Rock climbing is one of today’s hottest sports for the young and old alike. If you’re active and you enjoy some of Michigan’s most breathtaking views, odds are you’ve been out hiking and rock climbing somewhere in our great state. But in the dead of winter, anything short of a plane trip south of the border won’t get you outside climbing anytime soon. Thankfully, Michigan is home to some of the country’s best ice climbing. The sparsely populated Upper Peninsula is home to some beautiful hardwood forests and within these winter wonderlands, Michiganders can find a plethora of options to travel to. But, if you’re more interested in sticking close to the Motor City this winter, we’ve got an option for you to try as well.
12326 Foley Road
Fenton, MI 48430
www.facebook.com/PeabodyIceClimbingClubLocated on an old farm in Fenton, Peabody Ice Climbing is home to two man-made ice mountains that can provide a challenge for all who are interested. At 45 and 75 feet tall, these two towers may not be exactly the same as those you would find out in nature, but they are pretty darn close. Peabody offers a great place for well-seasoned climbers to “freshen up” before their big trip or help train a newcomer to the sport. It also offers gear rental and instructor support. Peabody’s season begins in early December and runs through mid-March.
400 Cedar St.
Munising, MI 49862
www.michiganicefest.comWhen it comes to ice climbing in Michigan, this is known as “The Big One.” Travelers come from around the country and descend upon the Upper Peninsula starting January 31st for the annual Michigan Ice Fest. For those new to the sport and looking to take a class, Thursday January 31st has a host of classes in which anyone can sign up. These range from Intro to Ice Climbing and Top Rope Anchor Class to slide shows with ice-climbing pros Bill and Benjamin Erdmann. From February 1st through the 3rd, it’s all about the ice climbing, with a slew of events planned to keep everyone involved and active over the weekend. Mandatory registration can be done online and costs $40. Gear rental costs $50. The festival’s headquarters are at Sydney’s Restaurant where you can pick up registration information and demo some equipment.
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Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Burt Township, MI 49839
www.nps.govPictured Rocks National Lakeshore is home to some incredible ice-climbing areas known affectionately as Sand Point, Miners Falls and Miners Basin Falls. Thanks to widely known and plentiful “lake effect” snow and frigid temperatures, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore stands out among the rest as having a reputation for being one of the most spectacular parks to give ice climbing a go — whether you are a novice or an experienced climber. As the website notes, “The most accessible ice columns during the winter are found along the escarpment between Munising Falls and Sand Point along Sand Point Road.” Note that the Munising Falls themselves are off limits to climbers.
Forest Supervisor’s Office
820 Rains Drive
Gladstone, MI 49837
www.fs.usda.govLong-known as the “Great Lakes National Forest,” Hiawatha National Forest is also one of the region’s best-kept secrets when it comes to ice climbing. Nestled along the coast of Lakes Michigan, Superior and Huron, this scenic area hosts numerous ice climbers from all skill sets each season. The Rapid River area is well known for its fantastic ice structures once the weather grows cold and standard admittance into the park allows access to all of the ice-climbing areas. Alerts and notices are often posted on the website to keep visitors informed of any weather conditions.Related: Best CrossFit Studios In The Detroit Area
Golf Course Road
Hubbell, MI 49913
www.hunts-upguide.comHungarian Falls is unique among ice-climbing locations in that the drop-off from Laurium to Lake Linden and Hubbell on Torch Lake is amazingly deep and poses quite a challenge and level of excitement for interested visitors to this beautiful area of the Upper Peninsula. If you are traveling up to the Falls along M-26, you’ll be treated to some of the Midwest’s most breathtaking and dramatic views of the great wilderness. Climbing the ice itself is free and often maintained, but transportation to the area is not provided by park services. Complete directions are available on the website.
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Michael Ferro is freelance writer and a graduate of Michigan State University where he majored in Creative Writing and received the Jim Cash Creative Writing Award. Born and bred in Detroit, he currently resides in Ypsilanti Township. Additional writing can be found at Examiner.com.