Experience a silent night and welcome the winter solstice with an enchanting hike, then give thanks and reflect on the year’s memories at Schrier Park in Portage.

The City of Portage has 18 parks encompassing 21+ miles of trails over 1,000 sprawling acres. Schrier Park is one of my favorites. It is at the southern end of five connected parks: Bishop's Bog, Eliason Nature Reserve, South Westnedge Park, and West Like Nature Preserve. The paved path is wide, winding, and hilly and makes for an enjoyable walk through the woods. At night it's got to be magical.

A week before the Winter Solstice, you are invited to Schrier Park for a charming winter hike. Let the silent winter night take over your senses as you are invited to give thanks and reflect on the year’s memories with a candlelight vigil at the end of the hike. The affair is free, but registration is required.

The Winter Solstice is the longest night of the year. (If you were thinking the Winter Solstice is the time when day and night are the same length, you're thinking of the Equinox.) Marked by festivals and rituals since the beginning of time, in many cultures it denotes a symbolic death and rebirth of the sun. Although the days begin to slowly lengthen incrementally from here, it's still a long winter in Michigan. So, take a break from the hectic holiday schedule and remember to give thanks for each blessing.

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