Local Winter Activities Worth Bracing the Cold
Metro Detroit’s parks are prime for winter adventures
Campus Martius Park
For an experience that is distinct to downtown Detroit, head to the heart of the city and slice the ice at Campus Martius. The outdoor rink, which is enjoyed by thousands of visitors every season, is open for skating seven days a week and on holidays until March 4. Show up on a Monday or Tuesday night to witness competitions between teams playing broomball, an ice rink-based game that originated from our Canadian neighbors. Admission to the rink is $8 (kids 12 and under are $7) and skate rentals are $4. To keep warm, be sure to duck next door into the popular Parc restaurant, which features a French-Mediterranean take on wood-fire-grilled Midwestern dishes.
800 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-963-9393; downtowndetroitparks.com
For a family-friendly activity, take some sleds to Kensington Metropark in Milford for the day. The park features a run dedicated to tobogganing as well as slopes for beginner, intermediate, and advanced sledding. There’s even a bunny hill, which is set up with padded trees surrounding it for less experienced participants. The hills, located at the Orchard picnic area, are open from 11 a.m. to dusk during the week and 10 a.m. to dusk on weekends. Sledders must walk their way back up to the launch point, but be cautious of others flying by on their way down — there’s no speed limit on the snow!
4570 Huron River Pkwy, Milford; 810-227-8910; metroparks.com/parks/kensington-metropark/
For the classic downhill ski and snowboard experience, don’t skip the slopes at Mt. Brighton. After being purchased by Vail Resorts, the 130-acre resort received a $10 million makeover for the 2013-14 season. With newer chairlifts, base area facilities, and children’s ski school, the resort’s 25 trails are groomed and shred-ready. For those who are new to the winter activity, there’s also a variety of programs on site that teach the basics of skiing and snowboarding. And in between runs, Mt. Brighton visitors can fuel up at one of the site’s dining and drinking facilities such as the Ski Hill Grill or Bruhn’s Bar.
4141 Bauer Rd., Brighton; 810-229-9581; mtbrighton.com
Peabody Ice Climbing Club
Ever wanted to try ice climbing? There’s no need to travel all the way to the U.P., because Peabody Ice Climbing Club in Fenton (pictured above) includes all amenities necessary for expert training and beginner practice. The site features 45 and 72-foot towers, both of which are covered in ice. A single-day pass costs just $20, and you can rent helmets, harnesses, axes, and other climbing equipment for an additional $20. After taking a crack at climbing the icy towers, warm up in the 10-person sauna and stay the night in the heated bunkhouse, which accommodates up to 12 people. Guests are also welcome to pitch a tent and camp overnight on site.
12326 Foley Rd., Fenton; 810-433-3304; peabodyiceclimbing.com
Independence Oaks County Park
The opportunity to cross-country ski in metro Detroit is wide open due to the area’s combination of flat and rolling terrain. What’s hard to come across, though, is a place to rent equipment. Independence Oaks County Park in Clarkston offers cross-country ski and snowshoe rentals for $12 a day, weather permitting. The park has nearly 10 miles of groomed trails that wind through woods and lakes, with elevation changing drastically in some areas. The trails are split up into loops with varying levels of difficulty. The park also offers cross-country ski lessons on Saturdays throughout February.
9501 Sashabaw Rd., Clarkston; 248-625-0877; oakgov.com/parks/parksandtrails/independence-oaks