Don’t let the cold weather and impending snow stop you from getting outside to appreciate the great outdoors! There’s nothing better than hitting the trails with loved ones and enjoying the natural splendor of the Great Lakes State. Here are nine gorgeous locales that make for perfect winter hiking excursions.
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. Keweenaw Trails
Venture northward and hit the trails of the Keweenaw Peninsula, which is overflowing with natural beauty to explore. There are four distinct trail systems throughout the peninsula: the Chassell, Michigan Tech, Swedetown and Maasto Hiihto, each of which offers opportunities for trekking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. Get out there and find your favorite!
2. Pine Baron Pathway (Gaylord)
Located just on the edge of Gaylord, this lovely trail makes for a stunning and peaceful winter hiking destination. Its relatively flat terrain makes it suitable for hikers of all experience levels, and you’ll appreciate views of gorgeous hardwood forests as you venture down its multiple loops — ranging in length from two to six miles.
3. Drummond Island Heritage Trail
Drummond Island is one of Michigan’s most beloved little gems, and it’s certainly worth visiting when colder weather rolls around. Hop off the fairy from DeTour Village and make your way through this gorgeous island trail, which offers three miles of natural splendor and plenty of opportunities to observe wildlife.
4. Kensington Metropark (Milford)
This beloved metropark is a year-round destination for Michiganders, and the winter months are no exception. With fantastic views of Kent Lake and all sorts of outdoor magic to behold, Kensington will satisfy your hiking needs immediately. The park’s primary trail stretches for 9.5 miles and is composed of asphalt, so it’s a flat and manageable surface for both walking and cross-country skiing.
5. Fred Meijer White Pine Trail
This beautiful regional rail-trail hike contains over 90 miles of land to explore, stretching throughout Kent, Mecosta, Montcalm, Wexford, and Osceola counties. Whether you hop on the trail in Grand Rapids, Cadillac, or somewhere in between, you’ll be blown away by its wide array of opportunities to appreciate nature. Portions of the trail even allow for snowmobiles!
6. Stony Creek Metropark Trail (Shelby Charter Township)
This southeast Michigan gem is undeniably breathtaking. When you’re seeking reprieve from the stress of the holidays or the hustle and bustle of everyday life, spend an hour or two on this 6.2 mile trail, which winds through stunning foliage and alongside Stony Creek Lake. Whether by foot or by ski, this spot is well worth exploring as the weather cools off.
7. Muncie Lakes Pathway (Traverse City)
This delightful year-round trail near Traverse City is the perfect spot for exploration with family and friends who are eager to experience the joys of Michigan’s natural beauty. The trail forms an eight-mile loop and features waterfront access, well-groomed hiking space, and plenty of ambiance.
8. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (Munising)
Who says Pictured Rocks is purely a summertime destination? When you head to this beloved locale during the winter months, you’ll find all sorts of spots to peruse — from frozen waterfalls to gorgeous views of Lake Superior, there’s no telling what you’ll discover during your journey. There are over 100 miles of trails throughout the lakeshore, so you might as well start planning!
9. Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail (Empire)
With 13 separate trails to choose from, there’s truly something along the lakeshore at Sleeping Bear for everyone. Catch marvelous views from Empire Bluff, trek across the frozen dunes, or — for the slightly less adventurous — stay in the warm car and enjoy delightful lookouts from Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. No matter what your athletic ability, there’s a way to enjoy this beautiful spot once winter rolls around.
Did we forget to include any of your favorite winter hiking locales? Let us know in the comments, and get ready to lace up those hiking boots!