One of the Midwest’s most prominent mid-distance sled dog races will be held in a new location this year. The Department of Natural Resources today announced the Tahquamenon Country Sled Dog Race (TCSDR), held the last 13 years at Rainbow Lodge on the mouth of the Two-Hearted River, will be hosted this winter by Muskallonge Lake State Park from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 5.
The change in venue is a result of the Duck Lake Fire. The fire, which swept through the northern section of Luce County in the spring of 2012, destroyed Rainbow Lodge and also much of the trail system that the race had run prior years. “Rich and Kathy Robinson at the Rainbow Lodge graciously hosted the Tahquamenon Country Sled Dog Race for years, but due to the devastating Duck Lake Fire, we were forced to change our venue,” said TCSDR board president Dave Dake.
“When the smoke cleared and the race committee realized their old trail system was damaged by the fire, they approached me to see if starting and finishing at the park would be on option,” said Jim Dzelak, park supervisor at Muskallonge Lake State Park. “There are hundreds of miles of mushing trails in the Deer Park area, so it seemed to be like a natural fit. We are happy to help them out and host this event.”
The race is a combination of pro and sport classes with professional 12-dog and eight-dog teams running 60 and 40 miles, respectively, and with sports classes of two- to six-dog teams running from 4 to 30 miles. The race will begin and end at the park’s day-use area.
Held the first weekend in January each year, the race is always one of the first of the mushing season and draws mushers from throughout the Midwest, Canada and, occasionally, Alaska.
Race watchers also can join representatives from the Luce County Sheriff’s Department from 11 a.m. until noon for an informal demonstration and tips on snowmobile safety.
A bonfire and concession stand will be available for those needing to warm up.
A free demonstration on snowshoeing will be offered from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the park. Guests are invited to see how it’s done and then give it a try, free of charge. All ages are welcome, and snowshoes are available on loan. To check out a pair, meet at the bonfire. A limited number of snowshoes will be available.
Muskallonge Lake State Park is located at 30042 County Road 407, about 28 miles north of Newberry, Mich. For details, call the park, 906-658-3338. For information on the race, visit the Tahquamenon County Sled Dog Race website. The event is free for spectators. A Recreation Passport is required for vehicles entering Michigan state parks.