Hanson Hills offers busy four seasons of recreation during 2022

Facility has experienced a variety of challenges during the start of the new year due to weather conditions
Hanson Hills had a busy four seasons of offering outdoor recreation in 2022, but the beginning of the current winter has offered a variety of challenges because of the changing weather.
Grayling Recreation Authority, the governing body for Hanson Hills, hoped to open the facility for the winter on Friday, December 23, but a blizzard (along with extreme cold temperatures and strong winds) forced GRA to postpone the opener to Monday, December 26. Warm temperatures and rain then spoiled the cross country trail conditions and hampered snow-making efforts for the downhill skiing and tubing runs.
“Our (cross country ski) trails are nonexistent at the moment,” said Justin Andre, Director of Operations for Grayling Recreation Authority.
Andre said Grayling Recreation Authority had to cancel its Winter Wolf Skiathlon cross country event slated for Saturday, January 7, because of the conditions, but he’s hoping the Cote Dame Marie Ski Loppet – a series of cross country ski races scheduled for January 21 – will be able to proceed.
“Now we’re just kind of hoping Mother Nature helps us out. We’re hoping to salvage (the Cote Dame),” Andre said.
Andre said Hanson Hills had record numbers of users during the 2020 winter followed by normal numbers in 2021. The weather was also a factor during the 2021 winter.
“Last year was a tough year, low snow,” Andre said.
During the spring, summer, and fall months, Andre said disc golf at Hanson Hills has been thriving and a lot of people are using the trails for hiking and running and cycling.
“It’s a pretty popular sport with disc golf. We get traffic from all over,” Andre said.
Andre said disc golf leagues at the facility usually have 30 to 40 participants per week and the trails are normally “busy with runners and bikers.” This year, several disc golf tournaments are “in the works.”
In June, Hanson Hills hosted the Ragnar Trail Michigan, an all-day all-night relay running event that features tent cities and hundreds of runners. The event also provided a showcase run for Grayling Recreation Authority’s “Mighty Milers” K-5 youth cross country program. The 2021 Ragnar Trail Michigan had a cap of 1,000 participants due to COVID-19 restrictions, but the 2022 event featured “a record number of teams,” Andre said.
The 2023 Ragnar Trail Michigan is slated for June 23-24.
“They’re expecting another good year this year,” Andre said. “We’re excited. It brings a lot of business to the downtown area.”
In early July, Hanson Hills hosted the start and finish of the 21st Grayling Rotary Club Black Bear Gran Fondo.
In late July, Hanson Hills Recreation Area hosted its annual GRA 10K/5K and had record participation numbers. Andre said the addition of chip timing was an improvement this year and offering the two different distance options helps the event maintain its popularity. The 10K/5K is conducted on the same day as the start of the AuSable River Canoe Marathon.
“That’s a busy time of year for Grayling. We tie that in with the AuSable River Festival,” Andre said.
Andre said the Rotary Pavilion at Hanson Hills is starting to get more use for events such as meetings, graduation parties, and weddings.
“I think people are just learning that’s available to rent. It’s getting busier and busier,” Andre said.
As for this winter, Andre said the staff is working hard to keep as much of the facility open as possible.
“We’re just trying to do what we can to get people sliding down the hill,” Andre said. “We’re still here able to provide year round recreation to everybody. We’re going to keep plugging away. Community support is what makes this place run.”

Crawford County Avalanche

Mailing Address
Box 490
Grayling, MI 49738

Phone: 989-348-6811
FAX: 989-348-6806
E-Mail: information@crawfordcountyavalanche.com

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