Step into your snowshoes at the Carl T. Johnson Hunting and Fishing Center

Center offers winter hikes, ice fishing classes and more

via Cadillac News

The Carl T. Johnson Hunting and Fishing Center is planning to offer nighttime hikes again this winter. The hikes will rely a lot more on moonlight this year. In the past, the trails behind the center were bathed in lantern light.

Ed Shaw, the interpreter at the Carl T., said he expected at least some regular programming to resume at the center after Feb. 1, when some epidemic orders are set to loosen.

Though the nighttime outdoor snowshoe hikes weren’t banned by the order, they were difficult to pull off.

Shaw is tentatively planning to schedule a moonlit hike for the weekend of Feb. 11, since it’s around the time of the full moon.

“I’ll light the beginning of the trail and the turns or something like that, but it’ll be bare minimum,‘ Shaw said. “But it won’t be like 100 lanterns that people have seen in the past.‘

The manpower and “dollars per smile‘ aren’t there.

And if people do show up for the events who haven’t registered, Shaw says he doesn’t want to have to turn people away because of limits on gathering size.

Meanwhile, the trails are still being groomed even though formally organized hikes are waiting for February. The parking lot has also been regularly plowed to accommodate those who want to go ice fishing.

And the Carl T. will continue to host Outdoor Skills Academy courses this winter. Those, too, will be a little different. Much of the learning will take place at home via video, with people meeting in person only for practical skills.

Hard water (ice fishing) classes are scheduled for Jan. 23, Feb. 5, Feb. 20 and March 6. Turkey hunting, steelhead, walleye and whitetail classes are also planned for March and April.

The center, which has a museum, will be open on the weekends and visitors will be able to come in and look at the displays dedicated to wildlife and the role sportsmen and sportswomen play in conservation. The museum is open on the weekends, though you’re encouraged to call ahead due to limited staffing (231-779-1321).

The center’s 2.5-mile Heritage Nature Trail is also available; the Department of Natural Resources grooms it and the Cadillac Pathway in the winter.

You can also do some winter camping at Mitchell State Park.

“We are one of the half dozen parks around the state that are open year-round for winter camping,‘ Shaw noted. Most people will bring a camper, though some may opt for tents.

“You need a four seasons tent,‘ Shaw said, adding that most readily available tents in stores are meant for three seasons, “but winter backpacking and camping can be a lot of fun.‘

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