Grab your bike, lace up your boots, and head outdoors to enjoy the miles and miles of hiking and biking trails, or bring (or rent) a kayak to explore unique water trails in West Michigan!
There are more than 12,500 miles of state-designated trails and pathways in our state, making Michigan home to one of the largest, interconnected trail systems in the country. This inviting network – and the associated quality of life, health, and economic benefits it offers – is fueling Michigan’s drive to be known nationally as “The Trails State.” The trail system offers ample opportunities for bicyclists, hikers, ORV riders, cross-country skiers, snowmobilers, horseback riders, and more. Many of these trails are located in Michigan State Parks, and the DNR offers comprehensive trail information and a trail search tool on their website.
The Calhoun County Trailway is a 5.6-mile stretch in Battle Creek, from Ott Biological Preserve to Historic Bridge Park. The trail takes you along the river and into the woods. Keep an eye out for wildflowers and frogs. You’ll want to make some time to hang out at Historic Bridge Park when you’re done. This outdoor museum features old truss bridges that have been relocated and restored. It’s one of the most popular places to take photos in Battle Creek. There’s also a bathroom, playground, and kayak launch. During the summer, there’s a constant flow of people getting on and off the river.
Marshall’s Riverwalk has some lovely overlooks. The 1.6-mile raised boardwalk runs alongside a paved biking path following both Rice Creek and the Kalamazoo River. Keep an eye out for the South Marshall Dam waterfall and a Chinese pagoda. At Stuarts Landing, there is a fishing dock and boat launch onto the Kalamazoo River. Contact the Marshall Recreation Department about rentals for kayaks, canoes, and innertubes. If you’re more into mountain biking than scenic overlooks, check out The Dump. It’s not too far from the Riverwalk. Experienced bikers will love the challenge.
Set in the middle of the US-12 Heritage Trail, Coldwater Country is a haven for fresh air and relaxation. From hiking and biking trails to two chains of lakes, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the area trails. Take a hike on the paved trails at Heritage Park in Coldwater or on the gravel trails along the Sauk River. With more than 100 lakes in the area, a water adventure is a must! Rent a pontoon and enjoy the water trail along either the North or South Coldwater Chain of Lakes or launch a kayak along the Union City Heritage Water Trail to view the mural under the Park Street Bridge or the 28 markers and vintage photos viewable only by paddling the river.
Celebrate summer with a walk around the grounds of W.K. Kellogg’s former summer estate in Hickory Corners or on the trails of the W.K. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary in Augusta. The Kellogg Manor House offers a scavenger hunt to learn about the history of the property. Visitors may park in the Manor House parking lot from dawn to dusk. The Sanctuary trails are open to visitors, though buildings—including bathrooms—are temporarily closed. The paved trail, which runs along a stretch of Wintergreen Lake, is accessible to strollers and wheelchairs. All visitors to the Manor House and Sanctuary grounds are asked to follow KBS safety and distancing guidelines.
South Haven has been named one of Pure Michigan’s first Trail Towns! There are two very popular biking and hiking trails: the Kal-Haven Trail and the Van Buren Trail. The Kal-Haven trail stretches from South Haven to Kalamazoo for a total of 33.5 miles and has been named a Pure Michigan Trail. The Kal-Haven Trail also serves as the beginning of the Great Lake-to-Lake Route #1 Trail, which extends from South Haven to Port Huron for a total of 275 miles. The Van Buren trail stretches from South Haven to Hartford for 14 miles and passes through the Van Buren State Park. The city is also home to the Bangor/South Haven Heritage Water Trail, which is a great route for kayaking or canoeing for 21 miles. Rent kayaks and other water vessels and accessories at nearby sports shops.
Pierce Cedar Creek Institute in Hastings has seven miles of hiking trails throughout their 662 acres of natural area. Explore the trails with your own walking tours or take part in one of their special programs or events throughout the season.
Taking to the trails this summer? Take the Farm-Animal Trail around the Critter Barn’s farm in Zeeland. You’ll enjoy exploring pigs, goats, sheep, chickens, donkeys, ducks, and more along the farm’s 10-Step Trail. Hike over to the little goat pens, climb into the chicken coop, peek into the hoop barn to find baby chicks, and run into the pasture and catch the rope of the bag swing! Around every corner, there is something for you to explore along the Farm-Animal Trail, at the Critter Barn.
With over 60 miles of natural and paved trails, you will find plenty of solitude and stunning views in Muskegon. The Hart-Montague Trail and Musketawa Trail offer 24 and 26 miles of paved pathways. Muskegon State Park offers 3 miles of beach and 12 miles of hiking trails.
Ludington has long been a destination for cyclists who enjoy exploring the outdoors. The Ludington School Forest, Memorial Tree Park, and Cartier Park trails–all connected by slow-moving streets–are easily accessible in Ludington. They are ideal for people of all ages. If you’re a kayaker, you might try the water trails at the Ludington State Park.
- Deerfield Nature Park: Deemed the most beautiful place in Isabella County by Pure Michigan, Deerfield Nature Parks offers eight miles of hiking and biking trails, taking you along the Chippewa River and through Deerfield’s famous covered bridge.
- GKB Riverwalk/Access Trail: This trail, running alongside the Chippewa River, is perfect for a leisurely stroll with friends. This nearly two-mile-long trail connects four of the city’s parks, allowing visitors to explore some of the locals’ most beloved spots.
- Bundy Hill Preserve: Offering a variety of off-the-beaten-path trails, Bundy Hill Preserve is home to Isabella County’s tallest point and is also known as Mt. Pleasant’s “elusive mountain.”
There’s no place like Traverse City for trails. Explore all of Northern Michigan with paved paths on the Traverse Area Recreation Trail, Leelanau Trail, or Betsie Valley Trail. Discover the synergy between art and nature at the Michigan Legacy Art Park. Get to know the quiet pathways of conservancy lands. Chase a thrill on Glacial Hills’ bike trails in Bellaire. Or find more than a dozen trails—plus the universal access Heritage Trail—at Sleeping Bear Dunes. To discover these trails and more, visit traversecity.com/outdoors/hiking.
Black Star Farms, a winery estate located in Leelanau County on 160 acres, boasts nearly 3 miles of trails which meander up hills, past blackberry bushes, through forest, orchard, and up the top of the estate vineyard. With trail markers, it is easy to follow your intended path and choose the trail length that suits you! You may encounter a horse along your walk, as the farm boards over 20 privately owned horses. Apres walk—enjoy a glass of wine on the outdoor terrace or take in a bite to eat at Hearth & Vine Café, offering carry-out and limited seated dining. Guests are always welcome to hike the trails, year-round. In the winter the trails are a popular spot for snowshoeing. Download a trail map to help plan your hike.
Grass River Natural Area is a 1,492 acre nature preserve surrounding the Grass River, located in the heart of Antrim County. Along with the beautiful views of Grass River, they also offer seven miles of well-maintained trails including 1.5 miles of boardwalk floating above northern fen and cedar wetlands. The Grass River itself is part of the Chain of Lakes Water Trail and is a great paddling destination, with 2.5 miles of clear, slow current winding through pristine wetlands that provide a haven for many rare plants and animals. Trails are open every day from dawn to dusk. The Grass River Center, which houses interpretive displays of the local flora and fauna, is staffed daily by a naturalist from 10:00 am- 4:00 pm.
With 5,000 acres to explore Shanty Creek Resort 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. Or, head just 3 ½ miles down the road from the resort to Glacial Hills Pathway and Natural Area. Enjoy the 750 acres that make up this combined trail system suited for hiking, biking, and wildlife viewing.
The Grayling area is well known for its abundance of marked and unmarked trails. With approximately 70 percent of the county state and federally owned and open to the public, there are numerous opportunities for outdoors enthusiasts to enjoy their favorite outdoor sport.
The Petoskey Area, including Harbor Springs, Petoskey, Alanson, Bay Harbor, and Boyne Falls/Boyne City, is a paradise for those who want to hit the trail. Riders will find terrific routes that connect several communities and hikers have well over 100 miles of beautiful pathways to explore. For the water lovers, the Inland Waterway stretches 36 miles from Crooked Lake all the way up to Lake Huron – it’s a full day to make the whole journey, but most people do shorter trips and add time to play in the water.
St. Ignace is home to scenic, serene hikes through nature and along bodies of water from the Great Lakes to forested ponds. The Hiawatha National Forest is home to many trails, such as the 10 mile Sand Dunes Trail on which you can see many rare and endangered dune species. When it starts to get dark, the dunes are simply stunning against the setting sun or moon. Another path network is the North Country National Scenic Trail that crosses Tahquamenon Falls State Park, Hiawatha National Forest, and the mouth of the Two-Hearted River. You can find old logging camps, remains of ancient Indian settlements, and cool geological features, like karsts and the Niagara Escarpment. Plus, you’ll have access to hundreds of inland lakes and hundreds of miles of streams which are great for birders and photographers!
Visitors to Marquette will find top-rated trails with over 100 miles of stunning routes to explore the Upper Peninsula’s unique landscape. From hiking and climbing to mountain biking and waterfall hunting, Marquette County trails have something to fit everybody’s interests. Gear up at one of Marquette’s many retail shops and outfitters and take to the trails for a day of nature and adventure. Some of Marquette’s most popular trails include:
- Noquemanon Trail Network (NTN) – A local favorite designed with all riding and foot-based skill levels in mind, offering a great way to get the family out to enjoy a day on the trails.
- Sugarloaf Mountain – A must-see for anyone visiting Marquette. With views looking north and east to Lake Superior, and south to the city of Marquette, the trail is well marked, and typically takes 15 to 20 minutes to ‘hike’ to the peak.
- Marquette City Multi-Use Path – Over 12 miles of paved trails that take you through some of the most scenic and historic parts of the city. From the Ore Dock on the shores of Superior, up north to Presque Isle, to the wooded paths in South Marquette
- Iron Ore Heritage Trail – This historic trail network connects over 40-miles of multi-use, year round trails.
- Marquette City Fit Strip – Designed to accommodate recreational activity year round including cross country skiing, running, training, and biking, this 1.6 mile loop brings the beauty and wilderness of the U.P. right into downtown Marquette.
The Keweenaw Mountain Lodge is a jumping off point to every other trail in Copper Harbor. With three different trailheads right on property and one just across the street, you have access to every trail on the Copper Harbor trails map. The trails (with the exception of a few downhill, mountain bike-only rippers) are multi-use and offer some truly amazing opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, and trail running. Take a meandering stroll on the Back 9 trails, the first set of true beginner trails in Copper Harbor, or head over to Red Trail for those black diamond thrills. Not sure where to plant your hiking boots first? Not to worry, the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge offers guided hikes that meet every Tuesday and Thursday at 8:00 am. Check out the interactive hiking maps on their website to plan your own adventure, or contact the lodge to set up a custom guided hike.