Summer is here and nature is calling, loudly. What better way to answer than to walk right into the season and onto the best Michigan trails. Consider this your hiking bucket list.
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Explore a hiker’s heaven on the Lake Michigan shore, with 13 mainland trails and 105 miles of pathway winding through woods and over dunes and delivering sweeping views of the Big Lake. Sleeping Bear treks provide countless ways to explore and immerse in Northern Michigan beauty.
If you’ve got a solid day, starting at the Dune Climb on M109 and hiking up and over the dune all the way to Lake Michigan and back is a satisfying challenge. At the top of the dune climb, take the Dunes Trail, a 3.5-mile round trip that ushers you across a sandy dunescape to the cool waters of Lake Michigan. Keep in mind that the hilly, sandy terrain can be exhausting, especially for little ones and elderly, and a round trip may mean several hours in unfriendly temperatures. Pack water and snacks, and wear appropriate footwear—hot sand will burn your feet badly—and your swimsuit (towel optional; you’ll dry off on the return trip).
Have just an afternoon? The Empire Bluff Trail is a must-see and the perfect place to wow never-before-been-to-Northern-Michigan guests. This .75-mile trail (1.5 miles round trip) opens onto a bluff 400 feet above Lake Michigan for a spectacular view of the water. There and back takes under an hour, but know there are a couple of short-but-steep stair-step climbs along the way, and know you’ll want to hang out there for a good long while. Time it right and catch a stunning sunset from the boardwalk on the bluff face.
Carly Simpson, MyNorth Media