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MECCA Trails Extends Virtual Winterfest as Trail Conditions Remain in Great Shape

Tuesday mid-morning, the parking lot at the MECCA trails was already starting to fill up with cross country skiers and snowshoers.

“Our traffic has been way up,” said MECCA Ski Club President Mike Shouldice. He says it’s been like ski trails opened in early January. “We’ve had just enough snow to have very good skiing. We got off to a late start. We weren’t able to set track until just after the first of the year.”

The trail system in Mercer is made up of 21 kilometers of ski trails groomed for both classic and skate skiing. There’s also three miles snowshoe trails.

Facilities on site include a chalet, vault toilets, and fire pits to warm up. The trails are set up with clear signs directing you through the woods. Right now, both the snowshoe trails and ski loops are set up for MECCA Winterfest.

“We got off to a late start because the snow didn’t cooperate with us in December so at a meeting a few weeks ago we said, ‘Gee, it’s a virtual event. Why don’t we run it all winter long?’ So we’re running it through March 28th,” said Shouldice.

The three ski races are timed events, with skiers self-reporting. The snowshoe loops aren’t time events, just a chance to get out and enjoy the woods, including on the new two-mile Mercer Springs Trail.

Money earned from Winterfest goes into trial and facility maintenance and to MECCA experience which helps bring groups to the trails.

The Gogebic Range Health Authority, one of the event sponsors, says trails are a unique strategy to promote healthy living.

“I think the pandemic has really kind of explained that research behind being outdoors and the benefit of being outdoors for mental health, physical health, you know just socialization, spiritual health. It hits all of those areas of just health in general,” Executive Director Andrea Newby.

Whether it’s for your health, for fun, or your competitive spirit, Shouldice has enjoyed seeing so many hit the trails this winter.

“It’s been very heartening,” said Shouldice.

And with more snow in the forecast, eh hopes everyone will get out and enjoy MECCA Trails this winter.

You can register for MECCA Winterfest on the MECCA Trails website.  

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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