Michigan is truly a hiker’s paradise. Our state offers a variety of terrain – from sandy dunes to rugged forestland – that attracts hundreds of outdoors enthusiasts. There are so many naturally beautiful spots that it can be difficult to know where to start when planning your next hiking adventure. To make your planning process slightly less daunting, here are some of the Great Lakes State’s most incredible trails — think of this as your “Michigan Hiking Bucket List.”
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Escarpment Trail (Porcupine Mountains)
Located in the stunning Porcupine Mountains, this 8-mile trail boasts a gorgeous view of the Lake of the Clouds. It’s an especially beautiful hike to complete in the autumn months.
2. Dunes Trail Loop (South Manitou Island)
Located on gorgeous South Manitou Island, the Dunes Trail Loop is beloved for just what its name suggests: unparalleled views of the island’s soft sand dunes. The island in its entirety offers 17 miles of hiking trails.
3. Hall Lake Trail (Gun Lake)
This unique trail in Barry County between Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo covers 3.4 miles of land and features a series of inland lakes. Keep your eyes peeled for distinct depressions in the land, which are known as “Devil’s Soup Bowls.”
4. Michigan Tech Trails (Houghton)
Head northward to Houghton for a trip along the Michigan Tech Trails, which offer a little something for hikers of all ages and abilities. These gorgeously forested trails are well-maintained and accessible in all seasons. Leashed dogs are also allowed on certain sections of the recreation area.
5. Jordan River Pathway (Otsego County)
Visit this backpacking trail in Otsego County for an up-close and personal experience with the stunning Jordan River. Along the course of this 20-mile hike, you might encounter otters, herons, or beavers.
6. Alligator Hill Trail (Empire)
Catch a glimpse of both Glen Lake and Lake Michigan during your hike along this trail near Sleeping Bear Dunes. The trail is separated into a series of loops that make up around 9 miles of land. At the trailhead, stop for a look at a row of now-defunct lumberman’s kilns, which were constructed in the 1950s.
7. Chapel Loop (Munising)
This day hike through Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is one of the most stunning spots in the state of Michigan. Along the 10.4 mile trail loop, hikers will see everything from sandstone cliffs to magnificent waterfalls.
8. Huron Sunrise Trail (Rogers City)
This 8-mile hike will take you from Rogers City to the 40 Mile Lighthouse, with beautiful shoreline views of Lake Huron to appreciate along the way. The concrete and asphalt that make up this trail are accessible for visitors of all physical abilities.
9. Highbanks Trail (Oscoda)
This 8-mile trail near Oscoda is most easily accessible between April and November, but is also open for skiers and snowshoers during the winter months. Check out the bluffs overlooking the Au Sable River and visit Lumberman’s Monument during your visit to this lovely site.
10. Pyramid Point (Maple City)
Don’t miss this hilly trail along Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. At just 2.7 miles in length, it can be completed in a relatively short timespan and leads hikers through a pine plantation and a beech-maple forest, with an endpoint overlooking Lake Michigan.
11. Bay de Noc - Grand Island Trail (Rapid River)
This trail runs parallel to the Whitefish River and extends for 40 miles northward from the town of Rapid River. Various tree types can be observed along this route, along with amazing views of the Whitefish River Valley.
12. Greenstone Ridge Trail (Isle Royale)
Located on Isle Royale in Lake Superior, the Greenstone Ridge Trail stretches for 40 miles. Hikers will be treated to gorgeous views of the island, which features towering trees and a series of wetlands.
13. Copper Harbor Trails
Covering over 32 miles of gorgeous forestland and coastlines in the Keweenaw Peninsula, these trails are ideal for hiking and mountain biking alike. You’ll be treated to stunning views of Lake Superior and a combination of manmade and natural terrain.
14. Ludington State Park
This incredible state park in Ludington is ripe with trails for hikers of all skill levels. Try the 1.5 mile long Coast Guard Trail to explore some of the park’s marshes and campgrounds, or take the Lost Lake Trail to visit a stunning inland water source.
15. Manistee River Trail (Cadillac)
During your visit to Manistee National Forest near Cadillac, take a hike along this trail, which can be enjoyed alone as an 11-mile walk or combined with other trails to create a 23-mile loop. Along the way, hikers will encounter valley and Manistee river views, along with multiple waterfalls.
Michigan’s trail system is so extensive that it’s impossible to include every single spot. Did we leave your favorite hiking location off the list? Have you visited any of these places shown above? Tell us all about it in the comments section.