Winter recreation and events to enjoy in the Flint area

FLINT, Michigan — Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you have to stay inside the entire season. Winter provides a beautiful backdrop for many outdoor recreation opportunities to enjoy. The greater Flint region has numerous parks with sledding hills, snowshoe trails, outdoor hikes, and special seasonal events. 

Nicole Ferguson is the chief park naturalist at the For-Mar Nature Preserve & Arboretum at Genesee County Parks. In her role, she helps on large projects that take place on the grounds and helps with educational and outreach programming. 

Ferguson says there are many different winter activities for families to enjoy. 

“At For-Mar, anytime there’s snow, we have our snowshoe rental which is completely free that you can take advantage of when our Visitor Center is open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.,” she says. “You can come in, borrow the snowshoes, go out on the trails, and try them out. We also have snowshoeing 101 classes coming up if we have snow again.”

Snowshoeing 101 takes place on Saturday, Feb. 24 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. The hike is about one mile and is suggested for ages five and older. Pre-registration is required, and the event costs $5 per person. 

“We also do our Sunday strolls which we’ll also bring snowshoes to a lot of times, that go on at other park locations,” Ferguson says. “One of our jobs is to introduce more people to the Genesee County Parks, not just For-Mar, through environmental education opportunities. That might be nature hikes, going out searching for salamanders, going on a field trip, we have different ways we work with the community.”

Ferguson says the parks also host birding activities which are great during the winter because they showcase birds that don’t migrate. For example, there was a recent Owl Prowl event that helped celebrate Valentine’s Day. 

Ferguson enjoys introducing folks to the parks at the Visitor Center. She recommends the owl prowls, birding hikes, or Sunday strolls for starter hikes. 

“Just being outdoors has such a great effect on our health, both mental and physical,” she says. “We really try to make sure there is something for everyone, that’s really in our parks mission and vision to bring people together. It’s really important to us that everybody has access to their parks, no matter your age or ability.”

Not only can time outdoors in the sun and even snow help ward off seasonal depression, but it also provides a picturesque backdrop, says Ferguson.

“It’s really fun to see some of your favorite parks in the winter because it looks completely different, and it’s pretty magical,” says Ferguson. “Especially if you come to For-Mar right after a good snowfall, everything is glistening. It’s so beautiful.”

Of course, with all this talk of snow, you can’t forget about sledding. There are plenty of sledding hills in the area to enjoy no matter if you have kids, or are just a kid at heart. 

Some fan favorites include Bush Park on the Shiawassee River, with a winter sledding area, pavilion, and restrooms. There’s also the Flint Southwestern Academy High School sledding hill in Flint. It’s a steep hill, but also has stairs on the side to help climb back up for round two.

As part of Genesee County Parks, there’s also Hogsback Area in Davison, with hiking, fishing, birdwatching, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and steep slopes for sledding. There’s also a new Clio sledding hill in Thetford Township, as part of Clio Area Parks and Recreation.
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Read more articles by Sarah Spohn.