There are a wide variety of trails in West Michigan for you to check out this summer and beyond. Trail activities include hiking, biking, walking, running, and even canoeing, kayaking, skiing, and horseback riding. With hundreds of miles of trails to explore, ranging from dirt and paved trails, to rivers and national parks, grab your gear and stay active while exploring West Michigan’s great outdoors!
Trails in Southern West Michigan
Are you planning on biking the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail this summer? Arcadia Brewing Company in Kalamazoo is located right on the 35-mile Kalamazoo River Valley Trail! Not only are they an easy stop for refreshments and lunch, they are proud members of the KRVT Adopt-A-Trail program where they dedicate two days out of the year to clean up a section of the trail. Arcadia also donates 1% of all Cheap Date sales to the Kalamazoo Parks Foundation on behalf of the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail.
The official Bell’s to Bell’s Bike Ride may only happen once a year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make the 14-mile round trip anytime you’d like! The Kalamazoo River Valley Trail is paved and connects Bell’s Brewery in downtown Kalamazoo with its nearby Comstock location. You can use it to tour more than 20 miles of the trail, offering beautiful views of Kalamazoo and the surrounding area. Ride out for a tour and some samples before heading back to the Eccentric Café for a pint, a bite to eat, and a free brewery tour. Both Bell’s locations have bike parking and, in case you need some air or an adjustment, tools are available for free at Bell’s Comstock brewery.
The Southwest Michigan Tourist Council has two very different yet equally enjoyable types of trails for you to check out this summer. The area has plenty of trails for hiking, biking, paddling, and walking. These trails take you along Lake Michigan, orchards and vineyards, peaceful rivers, and more. There’s also the Makers Trail, which showcases the masters of wine, beer, and spirits. More and more of these artisans are putting down stakes near the Lake Michigan shore, where they handcraft their award-winning beverages. Make your way along the trail, stopping at some of these award-winning wineries, breweries, and distilleries.
Pierce Cedar Creek Institute in Hastings has trails that are open for hiking from dawn to dusk. They have over nine miles of trails for you to explore this summer. Pets are allowed on the trails if they are on a leash and cleaned up after, and there is no fee to hike the trails.
It’s called River Country for good reason! There are many water pathways in St. Joseph County, making it a fantastic place to kayak, canoe, or paddleboard. There’s a challenging two-and-a-half-hour paddle from Thompson Lake to Klinger Lake, which includes a trek through Goose Pond, Tamarack Lake, and an area called “The Devil’s Bowl.” You can also paddle through a stretch of the Prairie River, making a stop at the new Sand Lake County Park near the end of your journey.
Whether you’re seeking adventure on land or water, South Haven offers miles of scenic trails. Bike the Kal-Haven Trail, a 33.5-mile journey from South Haven to Kalamazoo, or a parallel 11-mile equestrian trail, offering additional options for horseback riding. The newly-paved Van Buren Trail spans 14 miles from South Haven to Hartford, winding through woods and blueberry fields. If you want to be on the water, hop in a canoe or kayak and enjoy the gentle, 20-mile Bangor-South Haven Heritage Water Trail.
Set in the middle of the US-12 Heritage Trail, Coldwater Country is a haven for relaxation. There are hiking and biking trails and two chains of lakes, with plenty of opportunities to enjoy the area’s outdoor scenery. Take a hike on the paved trails at Heritage Park in Coldwater, on the gravel trails along the Sauk River, or rent a pontoon and enjoy the water trail along either the North or South Coldwater Chain of Lakes.
Bridge Park in Battle Creek is a trailhead for the Calhoun County Trailway and North Country Trail. This is a great park to set up a picnic, check out historic bridges, start your walk along the trails, or put your canoe or kayak in the water.
The Marshall area has plenty of forests, lakeshore, and wetlands for you to explore, with trails that are ideal for hiking, biking, and skiing. Throughout the area, you can find trees that are over 300 years old, wildlife and lake overlooks, and a variety of bird species which call Marshall home. Come enjoy nature at its finest.
Take a journey on a fan-favorite trail, and visit the 21 wineries that make up the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail in southwest Michigan. While hiking, biking, or driving, make sure to stop at one (or all) of the wineries along the way. They are close enough together that you can visit more than one in an afternoon, tasting award-winning wine after award-winning wine along the way.
Trails in Central West Michigan
Whether you are looking for a place to hike, bike, walk, or run, Mecosta County has the trail for you! The Fred Meijer White Pine Trail is nearly 100 miles long and is perfect for any time of year. During the summer months, this trail is great for mountain biking, hiking, and taking in the beautiful sights and sounds of the great outdoors. For those in search of a more relaxing stroll, enjoy the Big Rapids Riverwalk which is accessible to all. Riverwalk is just under 3.5 miles long and follows alongside the beautiful Muskegon River. This award-winning trail features fishing platforms, benches, bike racks, and picnic areas on either side of the 250-foot wooden bridge that spans the Muskegon River.
The Hungerford Recreation Area in Big Rapids has separate trails for people to enjoy horseback riding, mountain biking, and hiking. For horseback riders there are 35 miles of trails in the recreation area and for hikers and bikers, two loop to create a 10-mile trail. Trails accommodate either novice riders up to those looking for a challenge. You can also explore the 200 acres at the White Pine Valley Recreation Area located in Paris Michigan. This is a great place for mountain bike groups and hikers.
Access the Adventure Trail for a universally accessible pathway through one of Mt. Pleasant’s newest, most scenic and protected areas. The rail will start at Chipp-A-Waters Park, and extend one mile south, toward Central Michigan University campus. The trail joins the existing, barrier free, three-mile Mt. Pleasant Riverwalk Pathway. It follows the Chippewa River corridor through five major city parks, and through the heart of historic downtown Mt. Pleasant. The trails blend the urban environment with the unique natural resources found inside the city limits to promote healthy lifestyle options and universal access for people of all ages and abilities.
As part of the Lakeshore Museum Center, Michigan’s Heritage Park in Whitehall is a unique place to go for a hike. Your tour will take you through 10,000 years of Michigan history in a natural woodland setting in northern Muskegon County. Kids will love the activities throughout the site, giving them some hands-on time with history. This is one of the more unique trails that you can visit when it’s open from April through the end of October!
Hikers and nature lovers alike will enjoy the many trails that the Grand Haven area has to offer, ranging from the shores of Lake Michigan to the rolling woodlands of West Michigan. You can hike the lakeshore trail that connects Grand Haven and Holland with a stop along the way at beautiful Kirk Park or Olive Shores. If the woods and nature are more your style, try Pigeon Creek or Rosy Mound. This summer, grab your water bottle, pack a snack, and put on some comfortable shoes, as you discover the trails of the Grand Haven area.
MACkite in Grand Haven is often asked, “what’s the best place to go stand up paddleboarding?” Whether you’re looking for calming waters or picturesque views, there’s something for everybody. For MACKite, their favorite is Pottawatomie Park in Grand Haven, and they recommend Pottawatomie to anyone who is renting their paddle boards. The water is calm, there are few boaters, and it’s often warmer than Lake Michigan. You can find the park right off of Comstock Road, a short distance away from their shop on Hayes Street.
The Muskegon area has over 90 miles of trails for you and your family to explore. The Hart-Montague Trail State Park is 24 miles of paved trail through rural and forest lands, perfect for hiking, biking, cross country skiing, and snowboarding. The Musketawa Trail runs from Muskegon to Marne through farmlands, wetlands, and villages. There’s many more miles of trails to see, so make your way to Muskegon and spend some time this year exploring the area’s diverse trail system.
Trails in Northern West Michigan
The Petoskey area is the place to hit the trails, no matter the season! Boyne City’s Avalanche Mountain Preserve offers an amazing view of Lake Charlevoix, while nearly 20 Little Traverse Nature Conservancy Preserves dot this region alone. Hikers and bikers alike can take advantage of the beautiful Little Traverse Wheelway, Northwestern State Trail, and the new paved trail from Boyne City to Young State Park, which is ready for summer riders. Mountain bikers can find a variety of trails to conquer in the area. Boyne Mountain in Boyne Falls has maps available for its 32+ miles of adventure, and in Harbor Springs, Boyne Highlands caters to all levels of mountain bikers and guests can even hop on a chairlift to access some parts of the system.
Petoskey also has waterways, including Michigan’s longest chain of rivers and lakes, beginning at Crooked Lake in Alanson. From there, this scenic 38 mile route goes through Crooked River, Burt Lake, Indian River, Mullett Lake, Cheboygan River, and out to Lake Huron. Stafford’s Crooked River Lodge in Alanson offers a perfect place to stay for those wanting to experience the Inland Waterway.
In Grayling, the trails come in many different shapes and sizes. If you visit trails along the Mason Tract, Hanson Hills Recreation Area, or Hartwick Pines State Park, you’ll find a fairly moderate trail with slight variation throughout. The Grayling Bicycle Turnpike is a perfect seven-mile trail for those looking for a nice, smooth bike ride. There are also trails for off-road vehicles, two rivers for those looking to kayak or canoe, and two campgrounds set up for horses.
Looking for a fun outdoor adventure? Check out the amazing trail systems surrounding Charlevoix. The Mt. McSauba Recreation Area offers amazing views of Lake Michigan, scenic trails, a disc golf course, and a less-frequented area to find Petoskey Stones. Hayes Township’s Camp Seagull, Drigger’s Nature Preserve, and Fisherman’s Island are great locations to spend the day exploring scenic outlooks and trails. The Lake-to-Lake Bike Trail and the Little Traverse Wheelway are options for those looking to ride their bikes in the area.
The Cheboygan area is blessed with one of the finest multi-purpose trail systems in the United States. Michigan has a larger rails-to-trails system than any other state in the Union, and Cheboygan County has more of those trails than any other county in Michigan. The highly acclaimed North Central State Trail and the newly finished North Eastern State Trail (Mackinaw City to Alpena) are more and more the destinations of choice when it comes to groomed trails for cyclists and hikers alike. And the trails intersect right in Cheboygan. Nearby restaurants, motels, shopping, and entertainment will make for an enjoyable evening after you get off the trails and are ready to relax.
If you are happy swapping hiking boots and a backpack for a glass of wine and sandals, then Waterfire Vineyards in Kewadin is the place for you. Their 26 acres of land is at your disposal to explore, with wine in hand or, even better, with a personalized picnic basket and blanket so you can recover your strength and plan your next adventure!
Make Hotel Walloon on Walloon Lake your homebase for a northern Michigan adventure! Take a short walk from the hotel to Melrose Township Park, which has a trail that follows the Bear River. This park is a great place to have picnic, take hike, or go for a walk on the beach.
With 4,500 acres to explore, Shanty Creek Resorts in Bellaire offers a variety of options to just get outside and play. Grab a pair of hiking boots, walking shoes, or even a bicycle to enjoy the on-site trails at the resort.
Sault Ste. Marie has many trails for those looking to enjoy the outdoors in northern Michigan. They have two water trails, with one starting at Ashmun Bay Park and running along the coast of Sault Ste. Marie to the west, while the other starts at the George Kemp Marina and heads east. For those looking to stay on land, a hike along the Tahquamenon River at Tahqua Trail road provides spectacular scenery. You can hike for six miles or choose one of the shorter sections. More local trails include the Soo Locks Park Trail, Ashmun Bay Trail, Chi Mukwa Nature Trail, Soo Multi-Purpose Trail, Rotary Park Trail, Algonquin Pathway Trail, Sault Seal Recreation Area Trail, and Downtown Lunch Loop. The most spectacular of the area’s trails are those on Voyageur Island, accessible only by canoe, kayak, or paddleboard!
In the Mackinaw area, acres of woodlands surround scenic trails ideal for exploring throughout the year. One of these trails is The Headlands, made up of 600 acres of forested lands, four miles of trails, and two miles of Lake Michigan lakeshore. Wilderness State Park has 12 miles of foot trails, while Mill Creek has a mile-and-a-half long trail, featuring two scenic overlooks. The longest trail that passes through the area is the North Country National Scenic Trail. This trail passes through seven northern states, traveling extensively through Michigan’s two peninsulas. This is the longest continuous hiking trail in the United States, clocking in at 4,600 miles in length. Whether you’re looking for a short walk or something much more adventurous, the Mackinaw City area has trails for any activity.
There are 140 miles of roads and trails on Mackinac Island, with many of them designated for foot traffic only, as there are no motor vehicles allowed on the Island. The majority of them are paved roads that are shared by bicyclists, carriages, and pedestrians. The longest walk is the “Round the Shore” trip, an 8.2-mile journey along Lake Shore Road, which takes you by many natural features of the island and shows off the breathtaking scenic shoreline. Other popular routes are the Across the Turtle’s Back Trail, the Tranquil Bluff Trail, and British Landing Nature Trail. For detailed trail maps, purchase a Historic Visitor’s Guide to Mackinac Island on the ferry boat or at the Mackinac Historic Park Visitor Centers for $1.
2017 Trails in West Michigan
The W.K. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary in Augusta is a beautiful place to immerse yourself in nature, while learning about the Sanctuary’s feathered friends. On Wednesday, July 26th from 6:30pm to 7:30 pm, families with children ages three to seven can explore the Sanctuary’s trails and learn about nature during their Wild Wednesday: Wonder Walkabout event. Admission is free for Sanctuary members. For non-members, admission is $5 for adult, $4 for student or senior, and $3 for child (no charge for children ages two and under).