Winter may be holding back, but we don’t have to! Winter Trails Day is Friday, Feb. 16, 2024, at Palmer Woods Forest Preserve in Maple City. This event is hosted by the Leelanau Conservancy (LC) – with warmth, wit, and kindness. If you’ve ever been curious or nervous about trying a new trail, this is the perfect day to come out. You won’t be alone – you’ll be among docents, LC Collective members, and fun, outdoor enthusiasts.

Palmer Woods is the conservancy’s largest natural area at 1,075 acres. They have 10 miles of hiking and skiing trails, plus 17 miles of mountain biking trails in the summer. If you are a cross-country skier, trails are considered to be fairly easy with intermediate, more challenging sections along the way. All the trails are wide with no hairpin turns. The wide trails are groomed with corduroy for skate skiers and also feature one to two sets of tracks laid for classic skiers depending on the width of the trail.

Please note that weather conditions and low snowfall recently have made grooming nearly impossible. Snowshoes or hiking boots with yak-tracks/cleats will likely be the best choice unless we get snow soon! Check this trail report page before coming out on Friday. More details and the schedule below!

Staffers Becky Hill and Emily Douglas kick up their heels (in a snowier winter!) at Palmer Woods. Photo courtesy of Leelanau Conservancy.

Staffers Becky Hill and Emily Douglas kick up their heels (in a snowier winter!) at Palmer Woods. Photo courtesy of Leelanau Conservancy.

Winter Trails Day

Friday, February 16, 2024: 2-5 p.m.

Location: Palmer Woods Forest Reserve, 6096 S Wheeler Rd, Maple City, MI 49664

  • Please come dressed for the weather! This is an outdoor event. There is a fireplace to warm up at.
  • You must bring your own skis, snowshoes, and winter gear.
  • If snow levels aren’t ideal for snowshoeing and skiing, wear boots with yak-tracks or ice cleats (with optional hiking poles) for a hike instead. Check this trail report page before coming out.
  • Leave pets at home (they will forgive you!). (Dogs on leash are welcome at LC natural areas any other time.)
  • Palmer Woods has a large firepit area and is the center of the fun - dubbed the “Hub”!
  • Please feel free to use the trail anytime throughout the afternoon.
  • A water bottle, and snack are a good idea as well. 
  • Events are free but they would like a headcount.
  • Sign up here. In the event the event must be cancelled, the Leelanau Conservancy will make their best effort to contact registered attendees.


2 p.m. – Docent-Guided Snowshoe (longer route) – Conservancy docents invite you to enjoy a winter snowshoe walk to experience the sights and sounds of winter. They’ll also discuss how the forest ecosystem responds to the season. Why might winter be important to forest health? How might the changes brought about by global warming change the ways winter impacts our forests? This moderately-paced walk will include stops along the way to experience the woods in winter and talk about the coming changes. This 1- to 2-mile snowshoe with docents will get you looking and thinking about the forest in new ways. This hike starts and finishes at the Hub in the main Palmer Woods parking area in time to join the Fireside gathering.

2:30 p.m. – Docent-Guided Snowshoe (shorter route- great for families and kids!) – Prick up your ears, eyes, nose or fingers! Families comprised of all ages are invited to experience a 1-mile snowshoe walk on a winter trail to look closely at the woods around us. What might we notice differently in winter? We’ll engage our other senses as well: What can we smell, hear, or feel? Join Conservancy docents on this fun exploration! This slower-paced 1-mile snowshoe with LC Docents will explore the Ursa Minor trail. They will start and finish at the Hub in the main Palmer Woods parking area in time to join the Fireside Gathering.

4 p.m. – Staff-led Cross-Country Ski – Bring your cross-country skis and explore the Price Valley Trail out to the fern garden and back. This is one of the most popular features in the park!

2–5 p.m. – Fireside Gathering – Meet at the Palmer Woods Hub to warm up around the fires and chat with LC Staff, Docents, Board, and LC Collective members. They will have refreshments and hot cocoa! BYOM (Bring Your Own Mug) is preferred to help reduce waste.


Things to remember:  

  • Trails are multi-use. 
  • Do not hike or snowshoe on the groomed ski tracks.
  • Benches are located at #6 called the Mid-valley Hub, in the Fern Garden, and in between #14 & #15 (Download Map Here).
  • Restrooms are located at the main parking area / Hub / #1 on map.
  • Check back here for upcoming Docent Guided Hikes: Events – The Leelanau Conservancy
  • Sign up for their e-news for more Trails Days events later this year! 


Now – do a snow dance!