A Family Treasure Hunt Along the North Country Trail

Adults who love to hike do it for more than just the exercise: The fresh air, diverse landscapes, rewarding views … The list goes on. But for energetic children, those reasons may not resonate with them quite yet—not until they get a little older, at least. But there are still lots of ways to instill a love for hiking in our youth. This spring, pair a Northern Michigan hike with a treasure hunt.

Inspired by FitKids360 participant Sam Klama who loves to hike because he can collect shells and rocks along the way—check out this fun article—we reached out to North Country Trail’s Kate Lemon. With her passion for public land accessibility and conservation, plus knowledge of our national trail system, she’s the perfect person to share a treasure map for families on the North Country Trail.

“Many sections are paved, and some allow bike or easy stroller access—excellent places for families, day hikers or those looking to jog during their lunch break,” Kate says. “Some sections are hilly, rocky and remote—perfect for adventure seekers or those in search of solitude, like backpackers. The trail can be accessed in so many ways to benefit your physical health as well as your emotional health.”

4 Treasures to Find on the North Country Trail

Kate Lemon shares her favorite finds along the trail.

The 45th Parallel Sign

“While the North Country Trail traverses eight states, it only crosses the 45th Parallel once—the circle of latitude exactly halfway between the Equator and the North Pole. The sign is located near Bellaire in the Jordan Valley 45° Chapter’s section.”

Sandhill Cranes

“They are very active this time of year and abundant in Northern Michigan. While on the North Country Trail, there are plenty of opportunities to hear their interesting call and spot them flying overhead, wading in shallow water or wandering through open fields.”


“Springtime means wildflowers and the North Country Trail is an excellent way to delicately wander in search of them. Dutchman’s breeches are in bloom and trout lilies are beginning to open up in Northern Michigan. Trillium, too!”

Picture-Perfect Locations

“Physical items are fun to collect for memories but we do encourage trail users to practice Leave No Trace principles. That said, take as many photographs as you can! Photography is a wonderful way to remember and share your trail experience with others. If you share on social media, please use #northcountrytrail in your captions so the North Country Trail Association can see them, too.”

Kate’s Treasure Hunt Tip: Participate in the North Country Trail Association’s annual Hike 100 program. Sign up for free online at northcountrytrail.org/hike100, then log 100 miles on the North Country Trail over the calendar year. Miles can be unique or the same one mile over and over. You can hike 100 miles all at once or spread them out over the year. Make your own adventure! When you finish, submit a completed form and we’ll send you a patch and certificate. Collect these annually. We also have state patches you can collect as you hike the North Country Trail in each state, from North Dakota to Vermont.

More Fun Hikes!

The Ultimate Summer Hike Guide

10 Family-Friendly Hiking Trails in Northern Michigan

A Walk in the City: 5 Northern Michigan Trails You Can Do In Town