Luckily for those of us who love the great outdoors, Michigan is a beautiful place to be all year long. Sure, we occasionally find ourselves frustrated by unpredictable temperatures and rogue snowstorms in the middle of spring, but the vast majority of the Great Lakes State is worth exploring in every season. As you look toward the new year, here are 12 hikes to add to your outdoor bucket list – one for each month.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life. While we continue to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, please take proper precautions or add them to your bucket list to see at a later date. If you know of a local business that could use some extra support during these times, please nominate them here:
January: Pigeon Creek Park (12524 Stanton St, West Olive)
There’s still time to get out and enjoy a hike before January comes to a close. Kick off 2021 with a dose of natural splendor as you stroll along the lighted paths at Pigeon Creek Park in West Olive, which remain open until 10 p.m. for after-dark adventures. With options for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and sledding available on top of hiking, this is a wonderful place to be when winter weather is upon us.
February: Kensington Metropark (4570 Huron River Pkwy, Milford)
It’s tough to beat the romance of a peaceful walk with your sweetheart, so celebrate Valentine’s Day this February by strolling hand-in-hand along the multiple pathways at Kensington Metropark. The main trail here is paved and extends for 9.5 miles through woodlands that look utterly magical when coated in snow. With an easily traversable terrain, this hike is perfect for a sweet outing.
March: Boardman Lake Trail (off Hannah Ave, Traverse City)
The weather can be even more unpredictable than usual in March, so we recommend opting for a hike that’s short, sweet, and close to civilization. The Boardman Lake Trail is just a stone’s throw from the hustle and bustle of Traverse City - and it extends for just two miles. Enjoy marvelous views of Boardman Lake and surrounding woodlands before calling it a day.
April: Chippewa Trail at Negwegon State Park (Ossineke)
During April, the first signs of spring have many Michiganders longing to get outside. After a long, cold winter, why not appreciate views of our quickly thawing Great Lakes? One fantastic option for April is the Chippewa Trail at Negwegon State Park, which forms a loop and offers amazing glimpses of Lake Huron in all its splendor. You’re likely to spot a few creatures this time of year, so keep your eyes peeled for turkeys, deer, and a plethora of birds.
May: Windmill Island Gardens (1 Lincoln Ave, Holland)
For those who call West Michigan home, May signals the arrival of the Tulip Time Festival in Holland - not to mention all sorts of budding wildflowers throughout the state. For a small fee, visitors can walk the loop at Windmill Island in Holland and take a short, leisurely stroll past tulip gardens, the iconic DeZwaan Windmill, and so much more. Talk about a marvelous May adventure.
June: Loda Lake Wildflower Sanctuary (4794 N Felch Ave, White Cloud)
Can’t get enough of those early summer blooms? You’ll fall in love with the trail at Loda Lake Wildflower Sanctuary in White Cloud, which sits within the Huron-Manistee National Forest and offers two distinct hikes: one that extends for 1.5 miles and another that measures just a half-mile. Of course, the real attraction here is the abundance of wildflowers, which burst with color along both trails.
July: Empire Bluff Trail (Honor)
As temperatures rise throughout the state, you’ll want to spend more time along the lakeshore. Summer is an ideal time to visit the incredible Empire Bluff Trail, which consists of a 1.5-mile trek through dune lands, forests, and more to reach a remarkable view of the surrounding Sleeping Bear Dunes. You’ll want to bring along your camera for this hike, as the brilliant blue waters are nothing short of spectacular.
August: Canyon Gorge Trail (Old US Hwy 41, L'Anse)
Summer might be coming to an end, but that doesn’t mean your outdoor adventures are over. Take one last vacation to the Upper Peninsula and stretch your legs along the Canyon Gorge Trail near L’Anse. This 3.9-mile trek is an out-and-back adventure that provides unbeatable views of Canyon Falls and the gorge itself, sometimes known as the “Grand Canyon of Michigan.” The trail itself is beginner-friendly and the payoff is truly second to none.
September: Nichols Arboretum Trails (1610 Washington Heights, Ann Arbor)
Pull your sweaters out of storage and lace up your hiking boots for an early autumn adventure at the Arb (Nichols Arboretum), a beloved spot in Ann Arbor. College students will be back on campus, but that shouldn’t stop you from checking out the changing leaves and Huron River views along this 123-acre park’s various trails. Options include the Riverfront Trail, the Forest Trail, and the Prairie trail - each offering plenty of natural beauty and fresh air.
October: Tahquamenon Falls State Park (41382 W M-123, Paradise)
There’s something utterly magical about Tahquamenon Falls during the autumn months, so hop in the car and head out for a hike at this Michigan must-see, which is home to six separate hiking trails. For a short and sweet option, check out the half-mile Tahquamenon Nature Trail. If you’re looking for more of an extended outdoor journey, try the 7.4-mile Tahquamenon Wilderness Loop.
November: Warren Dunes State Park (12032 Red Arrow Hwy, Sawyer)
Before the snow arrives in full force, enjoy an outdoor excursion at Warren Dunes State Park, which offers six stunning miles of trails along the shores of Lake Michigan. The longest options here offer mile-long strolls through forested swaths, dune lands, and sandy shorelines. Be sure to bundle up, as the lakefront is known for its chilly temps during late fall and early winter.
December: Paint Creek Trail (Oakland County)
December is a month full of celebration, so you’ll want to round out your year of hikes with an extra-special experience. We recommend a winter stroll along the sprawling Paint Creek Trail, which winds through various communities in Oakland County and features stunning views of woodlands, prairies, and so much more. Can you imagine a better place to bid adieu to 2021?
Have you explored any of these incredible hiking trails in the Great Lakes State? Share your experiences with us in the Facebook comments or recommend another must-see trail and its most beautiful season by filling out our nomination form