Love the great outdoors and trying to meet a like-minded someone special?
Check out several Valentine’s weekend events designed for singles who want to enjoy nature’s wonders at a half-dozen of the state’s parks and recreation areas. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources calls them “Mitten Mixers,” and activities range from a lantern-lit snowshoeing excursion to star-gazing and a photo scavenger hunt between February 14-16, with a Mitten Mixer Coffee Tasting on February 23.
Here are the lovely details, straight from the cupids at the DNR:
- Bring along some friends and head to William Mitchell State Park in Cadillac for snowshoeing along a lantern-lit path. The event begins at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 14 at the Carl. T. Johnson Center, 6087 E. M-115 in Cadillac (Wexford County). Warm up around the campfire, roast s’mores and meet other singles who share your enthusiasm for the outdoors. Couples are also welcome. Explore the visitor center and get some hot chocolate, coffee, or cookies from Friends of William Mitchell State Park for a small donation that will go toward planting more trees at the park, where approximately 90 trees were lost as a result of the damage created by emerald ash borer. Bring a warm pair of winter boots and dress according to the weather. In the event of poor snowshoeing conditions, participants will still be able to hike the trail. For details, call the park, 231-775-7911 or assistant recreation programmer Elissa Dennert, 989-313-0000.
- Bundle up for a night of stargazing at Wilderness State Park. The event runs from 5:30 to 9 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 15, when randomly selected groups of four will head out on a constellation search along the 1.5-mile trail. Wilderness is considered a “dark sky park,” and an excellent place to view the various patterns of stars. Diagrams and information will be available at stops along the route. Return to the park for some group games and warm up around the bonfire with some hot cocoa. Wilderness State Park is located at 903 Wilderness Drive in Carp Lake (Emmet County). For details, call the park, 231-436-5381 or assistant recreation programmer Kristin Stempky, 231-215-7097.
- Meet up for a sunset snowshoe hike at Proud Lake Recreation Area followed by a bonfire and s’mores. The fun gets started at 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 15 at the Annex Building, 3500 Wixom Road in Commerce Township (Oakland County). For details, call the park, 248-685-2433 or 231-944-0059.
- Mix, mingle and enjoy fun outdoor activities with other singles starting at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 16 at Muskegon State Park in Muskegon County. Go for a glide on the skating ice rink or hike the snowshoe trails. Rental equipment is available. Meet in the Winter Sports Complex Lodge, 462 Scenic Drive, North Muskegon (Muskegon County). For details visit www.msports.org or call 231-744-9629.
- Join the photo scavenger hunt at Holly State Recreation Area. The hike starts at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 16 at the Overlook Shelter, 8100 Grange Hall Road in Holly (Oakland County). Stay for some hot beverages, snacks, games and socializing around the bonfire. For details, call the recreation area, 248-634-8811 or assistant recreation programmer Jacquelyn Baker, 989-313-1472.
- Keep the fun going with a Mitten Mixer Coffee Tasting event taking place from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23 at Pinckney State Recreation Area. Bring your favorite ceramic mug and a donation for Food Gatherers to the Silver Lake Day Use Area and sample different coffees provided by RoosRoast of Ann Arbor. Take a brief hike on the popular Potawatomi Trail and warm up by the bonfire. The event is open to all singles who love coffee or who want to meet someone who share similar interests. For details, call the park, 734-426-4913, or assistant recreation programmer Tracy Ball, 231-944-0078.
More outdoor fun and exercise is available through the DNR’s Recreation 101 program, which provides expert instruction to budding outdoor enthusiasts by offering free, hands-on training in over 100 different activities. Learn about participating or becoming an instructor, at www.michigan.gov/rec101. The DNR also offers ongoing nature programming; check out the schedule at www.michigan.gov/natureprograms.
NOTE: Entrance to the parks requires the Recreation Passport (annual fee is $11, $5 for motorcycles), available at the Secretary of State (by mail, kiosk, online at www.expresssos.com or at branch offices). It allows Michigan motorists access to state parks, recreation areas, state forest campgrounds, non-motorized state trailhead parking and state boat launches for the calendar year. Nonresidents can purchase the Recreation Passport ($30.50 annual; $8.40 daily) at any state park or recreation area or through the Michigan e-Store at www.michigan.gov/estore.