outstanding places to snowshoe, cross-country ski or fat tire bike. Choose between 1 and 1.5-mile designated snowshoe trails. Bring your snowshoes or rent a pair at the Nature Center building. Snowshoers do not pay the trail fee.

Fred Russ Forest Park

Enjoy a relaxing hike along Dowagiac Creek near Decatur. As you explore the park, find the remains of the “Big Tree.” It was the largest tulip tree in Michigan before a storm damaged it. 

Why Snowshoeing Is Good for You

Great exercise

Snowshoeing is a low-impact activity that is easy on your joints. However, this gentle, but effective workout is good for your heart. But you can also make it as intense as running or cross-country skiing. It all depends on how fast you move along the trails or how steep you climb. 

Walking in snowshoes is good for building strength in your core and legs. It also helps with balance. 

Refreshing mental health days 

Not only is it good physical exercise, but snowshoeing is a mental health booster, too. It can help lower your stress and anxiety and lift your spirits. The tranquil, snowy landscape plus the rhythmic crunching sounds of your snowshoes, offer a meditative escape from daily life. 

Disconnecting from the hustle at home and work and immersing in the moment is rejuvenating. Snowshoeing is also a great social activity, so invite family and friends to join you. This is exactly what you all need during these cold, grey days. 

What You Need for This Low-Cost Sport

  • This outdoor winter sport fits most people’s budgets. You do not need expensive gear or lift tickets. A pair of modern snowshoes and trekking poles (optional) are all you will need to go exploring. You can use your snowshoes or rent a pair from several Southwest Michigan parks listed below. 
  • To put on snowshoes, first, determine which is the left and right snowshoe. Look at the bindings for an L or R. Open the straps and place the ball of your foot over the snowshoe’s center pivot point. Tighten the straps but don’t cut off your circulation. Usually, one strap secures the front of your boot and another holds your heel. 
  • Give your snowshoe a shake to make sure it is secure. Then strap on the second snowshoe. 
  • As you walk, if you find you are stepping on the other snowshoe’s frame, stride with a slightly wider stance. For added stability, use trekking poles. They will help you navigate uneven terrain and provide support during longer journeys.

Trail sign for Mt. Tabor Trails

Snowshoeing Tips

  • Before heading out, be sure to check the weather and possibly call about trail conditions. Snowshoeing in deep snow can be more challenging, so it's important to know what to expect. You may also want to avoid trails that are too icy or have steep inclines.
  • To stay warm while snowshoeing, wear moisture-wicking fabrics that draw sweat away from your skin. 
  • Pack your phone in case of an emergency, along with water, a compass, some snacks and a camera to capture the scenic beauty.
  • While out, keep in mind that many parks have designated trails for different activities or multi-use trails. If staff is available, ask about rules, trail recommendations and trail etiquette. 
  • When possible, avoid trails used by snowmobilers. Should you happen to end up on one, remember that snowmobiles have the right of way. 
  • Before you venture out in the snow, warm up your hamstring (back of thigh) and hip flexors (muscles that lift your legs) with light stretches.
  • When going uphill, dig your toes in so the cleats on the bottom of snowshoes can grab the snow.
  • Carry a repair kit in your backpack. Include duct tape and zip (cable) ties to make quick shoe repairs. If your snowshoes have grommets, bring a grommet repair kit.
  • Keep safety as your top priority. Trails that you enjoy in summer may not be suitable to hike in winter. For instance, narrow and steep trails tend to be difficult or even dangerous on snowshoes. 
  • Be aware that no ice is 100% safe and stay off discolored, dark or slushy areas. 
  • While out be sure to keep an eye out for white-tailed deer, a variety of birds including possibly a snowy owl, foxes, red squirrels and more.
  • Consider renting equipment before buying it so you can see if you enjoy snowshoeing as much as we think you will! Love Creek County Park rents snowshoes!
  • Smaller snowshoes are best for wet, compact snow; larger snowshoes for powder.
  • Remember to stop now and then to photograph the beauty of Southwest Michigan in the winter. Please use #swmichigan when you post your photos!
  • For more great locations, refer to our Trail Map (PDF). 

People enjoying wine at Dablon.

How to Extend Your Fun

After snowshoeing, warm up at one of our Makers Trail locations. Several have fire pits, heated patios, private greenhouses or heated igloos. Enjoy handcrafted beverages, a delicious meal and catching up with each other. Then, spend the night at one of our local hotels. More snow fun awaits tomorrow. 

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