Put on your snowshoes at the Carl T. Johnson Hunting and Fishing Center | New

CADILLAC – The Carl T. Johnson Hunting and Fishing Center plans to offer night hikes again this winter.

The hikes will rely much more on the moonlight this year. In the past, the trails behind the center were bathed in lantern light.

Carl T. performer Ed Shaw said he expected at least regular programming to resume at the center after February 1, when some epidemic controls are expected to ease.

Although nighttime outdoor snowshoe hikes were not prohibited by the order, they were difficult to achieve.

Shaw tentatively plans to schedule a moonlit hike for the weekend of February 11, as it’s around full moon time.

“I’m going to light up the start of the track and the turns or something, but that will be the bare minimum,” Shaw said. “But it won’t be like 100 lanterns that people have seen in the past.”

The workforce and the “dollars per smile” are not there.

And if people show up at events who didn’t register, Shaw says he doesn’t want to have to turn people away because of the size limits for gatherings.

Meanwhile, the trails are still maintained even though officially organized hikes await February. The car park has also been regularly cleared of snow to accommodate those who wish to practice ice fishing.

And the Carl T. will continue to host Outdoor Skills Academy courses this winter. These 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 courses (ice fishing) are scheduled for January 23, February 5, February 20 and March 6. Turkey, rainbow trout, walleye and white tail hunting lessons are also scheduled in March and April.

The center, which has a museum, will be open on weekends and visitors will be able to come and discover exhibitions dedicated to wildlife and the role of sportsmen and women in conservation. The museum is open on weekends, but you are encouraged to call ahead due to limited staff (231-779-1321).

The 2.5 mile Heritage Nature Trail from the center is also available; the Department of Natural Resources maintains it as well as the Cadillac Trail in winter.

You can also go winter camping at Mitchell State Park.

“We’re one of half a dozen parks in the state that are open year round for winter camping,” Shaw noted. Most people will bring an RV, although some may opt for tents.

“You need a four-season tent,” Shaw said, adding that most tents available in stores are designed for three seasons, “but hiking and camping in the winter can be a lot of fun.”

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