Editor's note: This article was published in Grand Traverse Scene magazine's Winter 2019 issue. Pick up a free copy at area hotels, visitor's centers, chambers of commerce or at the Record-Eagle building on Front Street. Click here to read GT Scene in its entirety online.
Boyne City is a popular vacation spot — especially once the snow starts flying
Unlike many other northern Michigan communities, the city on the southeast end of Lake Charlevoix remains open after the holiday season, said Lisa Luebke, Boyne Area Chamber of Commerce office manager. In fact, many say it gets better.
“It’s not like some communities where everything closes down for the winter,” Luebke said. “We get a ton of visitors. Most shops and restaurants are open.”
Fittingly, the area boasts a wide variety of snow-based activities, she said.
Skiers frequent Boyne Mountain Resort, located in nearby Boyne Falls, where the snow-making capabilities combined with colder nighttime temperatures allow skiing and snowboarding through at least March.
Outdoor spaces like Young State Park and the Little Traverse and Walloon Lake conservancies are open year-round. Luebke said extensive trails — like those at the Hill Nature Preserve and the Boyne School Forest Trail — provide snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling opportunities.
“The major [snowmobiling] trails, you can go for miles and miles,” she said. “It is weather dependent, but the conservancies are maintained throughout the winter. Even if we don’t have a lot of snow on the ground, we like to walk with our dog.”
Luebke said her husband enjoys ice fishing, an often overlooked winter activity. Though the sport is more popular with locals, some tourists try their luck on Boyne City’s frozen waterways.
Fishers can visit the Michigan Department of Natural Resources website for information about ice conditions on the lakes and rivers.
“Sometimes Lake Charlevoix freezes. Some of the smaller inland lakes (always) do,” Luebke said.
Families can take their children sledding at Avalanche Preserve, a public area south of the city. Luebke said the preserve and Walloon Lake Village, about 7 miles northeast of the city, each boast an ice skating rink.
Visitors looking for another kind of adventure can kayak down the Boyne River, which flows through town. Luebke said the river never freezes because of the current, so people can kayak in any season.
“It’s something a little different, but it’s another alternative to get out there and enjoy nature,” she said. “It seems to be gaining popularity.”
Winter kayaking isn’t Kelsie King-Duff’s cup of tea, but the Boyne City Main Street executive director is a fan of other winter sports.
King-Duff, who is originally from Flint, said cold-weather activities impacted her decision to move “Up North.”
“I love it,” she said. “I downhill ski — that was a big draw for coming to this area. Plus, my office is seven minutes from Boyne Mountain.”
She also enjoys the trails at the Little Traverse Conservancy and uses the mobile app, LTC Trail Explorer, to find other paths nearby.
Like winter kayaking, fat tire biking is becoming increasingly trendy in the region, King-Duff said. Employees at North Country Cycle Sport, the local bike shop, groom trails at Avalanche Preserve especially for winter biking. Cyclists, hikers and others can view Lake Charlevoix from the preserve’s lookout area, King-Duff said.
Along with their outdoor adventures, visitors can enjoy dining or shopping, the city’s other favorite winter pastimes. Or they can do a bit of both at the Boyne City Farmers Market. The indoor market is open from 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays at City Hall on Main Street. About 20 area vendors provide fish, meat, wine, baked goods and other products during the winter.
“Quite a few vendors have hoop houses or greenhouses, so we do have herbs year-round,” King-Duff said. “Die-hard locals come every Saturday. Boyne City stays pretty busy during the winter so we do get visitors as well.”