Cross Country Skiing:
Staying at Borchers Bed & Breakfast puts you at the center of the Lower Peninsula's "cross-country country."
Whether you are looking for a challenging trek or a relaxing tour with family and friends, you'll find a casual adventure on over 75 kilometers of cross-country trails winding through incomparable scenery from the beautiful AuSable River to historic white pines. Start your day at Borchers with a hearty breakfast, then explore the trails.
Our area also offers two premier ski shops for sales and rentals:
They are owned by experts in the sport. Along with their helpful and knowledgable staff, they provide an extensive selection in equipment and clothing, technical advice, and up-to-date trail reports. Outstanding cross-country ski areas are within a ten minute drive, including Forbush Corners Ski Area in Frederic. Owner, Dave Forbush, is known by Borchers' regulars for the best trail grooming in the area.
Within a 20-minute drive of downtown Grayling, for example, are three pristine trail experiences unique in the state, according to ski outfitters Dick Fultz, operator of the Cross Country Ski Shop in Grayling, Bob Frye, who with wife Lynne, operate Cross-Country Ski Headquarters a few minutes south of town near Higgins Lake, with the state's only cross-country trail featuring machine-made snow, and David Forbush, who has attained a national reputation for grooming on his 37-kilometers of trails at Forbush Corners Ski Area near Frederic, just north of Grayling.
"The trails in our area are just fabulous and Grayling is a great central location," Fultz says. "Within a 30-mile radius of town, you could ski a different system every weekend of the season."
To help you decide on trails to try during your visit, Fultz, Frye and Forbush compiled their own "Top 10 List" of local ski routes, so you can spend all day, or a few hours enjoying the Grayling area's snowbelt from first snow to spring thaw.
Best beginner trail: In Bob Frye's opinion, his own store-side ski trail featuring the state's only guaranteed snow for cross-country is tops for beginners. It's part of CCHQ's 19-plus-kilometers of trails. Doubled in length to two kilometers, it's flat and a great place to check out new equipment and ski when there's no natural snow. Also check out the lighted 0.8-mile loop at Dick Fultz' shop behind the Grayling Holiday Inn, while Forbush says his 1 kilometer Pancake beginner loop is a good place to start, or brush up on your technique.
Best expert trail: Forbush Corner's seven-kilometer "Roller Coaster" trail is very technical with lots of hills, and that's known for its hairpin climbs. "David Forbush grooms it really well and for a lot of advanced skiers it's worth the cost (a day pass is $15)," says Bob Frye. Forbush says its difficulty has been honed down, giving it a broader appeal. Fultz' vote is Hanson Hills' Yellow loop, a tricky five-mile path winding through the Au Sable State Forest. Hanson Hills is run by the Grayling Recreation Authority, with 35 kilometers of pathways.
Most scenic: Frye, Fultz and Forbush agree that for sheer northern Michigan beauty, you can't beat the Mason Tract Pathway. Located between Grayling and Roscommon, this nine-mile trail runs through the George Mason Wilderness Tract, given to the state by the widow of the auto magnate it's named after. Parking lots are on Chase Bridge Road, south and east of Grayling off M-72, and near Canoe Harbor State Forest Campground off M-72. Follow the well-marked trail along Au Sable River's South Branch through untouched forest as it meanders towards its eventual meeting with the river's main stream beyond Canoe Harbor. The trail also features two loops. Forbush likes Roller Coaster, due to its elevation, portions are at 1,300 feet above sea level, and scenic sugar maples and older pines. Others include the skier-set Wakeley Lake Pathway east of Grayling and trails at North and South Higgins Lake state parks.
Best short trail: Among the 18 miles of routes in Hartwick Pines State Park, the Old Growth Trail winds through the majestic 200-foot-tall pines and past a replica logging camp. Or, try the three-mile Au Sable River Footpath, a skier-set trail that twice crosses the East Branch of the Au Sable River. Snowshoers can also try the Old Growth Trail.
Longest: The 12-kilometer (about 8.4 miles) Red Loop at Hanson Hills, a real lung-burner that loops around the Hanson Hills system.
Hilliest: Hanson Hills' 12-kilometer Red Loop again is a great title contender. Others include Forbush Corner's aptly named Rollercoaster and Screamer, a hill on the West Trail system, along with Stinker, that adds 2.5 kilometers. "Stinker is like going up a wall. We groom it going downhill because you can't get the groomer up it," Forbush says. Both systems are groomed for both classic and skating and rentals are available.
Flattest: Cross-country Ski Headquarters' Tall Pines Trail runs through a stand of Norwegian pines, a great route for families with younger skiers who may be uncomfortable on hills. Other great family-oriented routes include the Mason Tract Pathway.
Best night skiing: At Cross-Country Ski Headquarters, ski all trails at night by borrowing LED headlights available at the shop. Some Hartwick Pines ski trails also are lighted on special occasions, and a lighted beginner trail is at the Cross Country Ski Shop.
Best overall ski experience: Because of the variety and closeness to downtown Grayling, Hanson Hills, three miles away, and Forbush Corner, seven miles north off I-75's Frederic exit get the vote. Forbush Corner is considered one of the top privately owned systems in the Midwest because of its outstanding grooming. Trails are single track set with skating lanes adjacent, with the Midwest's largest cross-country only equipment fleet. It often is one of the first natural snow systems open.
Best time of week to ski: State trails are groomed each Friday morning and privately run trails are groomed as needed. But whether you like to stay on groomed tracks, or break trail through the woods, anytime is a great time to try the wealth of cross-country ski trails in the forest and hills of the greater Grayling area.
Ski rental is available at Cross Country Ski Headquarters south of Grayling on County Road 100 (989-821-6661; www.crosscountryski.com, 19 kilometers of trails on premises); at Grayling's Cross Country Ski Shop, behind the Holiday Inn off Business I-75, (800-889-7456; www.xcskishop.com, 5 kilometers of trails on premises).
Rentals also are available at Forbush Corner, just east off I-75 exit 264 (989-348-5989; www.forbushcorner.com, 37 kilometers of trails on premises and a ski shop. It's open weekends only.
Whichever trail you choose, Borchers is the perfect place to "come home to" at the end of the day.
Borchers AuSable Canoe Livery and Bed & Breakfast
Mark & Cheri Hunter