John Sutter from CNN.com reports that Stokely Creek Lodge is one of five great spots for cross-country skiing. In the CNN on-line article Ron Bergin from Cross-Country Skier magazine is quoted as saying,"The natural beauty--more than 12 square miles of it--is varied and always exciting" Check it out at: www.cnn.com/travel
Shelley Irwin, February 18, 2009 | WGVU We bring you part one of a snow shoe/cross country skiing adventure at Stokely Creek.
From Kim Schneider/Travel Coach. When CNN asked the publisher of Cross Country Skier Magazine to name his top five getaways, it's little surprise that he picked Ontario's Stokely Creek among them. Click Here to check out the article
Silent Sports Magazine, October 2008 by Dave Foley
"My wife and I have skied throughout Michigan and central Ontario, but the Stokely experience keeps drawing us back there since that first visit 25 years ago."
Lansing State Journal, February 18, 1997 "Cross country skiing adventure a delight" by Dick Miles
"Howard Pierce of East Lansing has skied most of Michigan's cross country systems, but Stokely remains one of his favorites. 'Because it's so big, you never have too many people around,' Pierce said. 'It also offers trails to suit a wide range of abilities, from the novice to the experienced skier.'"
Outside Magazine Travel Guide 1996/97
"As Canadian winter sports traditions go, there's nothing quite like the Wabos Wilderness Loppet. During the last weekend of March, the Algoma Central Railway's Snow Train chugs 35 miles north from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, into the wintry hills east of Lake Superior, stops at the tiny settlement of Wabos. As many as 500 skiers pile out and, like a herd of crayon-colored caribou, ski 17 miles west (loppet means "long trip" in Norwegian) through forests of spruce, fir, birch, and pine to Stokely Creek Lodge.
Stokely is blessed with reliable snow and varied terrain, unusual at mid-continent, and there are more than 75 miles of well-marked trails. For great views, ski to Hang-glider's Lookout on the flank of King Mountain, at 1,880 feet the highest elevation hereabouts."
Cross Country Skier, Volume 18 Issue 4 "Stoked on Stokely" by Jim Chase
"I think the thing that surprised me most is how complete the experience was. The trail system is huge, well laid out, and diverse. The accommodations are comfortable, attractive, and reasonable. You can get a sauna or a very professional massage...
The setup at Stokely encourages a friendly atmosphere. You'll meet other guests at meals, and there are numerous common areas, many with fireplaces, that further the cause of camaraderie and conversation."
Read the blog on the Web site of Stokely Creek Lodge, and it shows Calvin College President Gaylen Byker has been scouting potential snowshoe trails at the ski touring center.
SAULT STE. MARIE, Ontario -- Read the blog on the Web site of Stokely Creek Lodge, and it shows Calvin College President Gaylen Byker has been scouting potential snowshoe trails at the ski touring center. His wife, Susan, has been sprucing up the Scandinavian-style lodge rooms and chalets while marketing the Ontario cross-country ski resort in the U.S. and Canada.
The lodge is a recent -- and unintended -- side career for the Bykers and their daughter and son-in-law who live in Ann Arbor. It began when a German logging company planned to close Stokely Creek. "We said, 'We can't let it happen. This has to be a place our grandkids come like we did,'" Susan Byker said.
Courtesy Photo/Joel VisserSusan Byker, left, and her daughter Gayle, stand at the top of King Mountain at ski resort in Sault Ste. Marie. Susan and her husband, Gaylen Byker, president of Calvin College, purchased the ski resort they've been visiting for 30 years.
The couple first tried to buy the entire resort, located about 20 miles north of Sault Ste. Marie, along the eastern shore of Lake Superior.
When the logging company got that, they instead negotiated for the lodge and surrounding acres. They included a provision that guests be able to ski the remaining 8,000 acres, and in December found themselves owners of a seven-room ski lodge with formal dining room and fireplaces, six chalet/cabins and two Scandinavian-style saunas.
This winter, Susan Byker has taken the biggest hands-on role. Along with marketing, she has done everything from sorting hangers in the closets to hanging nature photos taken by her, her daughter and other artists from the area. Gaylen Byker handles legal affairs, son-in-law Ian Phair lends his expertise as a business investor, and daughter Tanya Byker Phair offers help as well while completing her doctorate in economics at the University of Michigan.
The Ann Arbor-Stokely connection is fitting. The Bykers discovered the lodge 30 years ago when Gaylen Byker was attending law school in Ann Arbor. The young couple decided to give cross-country skiing a try and picked up a brochure for a new resort.
Their first visit was in the resort's second season, and they've visited nearly every year since -- usually spending the Christmas break skiing, first as a couple, later with their young family and eventually with the grandchildren.
"We have a picture of the grandkids skiing," she said. "Every time my husband was on the phone negotiating, he set it in front of him."
Susan Byker makes the five-hour commute from Grand Rapids for at least part of every week and said she's never wished she'd picked a place a bit closer. None, she insisted, can compare with the 80 miles of trails groomed for classic and skate skiing, the eight lakes, and the miles of snowshoe trails that wind past frozen waterfalls and lead to the east summit of King Mountain.
"It's a very beautiful place," she said. "At the time of year we'd go, the snow is never as good anywhere else as it is here. It's a unique and friendly place to come and stay and have dinner and meet people." March is a good time to see what makes the resort so compelling, she said. This weekend's "ski the lakes" events will feature skiing on a foot of lake ice as well as bonfires and a barbecue.
By next year, a new outdoor hot tub will be added. And the lodge is available for offseason conferences or retreats.
"It's been so much fun meeting people who come," she said. "There's not a person who comes that doesn't fall in love with the place."