Mariah Frye Colie can’t remember a time she wasn’t skiing.
“I first had skis on my feet when I was 2 years old, and the rest is history,” says the owner of Cross Country Ski Headquarters in Roscommon, near Higgins Lake.
Her parents opened the business in 1974. As a child, Frye Colie chose skiing over homework any day. As an adult, she has raced professionally, twice winning the North American Vasa race.
Four years ago, Frye Colie and her husband, Stu, took over the business from her parents, Bob and Lynne Frye. Skiing became not just a hobby, but her livelihood.
Cross Country Ski Headquarters (often shortened to XC Ski HQ) has 18 kilometers of groomed trails plus a pro shop, café, lessons, and rentals. The Stone Turtle day lodge is its heartbeat. The facility has no on-site lodging, but partners with local hotels and vacation rentals.
Cross-country skiing through the forest, “you’re outside, alone, and breathing beneficial air,” Frye Colie says. “It builds your cardiovascular system and makes you more resilient. Plus, it makes you happy. We call it the post-ski glow.”
Michigan is ideal for cross-country skiing, says Mickey MacWilliams, executive director of the Michigan Snowsports Industries Association. “We don’t have mountains; we have rolling hills, and the terrain is beautiful,” she says.
Among Michigan’s many ski spots, the Cross Country Ski Headquarters is an elder statesman with a slightly counterculture feel. Ranked by Outside Magazine as one of the best places in the United States for beginning Nordic skiers, it’s open
November through March or longer, depending on conditions. Frye Colie says January and February weekends are busiest.
One happy tradition for Frye Colie that won’t change is the welcome sight of her parents, who often help out on weekends. “They’re not snowbirds,” she says. “Last year, they skied across the ice bridge from St. Ignace to Mackinac Island.”
Fun fact: Michigan has an estimated 3,000 miles of cross-country ski trails. For a list of where you can enjoy more, visit Pure Michigan’s site at michigan.org/skiing/cross-country.
Cross Country Ski Headquarters