Taking to the trails, we leave from the Caberfae Trailhead on Trail 638 towards 637 headed to the Boon Bonfire. Our group is made up of novice to experienced riders, so the ride starts off touring 15 mph to a forest trail that will remind you of a Christmas movie. The National Forest trail system is predominately pine, with a mix of hardwoods, so new snow hangs on the tall pine branches on either side of the trail. This creates an arch-like entrance that doesn’t end, and offers a continuous, white, sparkling ambiance to the ride that is breathtaking.
Bring your sleds around bends, over a small stream, freshly groomed trails that allow for two-way traffic, and the sun peaks out in the open spaces – snowmobile heaven on earth. After a while, a straight-away opens into a field where you take a quick left into an even wider thoroughfare, and everyone can get a bit ‘sassy’ towards the Boon Bonfire. There is an old concrete and wood building filled with split wood, and a serve-yourself sign.
A few feet ahead you can see the bonfire blazing with a dozen snowmobilers standing around telling the tales of yesterday’s rides. Locals talk about the future connector from Mesick to Copemish. And often riders from downstate share stories and ask questions of the locals about the Manistee/Benzie Trail networks to the west and north, or Baldwin trails to the south, since they all connect. Boon Grocery has hosted the bonfire area for decades, and is just a short walk (or ride) through the pine trees to get snacks, drinks and their famous, aged Boon Cheese in 20 plus flavors.
The tales around the bonfire give any rider reason to connect and ride other northwestern Michigan region systems, there are enough miles for more than a weeks worth of riding, and you won’t have to ride the same trails twice.
We recommend the Boon Bonfire for any first timer to the area, as it is a great place to meet new friends and riding partners.