The best hiking trails in Michigan

By Stef Zisovska
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Michigan is known as the Great Lakes State, and water sports are a big thing here, but there are plenty of hiking opportunities that perhaps deserve more attention than they get. Michigan is home to the largest number of federal and local forests in the United States, and no matter what your hiking preference is Michigan will not disappoint you.

Anything from a hike on an isolated beach to backcountry waterfalls can be found to satisfy your hunger for Nature. If you’ve never really thought of Michigan as a great hiking destination, check this list out and see for yourself.

Porcupine Mountains, Escarpment Trail

Lake of the Clouds

This 4.3 mile long trail is full of surprises. You’ll get to see the Lake of the Clouds, Lake Superior, and the Carp River Valley. These incredible views will leave you speechless and make your trip a unique experience. Though it’s only 4 miles long, the trail is very challenging because of the altitude changes.

North Country Trail, Marquette to Little Presque Isle

Lake Superior shoreline at Presque Isle Park in July – Author: The ed17 – CC BY-SA 4.0

Out of Marquette, there is a 2 mile section of the North Country Trail that continues to the green and sandy Little Presque Isle. The isle is also known as The Crown Jewel of Lake Superior. As you start walking towards the Little Presque, the trail begins to climb a bit above the lake.

This part of the trail is great as you get to see a range of rocky outcrops from different geological periods. Once you reach the island, you can enjoy the view of Lake Superior’s blue waters on the one side and the green forests on the other.

Isle Royale, Greenstone Ridge Trail

Isle Royale – Beach Near Mouth of Washington Creek – Author: Isle Royale – Jhodkiewicz – CC BY-SA 3.0

This trail is for more experienced hikers that like to spend up to a week walking. Greenstone Ridge Trail is a multi-day hiking route, and is around 40 miles long. It splits the Isle Royale in two and provides incredible views of pine forests, exposed rocks, blueberry bushes, and plenty of bird species. Isle Royale has 160 miles of trails in total. The Greenstone Ridge Trail is a great hiking experience that you should add to your list.

South Manitou Island, Dunes Trail Loop

The lighthouse on South Manitou Island, built in 1871

First, you need to take a 90 minute boat trip from Leland to get to South Manitou Island. Then a network of hiking trails opens up in front of you, some with an advanced difficulty level. Dunes Loop is a 9 mile trail that will take you through the world’s largest white cedar forest. You’ll see the shipwreck of Francisco Morazan, then walk over the dunes and view the entire island. You complete the walk along the shoreline of Lake Michigan.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Chapel Rock/Grand Portal Loop

Chapel Rock – Author: Matthew Timothy Bradley – CC BY-SA 4.0

This 9.7 miles loop connects three important features of the Upper Peninsula. Chapel Falls, Chapel Rock, and Grand Portal Point. You can spend a lot of time around Chapel Rock enjoying the fascinating surroundings. Then the trail continues on with a 3.5 miles section of the Lakeshore Trail along Lake Superior which includes the view of the Grand Portal Point. The clarity of the water will leave all photography lovers breathless and they’ll want to spend hours by the lake getting some wonderful shots. The whole trail is suitable for beginners so not to worry as you don’t need to be in perfect shape to enjoy it.

The five trails listed above are just a sample of the huge number of hiking trails all over Michigan. If you are an outdoorsy person who likes to get out and explore the natural beauty of the country, then this is a hiking destination that you should keep in mind. A mixture of pine trees, beautiful lakes, and countless miles of trails is what The Great Lakes State offers to all intrepid nature enthusiasts. Choose your favorite trail and visit Michigan. Good luck!

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