The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics have officially kicked off, and athletes from fifteen different sports will be doing their best to go for the gold. I have been a huge fan of the Olympics for as long as I can remember. As a kid, I had the Olympic Starter Jacket (so cool), and I secretly dreamed of being a gold medal-winning figure skater or gymnast. The good news is: you don’t have to be an Olympic-caliber athlete to try your hand at winter sports! From your activities in your backyard to locations here in Jackson County, from surrounding counties to other spots in our great state, we are sharing these kid-friendly ways to be a winter athlete.

Figure Skating and Speed Skating
Ready to test your balance and speed? Strap on your skates and head to Grass Lake! Thanks to the Grass Lake Community Wellness Initiative, there is now an outside ice rink installed right in town. How cool (literally)! Located at the Grass Lake Community Events Park downtown, the rink is free to use (as long as it is frozen), family-friendly and details can be found on the Grass Lake Community Wellness Initiative Page.

Hockey and Figure Skating
Jackson’s Optimist Ice Arena is the perfect spot to test your skating skills inside. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced hockey player, Optimist has something to offer you! Head to their website for open skate schedules, classes, and youth and adult hockey information.

We are big fans of testing out our sledding skills close to home (so much winter gear to put on!), and if you have hills in your yard, you could try your hand at building a luge run out of snow.

No hills? No problem! Head to one of the following sledding destinations right here in Jackson County:
Sparks Foundation County Park (also known as The Cascades)
Sackrider Hill in Grass Lake
Clark Lake County Park

Up for a bigger adventure? Head to Hawk Island in Lansing to try out snow tubing!

Sledding hill at Clark Lake County Park. Photo credit: Emelia Taylor
Sledding hill at Sparks Foundation County Park. Photo credit: Emelia Taylor

Cross Country Skiing/Alpine Skiing/Snowboarding
We searched high and low for cross-country ski rentals in Jackson County and came up empty-handed. For a similar local adventure, we recommend trying out the snowshoe rentals at Dahlem. Pricing and hours can be located here.

The good news is that you won’t have to travel too far to try out cross country skiing. Ann Arbor offers adult and youth rentals and space for cross country skiing at Rolling Hills (when conditions are right.) Check out the details here.

Ingham County also offers two options for cross-country skiing and rentals. With rentals and trails at Burchfield Park in Holt and Lake Lansing Park in Meridian Township, you just might find your hidden talent and a new hobby! Details can be found here.

If downhill skiing is more your speed, check out the guide to skiing from Pure Michigan. One of these destinations would make the perfect day or weekend trip.

Winter Fun Galore
Winter sports can be SNOW MUCH FUN. We hope you feel encouraged to get out there and go for the gold after discovering some new spots and ideas in this post. 

The Wonder of the Winter Olympics – Winter Sports in Jackson County and Beyond

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