Donald and Hope Lovell enjoy cross country skiing, tubing and sledding at Burchfield Park in Holt, MI with their four children.
HOLT, MI -- Donald Lovell and his wife, Hope, went skiing on their first trip together in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. Donald grew up skiing as a Boy Scout in Brooklyn, NY. Hope is from Detroit and did not grow up skiing. However, she has gone on a couple of ski trips to which she tried skiing for the first time in her 20’s.
Over the years they have experienced downhill skiing together. Several years ago, they took a family vacation to Boyne Mountain, which has been around for over 65 years.
Located in the village of Boyne Falls, the family-owned resort offers Michigan's largest indoor waterpark, Avalanche Bay, the luxurious 19,500 square foot of The Spa at Boyne Mountain, in addition to many lodging and dining options.
Winter beckons with snowsports galore from 60 trails of downhill to 35km of cross country, as well as exclusive snowshoe trails, horse-drawn sleigh rides, tubing, ice skating, fat tire snow biking, and groomer rides. When the Lovell’s visited they enjoyed the time they spent outdoors with their two children at the time. Donald III was 9-years old and Faith was 6-years-old when they took their first snowboarding lessons.
Time passed and the Lovell’s had two more children but their love of the outdoors in the winter just grew. Even though it had been several years since they had been skiing, the Lovell’s wanted a family experience.
Hope said, “I had a little oopsy on the mountain the last time we went skiing in Boyne. Let’s just say my ski went one way and my pole went another. A guy carrying a beer bottle nonchalantly approached me and gathered my things so that I could finish skiing down the mountain. After that experience, I decided it was probably best that I begin to consider skiing cross country. I call it skiing for the grown and sexy.”
Recently, the Lovell family was planning a winter getaway and they were originally supposed to go to Mt. Brighton, in Brighton MI, which is about an hour away. Mt. Brighton is a well-known ski and snowboard area in the state.
Hope said, “When we tallied up the costs, the whole experience between lift tickets, ski lessons, and equipment was going to be almost $1,000. We should note that we have 4 children ages 6, 10, 11, and 13. So when you are a family of 6 the bill racks up pretty quick.”
When the children were told that they weren’t going to Mt. Brighton because the cost was not in the budget, the children were upset. Their parents quickly started looking for alternate experiences that would allow their family to enjoy the snow.
Hope said, “It had been a few years since we’d taken them to Hawk Island for sledding, so that is where I started. When we looked at the schedule, Hawk Island was booked out to mid-March. They had to cut their capacity due to Covid. However, they noted on the website that Burchfield Park offers cross country skiing.”
She felt like she had hit the jackpot when she discovered that it cost around five dollars per hour for each child. Hope has been interested in trying cross country skiing for years. She also knew this was a great opportunity for her children to become familiar with traditional skiing.
Excited for the opportunity, Hope said, “Cross country is perfect for the beginner. There are a lot of bunny hills. The cherry on top was that Burchfield also offered tubing and sledding. This was awesome, as we’d just purchased sleds for the children. Overall, we had a great time skiing, tubing, and sledding. I don’t think the whole experience cost us more than $60.”
The Process at Burchfield Park
The Lovells said that Burchfield Park made the process to get their skis very easy and they were in and out within 10 minutes. Because the park staff wanted to be sensitive to other skiers, they gave them an hour and a half to navigate the trails because they had children who were novice skiers. They made it halfway around then turned around to head back to the main building.
Donald said, “The children were ecstatic about the whole experience. As Michiganians, we want our kids to embrace our natural environment. In Michigan, it snows. We do not want them to feel begrudging toward the snow, but to see all the opportunities for fun that living in a place that snows during the winter can offer. With that said, they are hooked. We will for sure be doing more family ski trips both in and out of Michigan. They are ready to go again. We will definitely be back to Burchfield and bring people with us.”
Family adventures outdoors in Michigan can be demanding so be prepared for a physical workout. They also wore layered clothing and the children still but the children still complained about being too warm.
Donald said, “Living in Michigan, while it has its challenges, there are many beautiful things about living here. We would absolutely recommend this experience to other families. If you have never skied before, then doing cross country at Burchfield is a great way to ‘get your feet wet’. The terrain offers a few hills so you can get the small feeling of doing a slope without feeling like you are going to lose control. I am happy to be able to draw attention to the beauty and attractions of Mid-Michigan. You don’t have to go up North to enjoy a little family fun in the snow. The fun is literally right up the street.”
Burchfield Park is located at 881 Grovenburg Rd, Holt, MI 48842. For more information, please call 517-676-2233. You can find out more information about Ingham County Parks system on their Facebook page.
Courtesy photo of the Lovell family (Hope Lovell is the photographer)