Backpackers on the Minong Ridge Trail at Isle Royale National Park. // Photograph courtesy of Jim West / Alamy Stock PhotoI wish to hike. Apparently, so do lots of different people. In the previous two years, we now have discovered that a walk in the woods is the best path to security and solace during this pandemic we’re in.

Despite being closed for two months in 2020, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore still set an attendance record for the yr with more than 1,718,000 visitors. Last 12 months, the park broke that document again when 1,723,000 individuals showed up.

“People are profiting from trails through the pandemic to get out of the home and revel in nature,” says Kerry Kelly of Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes, whose volunteers serve as trail ambassadors. “I suppose the more people expertise trails, the extra they may build that into their life-style, and trail use will proceed to be excessive.”

But the place to go if you should get out?

You have fairly a alternative. Michigan is home to more than thirteen,000 miles of state-designated trails, including four,020 miles of footpaths. More mileage lies in our three nationwide forests, five national parks, and numerous county parks and nature preserves.

Here are my decisions for the top trails in Michigan, it would not matter what kind of footpath you’re on the lookout for. You would possibly say I’ve been down that trail.

Best Day Hikes
Three longer trails lead you to some of Michigan’s most uncommon scenery and history.
Take a walk on high of a sand dune in Silver Lake State Park in Mears, near Ludington. // Photograph courtesy of Marek Kasula / Alamy Stock PhotoPorcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, Ontonagon and Gogebic counties, Upper Peninsula

This is the crowning jewel of trails not solely in Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park — our state’s largest and the only one with mountains in its name — however across all of Michigan. The Escarpment combines a high rocky bluff and alpine-like vistas of the rugged Porkies and the park’s centerpiece: Lake of the Clouds. Scattered along the best way are remnants of the area’s copper mining history.

The only disadvantage is that the four.4-mile Escarpment is a point-to-point trail (it begins and ends in numerous locations). There is a spur to return to M-107 after 2 miles, however it will be a disgrace to hike one of the awe-inspiring trails within the Midwest and never end it.

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George Mason River Retreat, near Roscommon

Auto magnate George Mason beloved fly-fishing within the Au Sable River’s South Branch a lot that he purchased 1,500 acres surrounding the trout stream and bequeathed it to the state upon his death. Paralleling the west bank of the South Branch within the Mason Tract is this 8.7-mile trail.

With trailheads on M-72 and Chase Bridge Road northeast of Roscommon, the pathway moves out and in of view of the river and passes numerous historical websites. The most famous is the stays of Durant Castle, a 54-room mansion with ties to the automaker who founded General Motors Co. Tackle the trail in early night and you’ll watch trout feeding on hatching bugs or, even better, an angler delicately casting to rising rainbows.

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Silver Lake State Park, Mears, south of Ludington

This state park is best recognized for sand buggies and the well-known Mac Wood’s Dune Rides. But nearly all of the park’s dunes comprise a large pedestrian space, the place hikers follow ridges of open sand for more than a mile out to Lake Michigan. There’s not another hike like this in Michigan because no other stretch of dunes is so barren.

For many, the hike continues south along a large and delightful Lake Michigan beach for 2.four miles to historic Little Sable Point Lighthouse. After an extended break, take the adventurous loop again via the open dunes to the pedestrian trailhead for a 7-mile day.

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Best Overnight Hikes
Trails the place you probably can pitch a tent and spend an evening counting stars.
Bring your grub and equipment and get ready to be entertained by nature on North Manitou Island, part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lake Shore. // Photograph courtesy of Michael Deemer / Alamy Stock PhotoPictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Alger County, Upper Peninsula

In considered one of Michigan’s most spectacular locations, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, you possibly can hike forty two.four miles between two towns: Grand Marais and Munising. This basic trail includes a lighthouse, shoreline shipwrecks, and colourful sandstone cliffs with waterfalls leaping into Lake Superior. Most backpackers spend four to 5 days trekking, with nights spent at backcountry campsites they reserve upfront.

But Alger County Transit Authority — ALTRAN — will drop you off at various places alongside the trail to shorten the outing. Just don’t miss hiking around Grand Portal Point. Simply spectacular.

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Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

You start this adventure in Leland by boarding a ferry and crossing Manitou Passage to a 14,753-acre island in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. North Manitou is laced with 30 miles of trails, many of them old two-tracks that wind past historic buildings, logging camps, and other remnants of its intriguing previous.

Arrive ready; no services, lodging, or provides can be found on this wilderness island. Backpackers usually spend three or extra days tenting on bluffs and beaches, the place their evening entertainment is a fiery sundown dissolving into Lake Michigan adopted by a shower of meteorites.

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Manistee National Forest, Mesick, between Frankfort and Cadillac

Just south of Mesick, the Manistee River flows uninhibited and free for 13 miles before encountering a road. Unmolested by bridges, cottages, or dams, this wild stretch of Michigan’s third-longest river appeals to hikers as a lot as paddlers. On the east side of the river lies this 11-mile trail that rarely strays away from a view of the water whereas passing more than 20 walk-up campsites.

Backpackers then use Coates Highway to cross the river to a portion of the North Country National Scenic Trail. Together, the 2 trails form the most well-liked weekend backpacking trek within the Lower Peninsula, a 23-mile loop in Manistee National Forest.

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Best Family Hikes
These are straightforward and quick interpretive trails with informational signs so your kids can hike and study.
Cottonwood Trail at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is relatively brief and has gorgeous views. // Photograph courtesy of Pat & Chuck Blackley / Alamy Stock PhotoFitzgerald County Park, Grand Ledge

This 1/3-mile hike near Grand Ledge (just west of Lansing) was made for teenagers, combining an easy stroll beneath ancient sedimentary outcroppings with a chance of seeing rock climbers in action. The trail begins in Fitzgerald County Park and skirts the Grand River along the base of the cliffs. Within a half-mile, you reach an excellent vantage point to observe these daredevil climbers throughout the river.

These ledges are the only place within the Lower Peninsula — other than climbing walls — where someone can lace up a pair of rock footwear, dip their fingers right into a chalk bag, and hit the cliffs. If climbers are out, wrap up this adventure by driving to town of Grand Ledge’s Oak Park on the north aspect of the river to watch them up shut tackling routes with names like Rocket Man and Second Thoughts.

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Old Growth Forest Trail
Hartwick Pines State Park, simply north of Grayling

Michigan’s rich logging history is greatest seen alongside this 1.25-mile loop. Begin at the park’s visitor heart, filled with kid-friendly, hands-on exhibits about Michigan’s wonderful forests, after which head out the back door and start hiking.

The trail is greatest recognized for the 300-year-old white pines and hemlocks that tower above you. But tucked into the old-growth forest are a reconstructed logging camp, turn-of-the-century “big wheels” that lumberjacks used to move the bushes, and interpretive signs all over the place.

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Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Leelanau and Benzie counties

Taking Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive at Sleeping Bear Dunes with a hike alongside this 1.7-mile trail is the best way to see and find out about Michigan’s trademark sand dunes. There are interpretative brochures for the 7.4-mile road — with its superb overlooks perched above Lake Michigan and the Cottonwood Trail (stop No. four on Scenic Drive) — that winds via the dramatic beauty of those shifting hills of open sand.

The trail is brief, but remember that trudging via gentle sand can be tiring for little legs. Best to plan lunch at adjoining Picnic Mountain for after the hike.

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Top Trails in Southeast Michigan
Get particulars on the can’t-miss trails close to home.
The tall pine bushes in Bald Mountain Recreation Area present a shady retreat from the summer heat. // Photograph courtesy of Steve Lagreca / Alamy Stock PhotoCrosswinds Marsh County Park, New Boston

Boardwalks and wetlands, Wayne County’s most attention-grabbing hike.

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Pinckney Recreation Area, Pinckney

A 1,000-foot ridge that overlooks lakes and marshes is the highlight of this 5.1-mile loop.

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Bald Mountain Recreation Area Lake Orion

There’s no Bald Mountain, but there is this 3.6-mile loop previous a half-dozen lakes.

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Highland Recreation Area, White Lake

A four.8-mile hike through the sanctuary where Edsel Ford escaped the pressures of being Henry Ford’s solely son.

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Island Lake Recreation Area, Brighton

A 5-mile loop that includes three lakes and the Huron River.

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North Bay Park, Ypsilanti

Walk the water — as a result of half of this 1.5-mile trail is composed of boardwalks
and bridges on Ford Lake.

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An eight.9-mile rail trail where you can listen to the gurgle of a trout stream or stop at a trailside cider mill.

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Independence Oaks County Park, Clarkston

You’ll be amazed how rugged Oakland County could be on this 3.2-mile hike.

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Holly Recreation Area, Holly

This 5.2-mile loop isn’t wilderness, but it is an escape from the urban sprawl spreading towards Flint.

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Waterloo and Pinckney Recreation areas

Our solely backpacking trail, a 33.9-mile hike between Chelsea and Pinckney.

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Michigan’sToughest Hike
Need we say more? This is for the adventurous.
View from the Minong Ridge Trail in Isle Royale National Park. // Photograph courtesy of Spring Images / Alamy Stock PhotoIsle Royale National Park, Lake Superior

This 29-mile trail is so distant that nearly all backpackers want two days just to reach it in the midst of Isle Royale National Park. Carrying six days of meals and fuel is a heavy value to pay to hike along a rocky ridge where the only indication you’re headed in the proper course is an occasional rock cairn.

For enduring sore shoulders and an occasional blister, your reward is frequent sightings of wildlife — particularly moose — nice views of Lake Superior and Canada, and fewer encounters with different hikers. In different phrases, true wilderness.

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Jim DuFresne is the author of 20 books, including Isle Royale National Park: Foot Trails & Water Routes, 50 Hikes in Michigan, Backpacking in Michigan, and The Trails of M-22.

This story is from the July 2022 problem of Hour Detroit. It has been up to date for the fall of 2022.

20 Best Hiking Trails In Michigan
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