The White Lake area is known for many wonderful attractions: beautiful Lake Michigan beaches, historic downtown areas, great golfing, great fishing … the list goes on!
But one of the things we’re most known for here is our perfect landscape for snowmobiling. From gentle hills and valleys to outstretched fields and trails through the forest: you name it, we got it. Snowmobile enthusiasts come from all over the state, the Midwest, and the nation to ride our trails.
And those trails are pretty easy to find.
That’s because the White Lake area boasts over 175 miles of well marked and maintained snowmobile trails. Each mile offers something new—a unique view of the landscape, beautiful wildlife in its natural habitat, or perhaps an unexpected stop for the best cup of hot chocolate you’ve ever tasted.
Some say the best way to experience the beauty of a West Michigan winter is from the seat of your snowmobile. At The Weathervane Inn, we couldn’t agree more!
Finding That Perfect Trail
Surrounding our lakeside inn is a network of fully interconnected snowmobile trails. Together, these trails make up more than 175 miles of snowmobiling heaven. From as far south as Muskegon all the way up north to the welcoming town of Hart, you’ll have your pick of amazing landscapes and fun stops to choose from.
The best place to start your journey is with this map. With this, you can easily see the trail network to mark out your trip. You’ll also notice that our lake front hotel is at the center of everything! In fact, entry to the William Field Memorial Hart-Montague Bike Trail is just across the street from us.
This is one of the most beloved trails in the area. It is extremely well maintained and provides a peaceful ride straight north (just the direction you want to go when it’s winter!). You can double back to us whenever you like.
The Hart-Montague Bike Trail is very popular for snowmobilers because of its scenic beauty along the West Michigan countryside, and young or new snowmobilers will especially appreciate its flatness. The trail follows old train tracks that were pulled up in the 1980s. After the tracks were gone, the land was paved and turned into a pathway that offers great biking and running in the summer and amazing snowmobiling in the winter.
In addition to marking trails like this one, you’ll see that the snowmobile map has detailed markers for gas stops, medical service centers, and port-a-jon locations. There are also markers for parking lot trailheads:
- Red Barn – Muskegon Apple Avenue
- City Parking – Lot behind Montague Foods (Across the street from The Weathervane Inn)
- Holton Whitehall Road
- Montague VFW – Walsh Road
Grab a Bite Along the Way!
If you’re in town staying at our lakeside hotel, there are plenty of wonderful places to fuel up in Montague and Whitehall before or after you hit the trails. For a scrumptious slice, try Sam’s Grille and Pizzeria. Or check out Chamber Sports Bar for some top-notch fare. There’s also the very popular Fetch Brewery in downtown Whitehall, which offers a variety of amazing, locally made brews to end your long day of trail riding.
Heading north from White Lake, stops at restaurants and bars can easily be made in Rothbury, New Era, Shelby, and Hart. Some favorite eateries of ours include the Trailside Inn of New Era, the infamous Brown Bear in Shelby, and Hart Pizza and La Fiesta in Hart.
When Does the Snowmobiling Season Officially Begin?
If you know anything about Michigan winters, you know that the snow could start to fly as early as October or as late as January. But the official opening date of these trails is December 1st.
While some areas may allow snowmobiling in November if weather permits, White Lake area trails open on December 1st because firearm hunting season occurs in the second half of November. Check the Michigan Snowmobile Regulations for more information and general laws concerning snowmobiling in the state.
Hopefully, the trails will look good for snowmobiling right at the beginning of December, but again, this is not always the case in West Michigan. What you’re really looking for is more than 4 inches of snow, so keeping track of trail reports in the White Lake area is the best way to know when conditions are optimal for snowmobiling.
What Do I Need to Snowmobile in West Michigan?
The trails in the White Lake area are part of National Forest System Lands. To be able to snowmobile on National Forest System Lands in Michigan, you’ll need two things:
- A Snowmobile Registration – Your registration can come from Michigan or any other U.S. state or province.
- A Michigan Snowmobile Trail Permit Sticker
This sticker is valid from October 1st to September 30th of the next year. You can get one by following the directions found here on the Michigan DNR website, or check the map for a listing of where you can obtain permits.