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Northern Michigan in Focus: Garden Island

The cold weather we’ve been having provides a lot of opportunity for fun in the snow and ice.

When you’re on an island in the middle of Lake Michigan surrounded by ice, what do you do?

Corey Adkins tells us the story in this week’s Northern Michigan in Focus.

“It answers the famous question we always get in the summer: What do you people do on Beaver Island in the winter? And, like I said, there aren’t enough weekends,” said Patrick Nugent, a Beaver Island resident.

This story was shot Feb. 16, 2019, when we were invited to go with a group of locals across the ice to Garden Island. 

The night before they got around a foot of snow.

“Beaver Islanders go to Garden Island. The trails are beautiful, the evergreens are beautiful, there is a real history and spiritual place. It’s beautiful to share it,” said Beaver Island resident Billy McDonough.

Beautiful, yes. Hard riding, definitely. The drifts we’re massive and the pine boughs covered in snow, but the ride was totally worth it.

“It’s for the adventurous. It was nice today, usually the snow would be off the trees, but today was amazing coming though these trails, everything, all the snow on the trees, was absolutely stunning,” explained Paul Cole with the Beaver Island Chamber of Commerce.

Our destination: the old DNR cabin. Some would call the place a dump, but not these guys.

“This was a place over the years that people who have been stranded by weather or boats, people have kayaked here, have sought refuge. It has warmth and all the amenities of a Ritz Carlton,” explained Billy.

Beaver Island resident Brian Cole said, “It’s a rustic cabin in the middle of the lake, nothing wrong with it. She’s clean compared to what she used to be. A lot of memories in this place.”

Paul added, “When you come here, it’s worth a million dollars because when you walk in the door the memories come right with you, and it all comes flooding right back.”

And in the end, that’s all that matters. These memories will last forever on an island most will never see, with friends that will last a lifetime.

“It’s worth it. Things you work for, you are glad to get, and like Paul said you will have memories forever,” said Patrick.