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Northwestern Michigan Trail Guide
for hiking, biking, cross-country
skiing, and snowshoeing

Last Update: 10-19-2014

Jim Stamm • 231-882-5673

Send Email • Beulah, MI, 49617

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This guide provides the details for many
hiking trails in northwestern lower Michigan —
generally within an hour of Traverse City.

Most of these trails also allow cross-country skiing,
and/or snowshoeing, many can also be used for
mountain biking,
and a couple for horseback
riding. A few of the trails are paved and can
be used by road bikes and roller blades.


OK, now, go... "Take a Hike!"



Click on image
for larger view



TRAILS / PATHS / AREAS COVERED (126)   MB = Mountain Bikes Allowed (33)

ANTRIM COUNTY (10)
• Antrim Creek Area
• Barnes County Park
• Bauer / Polaczyk
• Cedar River Area
• Cosner Nature Preserve
• Coy Mountain Trail
• Glacial Hills Area MB
• Grass River Area
• Jordan Valley Pathway
• Warner Creek Path MB
BENZIE COUNTY (24)
 - View all Benzie
 
trailsheads at Google
 -
Benzie Trail Guide
• Betsie River Path MB
• Betsie Valley Trail MB
• Boekeloo Trail
• Camp Trail MB
• Chestnut Trail MB
• Crystal Lake Hills
• Dry Hill Trail MB
• Elberta Dunes South
• Fruithaven Reserve
• Green Point Dunes
• Homestead Dam
• Lake Ann Pathway MB
• Misty Acres Preserve
• Mud Lake Trail MB
• Old Baldy MB
• Old Indian Trail
• Pete's Woods MB
• Platte Plains Trail
• Platte Springs Pathway
• Railroad Point Area
• Ransom Lake Trail
• Trapp Farm Preserve
• Upper Herring Lake
• Zetterberg Preserve
CHARLEVOIX Co (3)
• Raven Ridge Preserve
• Rogers Family Homestead
• Sleepy Hollow Preserve
CRAWFORD COUNTY (2)
• Hanson Hills Rec. Area MB
• Hartwick Pines S.P. MB
GRAND TRAVERSE (37)
• Battle Creek Area
• Boardman Lake Trail MB
• Boardman River Trail
• Boardman Valley
• Brown Bridge Quiet Area
• Bullhead Lake Area
• Cedar Run Creek Area MB
• East Creek Reserve
• Fisher's Run Trail MB
• Grand Traverse
Commons Natural Area
• GTNER on Boardman River
• Halladay-Blackhurst-
Chowning Preserve
• Hickory Meadows
• Interlochen State Park
• Kids Creek Park
• Lossie Road Nature Trail
• Lost Lake Pathway MB
• Mall Trail MB
• Maple Bay Natural Area
• Mayfield Pond Park
• Miller Creek Reserve
• Muncie Lakes Pathway
• Old Mission Point Park
• Pelizzari Natural Area
• Power Island Trails
• Pyatt Lake Preserve
• Reffitt Nature Preserve
• Sand Lakes Area MB
• Silver Lake Rec Area
• South Long Lake MB
• TART Trail MB
• Three Mile Trail MB
• Timbers Recreation Area
• Valley of the Giants
• Vanderlip Creek
• VASA Pathway MB
• Yuba Creek Natural Area
KALKASKA Co (3)
• Rugg Pond Natural Area
• Seven Bridges MB
• Skegemog Swamp
LAKE COUNTY Co (2)
• Pine Valleys Pathway MB
• Silver Creek Pathway
LEELANAU Co (29)
• Alligator Hill Trail
• Bay View Trail
• Chippewa Run Area
• Clay Cliffs Natural Area
• Cottonwood Trail
• DeYoung Natural Area
• Dunes to Lake Michigan
• Empire Bluff Trail
• Good Harbor Bay Trail
• Greenan Bluffs Trail
• Houdek Dunes Natural Area
• Kehl Lake Natural Area
• Krumweide Forest Reserve
• Leelanau State Park
• Leelanau Trail MB
• Lighthouse West Area
• North Manitou Island
• OWA Trail
• Provemont Pond Rec. Area
• Pyramid Point Trail
• Shauger Hill Trail
• Sleeping Bear Heritage MB
• Sleeping Bear Point
• South Manitou Island
• Teichner Preserve
• Tweddle/Treat Farms
• Veronica Valley Park
• Whaleback Natural Area
• Windy Moraine Trail
MANISTEE COUNTY (9)
• Arboretum Trail
• Big M Trail MB
• First Creek Trail
• Lake Bluff Trails
• Manistee Non-Motorized
Trail Park
MB
• Manistee River Trail
• Manistee Riverwalk
• Orchard Beach Trails
• Spirit of the Woods
MISSAUKEE Co (1)
• Missaukee Mountain
WEXFORD COUNTY (3)
• Cadillac Pathway MB
• MacKenzie Trail MB
• Mitchell-Heritage Trail
TRAILS
SPANNING
MANY
COUNTIES
(3):
North Country Trail - Mason, Lake,
Manistee, Wexford, Grand Traverse,
Kalkasksa, Antrim, Charlevoix,
Emmet, etc. (
MB: some parts)
Shore-To-Shore Trail -
Leelanau, Benzie, Grand
Traverse, Wexford
Kalkasksa, Crawford, etc.
White Pine Trail State
Park
- Wexford, Osceola,
Montcalm, Mecosta, and
Kent (
MB)

AREAS WITH
MANY TRAILS
LISTED ABOVE:

Arcadia Dunes Nature
Preserve
(5) in Benzie
County
(MB)
Sleeping Bear Dunes
National Lakeshore

(19) Benzie, Leelanau

Special Notice about Benzie County

If you're looking for something in print, check out the Benzie County Michigan Trail Guide book.
It provides the details for 25 trails for hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, and
snowshoeing in Benzie County, one of northwestern lower Michigan’s favorite counties.

Notes about the details on this page:

  • Trail names listed in the main table above may be a shorter version than their official name.
  • Web addresses were correct at the time of writing, but they can and do change often.
  • Trails and trail maps are sometimes updated by the trail owners, so trail maps on this page may be out of date, or not point to the official versions. Visit the official Web page for a trail for the latest information. Trail maps in kiosks at the trailheads should have the most up-to-date maps.
  • In a few cases no trail map existed, so I created one.
  • In many cases I offer a copy of the trail map I saved — as protection from Web sites that change and "lose" their own trail maps.
  • Some road distances, trail lengths, and hiking times are rough estimates.
  • A few of the trails are paved and therefore are also used for road biking and inline skating.
  • Most areas have trail maps posted on-site. Those are up-to-date. Online trail maps may be somewhat out of date.
  • Road Map is a link to Google Maps where you can view the area as a road map, a satellite image, or in terrain view.
  • The symbol denotes where you can find the trailhead (and parking in many cases) on Google Maps where you can view the location as a road map, a satellite image, or in terrain view.
  • Directions to trails are usually from the nearest town.
  • A few trailheads and access points actually have restroom facilities. But even if a restroom or Port-a-John is present in the summer, one cannot expect it to be available or open at other times. To be safe, assume no restroom is present and therefore "prepare" ahead of time.
  • Geographic limits of this Web page: Atwood, Ellsworth, East Jordan, Gaylord, Grayling, Higgins Lake, McBain, Tustin, Luther, Manistee. (Roughly within about an hour / 60 miles from Traverse City)
  • See Web Sites to Watch below to check for new trails added since this page was last updated.
  • Details were correct (or as corect as could be determined) at the time of writing, but they are, of course, subject to change.
  • Please let me know if you have anything to add, change, suggest, or improve.
  • Thanks very much to all of you who have contributed to this page!

Areas within the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (SBDNL) require a national park pass:

The use of any area in the SBDNL requires a national park pass. Here is the list of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore areas covered on this Web page. See here for more details about SBDNL passes.

Areas requiring a Michigan Recreational Passport:

Many state-run areas (such as state parks, recreation areas, state forest campgrounds, boating access sites, and parking lots at trailheads for non-motorized trails) require a Michigan Recreational Passport to use them. If such a passport is needed, it's mentioned in the details for the area. See here for details about Michigan Recreational Passports. And see here for all the places where a Michigan Recreational Passport is needed.

Hiking tips:

Web Sites to Watch— for new trails (as well as nature preserves). These sites list many trails for northwestern Lower Michigan...

• Conservancies
• City Parks - search for <XYZ> City Parks
    where <XYZ> is a city in your area of interest.
• Counties
• Experience 231: Adventures – Places to hike,
    bike, paddle, snowshoe, and more in
    northwestern Michigan
• Get Off the Couch – Places to hike, canoe,
    kayak, bike, fish, and play in west Michigan
• Hiking Trails in Mason, Manistee, Lake and
    Oceana Counties
• Huron-Manistee National Forest
• Michigan DNR
• Michigan Hiking Trails
• Michigan Mountain Bike Trails and Reviews
• Michigan Mountain Biking Association
    Trail Guide
• Michigan State Forest Pathways and
    Campgrounds
• Michigan State Parks
   
• Michigan Trail Maps.com
• Michigan Trail Resources
• Michigan Trails
• Michigan Trails Finder
• Northern Michigan Map to Activities
• Northwest Michigan Area
• Northwestern Michigan
• Outdoor Michigan.org
• Pure Michigan - Hiking
• Spirit of the Woods Chapter, North Country
    Trail
• Spirit of the Woods Conservation Club
• Top of Michigan Trails Council
• Township Parks – At a search engine (like
    Google) search for: <XYZ> Township Parks
    where <XYZ> is the township in which you are
    interested. Below are just a few of many
    townships with lots of parks:
• Trails.com
• Traverse Area Recreation Trails (TART)
    Trails
• Traverse Bay Area
• Traverse City Area
• Ultimate Guide to NW Michigan - Hiking
• Up North Trails.org — Some of the many hiking, mountain biking, nordic skiing, horseback, motorcycle, ORVATV and snowmobile trails in northern Michigan.



ALLIGATOR HILL TRAIL

Back to Trail List

Overseeing
organization

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Web page

Web page #1
Web page #2

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2
Trail map #3

General idea

Hilly trail following old logging two-tracks through the woods between Little and Big Glen Lake and Lake Michigan.

Length

9 miles total, made up of several loops.

Hiking time

Varies with the route taken.

Difficulty

Moderate — many easy to moderate hills throughout the trail.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In southwestern Leelanau County, southwest of Glen Arbor.

Road map

Road map

Stocking Road Trailhead location

Forest Haven Drive Trailhead location

Directions

Stocking Road Trailhead – From Glen Arbor, take M-109 west to Stocking Road, then south to parking lot on left (east) side of road. There is a vault toilet available.

Forest Haven Drive Trailhead – From Glen Arbor, take M-22 south 0.5 miles to Forest Haven Drive. Turn right (west) and go 700 feet to the trailhead on the left (south) at the corner where Forest Haven takes a sharp turn to the north. Parking for a few vehicles, no restroom. From the trailhead, a 0.2 mile trail headed south connects you to the main ("Intermediate") trail.

More details

NOTE: The use of this (and any) area within the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (SBDNL) requires a national park pass. See here for more details about SBDNL passes.

The "Islands Lookout" near junction post #2 has some great views of Lake Michigan and the islands (two Manitous, and two Foxes if you're lucky).

ANTRIM CREEK NATURAL AREA

Back to Trail List

Overseeing
organization

Managed by Antrim County

Web page

Web page

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2
Trail map #3

General idea

Nice trails through a variety of habitats including forest, wetland, swamp, thicket, meadow, and coastal dune.

Length

2.2 miles total, made up of several loops.

Hiking time

Varies with the route taken.

Difficulty

Most trails appear easy. A few might have some gentle hills.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In northwestern Antrim County, NNW of Eastport.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead location — north entrance

Trailhead location — south entrance

Directions

From Traverse City, take US-31 perhaps 33 miles north of M-72 and (and perhaps 5 miles north of Eastport) to the tiny village of Atwood. About 0.2 miles north of Byers Road (on the right (east) side of US-31) is Rex Beach Road on the left (west). Turn left (west) and go 1.5 miles to Old Dixie Highway. You're now at the North Entrance to the Natural Area. From here you can:

  • enter via the North Entrance here by continuing straight on Rex Beach Road through the Natural Area down to parking and the beach.

  • take Old Dixie Hwy south about 0.5. miles to the South Entrance on the right (west) side of the road.

An alternate way to the area is to take the Old Dixie Highway which you'll find just north of Eastport.

More details

This area include almost a mile of shoreline on Grand Traverse Bay. It supports an incredible array of natural diversity including hardwood forest, forested wetland, conifer swamp, shrub thicket, meadow, wet meadow and coastal dune. Visitors can enjoy hiking marked trails, swimming at the beautiful, Lake Michigan beach, cross-country skiing, and bay fishing!

The North Entrance offer easier access to the beach, a dune overlook, and more trails. Just south of the South Entrance is Antrim Creek which empties into Lake Michigan. Trails there parallel the creek, offer a creek overlook, and take you to the beach -- a fun place to play is where the Creek enters the Lake. There are two trails that connect the north and south sections. There are rustic and both barrier-free trails.

ARBORETUM TRAIL

Back to Trail List

Overseeing
organization

Manistee National Forest / USDA Forest Service

Web page

Web page #1
Web page #2

Trail map

Trail map

General idea

Easy trail through many species of trees.

Length

0.84 miles

Hiking time

30 minutes

Difficulty

Easy.

Open to mountain
bikes

Yes.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In southeastern Manistee County, southwest of Wellston.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead location

Directions

From Wellston, go west on M-55 to Bosschem Road, then south one mile south to Pine Lake Road (aka US Forest Hwy 5410). The parking area is just southeast of the intersection. No restroom.

More details

Easy trail open year round. Scenic and secluded, the trail wanders through many species of trees from all over Europe, Asia, and the USA, planted here in the 1940's as a growth experiment. Planting lot markers dot the trail with the names of the trees and their country of origin. There's the small Pine Creek next to trail along the southwestern border. May, 2014 — there were several fallen trees in the northeastern section of the trail, making it a little difficult to follow. Said the Get Off The Couch Web page, "This is a wonderful treasure that is practically unknown, but the Forest Service is abandoning it, and will no longer be maintaining the trail." Hopefully some local organization will maintain the trail. (A good project for a scout troup.)

ARCADIA DUNES / C.S. MOTT NATURE PRESERVE

Back to Trail List

Overseeing
organization

Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy. See the complete GTRLC nature preserve list.

Web page

Web page (then click on the link for Arcadia Dunes)

Trail map

Overall trail map #1 (does not yet show the new Camp Trail)
Overall trail map #2 (does not yet show the new Camp Trail)

General idea

Five trails involving rolling wooded hills, meadows and farmland, and sand dunes above Lake Michigan.

Open to mountain
bikes

Yes.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In southwestern Benzie County, generally NNE of Arcadia.

Road map

Road map

Click here for links to view all Benzie County trailhead locations at Google Maps or in Google Earth.

More details

This area contains four official trails:

• Camp trail

• Chestnut trail

• Dry Hill trail

• Old Baldy

• Pete's Woods

BARNES COUNTY PARK

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Overseeing
organization

Managed by Antrim County (AKA Barnes Park Campground)

Web page

Web page
Web page about the campground

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2

General idea

Wooded trails exploring the woods east of the campground. There are also two accesses to the Lake Michigan beach (via stairs and a path). If needed, there's a paved path from Barnes Park Road to the campgorund.

Length

2.5 miles of hiking trails made up of a handful of connected loops.

Hiking time

Varies with the route taken.

Difficulty

Easy...?? (It looks like there could be some hills in there. To be investigated.)

Open to mountain
bikes

No (a guess).

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes (a guess, assuming the trails can be used even if the campground is closed).

General location

In northwestern Antrim County, immediately northwest of Eastport.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead and parking for the Torch Lake Trail

Are there other places to park on the campground road loop near other trails, like at the north end of the Feather of Honor Trail, or the southwest end of the Raccoon Alley Trail....?

Directions

The park is located northwest of the junction of US-31 and M-88 in Eastport (between Elk Rapids and Charleviox). From that intersection in Eastport, go west on Barnes Park Road about 900 feet to the access road to the ball field. There's parking there and the trailhead for Torch Lake Trail. (The campground road loop is 0.4 miles further on Barnes Park Road.)

More details

The park is open from mid-May to mid-October.

Note much is known about these trails (yet).

BATTLE CREEK NATURAL AREA

Back to Trail List

Overseeing
organization

Whitewater Township, Grand Traverse County.

Web page

Web page

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2
Trail map #3

General idea

Wooded trail to shore of Elk Lake with a great view.

Length

0.75 miles

Hiking time

25 minutes.

Difficulty

Easy.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In northeastern Grand Traverse County, northeast of Williamsburg.

Road map

Road map

Directions

From the intersecion of M-72 and US-31 in Acme (northeast of Traverse City), take M-72 approximately 7 miles east to Skegemog Point Road. Then left (north) and go around 1.2 miles to the parking area and trailhead on the left (west) side of road.

More details

The Battle Creek Natural Area includes a variety of diverse habitats; and vast ecological systems. Battle Creek is a designated trout stream and is one of the largest and most important tributaries to Elk Lake. The creek contributes approximately six billion gallons of clean water to Elk Lake.

Huebner Pond and Dam is located in the southeast portion of the property on a tributary of Battle Creek and provides scenic viewing.

Take this trail for a beautiful view of the south end of Elk Lake.

The Lossie Road Nature Trail crosses the south end of the property providing two points of public access in addition to the main entrance located on Skegemog Point Road.

There is a footbridge spanning Battle Creek creek along Lossie Road Nature Trail to provide safe crossing

BAUER / POLACZYK NATURE PRESERVE

Back to Trail List

Overseeing
organization

Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy. See the complete GTRLC nature preserve list.

This area is currently two preserves on one property – the Bauer Preserve and the Polaczyk Preserve.

Web page

Web page

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2

General idea

• Bauer Preserve trails — travel through upland forest and old field.

• Polaczyk Preserve trails — travel to a forested ridge and an overlook of the Intermediate (Dingman) River.

Length

• Bauer Preserve trails — 1.9 miles round trip

• Polaczyk Preserve trails — 1.5 miles round trip

Hiking time

• Bauer Preserve trails — about an hour

• Polaczyk Preserve trails — around an hour

Difficulty

• Bauer Preserve trails — appears to involve some hills up to the forested ridge. Best guess for now — moderate.

• Polaczyk Preserve trails — appears to be easy

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In the northwestern area of Antrim County, SSW of East Jordan.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead locations:
Bauer Preserve
Polaczyk Preserve

Directions

This is located roughly five miles east of Central Lake . Both preserves include parking areas, trailheads, and informational kiosks.

  • Bauer Preserve trails — From Traverse City, take US-31 north to Eastport and turn right (east) on M-88. Follow M-88 to Central Lake and then turn east on County Hwy 24 (called State Street in town, and Old State Road out of town). Continue on County Hwy 24 approximately 7 miles to Finkton Road. Turn left (north) and follow Finkton Road. At about 1.2 miles it turns north and becomes Kidder Road. Follow this about 1.2 miles to Schroeder Road. Turn left (west) and go about 1.2 miles to the west end of Schroeder Road (where the it makes a ninety degree turn to the north and becomes Graham Road) — the preserve is on the left (south) side of the road.

  • Polaczyk Preserve trails — From Traverse City, take US-31 north to Eastport and turn right (east) on M-88. Follow M-88 to Central Lake and then turn east on County Hwy 24 (called State Street in town, and Old State Road out of town). Continue on County Hwy 24 approximately 5 miles. About 1/2 mile past Six Mile Lake Road is Wilson Road (a dirt road). Turn left (northwest) — the preserve is about 2 miles down at the end of Wilson Road.

More details

This area features forested valleys, steep ridges, wetlands and nearly 2200 feet on the Intermediate (Dingman) River near the headwaters of the Chain of Lakes.

  • Bauer Preserve trails — a 0.6 mile connected loop and a 1.3 mile trail upland forest and old field.

  • Polaczyk Preserve trails — two connected loops (1.2 miles) that travel to and atop a forested ridge, and a 0.13 mile spur to an overlook of the Intermediate (Dingman) River, a relaxing place to view the river, flora, and fauna.

BAY VIEW TRAIL

Back to Trail List

Overseeing
organization

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Web page

Web page

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2

General idea

Partially open and partially wooded rolling hill trail explores bluff overlooks, fields of wildflowers, and former farmland

Length

8 miles of trails, several loops

Hiking time

Varies with the route taken.

Difficulty

Moderate – several easy hills along the trail.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In southwestern Leelanau County, northeast of Glen Arbor.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead location

Directions

From Glen Arbor, take M-22 north to the north entrance to Thoreson Road, then go north and west a short way to the trailhead on the left (south) side of the road.

More details

NOTE: The use of this (and any) area within the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (SBDNL) requires a national park pass. See here for more details about SBDNL passes.

The Lookout Point on this trail gives a panoramic view of Lake Michigan and the surrounding countryside. The trail along the edge of the woods on top of the bluff overlooks fields of wildflowers and former farmland with Lake Michigan in the background.

BETSIE RIVER PATHWAY

Back to Trail List

Overseeing
organization

Michigan DNR

Web page

Web page

Trail map

Trail map

General idea

West loop: partially hilly trail to the Betsie River across an old orchard and through the woods. East loop: flat trail through the woods with connections to Crystal Mountain trails.

Length

8.0 miles of trails, comprised of two loops:
• West loop – 2.6 miles round trip.
• East loop – 5.0 miles round trip, (two connecting short-cuts available).

Hiking time

• West loop — about 1.3 hours round trip.
• East loop — about 2.5 hours round trip.

Difficulty

• West loop — moderate – there are some easy hills leading down to and up from the Betsie River.
• East loop — easy – it's all flat.

Open to mountain
bikes

Yes. And see "Connection to Crystal Mountain Trails" in the More details section below.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes. And cross-country skiiers, see "Connection to Crystal Mountain Trails" in the More details section below.

General location

In central southern Benzie County, WNW of Thompsonville, SSE of Benzonia.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead location

Click here for links to view all Benzie County trailhead locations at Google Maps or in Google Earth.

Directions

From the traffic light in Benzonia (M-115 west and US-31), take US-31 south 2.3 miles to M-115, then left (southeast) 4.7 miles to King Road, then right (west) 0.5 miles to Longstreet Road, then left (south) 0.7 miles to the trailhead and parking lot on the left (east) side of road. No restroom.

More details

A Michigan Recreational Passport is required to use this area.

Mostly wooded trails...

• West loop — half flat, half hilly. Starting at the northwest corner of parking lot, the trail crosses Longstreet Road and travels across a flat meadow (old orchard, mostly) to the junction for the loop at post 6 near the edge of the woods. The loop goes north along a meadow, through pines, west into the woods, along a nice creek, south along the Betsie River, and then east back to the junction.

• East loop — all flat, mostly through woods, with connections to Crystal Mountain trails – see below.

Connection to Crystal Mountain Trails
The east loop of this trail connects to Crystal Mountain trails at two places:
1. At the end of Joyfield Road, a short ways east of Stone Road, a Crystal Mountain cross-country ski trail crosses Joyfield Road.
2. Southeast of post 3 there is a connector trail to Crystal Mountain hike, mouitain bike, and cross-country ski trails, and shows up on the Crystal Mountain maps below.

Crystal Mountain:
• cross-country ski Web page
• cross-country ski trail map
• bike and hike Web page
• bike and hike trail map

BETSIE VALLEY TRAIL

Back to Trail List

Overseeing
organization

Michigan DNR. Operated and maintained by Benzie County.

Web site

Web site

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2

General idea

A former railroad trail that runs from Frankfort to Thompsonville, passes through Elberta and Beulah, and goes by Betsie Bay, the Betsie River, and Crystal Lake.

Length

23 miles (one-way):
• Frankfort to Elberta — 2 miles
• Elberta to Beulah — 8 miles
• Beulah to Thompsonville — 13 miles

Hiking time

Perhaps 9 hours total, (one-way).

Difficulty

Easy — it's a former railroad that's flat the whole way. Some parts are paved, some crushed gravel / aggregate, and some hardpack/ gravel.

Open to mountain
bikes

Yes, both road and mountain bikes.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes, from Frankfort to Beulah. (The trail from Beulah to Thompsonville is open to snowmobiles from December through March.)

General location

The trail travels across southwestern and central southern Benzie County, from Frankfort, through Elberta and Beulah, to Thompsonville.

Road map

Road map

Click here for links to view all Benzie County trailhead locations at Google Maps or in Google Earth.

Directions

There are many places to access the trail. See the trail maps or the trail's Web site for more details. The main trailheads are:

  1. Frankfort at Cannon Park near Lake Michigan beach. Trailhead location.
  2. Elberta where the trail crosses M-22 just east of town Trailhead location.
  3. River Road between Elberta and Benzonia at Adams Road and just west of the Betsie River bridge Trailhead location. Restroom.
  4. Mollineaux Road at the Crystal Lake Outlet Trailhead location. No restroom.
  5. Beulah at the 5-corner intersection and the train depot (Beulah Village Visitor Center) downtown Trailhead location. Restrooms.
  6. Thompsonville. There's trail-side parking at the ballpark on the north side of Lindy Road in town. Enter the parking area on the east side of the trail where it crosses Lindy Road, about 0.1 miles west of Thompsonville Road Trailhead location. Restrooms nearby.

More details

The trail runs from Frankfort through Elberta and Beulah on to Thompsonville. The trail has many scenic aspects and is wooded in many areas.

Traveling west to east, the trail begins in Frankfort at Cannon Park on Main Street (next to Lake Michigan beach near the Frankfort lighthouse).

From Frankfort to Beulah the trail is for non-motorized use only. The six-mile section from Frankfort to Mollineaux Road is paved so it's good for road bikes and roller-blading.

From Frankfort to Elberta the trails skirts the Betsie Bay.

Between River Road and Mollineaux Road the trail parallels the Betsie River in the woods for a while. Watch for turtles in the ponds on the northwest (left) side of the trail.

Just before Mollineaux Road the trail crosses the outlet from Crystal Lake. For the three miles from Mollineaux Road to Beulah the trail runs along Crystal Lake and is compacted aggregate

From Beulah to Thompsonville the gravel / aggregate trail is more remote with very few structures and passes through miles of pine and hardwood forests. This section is open to snowmobiles from December through March. About half a mile south of the Pioneer Road crossing is the deep valley for Dair Creek. Wooden stairs lead down to the creek from both sides of the trail.

BIG M TRAIL

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Overseeing
organization

Manistee National Forest / USDA Forest Service

Web pages

Official Web page

Another official Web page

Other Web page

Trail maps

Trail map #1
Trail map #2
Trail map #3 with lots of details for hikers and bikers.
Trail map #4

General idea

Plenty of hills on this trail through a hardwood and pine forest.

Length

46 miles in many loops.

Hiking time

Varies with the route taken.

Difficulty

Moderate — "An intermediate level trail system with plenty of both steep and long hills with a variety of wooded terrain to challenge every experience level."

Open to mountain
bikes

Yes.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In central southern Manistee County, WSW of Wellston, and ESE of Manistee.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead location

Directions

Big M is located between Manistee and Wellston in Manistee County a little south of M-55. From Wellston, head west on M-55 about 4 miles to Udell Hills Road. Turn right (south) and go 3 miles to the park entrance and the parking area on the right (west). Restrooms.

More details

Big M is located east of Manistee, deep in the heart of the hardwood and pine forest of the Udell Hills, within the Manistee National Forest. The USDA Forest Service and volunteers maintain the trails during the summer season.

The trail system covers a circle of hills in an area about 2.5 miles by 5 miles. The North Country Trail runs through the area, cutting across the outer loop system from south to north.

A Huron-Manistee National Forest vehicle pass is required from April 1st to November 1st, which is $5 daily.

The Udell Lookout Tower (a fire watch tower) (location) is within the Big M trails, but is not open to the public.

Primarily for cross-county skiing and mountain biking, this great collection of paths is fun for hikers, too. Note: hikers should be ever watchful of mountain bikers.

An invigorating biking trail, be prepared for many aerobic climbs. And well worth the 360-degree view of the Manistee National Forest from the top of Cappers Peak.

All trails can be hiked whenever there is not snow.

This site is maintained in winter and access road and parking lot are plowed.

BOARDMAN LAKE TRAIL

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Overseeing
organization

A TART System trail. See here for their complete list of trails.

Web page

Web page

Trail map

Trail map

TART Trail – Downtown Detail map #1
TART Trail – Downtown Detail map #2

TART Trail and Urban Trails map #1
TART Trail and Urban Trails map #2

TART Overall Trail System map #1
TART Overall Trail System map #2

General idea

Easy, flat, wooded, road bike / walking trail along the north end and east side of Boardman Lake in Traverse City.

Length

Almost 3 miles (2013)

Hiking time

About an hour one way.

Difficulty

Easy

Open to mountain
bikes

Yes, and road bikes, too.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In central northern Grand Traverse County, in central southern Traverse City.

Road map

Road map

Directions

There are many places to access the trail. The two main sccess points and parking areas are:

North end at Hull Park — at the west end of Hannah Avenue just east of the Traverse Area District Library.
South end at Medalie Park — in the Logan's Landing area off South Airport Road.

More details

Primarily a road bike path, it's also quite nice for walking, and in the winter this trail may also be groomed for XC skiing if/when conditions are favorable.

The eastern section of this often wooded, serene trail runs along the east side of Boardman Lake, is paved for the northern mile, and has a crushed limestone surface for the southern mile.

The trail now wraps around the north end of the lake, crosses over the Boardman River, has a spur that connects to Lake Avenue and Eight Street, and goes south along the west side of the lake to down 14th Street.

The vision for this trail is a pathway that circles Boardman Lake, granting easy access to the library, Medalie and Hull Parks, Oryana Food Cooperative, and city neighborhoods.

The western portion of the Boardman Lake Trail between Oryana and 14th Street is expected to be paved in 2014.

To continue exploring south along the Boardman River, see the Boardman Valley Nature Preserve.

BOARDMAN RIVER TRAIL

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Overseeing
organization

A TART System trail. See here for their complete list of trails.

Web site

Web page

Trail map

Trail map for proposed trail: Map #1 and Map #2

This 24-mile Boardman River Trail (BRT) follows the Boardman River valley from the North Country Trail (NCT) near Scheck's Campground all the way Traverse City. When completed, the BRT will link several existing trail systems including Grand Traverse County's Natural Education Reserve (GTNER), Mayfield Pond Park, the Brown Bridge Quiet Area, the East Creek Reserve, the North Country Trail (NCT), and the VASA trails.

The Boardman River Trail (BRT) is being developed in three sections;

The trail is under construction.

As of November 2013, Section 1 is complete, providing 7 miles of newly-constructed single-track trail connecting the North Country Trail (NCT) near Scheck's Campground through to Mayfield Pond Park. As of the summer of 2014, signage for Section 1 is complete. The entire trail is not scheduled to be completed until sometime in 2015.

General idea

A long trail linking several existing trail systems, mostly in forested area, and using existing dirt paths and two-tracks

Length

24 miles total (when complete)
• Section 1 – around 8 miles
• Section 2 – around 11 miles
• Section 3 – around 5 miles

Hiking time

Perhaps 8 hours. (when complete)

Difficulty

Easy to moderate — because of the many sasy-to-moderate hills involved.

Open to mountain
bikes

Maybe in a few sections... TBD

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes. (But a deep hard-pack of snow on the boardwalks in the GTNER area could be difficult on skis.)

General location

In the central and central northern areas of Grand Traverse County, southwest and south of Traverse City, and from northeast to northwest of Kingley.

Road map

Road map

Directions

There are numerous access points, the easist appear to be at the various areas involved:

Once section 3 in done, the south end of the Grand Traverse Natural Education Reserve (GTNER) area should also be an access point.

More details

Section 1 – from the NCT near Scheck's Campground, through the Brown Bridge Quiet Area and part of the East Creek Reserve, and on to Mayfield Pond Park –

Starting at the east end, this trail (BRT) is marked with yellow-tipped posts with yellow wooden arrows, and along the trail it's marked with downward-pointing yellow triangles (like a "Yield sign) on trees, telephone posts, and other posts. (Later in the East Creek Reserve, do not mistake these triangles for the upward-pointing, slightly-brighter, yellow triangles that they use on trees.)

At the east end, this trail starts at a connection to the North Country Trail (NCT) somewhere north of Scheck's Campground (aka Scheck's Place), between Brown Bridge Road and Ranch Rudolph Road. From the road, the trail first appears along Ranch Rudolph Road 0.2 miles west of the parking area for Muncie Lakes Pathway / NCT. That parking area or Scheck's Place is a good place to park.

The trail headed west goes in and out of the woods along Ranch Rudolph Road. Around 2 miles later (from where the trail first runs appears along Ranch Rudolph Road), it connects with and shares the north area trails in the Brown Bridge Quiet Area above the former Brown Bridge Pond. Somehwere at the west of that area, the BRT leaves those trails and heads out to Brown Bridge Road immediately west of the Boardman River.

The trail heads east along the road for 0.3 miles. (Notice the yellow triangles on the telephone posts on the north side of the road.) Directly across from the access road for the Boardman River, the trail heads south into the woods. Watch carefully for a yellow triangle on a tree there.

From Boardman River Road (near the Boardman River), the trail runs perhaps 0.5 miles south and connects with and shares the west part of the loop and the connector trail from the loop down to Mayfield Road of the northern trails at the East Creek Reserve. The connector trail is all downhill along the tall bank of East Creek.

At Mayfield Road, follow the road west across the creek, going about 700 feet to where there's a small clearing on the left (south) and a small wooden fence on the right north where the BRT continues on its journey west. It goes north, west, then southwest along East Creek and a tributary for about 0.3 miles then comes out again on Mayfield Road.

From here it follows the road. Along the way, though, the yellow trail markers die out. So, to get to Mayfield Pond Park, follow Mayfield Road 0.6 miles WNW to Garfield Road. Turn left (southwest) and go 0.5 miles to Blair Townhall Road. Turn right (west) and go 0.1 miles to Main Street. Turn left (south) and go one block to Mill Street. Turn right (west) and go one block to the parking lot for Mayfield Pond Park.

Section 2 – from Mayfield Pond Park to Beitner Road – under development.

Section 3 – from Beitner Road to the existing Grand Traverse Natural Education Reserve (GTNER) area – under development.

NOTE: the developers of the BRT want to remind everyone that, if desired, users can continue on from the east end of the BRT, taking the North Country Trail northeast, taking the NCT-VASA Connector, using Vasa Pathway, taking a TART Trail extension to the TART Trail, then taking the TART Trail back to Traverse, resulting in a 46-mile loop.


BOARDMAN VALLEY NATURE PRESERVE

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Overseeing
organization

Garfield Township

Web site

Web site

Trail maps

Trail map #1
Trail map #2
Trail map #3

General idea

A few miles of trails along the Boardman River, mostly in the woods

Length

1.3 miles.

Hiking time

35 minutes.

Difficulty

Easy

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In central northern Grand Traverse County, south of Traverse City.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead location

Directions

In Traverse City, take Airport Road to Racquet Club Drive in the Logan's Landing area (Boardman River valley). Take Racquet Club Drive south to the Grand Traverse Bay YMCA. The reserve is accessed from the parking lot adjacent the YMCA. Public restrooms are available within the YMCA building.

More details

Also called the Garfield Township Boardman Nature Reserve.

Dispersed along the trail are a number wooden bridges as well as observation/fishing decks overlooking the river.

This is the northern part of several trails along the west side of the Boardman River. At the southern end, this trail connects directly with the Fox Den Loop Trail in the northern part of the GTNER area.

To continue exploring north along the Boardman River, see the Boardman Lake Trail.

BOEKELOO TRAIL

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Overseeing
organization

Property in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. “Boekeloo Trail” is a name used for reference only on this Web page. The name comes from the fact that it starts at the end of Boekeloo Road and passes through the former Boekeloo property.

Web page

Web page

Trail map

Rough trail map. Otherwise, no trail map was found and it's likely none exists. But it's an easy-to-follow unmarked trail.

General idea

Lovely trail through the woods, dunesy woods, woodsy dunes, and finally all dunes down to Lake Michigan beach.

Length

1.8 miles round trip.

Hiking time

About an hour round trip (if you don't stay at the pretty sandy beach too long!).

Difficulty

Easy to moderate — because of several small hills and walking across some sand dunes about a third of the time.

Open to mountain
bikes

No. (But in the National Lakeshore, you CAN take your mountain bike anywhere you could drive a car, such as down Boekeloo Road.)

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In the northwestern area of Benzie County, northeast of Frankfort, northwest of Beulah and Honor.

Road map

Road map of area

Trailhead location

Click here for links to view all Benzie County trailhead locations at Google Maps or in Google Earth.

Directions

From the intersection of M-22 (7th Street) and Forest Avenue in Frankfort, take M-22 north and east a few times a total of 10 miles to Boekeloo Road on the left (north) side of the road. (Boekeloo Road is 0.9 miles past (east of) the Manitou Restaurant and is called Cooper Road on the right (south) side of M-22.) Turn left (north) on Boekeloo Road and go 1.3 miles to a small turn-around / parking area. No restroom.

Note: going down the narrow two-track Boekeloo Road is not for every car. Although there are no hills, there can be holes and ruts to watch out for, as well as low-hanging trees, and bushy over-growth. In the winter there can be frozen ruts from other vehicles using the road.

More details

NOTE: The use of this (and any) area within the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (SBDNL) requires a national park pass. See here for more details about SBDNL passes.

There's quite a bit of history here, with the Coopers and Boeleloos that lived and worked hard here. Read more about it and the area at this Web page. The Boekeloo Cabin, the "Boekelodge," is in the process of being restored by the Preserve Historic Sleeping Bear organization, learn about that project at this Web page.

From the parking are walk northwest, go in the entrance to the former homestead, then around the north end of the tiny lake. You'll see the Boekeloo cabin – the trail starts on the east side of the cabin. The path unmarked is easy to follow and zig-zags northwest through woods and dunes to the beautiful sandy Lake Michigan beach. (If you feel like straying from the path, do not wander too far as it's easy to get lost in this area with its many repeating geological features.) Once at Lake Michigan, pay close attention to where the path enters the beach from the dunes — to easily find the path on your return trip.

The path itself has several little hills and travels through woods, dunesy woods, woodsy dunes, and then open sand dunes.

From the Lakeshore's Web page, "The trail to Lake Michigan is ideal for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing in the winter." It's also wonderful during all the other seasons!

BROWN BRIDGE QUIET AREA

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Overseeing
organization

Grand Traverse Conservation District. Maintained by the City of Traverse City Parks and Recreation Department.

Web pages

Web page #1
Web page #2

Trail maps

Trail map #1
Trail map #2

General idea

Easy, flat to rolling, woodsy walking trails high above and along the Boardman River and the former Brown Bridge Pond area.

Length

Around 6.3 miles total.

• North area – 3.7 miles

• South area – 2.6 miles

Hiking time

Varies with route taken.

Difficulty

Easy to moderate. South is mostly flat. North area has some stairways and rolling hills.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In central Grand Traverse County, NNE of Kingsley and southeast of Traverse City.

Road map

Road map

Directions

The area is about 11 miles southeast of Traverse City.

  • To the North area – south of Traverse City, from the intersection of Garfield Road and Hammond Road, take Garfield south about 5.3 miles to Hobbs Highway, (this is just before Garfield Road drops into the Boardman River valley), then left (east) about 2 miles to Ranch Rudolph Road. Bear to the right on to Ranch Rudolph Road. Watch for three parking areas on the right (south) side to road each around 0.2 miles apart...
  • To the South area – south of Traverse City, from the intersection of Garfield Road and Hammond Road, take Garfield Road south 6.7 miles to River Road. Turn left (east) — the road soon becomes Brown Bridge Road — and go 0.6 miles to the entrance to the parking lot on left (north) side of the road. Parking location.

More details

Designated trails run throughout the property and vary in distance and difficulty. Boardwalks and wildlife overlooks are scattered throughout the area.

The North and South areas do not connect (unless you can find a way to easily cross the river). A footbridge (or two) would be very welcome to connect the two areas and make a nice loop trail.

  • The North area – has trails which go through a dry-mesic northern forest, two observation platforms from which you can view the whole area, and a staircases taking you from the high bluff down to near-river level.

  • The South area – has trails that traverse dry-mesic northern forests and hardwood-conifer swamps, and an ecosystem in transition as the former Brown Bridge Pond area slowly returns to what it once was before the Brown Bridge dam (now removed) was built.

The Boardman River Trail (BRT) uses the North area here as part of the BRT trail system.


BULLHEAD LAKE NATURAL AREA

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Overseeing
organization

Protected by the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, owned & managed by Long Lake Township.

Web page

Web page #1 – then scroll down to Bullhead Lake Natural Area
Web page #2
Web page #3

Trail maps

Rough trail map (taken from the master plan for the area, then updated based on trails encountered on site)

General idea

Former logging road trails and single-track paths wind through old-growth forest over rolling hills to the pretty little Bullhead Lake.

Length

Roughly 0.8 miles of trails, at present. A 0.7 mile loop trail around the edge of the property is proposed.

Hiking time

Varies with the route taken. The "main" trail, from the trailhead to the lake, is a little over 0.2 miles long, so it's maybe 25 minuntes round-trip.

Difficulty

Easy to moderate, due the gentle to moderately-steep hills involved.

Open to mountain
bikes

Assumed to be no.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In northwestern Grand Traverse County, north of Interlochen and east of the village of Lake Ann.

Road map

Road map of the area

Directions

Edgewood Avenue trailhead location — This natural area is "tucked away" on the west side of Long Lake in Grand Traverse County. The nearest town is Lake Ann to the west. From Lake Ann, take Maple Street (C.R. 610) east – it becomes N. Long Lake Road and bends north at 2.2 miles, then east at 2.7 miles, then north again at 3.6 miles. At 4.0 miles is Edgewood Avenue. Turn right (east) and go 0.4 miles to the trailhead on the right (southwest) at 9723 Edgewood where there's a sign for the area. Off-road parking only, for many 3 cars. No restroom.

More details

Beautiful, tall, mature forest with rolling hills, and the lake is surrounded by hills and nestled in a deep bowl. The "main" trail runs from the trailhead to the lake. An east-west trail intersects the main trail and connects to homes on private property on the east and west sides of the area. Another trail goes off to the southwest from that intersection and skirts the northwest and west side of the lake. Both it and the main trail provide "rough access" to the lake through light brush at the edge. There is no development around the lake, luckily. Wild and pretty gem of an area.

Some stumps from the old-growth forest were seen. One I saw had lived at least 200 years, so it's likely it's over 300 years old!

What the Web sites say about this area...

This undeveloped property is place where the natural environment can be preserved and enjoyed.  The area is a home to many frogs, fish, birds and other wildlife that depend on wetlands and the forest that would be greatly disturbed by development.  The property includes frontage on the northern portion of Bullhead Lake. There is no swimming or camping at the lake, but enjoying the beautiful scenery provided by Mother Nature is certainly permitted.

Trails wind through peaceful old-growth forests dominated by beech, maple, and conifer species, and bordered by showy ladyslippers and the Michigan-endangered painted trillium. The natural area is a favorite with birder, so bring your binoculars.

The current trail system evolved from logging roads, and areas (paths) of repeated use. The trail system is well-used but of poor quality. There are numerous trip-and-fall hazards (small stumps and roots in the trail), and several trails dead-end at private property boundaries.


CADILLAC PATHWAY

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Overseeing
organization

Michigan DNR

Web page

Web page

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2

General idea

More of a mountain biker's trail, plenty of hills, sand, forest, and more.

Length

11.3 miles.

Hiking time

Perhaps 5.3 hours.

Difficulty

Moderate.

Open to mountain
bikes

Yes.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes to cross-country.

General location

In southeastern Wexford County, northeast of Cadillac.

Road map

Road map

Directions

There are two trail access points:

  1. Northeast of Cadillac, from the intersection of 13th Street (aka 36 Road) and US-131, go east on 13th Street about 0.5 miles to just before it turns south. The Intermediate School District, and CTC are on the left. Turn in at the east entrance and park in school parking lot furthest to the east. Trail access is uphill just north of the large brown "garage." Parking location. No restroom.

  2. Northeast of Cadillac, from the intersection of Boon Road (aka 34 Road) and US-131 (exit 183), take Boon Road east for 2.6 miles to Seeley Road (aka 49 Road). Turn left (north) and go just 600 feet. The parking lot is on the right (east). Parking location. Restroom.

More details

A Michigan Recreational Passport is required to use this area.

Trail hosts a variety of terrain that is well mapped. You will be treated to hills, forests, and the Clam River. (The northeastern-most portion of the trail parallels the Clam River between posts 1 and 7, and there is very easy access to it at one point.)

More of a mountain biker's trail, it a favorite for local cyclists. A good all-around trail, contains both large climbs and quick stuff. Sometimes sandy, so don't go after a rain. But a great 'have-fun' trail, with real potential for a workout. Rolling single-track with few tough hills. Can be ridden by all levels of riders, from novice to expert.

CAMP TRAIL

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Overseeing
organization

Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy. Part of the Arcadia Dunes / C.S. Mott Nature Preserve. See the complete GTRLC nature preserve list.

Web page

Web page (then click on the link for Arcadia Dunes: C.S. Mott Nature Preserve)

Trail maps

Trail map #1
Trail map #2

For all of the Arcadia Dunes Nature Preserve:
Overall trail map #1 (does not yet show the new Camp Trail)
Overall trail map #2 (does not yet show the new Camp Trail)

General idea

Nice loop trail through rolling and wooded terrain.

Length

3.1 mile loop. The first 1.65 miles of the loop is complete (to Taylor Road). The remainder is expected to be done by the end of summer, 2014. Until the loop is completed, it's a one-way, "out and back" trail. 7/5/14: Once at Taylor Road, the trail stops. But you can follow little pink flags for maybe 0.2 miles to see where a little of the rest of the trail will be.

Hiking time

Perhaps 1.3 hours

Difficulty

Easy to moderate — there are many easy but rolling hills throughout the trail. Good for a "beginner mountain bike ride," says the GTRLC Web page.

Open to mountain
bikes

Yes. Designed by a mountain bike trail expert, in fact.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes,

General location

In southwestern Benzie County, NNE of Arcadia.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead location

Click here for links to view all Benzie County trailhead locations at Google Maps or in Google Earth.

Directions

This trail is accessed from the St. Pierre Trailhead of the Arcadia Dunes Nature Preserve

From the intersection of M-22 (Lake Street) and M-115 (Forest Avenue) in Frankfort, take M-22 south 8.5 miles to St. Pierre Road. (It’s 0.3 miles past (south of) Joyfield Road.). Go south 0.1 miles on St. Pierre Road to the parking lot on the left (east) side of the road. The sign there says “St. Pierre Trailhead.” Parking; restroom.

The Chestnut / Dry Hill trails also use this trailhead and parking area, but they a separate trail from the Camp Trail.

More details

Pretty, rolling, and mostly wooded terrain. There are a few open areas where the trail crosses former orchards and fields.

NOTE: this trail is currently under construction, only the first half of the loop is complete. The rest is expected to be done by the end of summer, 2014.

The trail will be marked marked with purple blazes on trees, and there will be maps posted at six locations along the way.

The trail starts at the southeast corner of the parking lot, and travels in area south and southwest of the trailhead. It crosses St. Pierre Road and Matzinger Road (once right now, and twice when the loop is complete).

The southern tip of the trail passes right by Taylor Road – so this looks like a good place to spot a car if you only want to do half of the loop. The location is about 0.2 miles west of St. Pierre Road, and just before Taylor gets real narrow and goes downshill. (The two-track angling off to the northwest from here is not Taylor.)

Just west of where map post #4 will be there's a point where the trail offers a pretty view to the southwest of Taylor Road in a valley as it winds downhill. Feels like Kentucky, maybe.

CEDAR RIVER NATURAL AREA

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Overseeing
organization

Protected by the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy. Jointly owned by Antricm County and the Village of Bellaire

Web page

Web page #1
Web page #2
Web page #3
Web page #4

Trail maps

Trail map

General idea

A series of loop trails in various types forest and an untouched swamp along the Cedar River.

Length

4 miles

Hiking time

Varies with the route taken.

Difficulty

It looks like some trails are easy and some are moderate — based on what it says their trail map.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In central Antrim County, east of Bellaire.

Road map

Road map

Directions

The area is located just outside of Bellaire on the east side. There are three access points...

Fairgrounds Trailhead (the most used) — From Bellaire, take Stover Road (Cayuga Street in town) to Craven Park Road. Turn left (north), the trailhead is 400 to 800 feet along on the right (east).

Mellon Trailhead — From Bellaire, take Stover Road (Cayuga Street in town) for 1.5 miles past (east of) Derenzy Road, about 200 feet before Burrell Road. Turn left (north) on the access road. The trailhead and a constructed parking area are located within a red pine plantation not far from the road.

Burrel Trailhead — From Bellaire, take Stover Road (Cayuga Street in town) for 1.5 miles past (east of) Derenzy Road, to Burrell Road. Turn left (north) and go 0.3 miles to where it turns right (east). The trailhead is on the left (west) side of the road.

More details

This area is nearby to and just east of Craven Park Campground.

The trails meander through untouched swamp, conifer forest, upland forest, and riparian forest along the Cedar River.

CEDAR RUN CREEK NATURAL AREA

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Overseeing
organization

Protected by the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, owned & managed by Long Lake Township.

Web page

Web page #1 – then scroll down to Cedar Run Creek Natural Area
Web page #2
Web page #3

Trail maps

Trail map (made from a photo of the on-site map, then improved and updated)

The main Web page (and an official for the area) says, "There are currently some marked and maintained trails, but trail system is work in progress and will continue to grow."

General idea

Mostly woods with scattered areas of open space, in both highland and lowland, surrounding Cedar Run Creek. Also, some frontage on and access to Cedar Lake.

Length

Around 4.8 miles of trails, at present. There's a marked and maintained 0.8 mile loop trail at the east side of the property on the north side of Cedar Lake. All the other trails are (currently) unmarked. And new trails will be coming.

Hiking time

Varies with the route taken.

Difficulty

Easy to moderate. Many of the trails follow two-tracks or paths with relatively easy hills. But there are a few short, moderately steep hills here and there, like between posts 2 and 3 on the east loop.

Open to mountain
bikes

Yes.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In northwestern Grand Traverse County AND northeastern Benzie County, northeast of the village of Lake Ann.

Road map

Road map

East entrance — Cedar Lake Road trailhead location

West entrance — Tucker Road trailhead location

Directions

Cedar Lake Road trailhead location —

• From downtown Lake Ann – take Maple Street (C.R. 610) east 0.3 miles to (northbound) Lake Ann Road. Turn left (north) and go 2.5 miles to Cedar Run Road. Curve right (east) and go 2.0 miles to Cedar Lake Road. Turn right (south) and go 0.7 miles to the trailhead on the right (west) where the road turns east. There's parking for a few cars on the south side of the corner.

• From the northwest corner of Long Lake – at the intersection of Skiver Road and N. Long Lake Road (C.R. 610), take Skiver Road west 0.8 miles to Cedar Lake Road. Turn right (north) and go 0.2 miles to where the road turns left (west). Continue to follow it for 0.5 miles to the trailhead on the left (west) where the road turns north. There's parking for a few cars on the south side of the corner.

Tucker Road trailhead location — From downtown Lake Ann, take Maple Street (C.R. 610) east 0.3 miles to (northbound) Lake Ann Road. Turn left (north) and go 1.5 miles to Fowler Road. Turn right (east) and go 0.5 miles to Tucker Road. From here a four-wheel-drive is recommended because the deep loose sand. Turn left (north) and go just under 0.2 miles to the access road on the right (east) leading maybe 100 feet way to a large metal gate (that sharp eyes will see from Tucker Road) at the trailhead. There's not much room to park here, and no restroom. For better parking, go 300 feet north where the road splits into two. Take the left (west) fork and park in the field. Here is the location for that.

More details

Be sure to bring the "bug juice!" There are several wet/lowland areas that the mosquitos call home and from which they are not afraid to roam!

The property consists of 316 acres of mostly woods with some open space. There's 1500 feet of frontage on Cedar Lake in the northwestern corner of the lake. This area surrounnds Cedar Run Creek, which starts in Cedar Lake and flows through this property for 1.5 miles (on its way to the Cedar River and South Lake Leelanau). Most of the trails parallel the creek in some way.

Roughly 55% (the eastern portion) of the property is in Grand Traverse County and 45% (the western portion) in Benzie County.

The Cedar Lake Loop — Is a marked 0.8 mile loop trail at the north side of Cedar Lake (starting at the Cedar Lake Road entrance) includes a nice overlook of Cedar Lake via a nice deck accessed by taking a short path downhill from post #2. The portion of the trail from post #1 to post #2, and post #3 to post #1, is relatively easy two-track. The portion from post #2 to post #3 is a hiking path with easy to moderate hills. There's a bench at post #3.

The trail going west of post #3 follows an old two-track. At 0.4 miles from post #3, what looks like an old logging road "scissors" across the two-track, roughly here. I'll call this Fork #1.

From Fork #1 there are two choices:

  • follow the old logging road WSW to cross the creek and connect with the rest of the property. It starts as a 5-foot-wide cut in the land that goes downhill 0.1 miles to Cedar Run Creek valley where there's a bench and a small wooden bridge across the creek. From there the trail goes 0.4 miles and connects with the Old Grade Loop (see below) at the southern end of the Old Grade. Along the way, the trail goes gently up then down a hill, crosses a small creek flowing north (into Cedar Run Creek), then intersects with the southern end of the Old Grade.

  • stay on the two-track. It slowly curves to the north, goes downhill, crosses a lowland area, becomes a single-track, goes uphill, then later turns sharply west, goes downhill, and connects to the east side of the Old Grade Loop near its northern end (and just south of the northern creek bridge).

The Old Grade Loop — Is a 1.7-mile loop trail on the west side of the property, the east side of which follows the Old Grade (abandoned M&NE railroad bed). (Add another 0.4 miles to the total trip if you are starting from the Tucker Road trailhead.) This trail is not marked at present (2014). I was able to follow it, but it's rather "tricky" at the north end of the loop. Below are some notes that will help.

Hiker symbols – On a few parts of the western section there are circular silver and red hiker symbols on trees to mark the way. Note, these are not on all trails, so do not expect on thmr throughout the property. And in one case, they led to an undeveloped dead-end trail (on the west side of the Old Grade Loop where it curves from eastbound to the north). Hopefully, the placement of these will be improved.

Notes from entering via Tucker Road (8/9/14, updated 8/28/14) — Follow these notes while looking at the trail map. The should be helpful until the official trails are finished and become marked. The trails follow a two-track much of the way, along the Old Grade some of the way, and through an open field at the north end of the loop.

  • From the Tucker Road trailhead, walk northeast, then east, past the intersection for the loop coming from the south, to a point where the trail curves to the north, about 0.3 miles along. There are signs saying Private Property, so be respectful as you are temporarily on private property as the trail curves from the east to the north.
  • Past the curve, the trail heads straight north along the edge of the natural area's boundary.
  • SIDE TRIP / SHORT CUT: At roughly 0.15 miles north of the curve is an old two-track to the right (east) that turns to the northeast and goes dowhill 0.1 miles to The Cabin on Cedar Run Creek. (I think the cabin was used by the former owners (boy scouts) as a simple sleeping cabin). There's a bridge across the creek that connects to the trail that parallels the creek. This is a quick way to get to the east side of the Old Grade Loop.
  • Perhaps 0.2 miles north of the curve the trail leaves the woods (where there are several metal fence posts) and enters an open field heading northeast.
  • The unmarked path slowly curves past a stand of trees, and after about 0.2 miles comes to the east edge of the field. Here the trail.joins a two-track going into the woods and downhill. After around 0.1 miles connects with the north end of the Old Grade part of the trail, where there's (currently) a deep blind on the east side. This photo provides a rough idea of the route here at the north end of the loop.
  • From here the trail follows the Old Grade south. Along the way, unlike what the on-site map shows, Cedar Run Creek crosses under the trail twice. (Interesting tidbit — the culverts used at the creek crossings appear to be old boilers from the steam engine days.)
  • A short ways past the first creek crossing is the intersection with a trail headed left (east) that eventually (0.7 miles later) connects to the "main" trail at Fork #1.
  • SIDE TRIP: At the southwest corner of this intersection is a single-track trail headed southwest and paralleling the creek. This trail is may 0.2 miles long and goes past the bridge to The Cabin before turning east and reconnecting to the Old Grade Loop.
  • Sharp eyes will spot The Cabin through the woods on the west shore of the creek along this portion of the Old Grade Loop.
  • After the second creek crossing there's a very small pond/marshy area. Then perhaps 0.2 miles later is another pond, this one a little larger. It's just before the trail makes a T at the south end of the Old Grade Loop and southern edge of the property. There's a bench here.
  • At the T one can go:
    • to the left (east) 0.5 miles to Fork #1. Along the way, the trail crosses a small creek flowing north, goes gently up and then downhill. At 0.4 miles along it crosses Cedar Run Creek where there's a small wooden brdge and a bench. Then it goes uphill and interescts another part of the trail at Fork #1.
    • to the right (west). This follows what looks like was once the east end of Fowler Road many years ago. At about 0.1 miles there's another T. Turn right (NNE) and go maybe 0.25 miles to a T intersection with the other part of the Old Grade Loop. Turn left (west) and go 0.2 miles back to Tucker Road. (There's a bench along the way of this last portion.)

CHESTNUT TRAIL

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Overseeing
organization

Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy. Part of the Arcadia Dunes / C.S. Mott Nature Preserve. See the complete GTRLC nature preserve list.

Web page

Web page (then click on the link for Arcadia Dunes: C.S. Mott Nature Preserve)

Trail maps

Trail map

For all of the Arcadia Dunes Nature Preserve:
Overall trail map #1 (does not yet show the new Camp Trail)
Overall trail map #2 (does not yet show the new Camp Trail)

General idea

Nice loop trail through rolling and wooded terrain.

Length

2 mile loop.

Hiking time

Around an hour.

Difficulty

Moderate — there are many easy hills throughout the trail.

Open to mountain
bikes

Yes. Designed by a mountain bike trail expert, in fact.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes,

General location

In southwestern Benzie County, NNE of Arcadia.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead location

Click here for links to view all Benzie County trailhead locations at Google Maps or in Google Earth.

Directions

This trail is accessed from the St. Pierre Trailhead of the Arcadia Dunes Nature Preserve

From the intersection of M-22 (Lake Street) and M-115 (Forest Avenue) in Frankfort, take M-22 south 8.5 miles to St. Pierre Road. (It’s 0.3 miles past (south of) Joyfield Road.). Go south 0.1 miles on St. Pierre Road to the parking lot on the left (east) side of the road. The sign there says “St. Pierre Trailhead.” Parking; restroom.

Camp Trail also uses this trailhead and parking area, but it's a separate trail from this one.

More details

Pretty, rolling, and wooded terrain. The trail is marked with purple blazes on trees.

Note: this trail is also the western most portion of the 10-mile Dry Hill Trail loop.

CHIPPEWA RUN NATURAL AREA

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Overseeing
organization

Leelanau Conservancy. See their complete preserve list.

Web pages

Web page

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2

Guide to all Leelanau Conservancy Natural Areas

General idea

Easy trail along a stream and among woods and old orchards.

Length

1.25 miles

Hiking time

40 minutes

Difficulty

Easy — mostly flat, but there are a few easy hills in two portions of the trail.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In southwestern Leelanau County, northeast of Empire.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead location

Directions

From the intersection on M-72 and M-22 in Empire, head north on M-22 about 0.7 mile. The parking area is located on the left (northwest) side of the street just south of the creek. No restroom.

In winter, if the parking lot on M-22 is not plowed, turn onto LaCore street as if heading toward the Empire Museum. Then turn right on Fisher Street and follow signs to recycling bins. Park in the recycling area.

More details

There are paths on both sides of M-22. Relatively short trail on easy terrain. Four separate ecosystems and a birder's paradise. A stream runs through and long the property which flows into South Bar Lake. Many species of trees and wildflowers. There's a beaver pond on the south end.

CLAY CLIFFS NATURAL AREA

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Overseeing
organization

Owned by Leland Township and managed by Leelanau Conservancy. See the Conservancy's complete preserve list.

Web page

Web page

Trail map

Trail map #1(old)
Trail map #2 (new) — made from a photo taken on-site, 10/2014

Guide to all Leelanau Conservancy Natural Areas

General idea

Trail through the woods from M-22 near Lake Leelanau up to clay bluffs 200 feet above Lake Michigan.

Length

Roughly 1.3 miles of trails, 0.8 miles from parking lot to observation deck.

Hiking time

Under an hour, round-trip

Difficulty

Moderate. Especially on the north part of the loop, there are some short but moderately stesp hills.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes. Cross-country sskiiers should take the south part of the loop, as the hills are gentler.

General location

In northeastern Leelanau County, northeast of Leland.

Road map

Road map

Parking and trailhead location

Lake Leelanau – Silver Poplars access

Directions

Trails — From the intersection of M-22 and River Street in Leland, take M-22 north 2.3 miles to entrance to the area on the left (west) side of the road (at 4805 Manitou Trail).

Lake Leelanau access — go slighty further (past the trailhead parking area) to the roadside turn-off by the silver poplars on the right (east) side of the road. There's very simple sand/grass access to the lake. There's no restroom and no parking, so park at the trailhead parking lot.

More details

The area offers stunning views of both Lake Leelanau and Lake Michigan. The Fox Islands and the Manitou Islands can be see from atop the bluffs. There is now a overlook platform near the edge of the bluffs. The clay cliffs themselves are not accessible and extremely steep – visitors should appreciate the view overlook and otherwise not go near the edge of the bluffs

As of 10/2014, a sign for the area near the road, a parking lot, trails (both mowed and single track), and an overlook platform from the bluff have been completed. The trails are unmarked, so study the trail map before hiking.

At the first intersection, there's currently an arrow on the temporary post pointing to the right or north part of the loop. Most of that is a single-track with some moderate hills, and is all in the woods. The left or south part of the loop is mostly a wide mowed path with gentler hills, half in woods and half in meadow.

Says Matt Heiman, Conservancy Director of Land Programs, "the mature hardwood forest [here] features one of the most fantastic wildflower spots in the county, the 200-foot bluff is home to a rare ecosystem, and eagles nest on this diverse property."

Also – in the northeast corner of the property at Lake Leelanau, canoers, kayakers, ice boaters, and fisherman will forever be able to access the shore from the area known as "Silver Poplars."

COSNER NATURE PRESERVE

Back to Trail List

Overseeing
organization

Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy. See the complete GTRLC nature preserve list.

Web page

Web page

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2

General idea

Pretty trails through the woods.

Length

Two loop trails:
0.8 miles
0.4 miles

Hiking time

About an hour.

Difficulty

Easy to moderate.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In central northern Antrim County, south of East Jordan.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead location

Directions

Three miles south of East Jordan on M-66 across from the Wagbo Peace Center (1/4 mile south of the Antrim / Charlevoix county line). Look for a kiosk and large parking area on the east side of M-66.

More details

A good place to watch for migrating birds who have returned to the area. You might see the coyote, deer, or fox that have been spotted on the preserve. The woodland, wetland and grassland habitats here are home to many plant and animal species. There's boardwalk through a cedar swamp twice crosses Bennett Creek, which is part of the Jordan River watershed

COTTONWOOD TRAIL

Back to Trail List

Overseeing
organization

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Web page

Web page

Trail map

For all four hiking trails on the dunes:
Trail map #1
Trail map #2

General idea

Rolling dunes trail loop with great views.

Length

1.4 mile loop

Hiking time

Around an hour (with no stops)

Difficulty

Moderate — several small sand dune hills.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In southwestern Leelanau County, north of Empire, southwest of Glen Arbor.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead location

Directions

Access the trail from the Piece Stocking Scenic Drive. From Empire, take M-22 north about 2 miles to M-109. Then left (north) and go a little over a mile to the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. Entrance is on the left (west) side of the road. Entrance to the Cottonwood Trail is at the northern-most parking area. Restrooms nearby.

More details

NOTE: The use of this (and any) area within the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (SBDNL) requires a national park pass. See here for more details about SBDNL passes.

Up on the dunes, mostly in sand. Loop goes from the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive to the top of the main dune climb and back. Great views.

COY MOUNTAIN TRAIL

Back to Trail List

Overseeing
organization

Helena Township, Antrim County

Web page

Web page #1
Web page #2

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2

General idea

Hardwood forested ridge trail.

Length

1.5 miles with an elevation difference of 180 feet

Hiking time

Around an hour (with no stops)

Difficulty

Strenuous.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In the southwestern area of Antrim County, immediately southeast of Alden.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead location

Directions

From the intersection of SE Torch Lake Drive (County Hwy 593) and Valley Road, go east around 0.2 miles on Valley Road to the trailhead on the right (south) side of the road.

More details

There are two lookouts along this trail. From the Michigan Trail Maps Web site:

"A leg-stretcher. Trail includes the 1.4-mile Long Loop and a Short Loop. The Short Loop is indeed slightly shorter and doesn’t have quite the elevation gain but it would be a shame not to follow the Long Loop. For the effort of climbing 170 feet you are rewarded with a view of Torch Lake from the top of Reuben Coy’s mountain."

"At the peak of Coy Mountain you get a glimpse of Torch Lake to the west and can hear the bustle of Alden straight below you."


CRYSTAL LAKE HILLS (not an official name or trail)

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Overseeing
organization

Property in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. “Crystal Lake Hills” is a name used for reference only on this Web page. This is not an official trail or maintained by any organization.

Web page

None found, and it's likely none exist.

Trail map

Rough trail map

General idea

Steady uphill loop trail through the woods to the hills and ridge area between Crystal Lake and Lake Michigan.

Length

1.4 miles, round trip.

Hiking time

A little over an hour, round trip.

Difficulty

Moderate — the trail winds steadily up a gentle hill (about 300 vertical feet) most of the way. There's a fair amount of tree fall on the trail.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes, but cross-country skiing would be very difficult because of all the tree fall. Snowshoeing could be difficult as well unless there's lots of snow.

General location

In western central Benzie County, northeast of Frankfort.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead location

Click here for links to view all Benzie County trailhead locations at Google Maps or in Google Earth.

Directions

From the intersection of M-22 (7th Street) and Forest Avenue in Frankfort, take M-22 north and east a total of 7.3 miles to Crystal Drive (where M-22 turns north again). Follow M-22 another 0.3 miles. Before you are even with the south end of the small Round Lake coming up on the right (east) side of the road, watch on the left (west) for the start to the path and a post with “No Vehicles Off Road” and “No Snowmobile” signs. Roadside parking only. No restroom.

More details

NOTE: The use of this (and any) area within the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (SBDNL) requires a national park pass. See here for more details about SBDNL passes.

This is an "unofficial" trail that winds steadily uphill most of the way through a scenic mature forest. Some trees are over 100 feet tall.

This trail does not get used often and is unmarked. (But there are some yellow tags / dots on trees along the way on some portions.) It's not a clean and clear path. But for 90% of the way the trail is not hard to follow if you stay in the center of the “V” of the valley between the hills on each side.

There's a fair amount of tree-fall to step over and walk around. And there are lots of leaves in the path that can cover and hide small branches. So this trail is not good for cross-country skiing, and could be difficult for snowshoeing unless there's lots of snow. Casual hikers might not enjoy this trail as much as regularly maintained ones. So, this trail is not for everyone. But it's very pretty and a good aerobic hike.

If you are going to take the Southern Trail (to do the full loop) you'll need a compass for a few sections (near points C, D, E, and F) where there's no easy valley to follow. And there's a little more tree fall to climb around than on the Northern Trail.

For a hike that's easier to follow, just take the main Northern Trail up and back. (A compass is handy if you're going to explore the open field at the top.)

Here are the points you need to know that go along with the trail map:

• For reference only and not shown on the map – About 70 steps (perhaps 140 feet) from M-22 — on the left is a valley to the southwest. Ignore this.

A – about 150 steps (perhaps 300 feet) from M-22 – on the left is a trail going up the valley to the southwest. That's the start of the Southern Trail. If you want to do the full loop and you have a compass, take this trail. But for an easier-to-follow hike just stay on the main Northern Trail.

B – about 600 steps (perhaps 1200 feet) along the Southern Trail – the clearer path dies out, it's now essentially a deer path. But there's still an obvious valley to follow.

C – about 750 steps (perhaps 1500 feet) along the Southern Trail – you enter a flat area with hills on either side and a shallow hill straight ahead.. Contiunue WNW across this flat area, then follow the shallow valley up hill going WNW and then NW.

D – about 1100 steps (perhaps 2200 feet) along the Southern Trail – the shallow valley dies out. Continue going NW.

E – about 1350 steps (perhaps 2700 feet) along the Southern Trail – watch for blue dots (and a few pink tags) on a north-south going row of trees. You should also see a double yellow tag on a tree. You're at the western-most part of the Southern Trail.

Here the trail turns 45 degrees and goes due north. Follow the blue dots (and yellow tags and pink tags) on the trees and go straight north for about 65 steps, perhaps 130 feet, to point F.

F – where the Southern and Northern Trails connect.

  • If you came via the Southern Trail, this point close is perhaps 3100 feet from M-22. You can spot this point by the yellow tags on 3 trees (along the row of blue dot trees). It's a flat area at the top of long valley that heads to the east — the top end of the Northern Trail.

  • If you came via the Northern Trail, this point is perhaps 2800 feet from M-22. It's a flat area where the valley and path die out. You can spot this point by watching for blue dots on a north-south going row of trees. Then see the yellow tags on 3 trees.You may also spy a few pink tags on trees. You're at the top end and western-most part of the Northern Trail.

As can be seen on the trail map or road map there's a open field to the northwest — it may be hard to see from this point. If you want to explore the field, an easy way to get there is:

  • From point F, go west 38 steps (perhaps 76 feet). You may notice you're now in the middle of a old logging road. ((This make be hard to notice in the full growth of summer.)
  • Go 165 steps (perhaps 400 feet) following the old road as it goes north then curves to the left (NW) and goes to the edge of the field.
  • Go 100 steps (perhaps 230 feet) northwest to the top of hill in the field for nice view of Lake Michigan to the north-by-northwest.
  • Then navigate back to point F.

What do I do now?

  • If you came via the Southern Trail, to continue on the loop, from this point take the Northern Trail heading east down the valley that starts there. And good news — it's all downhill from here — have fun!

  • If you came via the Northern Trail, you can
    • return back down the Northern Trail for the easiest way back down.
    • or go due south following the blue dots (as well as yellow tags and pink tags) on the trees for about 65 steps, perhaps 130 feet. to point E. You should also see a double yellow tag on a tree. This is the western corner of the Southern Trail. From here you take the Southern Trail back down using yellow tags on trees. It starts heading SE then tunrs to the east. Have fun!

G – for reference only – about 350 steps (perhaps 700 feet) from M-22 – going off to the north (and then northwest) is a another shallower valley that parallels the Northern Trail part of the way.


DeYoung NATURAL AREA on CEDAR LAKE

Back to Trail List

Overseeing
organization

Leelanau Conservancy. See their complete preserve list.

Web page

Web page

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2

Guide to all Leelanau Conservancy Natural Areas

General idea

Two sets of trails on either side of Cherry Bend Road.
• East side – Short loop trail through meadow and cedar wetland alongside and down fishing dock to Cedar Lake.
• West side – A few loops through rolling hills of woods and meadow (former farm field), crossing a few creeks, and includes former farmstead.

Length

• East side – 0.7 miles
• West side – 1.3 miles of trails, one large loop and two smaller connecting loops

Hiking time

• East side – 18 minutes
• West side – varies with route taken

Difficulty

• East side – Easy, it's flat the whole way
• West side – Moderate, rolling hills throughout the area

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In southeastern Leelanau County, NNW of Greilickville.

Road map

Road map

East site trailhead location

West site trailhead location

Directions

• East side – From Traverse City, from the intersection of M-72 and M-22 (Tom's grocery store of West Bay at northwest corner), take M-22 north 1.3 miles to Cherry Bend Road. Turn left (west) and go 1.8 miles and look for the barn on the right (east). Pull into the parking area by the barn. There's a portable toilet at a little ways down the trail past the Leelanau Trail.

• West side – Farm and field just across Cherry Bend Road from the east side area, but the parking lot is on Strang Road – From Traverse City, from the intersection of M-72 and M-22 (Tom's grocery store of West Bay at northwest corner), take M-22 north 1.3 miles to Cherry Bend Road. Turn left (west) and go 2.0 miles to Strang Road, Turn left (west) and go 0.3 miles to the small parking area on the left (sout). No restroom.

More details

Historic farmstead, field, and wetlands with nearly a mile of frontage on Cedar Lake. With nearly a mile of shoreline on Cedar Lake, this are protects nearly half of the west side of the lake. Portions of the upland are currently being farmed by a neighbor.

• East side –

Take the short Fishing Pier Trail to get direct to Cedar Lake, where there's a — you guessed it — fishing pir oon the lake. Off of that trail is a loop trail that winds through wetland and mature cedars near the shore of Cedar Lake. Says Traverse City Walks, along the way you'll pass through "a meadow and an old cedar swamp with gigantic cedars rotting away." There are some very large grape vines in there, too, some as big as 4" in diameter.

The Leelanau Trail runs through this portion of this land from north to south.

A small creek, used by the former farm for power, flows thorugh the farmstead, under Cherry Bend Road, then SSE to a small pond. A creek from the pond empties into Cedat Lake. Walk 800 south on the paved Leelanau Trail to get to the outlet creek and views of the pond.

• West side –

It's the farmstead just across Cherry Bend Road from the east side. You can walk there from the east side if you like, or park over at the Strang Road trailhead and hike in from there. Around 3/4 of the trail passes through meadow and 1/4 through woods, all with rolling hills. The trail is currently marked by new wooden posts along the way. There are kiosks at the trailhead and the farmstead with trail maps. Most of the farmstead buildings have signs with descriptions. There are two creeks that run through the property and flow to Cedar Lake. A fork of the southern one flows through the farmstead, which they used to power a waterwheel to run tools and generate electricity. They were the first in the area to bring electricity into a home.


DRY HILL TRAIL

Back to Trail List

Overseeing
organization

Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy. Part of the Arcadia Dunes / C.S. Mott Nature Preserve. See the complete GTRLC nature preserve list.

Web page

Web page (then click on the link for Arcadia Dunes: C.S. Mott Nature Preserve)

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2

For all of the Arcadia Dunes Nature Preserve:
Overall trail map #1 (does not yet show the new Camp Trail)
Overall trail map #2 (does not yet show the new Camp Trail)

General idea

Longer trail through pretty woods, mild meadows, and rolling hills.

Length

10 mile loop

Hiking time

Perhaps 5 hours

Difficulty

Moderate – there are many easy hills throughout the trail.

Open to mountain
bikes

Yes. Designed by a mountain bike trail expert, in fact.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes

General location

In southwestern Benzie County, northeast of Arcadia.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead location

Click here for links to view all Benzie County trailhead locations at Google Maps or in Google Earth.

Directions

This trail “spins off” of the Chestnut trail which is accessed from the St. Pierre Trailhead of the Arcadia Dunes Nature Preserve.

From the intersection of M-22 (Lake Street) and M-115 (Forest Avenue) in Frankfort, take M-22 south 8.5 miles to St. Pierre Road. (It’s 0.3 miles past (south of) Joyfield Road.). Go south 0.1 miles on St. Pierre Road to the parking lot on the left (east) side of the road. The sign there says “St. Pierre Trailhead.” Parking; restroom.

Camp Trail also uses this trailhead and parking area, but it's a separate trail from this one.

More details

Pretty, rolling, wooded, and farm meadow terrain. The trail is marked with purple blazes on trees.

The trail crosses Matzinger Road once and Taylor Road twice — these are alternate access points with roadside parking only.

DUNES TRAIL to LAKE MICHIGAN

Back to Trail List

Overseeing
organization

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Web page

Web page #1
Web page #2

Trail map

For all four hiking trails on the dunes:
Trail map #1
Trail map #2

General idea

Longer hike over the sand dunes to Lake Michigan. Longer that it looks from up top!

Length

3.5 miles round trip

Hiking time

3-4 hours

Difficulty

Strenuous – several moderate sand dunes hills and a few smaller ones.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes to snowshoers. Cross-country skiers will find it very difficult to go up the hills.

General location

In southwestern Leelanau County, north of Empire, WSW of Glen Arbor.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead location (at the foot of the Dune Climb)

Directions

From Empire, take M-22 north about 2 miles to M-109. Then turn left (north) and go about 3.5 miles to the Dune Climb entrance and parking lot on the left (west) site of the road. You should also see the dunes on the left(!) Restroom.

More details

NOTE: The use of this (and any) area within the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (SBDNL) requires a national park pass. See here for more details about SBDNL passes.

Strenuous hike starts at the Dune Climb and ends at Lake Michigan. There are five major sand hills to climb on the way there, the first and by far the largest is the initial Dune Climb itself. Be sure to take sun and foot protection and plenty of water. Please treat this journey with extra respect and allow plenty of time to enjoy it. Great views and fun exploration atop the dunes.

EAST CREEK RESERVE

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Overseeing
organization

Owned by Rotary Charities and managed by the Grand Traverse Conservation District.

Web page

Web page

Trail map

Trail map #1 (old)
Trail map #2 (showing Boardman River Trail and Short-to-Shore Trail)

General idea

Two separate and relatively easy sets of trails, both near East Creek in a maple and pine forest.

Length

Southen loop: 1.5 miles of trails (as of 9/2014)
Northern loop: 1.5 miles of trails, including connector to Mayfield Road (as of 9/2014)
A total of at least 3.0 miles of trails as of 9/2014

Hiking time

Sourthern loop only: less than an hour
Northern loop only: less than an hour

Difficulty

Southern loop: Easy but with some gentle hills involved.
Northern loop: Easy and flat the whole way.
Connector from Mayfield Road to Northern loop: moderate — it's uphill most of the way.

Open to mountain
bikes

Yes.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In central Grand Traverse County, NNE of Kingsley and SSE of Traverse City.

Road map

Road map

Directions

To the southern loop —

  • Coming from Traverse City — take Garfield Road south to Mayfield Road (about 0.7 miles south of River Road.). Turn left (east) and go less than a mile to just before (west of) the bridge over East Creek. On the right (south) you'll notice a small clearing (see below) where you can park.

  • Coming from the northern loop — take Wadsworth Road southeast 0.6 miles to Mayfield Road. Turn right (west) and go about a mile to just after (west of) the bridge over East Creek. On the left (south) you'll notice a small clearing (see just below) where you can park.

About the small clearing / parking area:

  • t's the trailhead location for the southern loop.
  • it's where the Shore-To-Shore Trail comes in from the west via Mayfield Road, and leaves the road going into the words near the southeast corner of the clearing.
  • is where, at the southwest corner, the southern loop starts — see an opening in a wooden fence and post with yellow tip.
  • on the north side of the road from this clearing, the Boardman River Trail (BRT) conintues on its journey west. It goes along East Creek and a tributary about 0.3 miles then comes out on Mayfield Road.
  • from here going east on Mayfield Road is the way to cross East Creek. Then on the east side of the creek and north side of the road (where there's parking for two cars), connect to the northern loop via a connector trail from Mayfield Road to Northern loop, going uphill along the tall bank of the East Creek. The BRT joins you in doing this.
  • Horse riders may also want to use the bridge if they do not want to cross East Creek on horseback.
  • there's no restroom.

The northern loop —

  • Coming from Traverse City — take Garfield Road south to River Road. Turn left (east) and go 0.7 miles to Wadsworth Road. Turn right (southeast) and go 0.8 miles to an unmarked gravel road on the right (southwest). (A tree here may have a yellow marker or yellow ribbons.) Turn right (southwest) and go les than 0.1 miles to a small parking lot.

  • Coming from the southern loop — go about 1.0 miles east on Mayfield Road to Wadsworth Road. Turn left (northwest) and go about 0.6 miles to an unmarked gravel road on the left (southwest). (A tree here may have a yellow marker or yellow ribbons.) Turn left (southwest) and go less than 0.1 miles to a small parking lot.

  • On the right (west) is the parking and the trailhead location. No restroom.

More details

Trails are marked in three ways: a few posts with yellow tips at intersections, trees with upward-pointing yellow triangles, and yellow triangular signs nailed to trees. Pay attention to these, as there are some old roads and paths in this area that are not part of the trail system..

The Boardman River Trail (BRT) passes through this area and shares trails as part of its trail system. The BRT marks its trail with downward-pointing, slightly darker, yellow triangles on trees and posts.

The southern loop trail...

The trail passes through a very pretty pine and maple forest with some easy hills involved.

Notes about the southern loop trail map:

  • Take a copy of the map you.

  • The map does not show the main parking for this southern loop.

  • There's a final spur on the south end of the trail system that goes to the edge of the property and it's not shown on the map. Therefore, also not shown on the map is the intersection of the spur with the main trail. It's from that intersection where one can head west on a loop.

  • Where the map indicates a parking location on the east side of the East Creek bridge is only large enough for two cars. Going north from here is how you connect to the northern loop via a connector trail going uphill along the tall bank of the East Creek. The BRT joins you in doing this.

  • The 0.3 mile "future" trail on the northwest part of the southern loop is not yet present (11/2013).

  • On the north side of the road from parking for the Southern loop, the Boardman River Trail (BRT) conintues on its journey west. It goes along East Creek and a tributary about 0.3 miles then comes out on Mayfield Road. Check it out while you're here!

  • The 1.4 mile "future" trail on the east side of the creek and south side of the road is yet to be invesigated (11/2013).

The northern loop trail...

Starts out on a wood chip path headed west across a square open field. The trail is flat and takes goes through very pretty woods filled with red pine, maple, and oak, and lots of new and old white pine.. Early on the northern portion of the loop, you'll' go by (and hear if it's a running) a "cricket" (natural gas pump) in a small clearing. On the southwestern section of the loop you'll go along a ridge high above the East Creek valley.

Notice the four-way intersection at the southwest of the loop — it includes the 0.2 mile "connector" trail to Mayfiled Road and the southern loop. Although shown on the map as a "future" trail, it's now in place. It goes along the bluff parallel to East Creek and comes out at Mayfield Road. Go 700 feet west on the road to the the small clearing / parking area mentioned above in the Directions to access the Southern trail.

NOTE: Be sure to take a copy of the trail map with you — it will help.

The Boardman River Trail (BRT) shares the west part of the loop and the connector down to Mayfield Road.


ELBERTA DUNES SOUTH NATURAL AREA

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Overseeing
organization

Owned and managed by the Village of Elberta. Protected by the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy. See the complete GTRLC nature preserve list.

Web page

Web page

Rough Trail map

Trail map

General idea

Relatively short trail — first across a meadow then uphill to the top the dunes for a fantastic view of the Betsie River valley and Lake Michigan.

Length

1 mile round trip — for the main trail only.

Hiking time

Less than an hour round trip — for the main trail only.

Difficulty

Strenuous — a climb of 240 vertical feet. The first third of the way is flat, the rest is all uphill, sometimes a bit difficult. (But it's all worth it for the view!)

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes. But cross-country skiing would be very difficult because of the narrow trail and steep (but short) hills involved.

General location

In western central Benzie County, immediately south of Elberta.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead location

Click here for links to view all Benzie County trailhead locations at Google Maps or in Google Earth.

Directions

From the intersection of M-22 (Lake Street) and M-115 (Forest Avenue) in Frankfort, take M-22 south 1.6 miles (passing through Elberta). On the right (west) side of the road look for a gravel parking area with signs. No restroom.

More details

From the parking area, begin via a mowed path through a field leading to the woodsy hills to the west. Then it’s all uphill. In a few places the trail is narrow, sandy, and/or fairly steep. At the top, you're 250 feet above Lake Michigan and rewarded with great views of the lake and the Betsie River valley. You'll need to "play mountain goat" a little out to the west edge of the bluff for views of the Frankfort Lighthouse.

EMPIRE BLUFF TRAIL
(Part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore)

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Overseeing
organization

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Web page

Web page #1
Web page #2

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2

General idea

Trail through the woods with a few hills and ends at a high bluff overlooking Lake Michigan.

Length

1.5 mile round trip.

Hiking time

About an hour.

Difficulty

Moderate – a few easy to moderate hills.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In southwestern corner of Leelanau County, south of Empire.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead location

Directions

From Empire, take M-22 south about 2 miles to Wilco Road, then turn right (northwest) and go 1/2 mile to parking lot on left (west) side of street. Restroom.

More details

NOTE: The use of this (and any) area within the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (SBDNL) requires a national park pass. See here for more details about SBDNL passes.

Watch for views to the north over old orchards before you get to the bluffs. At the bluffs – fantastic views – and a great place to watch sunsets!

FIRST CREEK NATURE TRAIL

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Overseeing
organization

Village of Copemish

Web page

Web page #1 – about First Creek and other projects along the Big Manistee River watershed.
Web page #2 – for the Mish-A-Mish Roadside Park – shows the nature area's boundary.

Trail map

Trail map (based on a photo taken at the kiosk)

General idea

Easy hike through the woods, prairie, and boardwalk over First Creek.

Length

1 mile loop.

Hiking time

25 minutes

Difficulty

Easy – trail is flat the whole way.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In northeastern Manistee County, on the south side of Copemish.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead location

Directions

Accessed through the Mish-A-Mish roadside park, which is on the right (southwest) side of highway M-115 on the south side Copemish.

More details

After the failure of the First Creek dam in 1989, it was removed in 2000. The First Creek Nature Trail was established on the 40 acres that includes the wetland where the Copemish Dam Pond once was. Trail runs along the wetland left by the former pond and goes through surrounding uplands. Early on the trail is a 200 foot boardwalk that crosses First Creek. The trail is mostly unmarked. When out on the backside (southern part) of the loop in the prairie, follow the overgrown wood-chip path and orange-tipped wooden stakes, and later trampled ferns, to find your way.

First Creek is the headwaters for Bear Creek, which is a major tributary for the Big Manistee River.

FISHER'S RUN TRAIL

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Overseeing
organization

Long Lake Township

Web page

Web page #1 – then scroll down to Fisher's Run.
Web page #2

Trail map

None found. But it's essentially a large "figure 8" – two 0.5 mile loops, somewhat connected at the middle.

General idea

Easy hike through prety woods.

Length

1.1 mile loop.

Hiking time

30 minutes

Difficulty

Easy – trail is pretty flat the whole way.

Open to mountain
bikes

Yes.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In northwestern Grand Traverse County, north of Interlochen and ESE of the village of Lake Ann.

Road map

Road map (red marker shows the parking area and trail entrance)

Trailhead location

Directions

From the intersection of North Long Lake Road and West Long Lake Road (on the west side of Long Lake, east of Lake Ann about 4 miles), take West Long Lake Road south 1.0 miles. West Long Lake Road turns to the left (east). Keep going straight, though, on Fisher Road for 0.8 miles (going past the Westwoods Elementary School) to the entrance to the park on the right (west). Turn right on the unsigned gravel road – the trail starts and ends about 100 feet from Fisher Road. No restroom.

More details

The perfect setting for a pleasant walk in the woods on a designated trail. There are benches for resting weary bones and educational signs. Although the trail is short, it's still a great walk in the woods or place to sit and enjoy nature.

FRUITHAVEN NATURE RESERVE

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Overseeing
organization

Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy. See the complete GTRLC nature preserve list.

Web page

Web page

Aerial map

Aerial map #1
Aerial map #2

Trail map

Trail map

General idea

Moderately easy trail in nice woods with mostly gentle hills.

Length

1.8 miles of trails
3.2 miles for all pieces, round-trip
• Main trail (blue) — 0.8 miles one-way
• Red spur trail — 0.2 miles one-way
• Orange spur trail — 0.2 miles one-way
• Green spur trail — 0.4 miles one-way

Hiking time

About 2 hours for all pieces, round-trip

Difficulty

Moderate – many easy hills throughout the trail.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In southwestern Benzie County, southeast of Frankfort.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead location

Click here for links to view all Benzie County trailhead locations at Google Maps or in Google Earth.

Directions

From the intersection of M-22 (Lake Street) and M-115 (Forest Ave) in Frankfort, take M-22 south 4.5 miles to Herron Road. Turn left (east) and go one mile to the parking lot on the left (north) side of the road. No restroom.

More details

Once part of Fruithaven Orchards this wooded reserve is now a haven for wildlife. As of fall 2010, color-tipped wooden stakes mark the trails. Follow the arrows on the stakes. Many of the trails are old two-tracks. (Fall 2014, some of those stakes are rotting and falling down. See the trail map for sure before hiking here.)

The main (blue) trail, about 0.8 miles long, is a steady but easy uphill climb the whole way. There are three spur trails along the way:

  • About half-way up at stake B-6/R-1 is the intersection for the Red Spur Trail on the right (east). It's 0.2 miles long (about 422 paces), uphill most of the way, and dies out at a red stake about 250 feet downhill from a high point.

  • About 300 feet further up at stake B-8/O-1 is the intersection for the Orange Spur Trail on the right (east). It's a little over 0.2 miles long (about 468 paces), uphill all of the way, and dies out at stake O-8 before reaching any high point. Note: at stake O-3 veer to the left, and at stake O-4 veer to the right.

  • A little over 200 feet from the intersection for the Orange Spur Trail is a long notch in a hill. Just past that are two intersections for the Green Spur Trail on the left (west) — the first is NOT marked, and the second, up about 200 feet, IS marked. This 0.4 mile spur trail explores the northwestern area of this reserve.

At the top of the hill the trail ends at an existing orchard. (Careful, that’s an electric fence there!)


GLACIAL HILLS PATHWAY and NATURAL AREA

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Overseeing
organization

Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, and Antrim County, and Forest Home Township

Web page

Web page

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2

General idea

Trails through a wide variety of habitats from forest to wetlands.

Length

Perhaps 12 miles of existing trails in several loops. Ultimately the entire system is expected to have 20+ miles of trails.

Hiking time

Varies with the route taken.

Difficulty

Unknown but best guess is moderate because of several easy hills involved.

Open to mountain
bikes

Yes.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In western central Antrim County, northwest of Bellaire.

Road map

Road map

Directions

Located a little ways northwest of Bellaire. There are three access points:

  1. Eckhardt Road – From Bellaire, take the Bellaire Highway (W. Cayuga St.) west about 2 miles to Eckhardt Road. Turn right (north) and go about 0.8 miles (through two 90 degree turns) and near a thrid turn watch for signs and an entrance to parking that veers off to the right (north). Trailhead location

  2. Vandermark Road – From Bellaire, take the Bellaire Highway (W. Cayuga Street) west about 1.3 miles to Vandermark Road. Turn right (north) and go about 0.8 miles and watch for signs and parking for the trail. Trailhead location

  3. Orchard Hill Road – From the intersection of Forest Home Ave and Bridge Street (M-88) in Bellaire, take the Forest Home Ave west 0.5 miles to Orchard Hill Road. Turn right (north) and go about 1 mile and watch for signs and parking for the trail. Trailhead location

More details

Here you'll find extreme ecological diversity with 12 distinct habitat types that support 20 species of trees, over 100 species of flowers, and over 100 species of birds. Two hardwood forest types, three wetland habitats, and the shrub thicket and wet mesic forest types. Features switchback climbs up beautiful hills.

2012 – this natural area will share a combined trail system which will be well-suited for hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, hunting and wildlife viewing. The GTRLC is designing the trail system at Glacial Hills as well as overseeing a substantial volunteer effort to construct the trail.

GOOD HARBOR BAY TRAIL

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Overseeing
organization

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Web page

Web page #1
Web page #2

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2

General idea

Pretty trail through the woods, not far from the shores of Lake Michigan.

Length

2.8 mile loop

Hiking time

About an hour.

Difficulty

Easy – Flat the whole way.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In central northern Leelanau County, north of Maple City, northeast of Glen Arbor.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead location

Directions

From Glen Arbor, take M-22 east about 8 miles to S. Boehemian Road (C.R. 669), turn left (north) and go a little over a mile to Lake Michigan Road, then right (east) and go about 0.8 miles to parking lot and trail entrance on the right (south) side of the road.

More details

NOTE: The use of this (and any) area within the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (SBDNL) requires a national park pass. See here for more details about SBDNL passes.

Nice wooded trail. A creek runs through the loop.

GRAND TRAVERSE COMMONS NATURAL AREA

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Overseeing
organization

Managed by the Grand Traverse Conservation District and Garfield Township.

Web page

Web page #1
Web page #2

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2
Trail map #3
Trail map #4
Trail map #5

General idea

Several relatively short connecting trails in the rolling hills and woods just west of the Grand Traverse Commons Area.

Length

Around 5 miles of trails involving nine interconnecting loops. Trails range from 300 feet to 1 mile in length.

Hiking time

Varies with route taken.

Difficulty

Mostly moderate – a few trails are easy, but most involve easy to moderate hills. And note that about two thirds of the Old Orchard trail (red) are strenuous and steep as they take you to the top of the hill there and back down. And the Copper Ridge Trail (copper) is also strenous with the hills involved on this trail.

Open to mountain
bikes

Yes.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In central northern Grand Traverse County, immediately west of Traverse City.

Road map

Road map

Directions

There are currently eight access points. The trailhead location links below and the trail maps above will help a lot.

  1. Lot K access point – In Traverse City, Munson Hospital, Parking Lot K, at the southwest corner of the intersection of Medical Campus Drive and Cottoageview Drive. On the west side you'll find the trailhead for the Tanglewood Trail. Trailhead location

  2. Gray Drive access point – In Traverse City, take 11th street west off of US-31 past Elmwood and take the first left onto Silver Drive. Turn right on Blue Drive (aka Cottageview Drive), left on Gray Drive, and park at the end. The Cedar Cathedral Trailhead is here. The trail takes off from west of the buildings here into the woods. Trailhead location

  3. Red Drive access points – In Traverse City, take 11th street west of US-31 (Division Street) past Elmwood, and take the first left onto Silver Drive. Keep to the left, Silver Drive turns to the south. Take the next right and go straight west to Red Drive.

    1. Turn left and go around 400 feet. The Tanglewood Trail trailhead is there. It leads up the hill and also into the woods. Trailhead location

    2. Another 300 feet to the south is the Garfield Trail trailhead. Trailhead location

    3. Go another 0.3 miles south all the way to the end of Red Drive. In the middle of the west side of the loop that's there (the area is known as Historic Barns Park), you'll find the trailhead for the Copper Ridge, Meadows Loop, and Old Orchard trails. The trail heads west from here into the woods. Trailhead location

  4. Copper Ridge Drive access point — From the intersection of Silver Lake Road and Copper Ridge Drive (a little northeast of the intersection with Barnes Road and by West Junior High School), take Copper Ridge Drive and follow it around to the northeast corner of its loop, then take the spur to the north (left) and go the end. There you'll find another Copper Ridge trailhead. Trailhead location. (You can also take the spur 200 feet to the west.)

  5. Long Lake Road access point — In Traverse City, from the intersection of Front Street and US-31 (Division Street), take Front Street west 1.5 miles (crossing Cedar Run) to the parking lot on the left (south) side of the road. (The road here is called Long Lake Road.) This is the Garfield Trail trailhead. Trailhead location

  6. Oleson's access point — There is "unnofficial" access point on Long Lake Road across from Oleson's food store, just southwest of the intersection with Cedar Run Road / Medical Campus Drive. This area is also used for parking construction equipment. Oleson's Trail is accessed here. Trail access location

More details

Also called the Grand Traverse Commons Recreation Area. These trails occupy the woods and hills behind (west of) Munson Hospital, Grand Traverse Commons, and the former State Hospital. The 480 acres are sometimes referred to as the State Hospital property, referring to when the Grand Traverse Commons buildings were a state psychiatric hospital. The Copper Ridge Trail provides access to a 38-acre wooded parcel to the west owned by the State of Michigan that is also available for public use.

GRASS RIVER NATURAL AREA

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Overseeing
organization

A Michigan DNR trail. Owned by Antrim County, managed by the Grass River Natural Area, Inc.

Web page

Main Web site for the area
DNR Web page for the area

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2

General idea

Pretty batch of easy trails and boardwalks (along with observation platforms) going along creeks and rivers, winding through forests, stream corridors, swamps, and above floating sedges.

Length

7.5 miles

Hiking time

Varies with the route taken.

Difficulty

Easy

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In southwestern Antrim County, west of Mancelona, south of Bellaire, and northeast of Alden.

Road map

Road map

Area location – general vicinity

Directions

From US-131 in Mancelona, drive west on M-88 (State Street) for 2.3 miles to where it turns sharply to the right (north). Do not follow it. Instead, turn onto Alden Highway (Country Road 618) and continue driving west for 5.8 miles to the site entrance at Grass River Natural Area Road on the right side of the road. It's 0.6 miles past (west of) Comfort Road.

More details

Near the village of Bellaire on Antrim County's Chain of Lakes, this area comprises 1,325 acres along the pristine Grass River, with a well-developed network of trails, boardwalks, and observation platforms along Finch Creek and the Grass River winding through upland forests, stream corridors, tamarack swamps, above floating sedges. Great area for wildlife viewing.

GREEN POINT DUNES NATURE PRESERVE

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Overseeing
organization

Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy. See the complete GTRLC nature preserve list.

Web page

Web page

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2
Trail map #3 (older)

General idea

Lovely hilly trail mostly through woods, leading to two wonderful overlooks of Lake Michigan and stairs to Lake Michigan beach.

Length

Round trip –
• Lake Michigan Lookouts trail only — 1.3 miles.
• Lake Michigan Stairs trail only — 1.8 miles.
• Lookouts / Stairs trails via connecting loop — 1.9 miles.

Hiking time

Round trip –
• Lake Michigan Lookouts trail only — under an hour.
• Lake Michigan Stairs trail only — about an hour.
• Lookouts / Stairs trails via loop — a little over an hour.

Difficulty

Moderate — there are many easy to moderate hills throughout the trail.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In southwestern Benzie County, south of Elberta.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead location

Click here for links to view all Benzie County trailhead locations at Google Maps or in Google Earth.

Directions

From the intersection of M-22 (Lake St) and M-115 (Forest Avenue) in Frankfort, take M-22 south 3.8 miles to Green Point Road. Turn right (west) and go 1200 feet to the parking lot on the left (south). No restroom.

More details

Very pretty wooded and rolling terrain. Trails are marked with purple blazes on trees.

The Lookouts trail goes up to two lookouts offering great views high above Lake Michigan. Once you get to the first hexagonl lookout, notice a path leading from it out to the bluff. It's a only a few hundred feet long. Take this out to the bluffs you will find another little observation deck perched right on the edge of the bluff!

The Stairs trail goes down to the beautiful sandy Lake Michigan beach.

New in 2012, a 0.4 mile connecting trail from the west Lookout to the Stairs creates a nice 1.3 mile loop.

GREENAN BLUFFS TRAIL

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Overseeing
organization

Property in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. “Greenan Bluffs Trail” is a name used for reference only on this Web page. This is not an official trail or maintained by any organization. The name comes from the fact that it starts at the end of Greenan Road and ends at the bluffs at Lake Michigan.

Web page

None found, and it's likely none exist.

Trail map

Rough trail map

General idea

Steady uphill trail through woods and dunes meadow to the bluffs above Lake Michigan.

Length

1.4 miles, one way

Hiking time

1.5 to 2 hours, round trip.

Difficulty

Moderate. It's mostly a steady uphill trail, but with a few flat areas, and some small ups and downs in dunes meadow, and short bit of sand dunes. There is one "strenuous" 30-foot sandy hill to climb, transitioning from the woods to dunes meadow.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes. Although it would be difficult to follow this unmarked trail in the winter. The bottom third has a fair amount of tree-fall to climb over or around. The one, steep 30-foot sandy hill would be very hard on skiis.

General location

In southwestern Leelanau County, north of Empire, southwest of Glen Arbor.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead location

Directions

From Empire, take M-22 north about 2 miles to M-109. Turn left (north) and go1.9 miles Greenan Road. Turn left (southwest) and go 0.6 miles to the turn-around at the end. Thje trail starts to the left of post with three signs: no off-road vehicles, no snowmobiles, no bicylces. Roadside parking for a few cars, No restroom.

More details

This trail is a great way to explore the woods and the bluffs of the area without having to deal with the Scenic Drive or encounter other humans.

Be sure to talk plenty of water on this trip. You may want to explore the bluffs a little at the top, and it's easy to get dehydrated.

  • You begin following an old two-tarck that's in a valley. While following the two-track, there is some occassional tree-fall to climb over or around.
  • At 0.1 miles you'll go under the covered bridge on the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive.
  • After another 0.1 miles you'll cross over Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive.
  • About 1200 feet after that, the old two-track fizzles out and bends to the right. You'll see a foot path bending to the left. (In the middle of that fork, sharp eyes will spot an 8-faced, concrete marker about a foot tall.) Take the foot path which curves to the left (west).
  • For 0.3 miles you'll pass along the edge of a meadow, then through light trees and pines.
  • After that, you'll enter into wuods. Near the "entrance" enter you'll see 5 orange-tipped, metal stakes about 16" tall.
  • Go 0.3 miles through woods. While in there uphill stops and you start to go downhill a little.
  • At the edge of the woods you'll come to the 30-foot tall, steep, sandy hill that's the transition from the woods to dunes meadow above.
  • 0.3 miles through dunes meadow and scrubby trees,
  • The last 0.1 miles is through grassy dunes. Be sure to mark your trail (mentally at least) in this last section — there's no defined path. I used a large stand of trees and the top of the bowl behind it as reference points
  • You'll come to the bluff above Lake Michigan – around 0.4 miles north of the main "Lake Michigan overlook" on the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, and perhaps 0.5 miles south of a high point in the bluff some folks call "The Sleeping Bear."
  • The bluff has a shoulder to it, the second bluff is about 50 feet down — fun to explore to get right to the edge. (Just to the north of where you encounter the bluff is a "notch" that may provide easier access to the lake than anywhere else in the area. But you still may be 200 above that lake and have to come back up a very sandy, steep, and "slippery" slope.)

GTNER (BOARDMAN RIVER NORTH and SOUTH AREAS)

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Overseeing
organization

This area is officially known as the Grand Traverse Natural Education Reserve (GTNER) and is managed by the Grand Traverse Conservation District.

Web site

Web site #1
Web site #2

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2
Small overview of GTNER trails and the Boardman Valley Nature Preserve trail

North end trails (north of Cass Road and on the west side of the river). There are three connecting loops:

South end trails (south of Cass Road):

General idea

Several miles of trails along the Boardman River, mostly in the woods, broken into two sections, and each has three connecting trails.

Length

North end trails (north of Cass Road) — three connecting loops that cover about 2.1 miles in total.

  • Fox Den Trail: 0.6 miles one-way
  • Sabin Pond Trail: 0.8 miles one-way
  • Beaver Pond Trail: 0.7 miles one-way

South end trails (south of Cass Road) — four trails that cover 2.35 miles one-way.

  • Boardman Pond Trail: 0.75 miles one way

  • Three of the four trails here connect to each other:
    • Lone Pine Trail: 0.5 miles one-way
    • Oleson Bridge Trail: 0.7 miles one-way
    • Keystone Rapids Trail: 0.4 miles one-way
    • Note, from Beitner Bridge to the end of Lone Pine Trail (skipping the Oleson Bridge Trail on the west side of the river) it's 0.9 miles one-way.

Hiking time

Varies with the route taken.

Difficulty

Easy – the trails are mostly flat, but there are many small hills and some boardwalks along the way.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes, but a deep hard-pack of snow on the boardwalks (on the Sabin Pond and Beaver Pond Trails) could be difficult on skis.

General location

In central northern Grand Traverse County, south of Traverse City.

Road map

Road map

Directions

There are six major access points, as well as coming in from the north via the the Boardman Valley Nature Preserve trail.

North end trails (north of Cass Road):

From the intersection of Airport Road and Cass Road in Traverse City, take Cass Road south and go...

South end trails (south of Cass Road):

From the intersection of Airport Road and Cass Road in Traverse City, take Cass Road south and go...

More details

The area contains several miles of trails along east and west sides the Boardman River.

North end trails (north of Cass Road):

This northern half of the GTNER area contains three connecting loop trails along the Boardman River that run from a little ways north of the Sabin Dam to the Boardman Dam at Cass Road.

While at the Sabin Dam, be sure ot visit the Boardman River Nature Center.

From Sabin Dam area, follow the service road down to Sabin Dam you will find the Fox Den Loop Trail goes off from the left (north). It, crosses Jack's Creek and a cattail marsh on boardwalk and loops back to Sabin Dam. On the north end of the loop it connects directly to the Boardman Valley Nature Preserve, a trail that continues along the west side of the river to the YMCA just south of Airport Road in Traverse City.

Also from Sabin Dam area, the Sabin Pond Trail goes to the right (south) along the west side of the river. It connects to the Beaver Pond Loop Trail which continues south to the Boardman Dam at Cass Road.

South end trails (south of Cass Road):

This southern half of the GTNER area contains four trails, three of which connect to each other, along the Boardman River from the Boardman Dam (at Cass Road) south to the Beitner Bridge (at the east end of Beitner Road).

The Boardman Pond Trail goes along the west side of the river from Cass Road. It ends almost direclty across from the north end of the Lone Pine Trail. (It's too bad there's no bridge to connect these!).

The Lone Pine Trail goes along the east side of the river. On north side, it does not quite reach to Cass Road, and on its south end it connect to the Oleson Bridge Trail.

The Oleson Bridge Trail is aptly named as it "bridges" (joins) the Lone Pine Trail with the Keystone Rapids Trail just south of the Oleson foot bridge. Cross the bridge to explore the west side of the river.

The Keystone Rapids Trail goes along the east side of the river from the Oleeon Bridge Trail at its north end to the Beitner Bridge (at Beitner Road) on its south end. Along this stretch you'll find the famous Keystone Rapids.

This trail system will eventually connect at its south end to the Boardman River Trail (BRT), once the BRT has been completed.

See also the Brown Bridge Quiet Area for trails much further upstream on the Boardman River along the former Brown Bridge Pond.


HALLADAY-BLACKHURST-CHOWNING NATURE PRESERVE

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Overseeing
organization

Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy. See the complete GTRLC nature preserve list.

Web page

Web page

Trail map

Trail map (using a photo of trail map at the site)

General idea

Pleasant trail through a mostly pine forest.

Length

Around 2 miles.

Hiking time

About an hour.

Difficulty

Moderate. There are several easy.to moderate hills along the trail.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In central Grand Traverse County, NNE of Kingsley.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead location

Directions

From Traverse City, take Garfield Road south around 9 miles to Voice Road (which is 2.8 miles past River Road), then turn left (east) and go 0.5 miles and watch for the preserve on the right (south) side of the road (before the intersection with Summit City Road).

More details

This rolling forested and grassland preserve was once a pasture for cattle; but now, bear and other wildlife roam. The property is being restored to a native tree woodlot by managing the old pine plantation.

HANSON HILLS RECREATION AREA

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Overseeing
organization

Grayling Recreation Authority

Web page

Web page #1
Web page #2

Trail map

• Mountain biking trail map and details.
• Nordic skiing / hiking trail map and details
• Snowshoeing trail map and details

General idea

An area with many recreational opportunities – mountain biking, nordic skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, downhill skiing, tubing, and more.

Length

• Mountain biking – over 20 miles of inclusive singletrack trails
• Nordic skiing / hiking – over 20 miles of groomed, wooded trails
• Snowshoeing – 4.5 miles of inclusive trails

Hiking time

Varies with activity / trail / route taken.

Difficulty

Moderate. Sounds like a mix of easy to at least moderate trails.

Open to mountain
bikes

Yes.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In western central Crawford County, WSW of Grayling.

Road map

Road map

Main parking area, 7601 Old Lake Road, Grayling, MI

Directions

From Grayling — take M-72/M-93 southwest 0.8 miles to Old Lake Road. Turn onto that road and follow it for 1.4 miles to the entrance to the area. Turn left (southwest) and go 0.2 miles to the main parking area.

More details

An entry fee/donation is recommended. A $2.00 donation is recommneded for mountain biking. I assume the same is good for hiking and snowshoeing. A daily nordic ski pass is $10 for adults, and free to those 12 and under.

Hiking trails use the nordic trails in the summer.

HARTWICK PINES STATE PARK

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Overseeing
organization

Michigan DNR

Web page

Web page #1
Web page #2
Web page #3
Web page #4
Web page #5

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2
Topographical map

General idea

Beautiful forest trails over rolling hills.

Length

Several trails totaling over 20 miles, ranging from 0.25 to 7.5 miles in length.
• Aspen Trail: 3 miles
• Au Sable River Trail: 3 miles
• Bright and Glory Lakes Trail: 0.25 miles
• Deer Run Trail: 5 miles
• Old Growth Forest Trail: 1.25 miles
• Mertz Grade Trail: 2 miles
• Weary Legs Trail: 7.5 miles

Hiking time

Varies with trail / route taken.

Difficulty

Easy to moderate, depending on the trail.

Open to mountain
bikes

Yes, on specific trails only, such as Aspen Trail and Weary Legs Trail. See trail map, for details, too.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Cross-country skiing: yes, but on specific trails only,
Snowshoeing: yes, but on specific trails only,

General location

In central Crawford County, NNE of Grayling.

Road map

Road map

Main parking area and visitors center

Directions

NNE of Grayling, and almost straight east of Traverse City and Kalkaska.

Coming north or south of Grayling — take I-75 to exit 259 (north of Grayling), then take M-93 (Hartwick Pines Road) northeast 2 miles to the park's main entrance.

Coming from Traverse City and Kalkaska — take M-72 to Grayling. At the three-way intersection of M-72 / James Street / McClellan Street in town, turn left (north) on McClellan Street (this is also Business 75 and M-93). Go 2.6 miles to Hartwick Pines Road and turn right (heading northeast) -- you're still on M-93 and Business 75. After 1.4 miles you'll cross over I-75 (this is exit 259). Here Business 75 ends and the road is (still) called Hartwick Pines Road and M-93. Keep going -- 2.1 miles further is State Park Drive on the left (north) -- the main entrance to the park. Enter here and go 0.3 miles to Monarch Drive. Turn right (east) and go 0.5 miles to the main parking area; the visitors center is a short walk nearby.

More details

A Michigan Recreational Passport is required to use this area.

The largest state park in Michigan's northern lower peninsula, Hartwick Pines is rich in scenic beauty and different habitats. It contains the largest stand of virgin (Old Growth Pines) white pines remaining in the lower peninsula — along the Old Growth Forest Foot Trail. The park also has good mixture of other forest types that typically grow on the sandy soils found in this part of Michigan. Several small lakes, the East Branch of the Au Sable River and its associated streams and wetlands further add to the diversity that makes this park very attractive to wildlife. They offer a very nice Visitor Center here as well as Logging Museum. The park is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. year round. restroom at the visitors center.

HICKORY MEADOWS

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Overseeing
organization

Grand Traverse Conservation District. and Garfield Township

Web page

Web page #1
Web page #2

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2
Trail map #3
Trail map #4

General idea

Easy trail through upland forests.and meadows.

Length

Around 2 miles of hiking trails. The XC ski trail is 0.8 miles long.

Hiking time

Perhaps an hour.

Difficulty

Easy – but several easy hills along the way.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

It's likely the main hiking trail can be used for XC skiing and snowshoeing in the winter.

Also, if you park at the southwest corner of the property off Randolph Street, there is a groomed XC ski trail available.

General location

In central northern Grand Traverse County, immediately northwest of Traverse City.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead location

Directions

From Traverse City at the intersection of M-22 and M-72 (at west bay), take M-72 west 0.8 miles and watch for a gravel drive (a driveway to a former farm) on the left (south) side of the highway. Turn in here – there's a parking lot 250 feet in; the trail starts from the southwest corner. No restroom.

More details

The hiking trail and a groomed XC ski trail meander through upland forests.and meadows.

HOMESTEAD DAM on the BETSIE RIVER

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Overseeing
organization

Michigan DNR

Web page

Web page – but only for the boat launch at the dam.

Trail map

None found, and it's very likely none exists.

General idea

Trail travels along the north side of the Betsie River downstream (west) from the Homestead Dam through the woods with some easy hills.

Length

Approximately 2.7 miles round trip.

Hiking time

Around 1.5 hours round trip.

Difficulty

Fairly easy with a few small hills. There can be mud near the running springs along the trail so wear boots as the soggy ground can pull regular shoes right off. You'll encounter a few small creeks – there are logs and/or rocks to help you to cross.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes, but XC skiing might be difficult.

General location

In central southern Benzie County, southeast of Benzonia.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead location

Click here for links to view all Benzie County trailhead locations at Google Maps or in Google Earth.

Directions

From the traffic light in Benzonia (M-115 west and US-31), take US-31 south 0.9 miles south to Love Road. Turn left (east) and go 1 mile to Dam Road. Turn right (south) and go 0.6 miles to the parking lot for the Homestead Dam. Restroom.

More details

Wooded, mostly flat, unmarked trail travels west (downstream) along the north side of the Betsie River from the Homestead Dam to US-31. At several places there are two parallel trails – one along the river and another further away often on higher or drier ground. During a few key times of year (such as salmon and steelhead runs), expect to encounter several “fisherfolk” along the way.

HOUDEK DUNES NATURAL AREA

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Overseeing
organization

Leelanau Conservancy. See their complete preserve list.

Web page

Web page

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2

Guide to all Leelanau Conservancy Natural Areas

General idea

Area includes woodsy and sandy trails, and few small hills, as well as an observation deck at Houdek Creek.

Length

2.4 miles of trails total in several connected loops.

Hiking time

Around an hour.

Difficulty

Easy to moderate.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In northeastern Leelanau County, northeast of Leland.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead location

Directions

In Leland, from the intersection of M-22 and River Street, take M-22 north 5.2 miles (and 0.8 miles past CR 626 (Eagle Hwy)) and look for the Houdek Dunes Conservancy sign and parking lot on left (west) side of road.

More details

Stands of bright, healthy white birches — many over a century old. :Lots of maples, oaks, and pines.Some dunes here and there. Lady slippers in the spring. Observation deck at Houdek Creek.

INTERLOCHEN STATE PARK – PINES NATURE TRAIL

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Overseeing
organization

Michigan DNR. Inside the Interlochen State Park.

Web page

Official Web page for trail
Official Web page for Interlochen State Park
Another Web page for the State Park

Trail map

Park map #1
Park map #2
Pines Nature Trail Interpretive Brochure
Trail map from brochure

General idea

Easy trail through tall, old growth forest and many pines and evergreens.

Length

1.0 miles.

Hiking time

25 minutes.

Difficulty

Easy.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In western central Grand Traverse County, SSE of Interlochen.

Road map

Road map

Rough location of trailhead

Directions

From the intersection of US-31 and M137 (north of Interlochen), take M-137 south through town around 2 miles to the main entrance to Interlochen State Park on the left (east) side of the road. Once in the park, follow the signs to camp site 334 (in the west-most row of sites). There's a tiny parking lot (for two cars) between sites 334 and 336. The trail starts threre on the west side of the camping road. (Or you can park at the shower/bath house over by Duck Lake that's not far away, or in the main lot and walk the paved camping road over to the trail.) Restrooms nearby.

More details

A Michigan Recreational Passport is required to enter since the trail is inside the Interlochen State Park. Some "old growth" white, red, and Norway pine and hemlock that have never been cut, including many over 100 feet tall and one that's 150 feet tall, are still standing along the trail. The oldest are around 300 years old!

Interlochen State Park is located on two fishing and swimming lakes: Green Lake and Duck Lake. Michigan's first state park, it was established by the Michigan Legislature in 1917 as a 200-acre public park to preserve one of the last virgin pine stands for the people of Michigan.

JORDAN VALLEY PATHWAY

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Overseeing
organization

Michigan DNR
(Sometimes called the Jordan River Pathway)

Web page

Web page #1
Web page #2
Web page #3
See also: Deadman's Hill Loop
See also: Warner Creek Pathway-Pinney Bridge

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2
Trail map of the area from the North Country Trail brochure
North Country Trail Brochure for the Jordan River Pathway
North Country Trail for the Jordan River Pathway

General idea

Moderate to rugged hiking along the very scenic Jordan River in the Mackinaw State Forest.

Length

18 miles in several loops of varying lengths

Hiking time

Varies with the route taken.

Difficulty

Moderate to rugged.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In eastern central Antrim County, north and northwest of Alba.

Road map

Road map

Directions

There are three main access points:

  1. Pinney Bridge – From Mancelona, take M-66 north eight miles to Pinney Bridge Road. Then right (east) on Pinney Bridge Road, go around 1.8 miles and watch for signs for the (hike-in only) Pinney Bridge Campground and trail at Pinney Bridge.

  2. Deadman's Hill – About 6.7 miles north of Mancelona on US-131 is the small village of Alba. From Alba, take US-131 north 6.0 miles to Deadman's Hill Road. Turn left (west) and follow the signs going 1.7 miles to the DNR parking area and Deadman's Hill Scenic Overlook.

  3. Landslide Lookout – From Alba (about 6 miles north of Mancelona on US-131), take Alba Road (CR 620) 0.9 miles west to Harvey Road, then right (north) and go around 1.5 miles. Along the way it turns into a seasonal road. The Landslide Lookout parking lot will be just ahead. From there, follow the easy path to the spectacular Landslide Lookout.

More details

A Michigan Recreational Passport is required to use this area.

The Jordan Valley Pathway is a Moderate to rugged scenic hiking trail that winds through the Mackinaw State Forest, may be poorly marked in spots, and contains several loops of varying lengths. One loop begins at Deadman's Hill, which offers a spectacular vista of the surrounding countryside and river floodplain. A second breathtaking vista is the Landslide Overlook.

From the trailhead at Deadman's Overlook to Pinney Bridge Campground, it's 8 miles in one direction (northern route) and 10 miles in the other (southern route). Jordan River Road may be used as a shortcut for day hikers to connect one part of the trail to the other..

You will encounter the Jordan River and its tributaries several times along the hike, and be treated to "wistful vistas" of the Jordan River Valley. The Jordan River is Michigan's first waterway to be officially designated as a Wild and Scenic River.

11.2 miles of this Pathway is used as part of the North Country National Scenic Trail. From the northern most point of this Pathway, follow the North Country Trail 1.2 miles to connect with the Warner Creek Pathway.

See also the Jordan Valley information section of our North Country Trail listing.

KEHL LAKE NATURAL AREA

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Overseeing
organization

Leelanau Conservancy. See their complete preserve list.

Web page

Web page

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2
Trail map #3 (made from a photo taken on-site, 10/2014)

Guide to all Leelanau Conservancy Natural Areas

General idea

Easy hiking in wonderful old woods along Kehl Lake.

Length

2 loops totaling 2 miles.

Hiking time

1.5 hours to cover both trails.

Difficulty

Easy.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In the northeastern tip of Leelanau County, NNE of Northport.

Road map

Road map. (On some maps Kehl Lake may show as Leg Lake.)

Trailhead location

Directions

From Northport, take M-201 north 2.5 miles to Snyder Road. Turn left (north) and then at the "T" with Sugar Bush Road, turn right (east). Follow Sugar Bush Road – it takes a sharp left turn to the north and becomes Kehl Road. Stay on Kehl Road. After 2 miles you'll pass Ottis Road on the right. Shortly past that, on the left, you'll see the Conservancy sign for Kehl Lake Natural Area and the parking area.

More details

Kehl Lake is also called Leg Lake on some maps. The Ojibway called it “Midassaigan” meaning “Legging Lake." Near the tip of Leelanau County peninsula, this area combines the best of Leelanau, with everything from shoreline to towering mixed forest to important wetland habitat. At the far north end of the trail loop is a viewing platform that keeps you dry and suspended over a dynamic wetland ecosystem.

KIDS CREEK PARK

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Overseeing
organization

Garfield Township and the Grand Traverse Conservation District.

Web page

Web page #1
Web page #2

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2

General idea

Short partially wooded trail along Kids Creek and Olseon mill pond between Kohl's and Great Wolf Lodge on US-31.

Length

0.75 miles

Hiking time

20 minutes

Difficulty

Easy.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In central northern Grand Traverse County, immediately southwest of Traverse City.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead location

Directions

In Traverse City, on US-31, use the parking lot and enter the trail between Kohl's and Bed Bath & Beyond. No restroom.

(Or access the park from the non-motorized trailhead along the US-31 bike path – "a great spot to pull off from the path, park your bike, and take a walk around the stream.")

More details

A "little gem of a park" between Kohl’s and the Great Wolf Lodge in US-31 in Traverse City, complete with marked trails, wooden bridges, boardwalks, and the Olseon mill pond (which is stocked with fish). There's even the old grist mill near the pond. Kids Creek meanders through the park. On the east end there's a bridge that connects the park directly to the west part of the Mall Trail bike path.

KRUMWEIDE FOREST RESERVE

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Overseeing
organization

Leelanau Conservancy. See their complete preserve list.

Web page

Web page

Trail map

None found.

Guide to all Leelanau Conservancy Natural Areas

General idea

Mostly wooded trail in the valley, up on the ridge, and the hills in between at the former Krumweide farmstead.

Length

1.8 miles

Hiking time

About an hour

Difficulty

Moderate. There are gentle to moderate hills along the trail.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In central northern of Leelanau County, east of Glen Arbor, northwest of Maple City.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead location

Directions

From Glen Arbor, take M-22 northeast 5 miles to Wheeler Road. Turn right (south) and go 2.3 miles south to the entrance to the reserve on the left (east), parking in the former driveway. The entrance to the trail starts here. No restroom.

More details

Most of the trail is a wide path that makes a large "kidney-shaped" loop. At the top, there's a narrow foot-path along the top of the ridge one can do as a recommened alternate route.

When you first enter, just a few hundred feet from the road you encounter the wide, straight part of the "kidney." You can go left or right (north or south) to begin your journey. Going to the right (counter-clockwise) is recommened as the hills are more gradual that way. The path travels along the valley for a while, steadily uphill, and eventually goes through a "pass" in the ridge, then wraps around the back, and finally reaches the top of the ridge (that parallels the valley and Wheeler Road). At the top, you have a choice — you can go to the northeast and steadily back down the back-side of the ridge following the wide path. Or for a much more interesting and scenic route, go straight north and take the narrow foot-path along the top of the ridge. Near its north end it turns to the east, goes down hill, and connects with the main path. From here the path goes down a moderately steep hill before reaching the valley where the path is flat. Then the path travels south back to the driveway. Sharp eyes may be able detect where the former farm buildings were along this last stretch.

This trail, and the whole valley, are especially beautiful in the fall when the colors are at their peak!!

From the Web site, "Located in the western part of Cleveland Township, much of the 110-acre Krumwiede Forest Reserve consists of a glacial moraine forming the high ridge between two very scenic wooded and pastoral valleys: Starvation Valley, an ancient glacial drainage channel which forms the course for Wheeler Road; and Bohemian Valley, the more fertile farmland to the east along County Rd. 669."

LAKE ANN PATHWAY

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Overseeing
organization

Michigan DNR

Web page

Web page

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2

General idea

Very nice rolling-hill trail through the woods and goes by two small lakes and the Platte River.

Length

5.3 miles in total, comprised of two loops:
• East loop (round trip) — on the east side of Reynolds Road – 1.8 miles
• West loop (round trip) — on the west side of Reynolds Road – 3.5 miles

Hiking time

• East loop — about an hour.
• West loop — 2 hours.

Difficulty

• East loop — easy – it's mostly flat.
• West loop — moderate — there are many easy to moderate hills throughout the trail.

Open to mountain
bikes

Yes.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes, but in winter it’s primarily for cross-country skiing — snowshoers and winter hikers should walk to the side to not disturb the XC ski track.

General location

In northeastern Benzie County, southwest of the village of Lake Ann.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead location

Click here for links to view all Benzie County trailhead locations at Google Maps or in Google Earth.

Directions

From Lake Ann at the intersection of Maple Street (County Highway 610) and 1st Street, take Maple Street 1.1 miles west to (southbound) Reynolds Road. Turn left (south) and go one mile to the gravel access road on the left (east) – take that 300 feet to the parking lot.

From Honor, take US-31 east about 8.5 miles to Reynolds Road. Turn left (north) and go about 4 miles. After crossing the narrow Platte River, watch for the pathway’s sign, then the entrance to the parking lot on right (east) side of the road.

Restrooms nearby.

More details

A Michigan Recreational Passport is required to use this area.

The woodsy east loop winds gently along the Platte River and the Lake Ann shoreline. The west section is a large loop (with two shortcuts) through wooded, rolling terrain and goes next to Shavenaugh Lake, Mary’s Lake, and the upper Platte River

LAKE BLUFF TRAILS

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Overseeing
organization

Lake Bluff Audubon Center, a.k.a. Lake Bluff Bird Sanctuary

Web page

Web page #1
Web page #2

Trail map

Trail map
Brochure and trail map

General idea

Trails through gently rolling forests, open fields, and exploring the bluff near Lake Michigan.

Length

Perhaps 3 miles for all the trails (??)
• Jackfern / Ridge Trails: 2 miles (??)
• Beach Path: 0.25 miles (??)
• Bluff Trail: 0.2 miles (??)
• Cottonwood Path: 0.6 miles (??)

Hiking time

Perhaps 2-3 hours to do all the trails (??)

Difficulty

Easy to modearte. A few easy hills on some trails.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In southwestern Manistee County, NNE of Manistee.

Road map

Road map

Parking location

Directions

Located at the. Lake Bluff Bird Sanctuary, a.k.a. Lake Bluff Audubon Center.

From the north side of Manistee at US-31 (at the Burger King), take Lakeshore Drive (M-110) north about 1.5 miles (going past the Orchard Beach State Park). The Center / Sanctuary is located on the left (west) side of the road at 2890 Lakeshore Road. No restroom.

More details

There are three sets of maintained trails:
• On the east side of the street there are three interconnected trails running through gently rolling mature forests, open fields, and wetlands.
• On the west side of the street and north of the Center, the Beach Path goes to the beach on Lake Michigan. Near the beach, the Bluff Trail leads off from the Beach Path and goes south along the Lake Michigan bluffs.
• On the west side of the street and south of the Center is the Cottonwood Path and loop.

LEELANAU STATE PARK

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Overseeing
organization

Michigan DNR

Web page

Web page #1
Web page #2
Web page #3

Trail map

Park / Trail map #1
Park / Trail map #2
Park / Trail map #3

General idea

Rolling hill trails through mature forest, with Lake Michigan overlook and beach access. The northern section of the Park includes the Grand Traverse Lighthouse.

Length

8.5 miles made up of several connecting loops.

Hiking time

Varies with the route taken.

Difficulty

Moderate. There a several easy to moderate hills throughout the trail.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In the northeastern tip of Leelanau County, NNE of Northport.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead and parking location – southern section

Parking location – norrthern section

Directions

• Southern section – with the hiking trails: From Northport, go north about 4 miles to Densmore Road. To get there, take M-201/Mill Street north out of town. It becomes County Road 640/Woolsey Lake Road. Later, where Co. Rd 640 splits off to the right, go straight and the road becomes County Road 629/Woolsey Lake Road. Take this to Densmore Road (Airport Road). Turn left (north) and go 0.9 miles to the parking lot.

• Northern section – with lighthouse (at lighthouse point) This is another 5 miles north of the Southern section on County Road 629.

More details

Being a state park, a Michigan Recreational Passport is required to use this area.

The Leelanau State Park is located at the tip of the little finger on the beautiful Leelanau Peninsula — the word "Leelanau" is the Native American word for "A Land of Delight" – the park has the Grand Traverse Lighthouse and Museum, a rustic campground along Lake Michigan, two mini cabins, 8.5 miles of hiking/skiing trails. and a picnic area. Petoskey stones can be found along the shoreline.

The park's main loop is made up of two trails, the Lake Michigan Trail and the Mud Lake Trail and are what's shown on the park's map at the trailhead. But there are three cutoff spurs (connecting link trails), the Maple Ridge Cutoff, Tamarack Cutoff, and the Pot-Hole Ridge Loop, that allow you to divide the main loop into four smaller ones. Two additional spurs lead to the beach on Lake Michigan and to an overlook. There's a 0.4 mile loop on the east end of the main loop.

When done hiking, be sure to explore lighthouse point and the Grand Traverse Lighthouse and Museum at the Northern section of the Park.

LEELANAU TRAIL

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Overseeing
organization

A TART System trail. See here for their complete list of trails.

Web page

Web page

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2

TART Trail – Downtown Detail map #1
TART Trail – Downtown Detail map #2

TART Trail and Urban Trails map #1
TART Trail and Urban Trails map #2

TART Overall Trail System map #1
TART Overall Trail System map #2

General idea

Bike and hike path along former railroad from M-72 (roughly) to Sutton's Bay, passing through orchards, meadows, farmland, forests, and rolling hills.

Length

15.5 miles

Hiking time

Just over 5 hours, one-way.

Difficulty

Easy, and it's paved the whole way.

Open to mountain
bikes

Yes, and road bikes.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In the southeastern area of Leelanau County, between Traverse City and Suttons Bay.

Road map

Road map

Directions

There are many places to access the trail. The three main trailheads are:

Cherry Bend Road trailhead location
Fouch Road trailhead location
4th Street (Suttons Bay) trailhead location

More details

Primarily a road bike path, this non-motorized pathway connects Traverse City's TART Trail at the southern end with Suttons Bay at the northern end. The trail runs along Leelanau County's former railroad corridors, passing through rolling hills, lush forests, picturesque orchards, peaceful meadows, and an aquatic medley of streams, lakes, and ponds.

LIGHTHOUSE WEST NATURAL AREA

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Overseeing
organization

Leelanau Conservancy. See their complete preserve list.

Web page

Web page

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2

Guide to all Leelanau Conservancy Natural Areas

General idea

Relatively short trail through an array of habitat to the undeveloped shore of Lake Michigan.

Length

About 1 mile

Hiking time

About 30 minutes

Difficulty

Easy to moderate.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In the northeastern tip of Leelanau County, NNE of Northport.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead location

Directions

From Northport, go north 7.8 miles to Cathead Bay Drive (almost to the Grand Traverse Lighthouse). To get there, take M-201/Mill Street north out of town. It becomes County Road 640/Woolsey Lake Road. Later, where Co. Rd 640 splits off to the right, go straight and the road becomes County Road 629/Woolsey Lake Road. A little later it becomes County Road 629/Lighthouse Point Road. Keep going to Cathead Bay Drive. Turn left (west) and go 375 feet to the entrance and parking on the right (north).

More details

From the Web site — At the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula neat the Grand Traverse Lighthouse. comprised of 42 acres with 640 feet of undeveloped shoreline along Lake Michigan, this area provides an array of habitat for over 100 species of our "feathered friends" — from beautiful songbirds to broad-winged raptors.

There are several environments here, including: cobble beach at Lake Michigan wetland, open and shrubby land, and light woods. And there's a set of stairs to help down a short but steep bluff.

LOSSIE ROAD NATURE TRAIL

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Overseeing
organization

Whitewater Township, Grand Traverse County.

Web page

Web page

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2
Trail map #3
Road and trail map #4

General idea

Mostly flat, wooded trail was former right-of-way for Lossie Road. Travels between Cook Road (at the west) and Skegemog Point Road (at the east).

Length

1.8 miles, one way

Hiking time

Less that an hour, one-way.

Difficulty

Mostly easy on two-track type of trail.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In northeastern Grand Traverse County, northeast of Williamsburg.

Road map

Road map

Directions

Access the trail from either Cook Road or Skegemog Point Road:

  • Cook Road — From US-31 northeast of Traverse City, take M-72 east approximately 5.5 miles to Cook Road (called N. Broomhead on the south side of M-72). Then left (north) go 1.5 miles and watch for the trail access on the right (east) side of road. It's immediately south of the driveway for 7392 Cook Road. Cook Road access. No restroom.

  • Skegemog Point Road — From US-31 northeast of Traverse City, take M-72 east approximately 7 miles to Skegemog Point Road. Then left (north) and go 0.6 miles and watch for the trail access on the left (west) side of road. Skegemog Point Road access. No restroom.

More details

This trail was the former right-of-way for Lossie Road between Cook Road and Skegemog Point Road. The trail crosses the south end of the Battle Creek Natural Area. There is a footbridge spanning Battle Creek. At Cook Road the trail is a grassy and flat two-track. The trail appears to be mostly in the woods. At Skegemog Point Road the trail is a narrow and slightly hilly two-track. (To be investigated.)

LOST LAKE PATHWAY

Back to Trail List

Overseeing
organization

Michigan DNR

Web page

Web page #1
Web page #2
Web page #3

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2
Trail details

General idea

Relatively flat, sometimes sandy trail through the woodlands and around Lost Lake.

Length

6.3 miles, broken into two loops.
Southern loop: 2.4 miles.
Northern loop: 3.9 miles

Hiking time

About 3 hours round trip.

Difficulty

Easy. A few minor ups and downs along the way.

Open to mountain
bikes

Yes.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In northwestern Grand Traverse County, northwest of Interlochen.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead location

Directions

East of Interlochen, from the intersection of US-31 and Gonder, go north on Gonder about a mile and watch for parking lot on left (west) side of road. No restroom.

More details

A Michigan Recreational Passport is required to use this area.

The trail starts near the northeast corner of the parking lot. It returns in the northwest corner. The trail goes through the woods, along Lake DuBonnet, around the Lake Dubonnet State Forest Campground, along the outlet for the Lake, then via a gravel road, crosses the outlet dam (which is the Platte River, by the way). After crossing the outlet, look on the west side of the road where you'll find the start / end point to the second part of the trail. This 3.9 mile loop takes you through some nice rolling terrain with many pines and hardwoods, and near a few wetlands and Lost Lake. As you can see from the trail map, there are several two-tracks that criss-cross this area. Coming back, after doing the northern loop and the crossing the outlet, you can immediately go up a short feeder trail to connect to the southern loop. or go a short distance south on the gravel road and watch on the left (east) for short feeder trail to marker No. 2. From there go south to take the western part of the southern loop, past Christmas Lake, and back to the parking lot.

See here for more trail details.

MACKENZIE TRAIL

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Overseeing
organization

Manistee National Forest Service

Web page

Web page

Trail map

Rough trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2

General idea

Many loops through the Manistee National Forest.

Length

10 miles with varying length loops.

Hiking time

Varies with the route taken.

Difficulty

Easy to moderate – apparently some trails have some "most difficult" areas for cross-country skiers making them "moderate" for hikers. Yet the area is rated as "easy" for mountain bikes.

Open to mountain
bikes

Yes.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes. Note that cross-country skiing is the primary use in winter.

General location

In southwestern Wexford County, west of Cadillac, south of Mesick, and ENE of Wellston.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead location

Directions

Located just west of the Caberfae Peaks Ski Area.

Take M-55 to Caberfae Road (a.k.a. 13 Mile Road):

  • From the west – east of Wellston from the intersection of M-55 and M-37, go east on M-55 for 5.3 miles to Caberfae Road (a.k.a.13 Mile Road).

  • From the east – from Cadillac, take M-55 about 13 miles west to Caberfae Road (a.k.a. 13 Mile Road).

At Caberfae Road, turn left, (north), and go 2.3 miles north to 38 Road. Turn left (west) and go 0.9 miles to the entrance (FR 9833) on the left (south). Parking and the trailhead are just 400 feet in.

More details

Primary use: mountain biking and cross-country skiing. Hikers and snowshoers should be aware of this.

At least in the winter, the trail connects to, and is accessible from, the Caberfae Peaks Ski Area. Some trails are groomed for cross-country. The varied terrain of the MacKenzie Trail is said to be an "outstanding Nordic trail set in a beautiful hardwood forest near Caberfae Peaks, west of Cadillac" and a “fantastic trail system for a family outing.”

The trail is marked with blue diamond-shaped blazes. There are signs at each junction with a map.

MALL TRAIL

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Overseeing
organization

A TART System trail. See here for their complete list of trails.

Web page

Web page

Trail map

Trail map

TART Trail – Downtown Detail map #1
TART Trail – Downtown Detail map #2

TART Trail and Urban Trails map #1
TART Trail and Urban Trails map #2

TART Overall Trail System map #1
TART Overall Trail System map #2

General idea

Paved path from Traverse City along US-31 (aka Division Street) from 11th Street to the Grand Traverse Mall (South Airport Road).

Length

2.4 miles – 0.3 miles from 11th Street to 14th Street, and 2.1 miles from 14th Street to South Airport Road.

Hiking time

About an hour..

Difficulty

Easy.

Open to mountain
bikes

Yes, and road bikes.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes (assumed), if it's not plowed in the winter. But there will be many plowed driveways and a few streets to cross.

General location

In central northern Grand Traverse County, the trail travels from the west side of Traverse City to southwest of it (by the Grand Traverse Mall).

Road map

Road map

Directions

There are many access points. Three major ones (right along US-31) are

  • 11th Street and US-31 (Division Street) — location at Google Maps — note, there's no nearby parking. No restroom.

  • 14th Street and US-31 (Division Street) — location at Google Maps — a good starting location with plenty of parking. No restroom.

  • South Airport Road and US-31 — location at Google Maps — a good ending location with plenty of parking nearby. No restroom.

More details

Primarily a road bike path. From 11th Street to 14th Street the path is partially wooded and runs along the west side of the street. From 14th Street south to South Airport Road the path runs on the east side of the street and is very open.

MANISTEE NON-MOTORIZED TRAIL PARK

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Overseeing
organization

A City of Manistee park being developed through a collaboration of the City of Manistee Non-Motorized Transportation Committee and the Shoreline Cycling Club.

Web page

Official Web page

Trail map

Trail map

General idea

Easy wooded trails primarily designed for classic cross-country and skate skiing.
There is a separate snowshoeing trail.
The trails can also be used for mountain biking and hiking during the summer.

Length

3.8 miles of groomed cross-country trails.
A 1 mile snowshoe trail (the Blue trail) that's also dog-friendly.
4.8 miles of trails for mountain biking and hiking during the summer.

Hiking time

2 hours if you hiked all trails.

Difficulty

Easy, it's all flat. "Excellent beginner skiing but it's also fun more advanced skiers blasting around on the flats."

Open to mountain
bikes

Yes.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Cross-county skiing — yes, as that's the trail system's primary purpose.
Snowshoeing - yes, but only on the designated snowshoe trail — the Blue trail.

General location

In southwestern Manistee County, ESE of Manistee and East Lake.

Road map

Road map

Directions

M-55 Trailhead — from the intersection of M-55 and US-31 north of Manistee (in Parkdale), go 3.1 miles to the entrance to the park on the left (north) side of M-55 (about 0.1 miles past Franklin Road). The address is 2106 Caberfae Hwy, Manistee, MI 49660.

More details

Note about the cross-county trails during the winter — no snowshoeing, hiking or dogs are allowed. However, snowshoeing, hiking and dogs ARE allowed on Blue snowshoe trail.

See this Web page for current skiiing conditions.

Says this Web page — "This is a four-season City of Manistee Park for mountain biking, walking, running, and cross-country skiing. Expect trails that are fun and challenging for beginners and advanced users alike. The Mountain Bike (MTB) Skills Park is for people of all ages and abilities to improve their MTB Skills in a safe and approachable environment."

MANISTEE RIVER TRAIL

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Overseeing
organization

Manistee National Forest (part of the National Forest Service) and the Manistee River Trail Association (if it still exists)

Web page

Official Web page
MDNR Web page for this section of the river
Manistee River Trail PDF

Trail map

Trail & road map #1 and Trail & road map #2 – See the red-dashed trail on these maps. The solid black line is the North Country Trail, if needed.
Trail map #3 – See the green trail on this map. The purple trail is the North Country Trail, if needed.
Trail map #4

General idea

Very scenic, wooded, and hilly trail along the east side of the Manistee River.

Length

10 miles (one way)

Hiking time

5 hours.

Difficulty

Moderate

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In eastern central Manistee County, southwest of Mesick, and northeast of Wellston.

Road map

Road map

Directions

There are a variety of places to access this trail along the east side of the river. But there are also three main access points:

  • Seaton Creek Campground — Starting here is only practical if you are also camping here, or maybe if are coming from the east and don't want to drive over to the suspension footbridge. There is a connector trail (maybe 1 mile long??) from the campground to the Manistee River Trail.

    From Mesick, take M-37 south about 6 miles to 26 Road (near Yuma). Turn right (west) and go 1.7 miles to O'Rourke Drive (a.k.a. S. Hodenpyl Road on some maps). Turn right and go northwest 1.3 miles to Forest Road 5993 (a.k.a. McClush Road on some maps). Turn right and go 0.4 miles to the campground. There is a day-use parking fee. Campground area at Google Maps. Restroom.

  • Via the suspension footbridge (here's a photo), 0.4 miles downriver from the Hodenpyl Dam and accessed from Upper River Road. This is the most practical access to the north end of the trail for most folks (and from here you can connect to the North Country Trail).

    From Mesick, take M-115 west around 1.7 miles (crossing the Manistee River) to Hodenpyl Dam Road. Turn left (southwest) and go 4.6 miles to what's now called Blueberry Lane on the left (southeast). (It's incorrectly called Hodenpyl Dam Road on some maps.) You'll see the Consumer Energy sign for the Hodenpyl Dam. Take Blueberry Lane and go 0.5 miles to Upper River Road, then right (west) about 0.2 miles. There a few small areas to park off the road. The best place is where the power lines cross the road. A trail to the bridge leads downhill from this parking area. Parking and trailhead location. No restroom.

    (If you have to, you can park at the Hodenpyl Dam parking lot at the south end of Blueberry Lane, then walk back to this point. There is a pit toilet there, too.).

    Note: this is the largest wooden suspension bridge in Lower Michigan and is known as "The Little Mac."

    If you will be connecting to the North Country Trail, you went by access to it in the directions above — on Blueberry Lane at the north end just after you turned on to it on the right (west), see North Country Trail at Blueberry Lane. There's at least one more nearby access, see North Country Trail for more details.

  • Red Bridge — Directly east of Brethren 8.4 miles on Coates Highway where it crosses the Manistee River.

    Or, from dowtown Mesick, take M-115 west 0.4 miles to south M-37. Turn right (south) and go 7.7miles to 30 Road. Turn right (west) and at 3.4 miles where it turns to the south now it's called Coates Highway (Brethren Highway on some maps). Take that 1.5 miles to where Coates Highway heads west. Turn right (west) and go 1.5 miles to Red Bridge.

    The parking area for the south end of the trail is actually just before the bridge on the left (south) site for the road. Parking location. The trail starts on the north side of the highway across from the parking area.

    Not far away, there's a parking lot for boaters on the south side of the highway on the west side of the bridge that includes potable water and a pit toilet.

    If you will be connecting to the North Country Trail, access to it is just west of bridge on the north side of the highway. See North Country Trail for more details.

More details

Like the river, this scenic foot path meanders along the east side of the Manistee River between the Hodenpyl Dam (near Mesick) and Red Bridge (at Coates Highway).

The trail stays close to the river (or outside east bows) the whole time, traverses several wetlands, and there are bridges crossing two creeks. There are several small waterfalls alone the way, and a "larger" waterfall near the northern end of the trail is very popular with many hikers. Several observation sites along the trail provide hikers with views of the Manistee River and surrounding area. There are several campsites dispersed along the trail.

This trail connects to the North Country Trail (which runs along the bluff on the west side of the river) for a nice 23 mile backpacking loop. Connection points between the two trails are the suspension footbridge on the north end and Red Bridge at the south end.

Upper River Road on the west side of the river is a good shuttle road, if needed. One can also use Beers / Marilla Road / Coates Highway as a paved shuttle route (it's longer but takes about the same travel time).

See also:


MANISTEE RIVERWALK

Back to Trail List

Overseeing
organization

City of Manistee

Web page

Web page #1
Web page #2

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2

General idea

Boardwalk / sidewalk along the south side of the Manistee River behind the quaint downtown area

Length

1.5 miles, one-way

Hiking time

40 minutes, one way.

Difficulty

Easy.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Perhaps snowshoeing if the walk is not cleared in winter.

General location

In southwestern Manistee County, in the city of Manistee along the south side of the river "behind" downtown out to Lake Michigan.

Road map

Road Map

Directions

There are many access points to access the pathway, many along River Street in downtown Manistee, and several places west of downtown. Some typical access points at the ends of the pathway are:

  • Mason Street — At the east end of the pathway just northeast of the bridge at US-31 (Cypress Street) there's a small parking lot off Mason Street. Google Map of location

  • Another common access point on the east end is from the parking lot behind the House of Flavors restaurant, at River Street and US-31 (Cypress Street). There are stairs there down to the pathway. Google Map of location

  • A common access point on the pathway's west end is on the southwest side of the river channel near Lake Michigan at Douglas Park near the boat launch at the west end of First Street. Google Map of location

There are public restrooms available downtown and Douglas Park.

More details

This urban pathway (boardwalk / sidewalk) runs along the south side of the Manistee River behind River Street's quaint Victorian shops in the downtown area. In fact, it starts just east of US-31 and goes all the way to the Lake Michigan beach, where the river empties into the lake. Extend your "trip" if you like and walk the south pier to the beacon on Lake Michigan.

Along the way are mile markers, benches, picnic areas, interpretive signs, private docks, drawbridges, charter fishing docks, nearby businesses, restaurants, and boats large and small traveling the river. There are lights at the eastern section so you can easily stroll the downtown sections after dark on a summer evening.

The Riverwalk now features mileage markers every tenth mile, so fitness walkers can gauge their distance. The Manistee County Historical Society also has markers posted along the way denoting sites of interest and importance from the area's golden era of logging.

MAPLE BAY NATURAL AREA

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Overseeing
organization

Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy. See the complete GTRLC nature preserve list. Onwed by Grand Traverse County.

Web page

Web page

Trail map

None found.

General idea

Short but scenic woodsy trail to undeveloped shoreline on Lake Michigan's Grand Traverse Bay.

Length

1 mile (one-way).

Hiking time

25 minutes.

Difficulty

Fairly easy.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In northeastern Grand Traverse County, SSW of Elk Rapids.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead location

Directions

Northeast of Traverse City, from the intersection of US-31 and M-72 in Acme, take US-31 north 5.6 miles to the green sign marking the Maple Bay Natural Area on the left (west) side of the road. (It's 0.9 miles past Angell Road. A red barn can be seen on the (right) east side of US-31.) Turn into the farm road and follow it 0.4 miles to a metal gate and the grass parking area.

More details

450 acre property that straddles both sides of North US-31, known for its beautiful sunflowers planted on both sides of the highway and wonderful hiking trails leading to a popular beach. Besides forest and beach the area features vernal wetland and wet meadow. It's home to many indigenous and migrating birds and animals. The access road travels past Maple Bay Farm (including a farm house, root cellar, sugar shack and pole barn building) on the west side of US-31 to a parking area on top of a bluff where forests meet agricultural fields. The 2-mile loop trail descends the bluff to its foot then leads through forest to a beautiful 2,600 feet of undeveloped shoreline and beach on East Grand Traverse Bay. Extend your hike with a walk along the beach.

MAYFIELD POND PARK

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Overseeing
organization

Paradise Township

Web page

Web page

Trail map

None found.

General idea

Short but scenic and wooded trail that circles an historic mill pond and crosses Swainston Creek.

Length

(Perhaps) 0.7 mile loop

Hiking time

25 minutes.

Difficulty

Easy to moderate — one moderate hill on the southwest portion of the loop. Easiest to do if you hike the loop counter-clockwise.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In central Grand Traverse County, north of Kingley, on the west side of the village of Mayfield.

Road map

Road map

Parking area location

Directions

Near Traverse City, from the intersection of Garfield Road and Hammond Road, take Garfield Road south 8.0 miles (or 1.3 miles south of River Road) to Mill Street in the the small village of Mayfield. Turn right (west) and go two blocks to the entrance to the park and a small parking lot.

More details

This park is the Mayfield Historic Mill Site with a former mill pond that's part of Swainston Creek, a tributary of the Boardman River. The loop trail circles the pond and is wooded much of the way. The west portion of the loop rises over 100 feet above the pond and offers a nice view of the area. To get up the hill, you can go either way on the loop, but it's best to go counter-clockwise. On the north end, after crossing the creek, the trail goes gradually uphill via an old logging road. At the southern end of the loop has a moderately steep path with some stairs to descend.

Section 1 (from the east) of the Boardman River Trail (BRT) ends at this park. Section 2 of the BRT, when completed, will leave from here heading generally west.

MILLER CREEK NATURE RESERVE

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Overseeing
organization

Garfield Township and the Grand Traverse Conservation District.

Also known as the G.T. Crossings Trail System.

Web page

Web page

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2
Trail map #3

General idea

Partially open but mostly wooded trail system east of Office Depot, Home Depot, and Walmart in Traverse City, then down along Miller Creek in a pretty woods.

Length

Around 3 miles of trails in several loops.

Hiking time

Varies with the route taken.

Difficulty

Easy to moderate. Most of the trail is flat, but there's a short mild hill as you go from being just behind the shopping area down to the Miller Creek area.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In central northern Grand Traverse County, southwest of Traverse City.

Road map

Road map

Directions

There are three access points:

  • A trailhead and a small parking area at the southwest corner of (and behind) the Office Depot building on South Airport Road. Parking and trailhead location. No restroom.

  • A trailhead and parking lot behind (east of) BAM and Home Depot (by the Resurrection Life Church).  Parking and trailhead location. No restroom.

  • At the old Sabin Elementary School on Cass Road (just north of Hartman Road). Parking location. Walk through the former playground area and look for the trail access location at the edge of the woods just northwest of the west end of the school. No restroom.

More details

The trails passes through a former red pine plantation, takes boardwalks over a cedar swamp, skirts the edges of open meadows behind the stores, apartments, and homes of the G.T. Crossings shopping area, and follows Miller Creek, a tributary of the Boardman River. Lots of dog walkers.

MISSAUKEE MOUNTAIN XC TRAILS

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Overseeing
organization

Lake City and the area ski club

Web page

Missaukee Ski Mountain Web page

Trail map

None found.

General idea

Hilly and wooded cross-county ski trails available for summer hiking use.

Length

5.2 miles

Hiking time

Varies with route taken.

Difficulty

Unknown.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Cross-county skiing: yes.
There should be some snowshoeing available in the area.

General location

In western central Missaukee County, north of Lake City.

Road map

Road map

Parking area location. Apparently, the trail starts here ((to be investigated.))

Directions

From Lake City take M-66 north approximately 4 miles to Missaukee Mountain Road, then turn left (west) and go about 0.6 miles to Missaukee Mountain. Restrooms availabe in the little ski lodge (if it's open).

More details

In the winter, the downhill ski runs at Missaukee Mountain are open on weekends and Christmas break, depending on snow conditions.

The cross-country ski trails range from beginner to expert, with paths from a half a mile to two miles long.

The trails are open for walking during the off-season.

"From the geocaching.com Web site – "The trail begins from the parking lot and (goes) behind the ski lodge, it has markers along the trail so avoid the temptation to bushwhack."

MISTY ACRES NATURE PRESERVE

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Overseeing
organization

Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy. See the complete GTRLC nature preserve list.

Web page

Web page

Trail map

Rough trail map

General idea

Pretty loop trail through hardwoods down to the Betsie River, and travels along the edge of a deep ravine of a creek that flows to the river.

Length

Around 1 mile, more that half of it in a loop.

Hiking time

Less that 30 minutes.

Difficulty

Easy to moderate – there are a handful of small and gentle hills along the trail.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In central southern Benzie County, west of Thompsonville and SSE of Benzonia.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead location

Click here for links to view all Benzie County trailhead locations at Google Maps or in Google Earth.

Directions

From the traffic signal in Benzonia (US-31 and M-115 west), take US-31 south 7.3 miles to County Line Road (also called Smeltzer Road on some maps). Turn left (east) and go 2.2 miles to the parking lot on the left (north) side of the road. No restroom.

More details

Once the Misty Acres farm, this beautiful 600-acre area is still in the planning stages. The future for more trails and other features is being studied. The farm here is currently available to view via appointment – it's home to a small herd of cattle – Belted Galloways from Scotland. The property straddles the Benzie-Manistee County line, has 360 acres of hardwood forest, and 6200 feet along the Betsie River.

The trail travels along the edge of a deep ravine for a creek that's a tributary of the Betsie River. You get some glimpses of the river before the trail circles back through the woods. It's a well-marked with purple blazes, so helpful for staying on trail when it's covered with leaves or snow.

MITCHELL-HERITAGE NATURE TRAIL

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Overseeing
organization

Michigan DNR

Web page

Trail Web page
Mitchell State Park Web page

Trail map

Mitchell State Park Road / Trail map #1
Mitchell State Park Road / Trail map #2

General idea

An easy woodchip path around the wetland areas of nearby Lake Cadillac.

Length

2.5 miles

Hiking time

About an hour.

Difficulty

Easy.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In southeastern Wexford County, west of Cadillac.

Road map

Road map

Directions

There are two parking areas and access points near Mitchell State Park on Lake Cadillac.

  1. At the parking area off North Boulevard at the southeast corner of Kenwood Heritage Park. From M-115 and North Boulevard, take North Boulevard 0.9 miles northeast to the entrance to the parkling lot, 350 feet in. Parking and trailhead location.

  2. At the Carl T. Johnson Hunting and Fishing Center at the northeast corner of M-115 and North Boulevard at the west end of Lake Cadillac. Enter off of M-115. Parking and trailhead location. Restrooms inside the Center.

More details

A woodchip path with bridges and boardwalks around the wetland of, and looping around, the Cadillac Heritage Nature Study Area. Trails lead from the two parking areas to the loop around the Nature Area. A vehicle permit may required to park at the Johnson Center, as it's in the state park. Except for the east half of the eastern connector trail, the trail system is in the Mitchell State Park.

MUD LAKE TWO-TRACK TRAIL

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Overseeing
organization

On state land so it's this property is owned and managed by the Michigan DNR. “Mud Lake Two-Track Trail” is a name used for reference only on this Web page. This is not an "official" trail on any organization.

Web page

None found, and it's likely none exist.

Trail map

Rough trail map

General idea

Technically a two-track, this trail that travels the former Manistee & Northeastern railroad along the Platte River and Mud Lake to Lake Ann (the lake not the village) in a very pretty and woodsy, undeveloped area.

Length

1.6 miles round trip.

Hiking time

Less than an hour round trip.

Difficulty

Easy — most of the trail is flat, but there is one small hill and some parts of the trail are sandy.

Open to mountain
bikes

Yes.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In northeastern Benzie County, south of the village of Lake Ann.

Road map

Road map

Click here for links to view all Benzie County trailhead locations at Google Maps or in Google Earth.

Directions

From Lake Ann at the intersection of Lake Ann Road (2nd St) and Maple Street (County Highway 610), take Lake Ann Road south 2.2 miles to just before the unsigned Buckley Road on the left (east). (If you come to Douglas Drive on the left (east), you’ve gone 0.4 miles too far south). The starting point is the two-track on the right (west) side of the road, 200 feet north of Buckley Road.

From downtown Honor, take US-31 east 9.2 miles to Lake Ann Road (County Highway 665), turn left (north) and go 2.5 miles to the two-track on the left (west) side of the road. Along the way on the right (east) you'll pass Douglas Drive at 2.1 miles and the unsigned Buckley Road at 2.5 miles. The two-track is 200 feet north of Buckley.

The trail starts here: Google Maps view (44.695302, -85.83660)
The trail ends here: Google Maps view (44.704133, -85.84038)

No restroom.

More details

There are occasional vehicles on this two-track, but very infrequent, and only the stoutest of 4x4s will make it.

The Shore-to-Shore trail travels part of this two-track from south of Mud Lake to just before Lake Ann Road.

The two-track begins going west 0.2 miles down a small hill, then turns north and runs on the former railroad the rest of the way. The Manistee & Northeastern traveled through here in the early 1900s on it way to the village of Lake Ann along the east side of Ann Lake — the original name of the lake.

While traveling towards Mud Lake, the Platte River runs parallel to the two-track then crosses under about halfway along on its way to Mud Lake.

Just south of Mud Lake there's a fork. (The two-track curving up hill goes to Peanut Lake 0.9 miles away.) Bear right going straight on the flat part of the two-track. You'll pass along the southwest side of Mud Lake, one of three Mud Lakes in Benzie County. (Yes, there's carry-in boat access here to Mud Lake – IF your vehicle can make it this far.)

A little ways after Mud Lake you'll come to the end of the two-track. There's a channel here – technically it's the Platte River – it flows though Mud Lake, down this channel, then into and through Lake Ann. Were you here riding a train in the early 1900's, you'd cross over the channel and make your way to Lake Ann village. The piles for the former bridge are still present in the channel. A beautiful little spot — with the 800-foot river channel to Mud Lake at the east and Lake Ann just 100 feet to the west.

When returning, consider a short side-trip. Near the end, before turning east and going back up the hill to Lake Ann Road, walk straight (south) staying on the former railroad for about 0.2 miles. This path is not used much at all, and there's a tree here and there to step over. The Platte River is right along west side and it's a pretty, woodsy area. Peanut Lake is about 0.3 miles directly west of this area and its creek flows into the river somewhere in here. It's time to turn around when you get the Private Property sign.

MUNCIE LAKES PATHWAY

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Overseeing
organization

Michigan DNR

Web page

Web page #1
Web page #2

Trail map

Trail map (Based on a photo I took on-site.)
Rough trail map
(No official map could be found online.)

General idea

Woodsy network of trails that wander past several small lakes and skirt the banks of the Boardman river.

Length

11.5 miles, with 5 loops ranging from 0.95 to 5.35 miles long.

Hiking time

Varies with the route taken.

Difficulty

Easy to moderate.

Open to mountain
bikes

Yes.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes to XC skiing.

General location

In eastern central Grand Traverse County, southeast of Traverse City.

Road map

Road map

Parking and trailhead location

Directions

The pathway is 13 miles SE of Traverse City with several access points such as the trailhead Ranch Rudolph Road and intersections with Rennie Lake Road.

Directions to the trailhead: south of Traverse City, from the intersection of Garfield Road and Hammond Road, take Garfield south about 5.6 miles to Hobbs Highway, (this is just before Garfield Road drops into the Boardman River valley), then left (east) 1.7 miles to Ranch Rudolph Road. Turn right on to Ranch Rudolph Road, taking it east 2.8 miles (just east of Rennie Lake Road) to the (east) entrance to the parking lot and trailhead on the left (north) side of the road.

More details

A Michigan Recreational Passport is required to use this area.

This area is covered with beautiful hardwoods. Trails wander past small lakes (the Muncie Lakes system) and pass in and out of the Boardman River Valley, and at times skirt the banks of the Boardman River with overlooks of the river's valley. The North Country Trail uses several of the trails here..

NORTH COUNTRY TRAIL (NCT)
(from south to north through Northwestern Michigan)

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Overseeing
organizations
and Web sites

North Country Trail Association and many chapters. Here are the chapters for the three main sections of the trail that this guide covers:

Links to all North Country Trail Michigan chapters

North Country National Scenic Trail (National Park Web site)

North Country National Scenic Trail in the Huron-Manistee National Forest

The North Country National Scenic Trail is part of our National Scenic Trail System which is administered by the National Park Service.


Trail maps,
road maps,
and more

Map of the whole trail across seven states

Michigan Overview Map
- Note: this map and the three below are special Google maps and take a few moments for these to completely load, you can zoom in and out and move about. There are terrain, road map, aerial views, and more.

Maps and details based on section :

Maps you can buy:

  • MI-05, Freesoil Trailhead to M-186, 81.4 miles - Hikers get their first glimpse of the Northwoods in the Manistee National Forest. Within Manistee National Forest, enjoy sandy soils that support a pine-hardwood forest and great hiking along the Manistee River Trail, which forms a great loop hike opportunity. The NCT leaves the Manistee National Forest near the Hodenpyl Dam Pond which features a fabulous new (2009) trail along the Hodenpyl Dam Pond and Manistee River.

  • MI-06, Cedar Creek Road to Charlevoix County, 81.2 miles - Continuing south of Traverse City to Kalkaska the NCT is routed through state forest land (the Pere Maruette SF) which offer a number of year round recreation opportunities. The next jewel along the NCT is the Jordan Valley Pathway, which offers a scenic loop hike near Alba.

MORE DETAILS:

  • Please SEE THIS PAGE for trail notes, directions, and details for some segments of the Michigan NCT. See at least items 11 thorugh 41.

  • But especially, SEE BELOW for trail details, maps, Web pages, directions and notes for many segments of the Michigan NCT.

General idea
and location

The North Country National Scenic Trail is 4600 miles long across seven states from New York to North Dakota. There are many sections throughout Michigan. This guide covers only 3 sections in northwestern lower Michigan — areas generally within 1.5 hours of Traverse City, in these counties: Mason, Lake, Manistee, Wexford, Grand Traverse, Kalkasksa, Antrim, Charlevoix, and Emmet.

From the North Country Trail Association Web site about the Trail in Michigan:

"Hikers get their first glimpse of the Northwoods in the Manistee National Forest. Within Manistee National Forest, enjoy sandy soils that support a pine-hardwood forest and great hiking along the Manistee River Trail, which forms a great loop hike opportunity. The NCT leaves the Manistee National Forest near the Hodenpyl Dam Pond which features a fabulous new (2009) trail along the Hodenpyl Dam Pond and Manistee River. Continuing south of Traverse City to Kalkaska the NCT is routed through state forest land (the Pere Maruette SF) which offer a number of year round recreation opportunities. The next jewel along the NCT is the Jordan Valley Pathway, which offers a scenic loop hike near Alba. From here the trail heads towards Petoskey through the Mackinaw State Forest. North of Petoskey wonderful hiking opportunities exist in Wilderness State Park, where the trail follows the Lake Michigan shoreline. As one leaves Wilderness State Park and heads towards Mackinaw City the lights of Mackinaw Bridge visible become visible."

Length

Varies with route taken.

Hiking time

Varies with route taken.

Difficulty

Varies from easy to difficult. Many easy to moderate hills, with a view more difficult ones now and then.

Open to mountain
bikes

Yes, but only on certain sections and segments..

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

North Country
Trail Segments
(from south to north)
Length Hiking
Time
Road Map Trail
Map
Web
Site
Comments

Back to Trail List

Croton Dam to 40th Street Trailhead 9.4 miles   Road
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Web
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This trail section is near White Cloud, but begins northeast of Newago at the Croton Dam on the Muskegon River. Parking may be available at the Kimble County Park on Croton Drive. Parking is also available here.

The trail crosses Bigelow Creek and provides access to Coolbough Nature Preserve. A spur trail takes visitors to Twinwood Campground.

• Mountain bikes are NOT allowed.

40th Street Trailhead location

For directions, see the Web pages listed.

40th Street Trailhead to M-20 Trailhead 9.6 miles   Road
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Heavily wooded red pine area with several stream crossings. A steel girder bridge will take hikers across the White River.

• Mountain bikes are NOT allowed.

M-20 Trailhead — M-20 (1 Mile Road) trail crossing location — apparently there is parking nearby just to the west.

For directions, see the Web pages listed.

M-20 Trailhead to Nichols Lake North Trailhead 18.4 miles   Road
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The trail crosses Cole Creek before traversing through hills. As the trail travels north the hills will give way to a marshy area and trail crosses several roads. North of Benton Lake the trail crosses Bear Creek.

• Mountain bikes ARE allowed.

Nichols Lake South Trailhead location – the trailhead and parking somewhere in this area.

Nichols Lake North Trailhead – Cleveland Drive trail crossing location and nearby parking

For directions, see the Web pages listed.

Nichols Lake North Trailhead to 76th Street Trailhead 11.6 miles

4 miles (96 Street to 76th Street Trailhead
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Near Baldwin. Trail pass Stiles Swamp as you leave the Nichols Lake area before heading into the Sterling Marsh area, where portions of the trail have been raised to prevent resource damage. Trail travels towards and along the Pere Marquette National Scenic River for several miles. The trail gets progressively hilly as it heads north. Heavily wooded red pine area with several stream crossings near 76th Street Trailhead.

• Mountain bikes NOT allowed.

76th Street Trailhead – 76th Street trail crossing location and nearby parking (somewhere in here)

For directions, see the Web pages listed.

The 78 miles from 96th Street to the Marilla Trailhead (at Beers Road taking the north spur from the Marilla Junction) is the Spirit of the Woods Chapter section of the trail.

76th Street Trailhead to Bowman Lake Trailhead 6 miles   Road
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Near Baldwin. Trail travels toward and along the Pere Marquette National Scenic River. The terrain gets progressively hilly as the trail heads to Bowman Bridge Campground and River Access. Glacial depressions are found in this area and provide homes for many species of wildlife.

• Mountain bikes NOT allowed.

Bowman Lake Trailhead – 56th Street crossing location and nearby parking (at Lake Cemetery off Evergreen Road, west of the 56th Street crossing location).

For directions, see the Web pages listed.

Part of the Spirit of the Woods Chapter section.

Bowman Lake Trailhead to Timber Creek Trailhead 8.5 miles

41 miles (Bowman Lake to M-55)
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Near Baldwin. Trail goes through the Bowman Lake Semi-Primitive Nonmotorized Area, and travels along the Pere Marquette National Scenic River near Sulak and Upper Branch Bridge river access sites, until crossing US-10, then arrives at the Timber Creek Trailhead.

• Mountain bikes ARE allowed from the Bowman Lake trailhead to M-55.

Timber Creek Trailhead – M-10 crossing location and somewhere nearby is parking, perhaps at the Timber Creek Campground to the west.

For directions, see the Web pages listed.

Part of the Spirit of the Woods Chapter section..

Timber Creek Trailhead to Freesoil Trailhead 19 miles   Road
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Near Baldwin and Freesoil. Trail passes through Ward Hills, past McCarthy Lake, and through very steeply hilled terrain.

• Mountain bikes ARE allowed. The portion of trail running from Timber Creek Trailhead to the Manistee River is the most advanced riding on this portion of the trail for mountain bikes.

Freesoil Trailhead — 8 Mile Road (Free Soil Road) crossing location and somewhere nearby is parking

For directions, see the Web pages listed.

Part of the Spirit of the Woods Chapter section.

Freesoil Trailhead to Udell Trailhead 14 miles

10 miles (M-55 to Udell Trailhead)
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Near Manistee, Freesoil and Wellston. The trail traverses the Udell Hills. After the trail crosses the Little Manistee River, the terrain changes from mixed hardwoods to wetlands. The trail heading north was formerly a narrow gauge railroad that was elevated above the wetlands in the early 1900's by lumberjacks. The trail winds through the wetlands and swamp in this section. However, about 3.5 miles north of the trailhead there's boardwalk through the wetland areas.

There is no connector to the Big "M" cross-country ski trail, however the two trails do cross at several points

• Mountain bikes NOT allowed from M-55 to Udell Trailhead.

Udell Trailhead — M-55 crossing location and somewhere nearby is parking, perhaps on Fire Tower Road just south of M-55.

For directions, see the Web pages listed.

Part of the Spirit of the Woods Chapter section.

Udell Trailhead to Upper River Road Trailhead 16 miles

10 miles (Udell Trailhead to Dilling Road )

6 miles (Dilling Road to Upper River Road Trailhead)
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Near Manistee, Wellston, and Brethren. Trail traverse many hills, particularly in the Dilling Road (Sawdust Hole, Tippy Dam) area. Order of things: Udell Trailhead to Highbridge Rd. to Dilling Rd to Coates Highway (Upper River Trailhead / Red Bridge).

• Mountain bikes NOT allowed between the Udell trailhead and Dilling Road.

• Mountain bikes ARE allowed from the Dilling Road to the Marilla Trailhead.

Upper River Road Trailhead — Coates Highway crossing location with parking nearby here located just north of Coates Highway on the west side of Upper River Road.

There are connecting trails from the parking area to the NCT in one driection and the Manistee River Trail in the other direciton and crossing Red Bridge.

For directions, see the Web pages listed.

Part of the Spirit of the Woods Chapter section.

Upper River Road Trailhead to Marilla Trailhead 9 miles

15 miles (Dilling Road to Marilla Trailhead)

6 miles (Dilling Road to Upper River Road Trailhead)
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Near Brethren, Marilla, and Mesick.

North of Coates Highway, the trail climbs up a hill to a flat, forested area. Trail follows the bluff high above the Manistee River offering scenic views of the river valley. The only water source is at Eddington Creek Crossing, 1.5 miles south of the Marilla Trailhead, where there's a treated wood bridge.

0.4 miles north of Eddington Creek and 1.1 miles south of the Marilla Trailhead is a fork in the trail which the Grand Traverse Hiking Club has named Marilla Junction.

  • From Marilla Junction, the portion of the trail leading north is a "connector" portion which goes high above the Manistee River with a bench along the way and impressive views of the river and Hodenpyl Dam Pond, and leads to the Marilla Trailhead.

    Marilla Trailhead and parking location. This trailhead is the northen most access to the trail on the Huron-Manistee National Forests. Its accessed from Beers Road, about 2.5 miles east of Marilla (and Marilla Road). There is ample parking (fee) and a pit toilet.

  • From Marilla Junction, the portion of the trail leading northeast is the main North Country Trail which follows an old rail grade downhill for 1.3 miles, connecting to the Blueberry Lane trailhead and small parking area just south of Hodenpyl Dam Road (Blueberry Lane leads a short way to the Hodenpyl Dam, in case you were wondering.)

    Blueberry Lane trailhead and parking location. There's a kiosk and tiny parking lot. It's 350 feet south of Beers Road/Hodenpyl Dam Road on Blueberry Lane. (Some maps incorrectly label Blueberry Lane as Hodenpyl Dam Road.) No restroom, but one is available at the end of Blueberry Lane down by the dam.

• Mountain bikes are allowed from Upper River Road Trailhead past the Marilla Junction and on via the connector to the Marilla Trailhead

• Mountain bikes are NOT on the 1.3 mile portion of the trail from Marilla Junction to the Blueberry Lane trailhead.

Upper River Road, by the way, is a gravel road which parallels the NCT and Manistee River on the west side of the river. It's nice "shuttle route" with hiking this section of the NCT one-way, doing the Manistee River Trail (MRT), or canoeing / kayaking this section of the river. (One can also use Beers Road / Marilla Road / Coates Hwy as a paved shuttle route (it's a longer distance, but it's paved and takes about the same travel time).

The powerline here along Upper River Road is a snowmobile trail during the winter months.

The 78 miles from 96th Street to the Marilla Trailhead (at Beers Road taknig the north spur from the Marilla Junction) is the Spirit of the Woods Chapter section of the trail.

The 95 miles from the Marilla Junction to Starvation Lake Road northeast of Kalkaska is the Grand Traverse Hiking Club section of the trail..

For detailed directions, see the Web pages listed.

A 23-mile loop: (connecting the NCT and MRT)

A 23-mile loop trail (one of the best backpacking loops in the state) is formed by combining this segment of the North Country Trail (NCT) with the Manistee River Trail (MRT) along the Manistee River. The loop trail can be accessed from the Marilla Trailhead and Upper Branch Trailhead for the North Country Trail and the Red Bridge (at Coates Highway, east side of river) and Seaton Creek access points for the Manistee River Trail.

Going north on the NCT and taking the northeast-going connector from Marilla Junction, less than a half mile past Marilla Junction, watch for a sharp turn downhill to the right, blazed with white. This takes you across Upper River Road to the "Litte Mac" suspension bridge (the 2nd largest in Michigan) over the Manistee River to the the Manistee River Trail on the east bank of the Manistee River.

On the south end, the two trails are joined by Red Bridge, where Coates Highway crosses the Manistee River.

Tthe NCT (west side) offers much more vertical (ups and dowsn) than the Manistee River Trail (east site) for those seeking a good workout.


Marilla Trailhead / Marilla Junction / Beers Road Loop 3 mile loop 1.5 hours Road
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A nice loop if you just want a picturesque short hike. You'll make a big triangle with the North County Trail, the North County connector trail, and Beers Road.

You can start this loop in two places (and go in either direction):

1. Marilla Trailhead (with parking area and pit toilet) — on the south side of Beers Road, about 2.5 miles east of Marilla Road. Then make the big triangle...

  • Take the connector trail south 1.1 miles to the Marilla Junction – an intersection with NCT — a wider trail following an old railroad bed heading gently downhill.

  • Follow the North County Trail northeast 1.3 miles to the Blueberry Lane trailhead just south of Beers Road/Hodenpyl Dam Road.

  • Walk 350 feet north on Blueberry Lane to Beers Road/Hodenpyl Dam Road, then take it west 0.6 miles uphill back to the Marilla Trailhead parking lot. (Some maps incorrectly label Blueberry Lane as Hodenpyl Dam Road.)

  • Of course you can do this in reverse order, if you like!

2. Blueberry Lane — On Beers Road about 3 miles west of Marilla Road on you'll find Blueberry :ane. (Some maps incorrectly label Blueberry Lane as Hodenpyl Dam Road.) Turn right and 350 feet on the right is a sign for the North County Trail (NCT). This is the Blueberry Lane trailhead for the NCT. Park there. No restroom, but one is available at the end of Blueberry Lane down by the dam.

The North County trail here connects to the connector portion of the trail (up on the west bluff above the Manistee River at Marilla Junction.

  • If you want a steady uphill climb most of the way:

    • Take the North County trail first — go 1.3 miles southwest up to the North County Trail at Marilla Junction.
    • Turn north on the NCT connector and take it 1.1 miles, past the trailhead and out to Beers Road.
    • Go east 0.6 miles down Beers Road to Blueberry Lane.
    • Go south 350 feet to your car at the Blueberry Lane trailhead.

  • If you want to get the uphill aspect of the trip out of the way first and then be able walk downhill for the rest (and majority) of the trip:

    • Walk west 0.6 miles on Beers Road uphill to the Marilla Trailhead.
    • Take the North County Trail connector south 1.1 miles to the Marilla Junction – an intersection with the NCT trail — a wider trail following an old railroad bed heading gently downhill.
    • Follow the NCT northeast 1.3 miles to the Blueberry Lane trailhead.

Blueberry Lane (Hodenpyl Dam) to M-115 7.1 miles Road
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Blueberry Lane Tralhead location – has a kiosk and tiny parking lot. It's 350' south of Beers Road/Hodenpyl Dam Road on Blueberry Lane. (Some maps incorrectly label Blueberry Lane as Hodenpyl Dam Road.) No restroom, but one is available at the end of Blueberry Lane down by the dam.

Here the trail is a flat, scenic hike along the Hodenpyl Pond (with some diversions nearer the road), through pine plantations, skirting wetlands, and peninsulas. A little over half way along is the Northern Exposure Trailhead with ample parking.

M-115 Crossing location – is one mile west of Mesick. Across the bridge to the east is Veterans Park which has a water pump, pit toilet, parking, and access to Manistee River.

Note: There is also access to Mesick access from Glengary, 4 miles further down the trail, and the town is about one mile away.

Mesick is a great trail town, and is the last source of food and services for 35 trail miles (and note that access to Kingsley is a 6-mile road walk).

Part of the Grand Traverse Hiking Club chapter section.

M-115 to M-37 4 miles   Road
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After crossing M-115, the trail rises to the bluff along the Manistee River with fine views. Later the trail dips and climbs moderately, leaves the river for a spell and rejoins it just south of the village of Glengary, on No 11 Road. After a 0.3 mi road walk south crossing the Manistee River, the trail enters the woods on the left and then emerges onto M-37 just south of Sherman.

M-37 South location is just south of Sherman and north of Mesick about a mile.

From here, take M-37 north across the Manistee River to the M-37 North location at the intersection with 12 Road, where the trail heads east.

Note: There is no food in Sherman. Mesick is about 1 mile south of the trail at Glengary via 11 Road (Eugenee Street in town), and 1 mile south of the trail via M-37, where there is a restaurant and two gas stations. Mesick is a great trail town, and is the last source of food and services for 35 trail miles (and note that access to Kingsley is a 6-mile road walk).

Part of the Grand Traverse Hiking Club chapter section.

M-37 North to Baxter Bridge

(A combined trip of four sections below)
19 miles   Road
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The Grand Traverse Hiking Club says this is the most scenic parts of the trail in their section.The trail crosses Wheeler and Anderson Creeks and follows the Manistee River for much of the way and is often high above it, giving you panoramic views of the river and its valley. About 11 miles into the hike are the "High Bank Rollways" which has a beautiful panoramic view and is accessible to vehicles. The DNR has built a viewing platform and parking area. It is a very popular place, especially for leaf peekers in the fall.

Part of the Grand Traverse Hiking Club chapter section.

M-37 North to 12/15 Road Intersection 2.6 miles   Road
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From the intersection of M-37 and 12 Road, the trail heads east on 12 Road. It's paved at first, then becomes a narrow "seasonal road" (a two-track when snow is not plowed).

At the intersection of 12 Road and 15 Road, the parking is limited (and no parking after snow falls when this is a snowmobile trail).

Part of the Grand Traverse Hiking Club chapter section.

12/15 Road Intersection to Harvey Bridge (17/19 Road) 3 miles   Road
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The trail here is hilly and scenic with some clay as it heads east on state land along a series of ridges and lowlands, crossing several creeks, and a deep ravine and with many nice overlooks. After 2 miles, across a ravine, there’s a bench with view. In another mile the trail emerges onto No.17 Road (which becomes 19 Road south of the river), just north of the old iron Harvey Bridge over the Manistee River. (Just south of the bridge there is parking, a pit toilet, and a boat landing.)

17 Road Crossing location (17 Road becomes 19 Road south of the river).

Part of the Grand Traverse Hiking Club chapter section.

Harvey Bridge (17/19 Road) to the High Bank Rollways 10.5 miles   Road
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After trail crosses 17 Road it winds through the forest with some high bank overlooks, interspersed with road. Walk where the road is close to the river. Soon the trail climbs to a bluff over the river, with more high bank overlooks. Anderson Creek (a good water source (be sure to treat all water)).. After wandering along the river, the trail gains more elevation and after more scenic vistas arrives at the overlook of the High Banks Rollway.

The High Bank Rollway location is also accesseible by car off of No. 4 Road and some sandy two-tracks.

Directions from Buckley: At the light in Buckley go south 0.5 miles on First Street the east 4.8 miles on No. 4 Road. Where the paved road swings northeast, veer off the road going straigt and follow the gravel road. It goes east 0.3 miles the turns south, the east again (stay on the most traveled road), ending up after 1.4 miles at a parking lot. A short walk brings you to the NCT and the overlook.

Part of the Grand Traverse Hiking Club chapter section.


High Bank Rollways to Baxter Bridge (29 1/2 Road) 2.7 miles   Road
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The trail continues east along high bank bluff with views of the Manistee River valley, then turns northeast and drops into a beautiful valley of hardwoods. It then winds eastward with continual drops in elevation, eventually crossing a footbridge over a nice stream. Here you are surrounded by marvelous cedars. The trail continues east, climbing to an overlook before passing through a stand of beech. The trail emerges onto 29 1/2 Road north of the Baxter Bridge.

29 1/2 Road South location – shows roughly where the trail emerges from the woods just north of the Baxter Bridge.

The Baxter Bridge is at 29 1/2 Road (accessed by 31 Road south of the river) crosses the Manistee River (east of Mesick, west of Manton). Parking is available at the river access just north of the bridge. The state forest campground is on the left (east) past (south of) the bridge. There is a boat launch at the bridge on the west side of the road.

If you're starting at the Baxter Bridge and going west, the trail heading west is north of the bridge. The trailhead is not obvious. If you walk north up the road for a hundred yards or so, you will see the trail marker the left (west) side of the road. The entrance is in woods just before the forest ends at an open field. If you get to that open field, you've gone too far. See 29 1/2 Road South Location above.

If you're starting at the Baxter Bridge and going east, take 29 1/2 Road north to 2 Road, where the trail follows that road heading east.

Part of the Grand Traverse Hiking Club chapter section.

Baxter Bridge (29 1/2 Road) to Dell Road 2.6 miles   Road Map Trail Map
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This section is a road-walk. The trail walks 29 1/2 Road north 1.1 miles to 2 Road (County Line Road), then east 1.5 miles to Dell Road.

If needed, there is road access to Kingsley for services and supplies, but it's 6 miles away. From the intersection of 2 Road and Summit City Road, go north 5 miles on Summit City Road, then west 1 mile on M-113. Grocery, restaurant, hardware, laundry.

Dell Road and 2 Road Intersection

Part of the Grand Traverse Hiking Club chapter section.

Dell Road to Old US-131 State Forest Campground 6.2 miles   Road Map Trail Map
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Compared with the High Bank Rollways segment to the west, this is a little known stretch of trail , but perhaps equally as beautiful. This part of the trail continues along the north side of the Manistee River.

From the intersection 2 Road (County Line Road) and Dell Road, the trail starts off following a two-track fire lane to the south, through second growth forest and pine plantation, then turns east and follows the Manistee River along the north bank, crossing a couple of bridges, and climbs to a ridge. At the benches and platform there is a road access via Walton and Townline Roads.

As the trail approaches the Two Bridges Trailhead there is a view of the railroad trestle bridge (which crosses the Manistee River). This trailhead is a very pleasant place, is a good water source, but has no road access. A one-mile spur trail to the south takes you to the Old US-131 State Forest Campground.

Old US-131 State Forest Campground location

Directions to the Old US-131 State Forest Campground via vehicle: From the junction of M-113 and US-131 southwest of Fife Lake, drive 0.9 miles south on US-131, turn right at the sign for camping / State Forest Campground, and then immediately left, now heading south on Old 131. Continue south another 1.7 miles. Turn right at entrance to the SFCG, then continue straight for 0.4 miles to the trailhead with parking.

While at the campground, admire the "historic" wooden trail map, showing the NCT as it was a decade ago (1990s). The one-mile spur trail (to the north) accesses the NCT near the Two Bridges Trailhead. Also while here, walk on the road (Old 131 south of the campground entrance) to check out the pedestrian / snowmobile bridge across the Manistee River. This is where Old US-131 crossed the river.

Part of the Grand Traverse Hiking Club chapter section.

Old US-131 State Forest Campground to Sparling Road (near Fife Lake) 6.5 miles Road
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From the Old US-131 State Forest Campground, take the one-mile spur trail (to the north) to access the NCT near the Two Bridges Trailhead.

The trail now leaves Manistee River and heads north with flat and easy miles. You'll cross No. 2 Road, a railroad track, and M-113.

At the Sparling Road two-track, you can take a "spur trail" 2.8 miles east and north into the village of Fife Lake — a pleasant community with all the services a hiker needs. Go east 2 miles, taking Sparling Road, cross US-131 where the road becomes 4th Street, and keep going east to Pierce Street. Turn left north and go 0.5 miles to State Street (the main drag). Turn right (east) and go about 0.3 miles to the main part of town.

Sparling Road crossing location

Directions to the Sparling Road trail access – from intersection of M-186 (State Street) and US-131 west of Fife Lake, take US-131 south 0.5 miles to Sparling Road, then turn right (west) and go 1.5 miles.

Part of the Grand Traverse Hiking Club chapter section.

Sparling Road (near Fife Lake) to Mayfield Road 3.8 miles   Road Map Trail Map
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From Sparling Road the trail continues north. At Mayfield Road there is limited parking along the road.

Mayfield Road crossing location

Directions to the Mayfield Road crossing – From the intersecion of Garfield Road and Hammond Road south of Traverse City, take Garfield Road south 7.4 miles to Mayfield Road (about 0.7 miles south of River Road.). Turn left (east) and go 6.2 miles.

Part of the Grand Traverse Hiking Club chapter section.

Mayfield Road to Muncie Lakes Pathway Trailhead 5.5 miles   Road Map Trail Map
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After some dirt road walking, the trail now heads into the Boardman River valley, following Twenty-two Creek and the Valley of the Giants, with huge old-growth trees. It crosses some flatlands to the Boardman River, emerging onto Brown Bridge Road. Take the road a short way going north, over the Boardman River. Just past the entrance to Scheck’s Place SFCG (State Forest Campground) on the left (west the trail re-enters the woods. The trail goes up the hill, across Ranch Rudolph Road to Muncie Lakes Pathway Trailhead.

Muncie Lakes Pathway Trailhead and parking location

Directions
to Muncie Lakes Pathway Trailhead – south of Traverse City, from the intersection of Garfield Road and Hammond Road, take Garfield south about 5.6 miles to Hobbs Highway, (this is just before Garfield Road drops into the Boardman River valley), then left (east) 1.7 miles to Ranch Rudolph Road. Turn right on to Ranch Rudolph Road, taking it east 2.8 miles (just east of Rennie Lake Road) to the (east) entrance to the parking lot and trailhead on the left (north) side of the road.

Somewhere near Scheck’s Place, the Boardman River Trail (BRT) connects to the NCT and heads west.

The hike from Scheck’s Place to Twenty-two Creek is a favorite day hike says the Grand Traverse Hiking Club.

Also, at 3.3 miles along this section of the trail is Scharmen Road where the locals park for a day-hike to the Valley of Giants...

Valley of the Giants

For those of you who just want a short hike to explore the Valley of the Giants, here is a map of the area and the details for this section of the North Country Trail...

General location: In eastern central Grand Traverse County, southeast of Traverse City, and northeast of Kingley.

Directions
: Start southwest of Brown Bridge Pond at the intersection of River Road and Garfield. Go east on River Road – it becomes Brown Bridge Road. After crossing Arbutus Hill Road, go east 0.7 miles to Sharmen Road. Veer right (heading straight east) and go 3.2 miles to the east end of Sharmen Road, where it curves south and Hodge Road starts. You'll see the markers where the North Country Trail (NCT) trail crosses the road here. Park on the side of the road. Parking location.

Details: Take the trail on the east side of the road. It starts out heading east but then mainly travels southeast down into the valley and along 22 Mile Creek much of the way. The valley has the nickname of Valley of the Giants as there are many huge old-growth trees here, some as big as 40" in diameter, many well over 100 feet tall. This moderately easy trail goes on for maybe 2 miles before it turns and climbs north out of the valley up a "goat path" on a slope at the edge of the valley. That's a good place to turn around. (At the top of the slope the trail soon bends to the southwest and later heads south.)

Part of the Grand Traverse Hiking Club chapter section.


Muncie Lakes Pathway Trailhead to Dollar Lake Trailhead 4.2 miles   Road Map Trail Map
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The trail uses Muncie Lakes Pathway's network of trails. Follow map posts #1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, and 8, through rolling mixed woods. About 0.5 miles after post #8 the trail leaves the Muncie path and turns north (left), drops into a valley, then up and over to Dollar Lake (where there's good swimming). Past Dollar Lake the trail continues north, then makes a sharp right turn to the Dollar Lake Trailhead (at Supply Road 0.3 miles northwest of Williamsburg Road) with a large parking lot.

Dollar Lake Trailhead and parking location

Driving directions to Dollar Lake Trailhead: From Three Mile Road and Hammond Road southeast of Traverse City, go east on Hammond, curve right (south) on High Lake Road, curve left (east) on to Supply Road and go a total of 8.5 miles. There's a large sandy parking lot on southwest side of the road between Woodland School and Williamsburg Road.

Part of the Grand Traverse Hiking Club chapter section.

Dollar Lake Trailhead to Sand Lakes Trailhead 5 miles   Road Map Trail Map
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This slightly rolling section of the trail features the North Branch of the Boardman River, then heads north, crosses Broomhead Road at mile 3.1 (a favorite hike/snowshoe spot westbound along river and there is limited parking), crosses Guernsey Lake Road, then goes into the Sand Lakes Quiet Area with its web of trails. At #3 marker there is a spur trail 0.9 miles to the Sand Lakes Trailhead at Broomhead Road.

Sand Lakes Trailhead and Parking location

Directions to the Sand Lakes Trailhead — from Traverse City, go northeast on US-31 to M-72 in Acme, turn right (east) and go 5.7 miles on M-72 to Broomhead Road. Turn right (south) and go 3.7 miles (which makes a left/right 0.5 mile "dog-leg" along the way) to the signed large parking lot.

See also the NCT spur that connects to the VASA Pathway: brochure page 1 and page 2 (map).

Part of the Grand Traverse Hiking Club chapter section.

Sand Lakes Trailhead to Guernsey Lake Trailhead 2.5 miles   Road Map Trail Map
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The Sand Lakes Quiet Area is very popular for hiking and camping in summer, and skiing & snowshoeing in winter.

From the Sand Lakes Trailhead, take the white-blazed spur trail to marker #3, where you pick up the NCT. The maps at each marker post show the NCT. Go east. Follow #5, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13. The trail goes through rolling woods, swings south towards marker #13, and soon after a 0.2 mi spur trail (with white blazes) goes into campsite area of Guernsey Lake SFCG (State Forest Campground). At #14, another spur trail (with white blazes) it goes 0.3 miles southeast to the parking area for the campground on the entry road near white-blazed spur trail marked #15.

Guernsey Lake Trailhead and parking location

Driving directions to the Guernsey Lake Trailhead:

  • From Sand Lakes Trailhead parking lot, take Broomhead Road south just 700 feet to Sand Lakes Road. Turn left (east) and go 2.3 miles to Island Lake Road. Turn left (east) and go 0.9 miles to Guernsey Lake Road, Turn right (south) and go 1 mile to the entrance to the SFCG on the right (west).

  • From Kalkaska, drive south on US-131 to Island Lake Road, turn right (west) and go 6.9 miles to Guernsey Lake Road. Turn left (south) and go 1 mile to the entrance to the to SFCG on the right (west).

See also the NCT spur that connects to the VASA Pathway: brochure page 1 and page 2 (map).

Part of the Grand Traverse Hiking Club chapter section.


Guernsey Lake Trailhead to Kalkaska Kaliseum Trailhead 9.5 miles   Road Map Trail Map
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Connect back with the NCT via the spur to marker #14. Or save a litte time and distance by taking the campground entrance road east about 1000 feet to Guernsey Lake Road, then turn left (north) and walk about 500 feet to where the BCT corsses the road.

Then proceed to the right (east). The trail crosses Boardman River Road, angles past Island Lake in woods, crosses a meadow to Island Lake Road crossing, goes into woods for a pleasant walk to Smith Lake Road, goes east along Smith Lake, and continues on two-tracks towards Kalkaska. On west edge of town you'll come to the Kalkaska Kaliseum (a large indoor and outdoor recreational complex). Follow the paved path around the north and east sides of the sports fields to the large parking lot on east side of Fairground Road.

Kalkaska Kaliseum Trailhead and parking location

Directions to the Kalkaska Kaliseum – from the main US-131/M-72 intersection in Kalkaska, go 0.7 miles west to Fairgrounds Road, then left (south) and go 0.1 miles to the large parking lot on the left (east) side of the road.

Part of the Grand Traverse Hiking Club chapter section.

Kalkaska Kaliseum Trailhead to Log Lake Campground 2.4 miles Road Map Trail Map
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The town of Kalkaska has all the services one might need except an outfitter.

Fomr the Kaliseum, by road, the trail heads southeast on Courthose Drive to Birch, north to Arbor, east to Walnut, north to Norway, east to Cedar (US-131), north one block to Nash Road (CR 612), east for 0.4 miles to Shady Lane, northeast 0.3 miles to Stevens Drive, east 700 feet to East Log Lake Road. Here the trail skirts the west and north sides of Blue Lake. The trail then turns left (north) at Log Lake Park Campground. (The campground is on Log Lake Road NE, which West Log Lake Road becomes north of the intersection with East Log Lake Road.)

Log Lake Campground location – general vicinity

Directions to Log Lake Campground – from intersection of M-72/CR 612 and US-131 in Kalkaska, drive east 1.3 miles on CR 612 to West Log Lake Road. Turn left (north) and go about 0.5 miles to the campground on Log Lake.

Part of the Grand Traverse Hiking Club chapter section.

Log Lake Campground to Sunset Trail Road 10.3 miles Road Map Trail Map
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From the Log Lake Campground gate, turn right (north) and follow dirt road which bends right (east). After 0.4 miles, turn left (north) onto a small dirt unnamed road which goes through flat, cleared land and past an oil well. When the road bends right (east), the NCT continues straight heading north to the Shore-to-Shore Trail, and east crossing Wheeler Lake Road. The trail follows the power line to the dirt State Road. Turn right (east) on State and go 0.2 miles to a vehicle barrier. After this gate, NCT follows a horse trail, passes another gate and continues east on State Road. After crossing Darragh Road, the road walk continues 4.1 miles east on paved CR 612, going past Manistee Lake to Sunset Trail Road. The trailhead is on left just past (east of) Sunset Trail Road around 0.1 miles.

Sunset Trail Road Trailhead location – general vicinity

Directions to Sunset Trail Road Trailhead – from intersection of M-72/CR 612 and US-131 in Kalkaska, drive east on CR 612 (Nash Road) 6.0 miles to Darragh Road. Turn left (north) and go 2.0 miles to east-bound CR 612. Turn right (east) and go 4.2 miles. The trailhead is on left (north) just past Sunset Trail Road. There is limited parking on dirt road just past (east) of where the NCT leaves the road heading left (north).

Part of the Grand Traverse Hiking Club chapter section.

Sunset Trail Road to Starvation Lake Road 8.8 miles Road
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The trail travels north, somewhat paralleling Sunset Trail Road for 2 miles, where a short spur heads west to Pickerel Lake State Forest Campground. From there it turns east, crossing Kenel Road, then turning north to cross Papoose Lake Road and Indian Lake Road (this may also be called Twin Lakes Road), and goes through a hilly forested section past several small lakes and ponds, then comes to Starvation Lake Road (just a little east of Starvation Lake). There is limited parking 0.1 mile east on Starvation Lake Road along a dirt side-road.

Starvation Lake Road crossing location

The 95 miles from Marilla Junction to Starvation Lake Road is the Grand Traverse Hiking Club section of the trail.

Starvation Lake Road to C-38 (Mancelona Road) 4 miles Road
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The NCT crosses Starvation Lake Road just a little east of Starvation Lake. Going north you hike through a nice stand of pine trees planted by the CCC Camps. Emerging from the pines you cross a road and go through small trees and brush, then enter a section of sumac, rasberry bushes. and ferns that grow as high as your chest. The adopter for that section has named it the "deadly meadow". There are a few carsonite markers along the trail where there were no trees to blaze. At the northern end of this section you enter into a hardwood forest and walk on a two-track for approximately 0.75 miles to C-38 (Mancelona Road). The trail crosses C-38 2.0 miles east of Cinder Hill Road and just before C-38 bends northeast to go around Hawk Lake.

C-38 (Mancelona Road) crossing location

Note on your map that Sand Lake is in this section. There are plans to make a white-blazed side-trail to the lake, so watch for it in the future.

The 78 miles from Starvation Lake Road to north of Conway in Emmet County is the Jordan Valley 45° / Tittabawassee Chapter section of the trail.

C-38 (Mancelona Road) to Cinder Hill Road 4.4 miles   Road
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This section is a nice walk through hardwood forests and over the ridge of hills (that you can see to the east as you drive on US-131). You can park off-road at either end of this section.

The trail eith begins to very closely within 100 feet) parallel Cinder Hill Road, or begins to use Cinder Hill Road here:

Cinder Hill Road south location — general vicinity.

The trail the leaves (or crosses and leaves) Cinder Road here: Cinder Hill Road north location and heads west.

Part of the Jordan Valley 45° / Tittabawassee Chapter section.

Cinder Hill Road to US-131 2.3 miles   Road Map Trail map #1

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Web page The trail goes through the woods past the Five Lakes area, then is a road walk using Doer Road west to Corey Road, north to (and across) US-131

US-131 crossing location

Part of the Jordan Valley 45° / Tittabawassee Chapter section.

US-131 to Alba Road 0.8 miles   Road
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North of US-131 the trail continues north on Corey Road, a sandy dirt road, passing by private lands on either side. The road goes up a hill and passes through a pleasant stand of tall hardwoods. Going downhill the trail crosses Alba Road (CR 620). (Note: the road changes name to Harvey Road north of Alba Road.)

Alba Road crossing location

Part of the Jordan Valley 45° / Tittabawassee Chapter section.

Alba Road to Landslide Lookout 1.3 miles   Road
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Corey Road changes name to Harvey Road north of Alba Road (CR-620).

(If you are a long distance hiker and need supplies, the village of Alba is just 0.8 miles to the east on Alba Road. A little south of the corner of Alba Road and US-131 there is a party store and small campground with showers at the gas station.)

From here the trail heads north toward Landslide Lookout, a scenic overlook of the Jordan Valley. Harvey Road going is a small and narrow dirt road that ends at the Lookout. About 1/3 mile before that the trail takes to the woods on the left and follows the old railroad grade. The trail comes out by the outdoor toilet in the parking lot. Follow the blue blazes to one of the most awsome vistas of the valley. There is a bench where you can park your weary bones for a short time before continuing the adventure in the Jordan Valley.

Landslide Lookout parking location

At the Lookout you can hear the rushing river down the hill. The river has its begining at the bottom of Landslide Lookout hill. If you have the time to hike to the bottom of the hill, there is a path that branches off to the right. You'll see it as it goes down the hill to the river. But don't forget that you have to climb back up!

Part of the Jordan Valley 45° / Tittabawassee Chapter chapter section.

Jordan Valley information   Road
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The Jordan Valley – watershed of the Jordan River that flows into the city of East Jordan.

The river is completely formed in the valley, starting as a small stream you can step across at the northeast end of the valley, and growing to a wide deep river that has been designated a National Scenic River. The North Country Trail( NCT) takes you across several of the beautiful streams that feed the river. There are more streams on the east side of the Jordan Valley Pathway if you want to do the loop trail.

No bicycling is allowed on these trails in the Jordan River Valley.

The 19-mile loop:

The Jordan Valley Pathway is an 19-mile loop trail that circles the valley. The NCT uses the westerly side of the loop. The Jordan Valley Pathway is marked with blue circles and the NCT is marked with rectangles. Where the trails follow the same path, the marking on the trees look like giant exclamation points!

From Landslide Lookout the NCT goes to the left (west) to Pinney Bridge. The Jordan Valley Pathway goes to the right (east) and goes to Deadman's Hill, another beautiful lookout of the valley.

Or park at the Jordan River National Fish Hatchery on Turner Road. Hike back up Turner Road. about a half mile more or less to where the trail crosses the road. Since there may not be tracks you'll have to look carefully for the trail markers. (If you crest the hill you've gone too far.) Once you find the trail, head north to Deadman's Hill then continue using your map to Pinney Bridge Campground.

Links to Google Maps locations:
• Landslide Lookout parking lot
• Pinney Bridge location
• Jordan River National Fish Hatchery location
• Deadman's Hill Scenic Overlook parking lot

Jordan River National Fish Hatchery Web sites
• Web site #1
• Web site #2
• Web site #3
• Web site #4
• Web site #5

The NCT portion of the trail is well-marked with 3" x 5" blue rectangles. Blazes on the DNR section are blue circles and more sparse. Be aware of the blazes and keep your map and compass handy!

The Jordan River National Fish Hatchery is a great place with a 24-hour visitor center. Lost hikers have been known to crash there during the night. If you are there between 7:00 am and 3:30 pm check out the fish rearing inside. The lake trout eggs may be hatching this week. There are lake trout and brook trout in the raceways outside.

Winter Info – In the winter, a good option is to start at the Jordan River National Fish Hatchery on Turner Road. off US-131, because the road to Deadman's Hill is not plowed all the way to the parking lot. Doing this gives you a few options for picking up the trail. For an accurate snow report, call the hatchery at 231-584-2461. The staff is always helpful to hikers.

Part of the Jordan Valley 45° / Tittabawassee Chapter chapter section.


Landslide Lookout to M-32

(A combined trip of four sections below)
14.6 miles   Road
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Web page The trail through the famous Jordan River Valley is hilly and very scenic. There are several streams to walk beside and cross over.

Pinney Bridge Campground is a walk-in campground with pump water and an outdoor privy. Pinney Bridge is the only place people are allowed to camp in the valley.

From the campground the trail follows the Jordan River going in an easterly direction. It passes at the foot of Deadman's Hill and continues north to O'Brien's Pond and Warner Creek. Following an old railroad grade, it ends up at the M-32 trailhead and parking lot.

The best places to park to hike this section are:
• Landslide Lookout parking lot
• Deadman's Hill Scenic Overlook parking lot
• M-32 trailhead and parking lot

Part of the Jordan Valley 45° / Tittabawassee Chapter section.

Landslide Lookout to Pinney Bridge Campground 3.6 miles   Road
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The marked trail goes to the left and onto the side of the opposite hill. This part of the hike has some steep hills. In the lower lands there wet areas where springs make their way to the river, but most of them have puncheon to walk on. When you come to the first bridge over a creek, stop and look upstream. You'll be surprised, because the creek starts right there out of the hill. Further on you'll come to Cascade Creek, another creek adding its water to the Jordan River. The last leg of this section is higher ground with hardwood trees and open areas.

When you begin a decent down a long hill you are almost at Pinney Bridge. There is a small parking area there, at the intersection of Pinney Bridge Road and the access road to Pinney Bridge. Continue north on the access road around the locked gate to the Pinney Bridge. (Note how big the Jordan River is already). Continue north of the bridge to the walk-in Pinney Bridge Campground about 1/4 mile away. This is a walk-in campground with pump water and an outdoor privy and is the only place camping is allowed in the valley.

Pinney Bridge location

Part of the Jordan Valley 45° / Tittabawassee Chapter section.

Pinney Bridge Campground to Jordan River Road crossing 5 miles   Road
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Hiking east from the Pinney Bridge Campground you enter the forest and climb a steep hill. At the top you are rewarded with a view of the Jordan River Valley and a bench on which to sit and enjoy it. This is a great place to watch the sunset if you are camping. The trail is hilly at first with the river in the valley, but soon you will be hiking in the valley with creeks and springs crossing the trail on their way to the Jordan River. When you come to the river there are lots of places to sit on the bank and enjoy the river. Then it is back up into the hills, eventually coming out on Jordan River Road. (FYI – about 0.8 miles before coming to Jordan River Road, across the river to the east you'll see the Jordan River National Fish Hatchery.)

Jordan River Road northwest location

Here you'll turn south (right) walking the road a short way, then cross the Jordan River at a place called "The Three Culverts."

Jordan River Road -- "The Three Culverts" location

Part of the Jordan Valley 45° / Tittabawassee Chapter section.

Jordan River Road crossing to Jordan River Road walk entrance 4 miles Road
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Web
page
From "The Three Culverts" location where Jordan River Road crosses the river, about 100 feet southeast the trail goes back into the woods heading east, but soon turns north. Leaving the road, you again climb to the top of the hills and come out on a large clearing. It is dotted with trees now, but in the early 1900's there was a lumber camp here while they were logging the valley. After the open section comes the swampy section. The trail offers a little view of the amount of water that flows out of the hills and saturates the ground. There are boardwalks over the deeper areas and the beaver think the boardwalks are a wonderful places to put their dams. Sometimes the trail is underwater, but the DNR is working on the problem so you might get lucky and find it dry. There are two boardwalk areas and they are good places to observe water birds, frogs, and swamp creatures.

You will come to a divide in the trail which is well marked. It is part of the short 3-mile loop trail from Deadman's Hill Overlook and back. To stay on the NCT, continue straight ahead. The trail hugs the bottom of the hill with many stretches of puncheon — because of the water coming out of the base of the hill.

The next highlight is a platform built over one of the springs. It is a good spot to get a close up view of the spring.

The next divide in the trail is where the Jordan Valley Pathway goes up the hill to Deadman's Hill Overlook. To stay on the NCT, continue straight ahead and stay in the valley. You will now be following only the 3" x 5" blue rectangles. It's a little more than a mile to where you join Jordan River Road again. (The Tittabawassee Chapter calls this section "the Arden Johnson section" because it was one of his favorites.)

Jordan River Road "road walk" entrance location

Part of the Jordan Valley 45° / Tittabawassee Chapter chapter section.

Jordan River Road walk entrance to M-32 2.0 miles   Road
Map
Trail Map   It's a road walk on Jordan River Road for a while (maybe 0.5 miles). The road T's but the trail goes straight, crosses Warner Creek, joins the Warner Creek Pathway loop, then parallels the creek running north almost to M-32. The trails then turns east and goes to the M-32 trailhead.

M-32 Trailhead Parking Area location

Part of the Jordan Valley 45° / Tittabawassee Chapter chapter section.

M-32 to C-48 (Thumb Lake Road ) 14.2 miles   Road
Map
Trail map #1

Trail Map #2
The trail parallels M-32 somewuat for a short way then turns north and crosses the highway. Through grassy valleys with oil fields and hardwood forests with lumbering operations, this piece of the trail brings you to the Chandler Hills. Between M-32 and U.S.131 the trail comes out on top of some high hills with a spectacular view of the valley. When the trail is on the road, it crosses over several rivers and streams.

At C-48 (Thumb Lake Road) the trail takes C-48 east 1 miles to Jenkins/Slashing Road, where there is parking in the grass on the northeast corner.

C-48 (Thumb Lake Road) west — where the trail enters the road. (This is the intersection of C-48 (Thumb Lake Road) and Baker Road.)

C-48 (Thumb Lake Road) east — where the trail leaves the road. (This is the intersection of C-48 (Thumb Lake Road) and Jenkins/Slashing Road.)

Part of the Jordan Valley 45° / Tittabawassee Chapter section.

C-48 (Thumb Lake Road ) to Maxwell Road 13.6 miles   Road
Map
Trail map #1

Trail Map #2
  This is a very pleasant hike through hardwood forests. It is a hilly area that is well worth the effort. Springs and small streams abound in this section for water filtering. There is a scenic vista on a white-blazed side trail.

Maxwell Road location — where the trail enters the road. (This is the intersection of Maxwell Road and Harmon Road.)

Part of the Jordan Valley 45° / Tittabawassee Chapter section.

Maxwell Road to McDougal Road 9.4 miles   Road
Map
Trail map #1

Trail Map #2
  The trail follows Maxwell Road south to Taylor Road, then west on that road a short way before heading into the woods.

Over hill and over dale to the edge of Petoskey and the campus of North Central Michigan College. The trail climbs up to a high ridge and stays there for a good part of this hike. When it comes off the hills, it goes through an interesting section; a 40-acre field dotted with communication towers. The last three miles are on roads, but after hiking in the woods for so long it is almost refreshing to have a wide open view.

McDougal Road crossing location. (This is the intersection of McDougal Road and Greenwood Church Road.)

Part of the Jordan Valley 45° / Tittabawassee Chapter section.

McDougal Roadd to Kipp Road 11.7 miles   Road
Map
Trail map #1

Trail Map #2
  The trail goes through the campus of North Central Michigan College then continues on through Petoskey by following the Bear River. Called "The peaceful passage through Petoskey" because all the traffic and business of the large city is muted by the river valley that you traverse on your way to Little Traverse Bay. The walk along the bay on the bicyle path is most pleasant. A side trip to downtown Petoskey can be made opposite the large clock. Watch for walkway with large overhead sign. After going through a residential area the trail goes behind a grocery store. It then goes past a side trail to the State Park. Crossing M-119 it travels northeast along an old railroad grade and through the village of Conway.

(At the north end of Conway the trail goes behind a very nice restaurant.) North of Conway the trail road walks on N. Conway Road to Hathaway Road, then west to Kipp Road.

Kipp Road location (This is the intersection of Kipp Road and Hathaway Road.)

The 78 miles from Starvation Lake Road to north of Conway in Emmet County is the Jordan Valley 45° / Tittabawassee Chapter section of the trail.

The 46 miles of the NCT beyond this point is the Harbor Springs Chapter section of the trail (trail map) taking you to Mackinaw City.

NORTH MANITOU ISLAND

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Overseeing
organization

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Web page

Web page #1
Web page #2
Web site #3
Web page #4
Web page #5

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2
Trail map #3
Trail map #4
Trail map #5

General idea

Explore the many terrains of the entire island.

Length

17 miles at least on official paths.

Hiking time

Varies with the route taken.

Difficulty

Easy to moderate.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

N/A – there is no passenger ferry service during the winter.

General location

On the North Manitou Island of Leelanau County, northwest of the county mainland, north of Glen Arbor, and WNW of Leland.

Road map

Road map

Fishtown at Leland, MI location

North Manitou Island location

Directions

The island is accessible by private boat or passenger ferry operated by Manitou Island Transit, which is at the west end of "Fishtown" in Leland.

More details

The passenger ferry operates only from May through October.

North Manitou Island is 7.75 miles long by 4.25 miles wide and has 20 miles of shoreline. The highest point on the island is in the northwest corner, 1,001 feet above sea level or 421 feet above Lake Michigan. The inland Lake Manitou occupies a lowland in the north central portion of the island.

The hiking terrain varies from sandy beaches to gravel and boulder-surfaced slopes, as well as the traditional dirt path through the woods. As you hike the island, you will see old buildings dating from the logging and farming days.

OLD BALDY

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Overseeing
organization

Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy. Part of the Arcadia Dunes / C.S. Mott Nature Preserve. See the complete GTRLC nature preserve list.

Web page

Web page (then click on the link for Arcadia Dunes: C.S. Mott Nature Preserve)

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2

For all of the Arcadia Dunes Nature Preserve:
Overall trail map #1 (does not yet show the new Camp Trail)
Overall trail map #2 (does not yet show the new Camp Trail)

General idea

Fairly easy trail through woods then some sand dunes and small hills at the end with fantastic views.

Length

• Shortest trail — straight to the dunes overlook and back – 1.8 miles round trip.
• Scenic trail — to the dunes overlook and taking the far west and east loops – 3.2 miles round trip.

Hiking time

• Shortest trail — a little over an hour round trip.
• Scenic trail — 2 hours round trip.

Difficulty

Fairly easy, then moderate — for most of trail there are some small ups and downs, then at the end are a few, relatively small hills in sand dunes.

Open to mountain
bikes

Yes, but a mountain bike would be very difficult to ride in the dunes area at the end, so at the bottom of the first dune is a good place to just park the bike and hike.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In southwestern Benzie County, north of Arcadia.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead and parking location

Click here for links to view all Benzie County trailhead locations at Google Maps or in Google Earth.

Directions

From the intersection of M-22 (Lake Street) and M-115 (Forest Avenue) in Frankfort, take M-22 south 9.0 miles to the “Baldy Trailhead” sign and parking lot on right (north) side of the road. (It’s 0.8 miles past Joyfield Road in the middle of a large “S” turn.) There may be a Port-a-Pottie, but if not, there are restrroms at the Arcadia Lookout 0.6 miles south on M-2, and at the Chestnut Trail parking lot (not far awy).

More details

Old Baldy is 1000 feet above sea level and 400 feet above Lake Michigan. For the easiest and shortest route, hike the two-track seen immediately as you turn off of M-22. Otherwise take one of the marked trails from the parking lot. Wooded, mostly flat terrain. At the north end of the trail system in the dunes area there are a few short sand dune hills to go up and down.

At the top of the stairs of the first (small) sand dune, check out both of these options:

  • go straight and then to the right (northeast) about 600 feet for a great view of Lower Herring Lake and Lake Michigan.

  • go straight and then to the left (west) a few hundred feet to the bluffs above Lake Michigan and great views to the north and south.

When done with this trail be sure to check out the Arcadia Lookout. It’s about 0.6 miles south of the parking lot on M-22 and offers more great views of Lake Michigan and the quaint village of Arcadia in the valley to the south.


OLD INDIAN TRAIL

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Overseeing
organization

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Web page

Web page #1
Web page #2

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2

General idea

Mostly easy trails through the woods, with a small dunes and Lake Michigan beach at the end

Length

Two overlapping loops trails, each about 2.3 miles long. At the west end both connect to a 0.2-mile-long trail that leads to a Lake Michigan overlook and then to the beach.
• Shortest route, round trip –2.5 miles for the Green Arrow loop only.
• Longest route, round trip – 3.8 miles for the northern portion of the Black Arrow loop and going to Lake Michigan beach.

Hiking time

• Shortest route, round trip –About an hour for the Green Arrow loop only.
• Longest route, round trip – Around 2 hours for the northern portion of the Black Arrow loop and going to Lake Michigan beach.

Difficulty

• Green Arrow Loop – easy — a few slight hills.
• Black Arrow Loop – moderate — a handful of very small but moderately steep hills.
• Path to the Lake Michigan – moderate – a small dune hill then across the sand to the beach.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In western central Benzie County, northeast of Frankfort.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead and parking location

Click here for links to view all Benzie County trailhead locations at Google Maps or in Google Earth.

Directions

From the intersection of M-22 (7th Street) and Forest Avenue in Frankfort, take M-22 north and east a few times a total of 8.5 miles to the parking lot on the left (north) side of the road (700 feet past (east of) Sutter Road). Restroom.

More details

NOTE: The use of this (and any) area within the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (SBDNL) requires a national park pass. See here for more details about SBDNL passes.

Mostly wooded, gently rolling terrain. The path to the Lake Michigan beach is open (no trees) and sandy.

There are three main east-west trails (that make two overlapping loops), from easy to moderate. At the far (west) end of the loops is a highly recommended path that leads up a small dune hill to a Lake Michigan overlook, then continues across the sand to beach at the lake..

OLD MISSION POINT PARK

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Overseeing
organization

Peninsula Township

Web page

Peninsula Township parks Web page

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2

General idea

Easy trail through woods, old orchards, and meadows; includes beach access and the Old Mission Point Lighthouse.

Length

7.5 miles of trails in a several loops

Hiking time

Varies with the route taken.

Difficulty

Easy.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In central northern Grand Traverse County, at the northern tip of the Old Mission Peninsula, north of the village of Old Mission, and NNE of Traverse City.

Road map

Road map

Directions

There are three access points and parking areas:

  1. Take M-37 (Center Road) to Tompkins Road, then right (east) on that and go less than a mile to Brinkman Road, then right (south) 0.5 miles to Woodland Road, then left (east) 0.25 miles to Eastern Road, then left (north) 0.25 miles to Ridgewood Road, then right (east) 0.6 miles and watch for the parking lot on the left (north) side of the road. Access point and parking area

  2. Take M-37 (Center Road) to Tompkins Road, then right (east) on that 0.75 miles to Brinkman Road, then left (north) 0.5 miles to Murray Road, then left (west) 300 feet. Watch for the parking lot on the right (north) side of the road. Access point and parking area

  3. Take M-37 (Center Road) all the way north (and a lttile east at the end) to the parking lot for lighthouse. Access point and parking area

More details

Located smack dab on the 45th parallel at the tip of the Old Mission Peninsula, this area includes the historic Old Mission Point Lighthouse and Lake Michigan beach access. The northern portion of this area is sometimes called Lighthouse Park.

ORCHARD BEACH NATURE TRAILS

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Overseeing
organization

Michigan DNR

Web page

Web page #1
Web page #2

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2
Trail map #3

General idea

Trail through gently rolling terrain in both woods open land.

Length

2.5 mile loop with 3 "shortcuts."

Hiking time

Around an hour if you do just the main loop.

Difficulty

Easy — there are several easy hills throughout the trail.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In southwestern Manistee County, NNE of Manistee.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead and parking location

Directions

From the intersection of Lakeshore Drive (M-110) and US-31 in Manistee (at Burger King), take Lakeshore Drive north 1.5 miles. going just past (north of) the driveway to the Orchard Beach State Park to a small parking lot for the trail on the right (west) side of road. Restrooms available at the main park area across the street.

More details

Being part of the Orchard Beach State Park, a Michigan Recreational Passport is required for entry or to park at trail entrance.

Mostly wooded with a bit of open meadow. Some nice tall pines and oaks along the way. When you're done, drive over to the camping area and take the stairway to the beach for a dip in Lake Michigan!

OWA TRAIL

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Overseeing
organization

Omena Woods Association (OWA)

Web page

None found

Trail map

Rough trail map (None could be found so I made a rough one.)

General idea

Wooded trail that begins going by Mougeys Lake then spends most of the time above Omena Bay in the hills on Omena Point, in West Grand Traverse Bay.

Length

At least 1.0 mile (I did not have enough time to do it all)

Hiking time

Less that an hour round trip if you do only the 1.0 mile shown

Difficulty

Easy – with some gentle hills involved.

Open to mountain
bikes

Unknown. This trail would make a great trail for mountan bikes.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In eastern northern Leelanau County, just northeast of Omena

Road map

Road map

Trailhead location – at the end of the access road to the area at the the northwest corner of the lake.

Directions

Fomr "downtown" Omena on M-22, take M-22 a very short way northwest to Omena Point Road. Bear right and go 0.25 miles to Lake Street. Turn left (north) and go about 0.1 miles to the north end of Lake Street (at the west end of Isthmus Road). There's no parking and no restroom. The sign at the start of the path says "OWA Trail".

The trail crosses Omena Heights Road right about here, so you may be able to park off-road there. I also noticed two short connecting trails down to Omena Point Road. If you can spot those, you you may be able to park off-road there and then access to trail.

More details

On the OWA Web site it says they "own almost 110 acres of prime land which can be enjoyed for its beauty and recreational trails, but never developed."

Where the trail crosses Omena Heights Road there's a significant jog (dog-leg). When coming from the north, jog 100 feet or so to the east to find the south-bound trail.

The majority of the trail parallels Omena Point Road up in the hills and woods above the road. How far south it goes I do not know, as I ran out of time. Based on the property that OWA owns, the trail may now, or someday, wrap around the end of the point and go north along the outside of the point.

Near the north end if the trail, there's part of it that offers a view of Omena Bay (late fall through early spring — when there are no leaves).

From a meadow near the north end, there's another portion of the trail that goes northeast. How far, I do not know, as I ran out of time.

PELIZZARI LAKE NATURE AREA

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Overseeing
organization

Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy in partnership with Peninsula Township who owns the property. See also: Complete list of GTRLC nature preserves and Peninsula Township Parks. This area was originally known as the Center Road Nature area.

Web page

Web page #1
Web page #2

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2

General idea

Trails meander through wide open fields of former orchards, quiet upland forests, and cool lowlands with giant hemlocks.

Length

Almost 3 miles and made up of several loops

Hiking time

1.5 hours if you did all the trails.

Difficulty

Easy.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In central northern Grand Traverse County, in the southern area of the Old Mission Peninsula, NNE of Traverse City.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead and parking location

Directions

A few minutes north of Traverse City on Old Mission Peninsula.

From the intersection of E. Front Street / Munson Ave. (US-31) and M-37 in Traverse City, take M-37 (Center Road) north about 2 miles to just past Homestead Court and watch for signs and parking to the Natural Area which begins on the right (east) in an old orchard.

More details

This area is just outside the northern boundary of Traverse City on Old Mission Peninsula. There are remnants of where Pelizarri was once farmed. There are also glimpses into what the Peninsula looked like before farmers and subdivisions. Expect to encounter several bird species, and you may just catch a glimpse of the resident fox.

PETE'S WOODS (at Swamp Road)

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Overseeing
organization

Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy. Part of the Arcadia Dunes / C.S. Mott Nature Preserve. See the complete GTRLC nature preserve list.

Web page

Web page (then click on the link for Arcadia Dunes: C.S. Mott Nature Preserve)

Trail map

Road and general trail map #1
Road and general trail map #2

For all of the Arcadia Dunes Nature Preserve:
Overall trail map #1 (does not yet show the new Camp Trail)
Overall trail map #2 (does not yet show the new Camp Trail)

General idea

Nice loop trail through pretty rolling and wooded terrain.

Length

1.5 mile loop.

Hiking time

About an hour.

Difficulty

Moderate – there are many easy hills throughout the trail.

Open to mountain
bikes

Yes. Designed by a mountain bike trail expert, in fact.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes. But access in the winter may be difficult, as Swamp Road south of Joyfield Road is not plowed.

General location

In southwestern Benzie County, SSW of Benzonia, northeast of Arcadia.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead location

Click here for links to view all Benzie County trailhead locations at Google Maps or in Google Earth.

Directions

This trail is accessed from the Swamp Road Trailhead of the Arcadia Dunes Nature Preserve.

From the traffic light in Benzonia (US-31 and M-115 west), take US-31 south 6.2 miles to Joyfield Road. Turn right (west) and go 1.7 miles to Swamp Road (which is paved on the north side of Joyfield but only a dirt road to the south). Turn left (south) and go 0.3 miles to the parking lot on the right (northwest) side of the road. The sign there says “Swamp Road Trailhead.” No restroom.

More details

The area is named for Pedro (Pete) Rodríguez, a former owner of this land for many decades. The trail travels through very pretty rolling and wooded terrain and is marked with purple blazes on trees. Walk into the woods a short ways to access the loop trail.

PINE VALLEYS PATHWAY

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Overseeing
organization

Michigan DNR

Web page

Web page #1
Web page #2
Web page #3

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2

General idea

Pleasant wooded trail with gentle rolling hills, ridges, mixed-age forest, some open areas, and passing along Lost Lake, and nearby Syers and Stewart Lakes.

Length

Three interconnected loops that total 8.2 miles.

Distances between intersections:
1 to 2: 0.2 miles
2 to 3: 0.6 miles
2 to 4: 2.3 miles – northern loop trail
3 to 4: 0.8 miles
4 to 5: 0.2 miles
5 to 7: 0.6 miles
5 to 6: 0.7 miles – half of southern loop trail
6 to 7: 1.0 miles – half of southern loop trail
7 to 8: 0.2 miles
3 to 8: 0.1 miles – shortcut
8 to 1: 1.5 miles

Hiking time

Depends on the route taken.

Difficulty

Easy to moderate. Mostly rolling hills. The northern loop trail from post 2 to 4 has the more moderately-steep hills

Open to mountain
bikes

Yes.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes. Said one Web site, "these trails are not groomed, but they still make for easy skiing, except a few places where there are trees down across the trail you'll have to navigate around. For snowshoeing, the trails have moderate hills at most and make for very pleasant snowshoeing."

General location

In central northern Lake County, southeast of Irons, and WNW of Luther.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead location

Directions

The trailhead is 0.2 miles east of M-37 on 7 Mile Road (about 13 miles north of Baldwin and 9.6 miles south of M-55). The trailhead is shared with the Little Manistee Motorsports Trail, so it's plowed all winter – a big plus for skiers and snowshoers. At the parking lot there are signs and directional arrows for snowmobiles, off-road vehicles, and cross-county motorcycles. But half hidden in the southeast corner of this staging area is the start of the pathway. Restroom.

There is also access where the trail crosses Lost Lake Road at post 6, and there is parking for one or two cars: WNW of Stewart Lake.

More details

A Michigan Recreational Passport is required to use this area.

The trail is used for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, mountaing biking, and hiking, as well as the occasional the horseback rider from a camp on Stewart Lake. The clearing for the trails is 6 feet all around, making it nice for cross-country skiing and mountaing biking. Trails are marked with blue triangles on trees. There are trail maps posted at the entrance and at each intersection.

For hikers the middle loop (skipping post 6) is a gem, a forested path that leads you on a 4.1-mile hike to and around Lost Lake, and nearby Syers Lake, isolated from the nearby motorized activity.

There is a walk-in camping area above the northwest side of Lost Lake and a short trail down to the lake.

There are two other trails down to Lost Lake, one before and one after the campgroud, but they are much longer.

PLATTE PLAINS TRAIL

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Overseeing
organization

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Web page

Web page

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2
Trail map #3

General idea

Easy to moderate trail system exploring the woods, meadows, and a bit of the dunes along Lake Michigan, Deer, Bass, and Otter Lakes, and Otter Creek.

Length

14.7 miles of trails in a series of loops.
• Otter Creek Loop (at the north) – 4.6 miles
• Bass Lake Loop (in the middle) – 3.5 miles
• Lasso Loop (at the southwest) – 6.6 miles

Hiking time

Varies with the route taken.

Difficulty

Easy to moderate:
• Otter Creek Loop – the terrain is mostly flat.
• Bass Lake Loop and Lasso Loop – partially gentle and rolling hills and partially flat.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes, but see the Web page / trail map above for details about the winter-only parking area (Junction Post 17) on M-22 and the 1.1 mile XC ski trail connecting to the Bass Lake Loop.

General location

In northwestern Benzie County, northwest of Honor.

Road map

Road map

Click here for links to view all Benzie County trailhead locations at Google Maps or in Google Earth.

Directions

There are many places to access this series of trails. The three main access points are:

  1. Peterson Road Trailhead location –

    • From Honor — At the intersection of Main Street (US-31) and Henry Street, take Main Street 0.1 miles northwest to Deadstream Road (County Rd 708). Veer to the right and go 5.3 miles to M-22. Across the street and 75 feet to the right (east) take Peterson Road, a 1.9-mile-long gravel road that goes to a parking lot and vault toilet near Lake Michigan beach. Access to the trail is about 1400 feet before the end of the road.

    • From Frankfort — Take M-22 north about 13 miles. Half-way along you will go by Crystal Lake, and later cross the Platte River. 0.7 miles after that, watch for Deadstream Road on the right (south); Peterson Road is on the left (north). Take Peterson, it’s a 1.9-mile-long gravel road that goes to a parking lot and vault toilet near Lake Michigan beach. Access to the trail is about 1400 feet before the end of the road.

  2. Trails End Road Trailhead location – This is the main trailhead — from here are several ways to access the trail system. See the trail map above or the map posted in the kiosk for all the choices. (There's also a vault toilet and access to Bass Lake.)

    • From Honor — At the intersection of Main Street (US-31) and Henry Street, take Main Street 0.1 miles northwest to Deadstream Road (County Road 708). Veer to the right and go 0.9 miles to Indian Hill Road. Turn right (north) and go 4.5 miles to Trails End Road. Turn left (west) and go 0.5 miles to an “S” turn in M-22. Go straight (west) on M-22 just over 0.1 miles to the west part of Trails End Road. Bear right going straight (west) and follow the road 0.9 miles through a few turns ending at a parking lot.

    • From Frankfort — About 16 miles from Frankfort on M-22 and 3.3 miles north of the Deadstream Road / Peterson Road intersection is Trails End Road at an “S” turn in the highway. Turn left (west) on Trails End – it’s a gravel road with a few turns 0.9 miles long that ends at the parking lot for the trail.

  3. Esch Road Trailhead location – There’s parking on the sides of the road, a vault toilet, and access to Lake Michigan. (For a fun place to explore, walk a short ways south on the beach to where Otter Creek empties into Lake Michigan.) To get to the trails, at the east end of the parking area walk down southbound Aral Road: one leads off to the east and the other goes straight ahead — both go along their respective sides of Otter Creek and Otter Lake.

    • From Honor — At the intersection of Main Street (US-31) and Henry Street, take Main Street 0.1 miles northwest to Deadstream Road (County Rd 708). Bear right and go 0.9 miles to Indian Hill Road. Turn right (north) and go 6.5 miles to Esch Road. Curve left (west) and go 1.3 miles to end of the road (at Lake Michigan beach).

    • From Frankfort — Roughly 18 miles from Frankfort on M-22 and 2.1 miles north of the “S” turn at Trails End Road you’ll come to Esch Road. Turn left (west) and go 1.3 miles to the end of the road (at Lake Michigan beach).

More details

NOTE: The use of this (and any) area within the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (SBDNL) requires a national park pass. See here for more details about SBDNL passes.

Mostly in the woods, this trail system goes along Deer Lake, Bass Lake, Otter Lake, Otter Creek, and in the dunes along Lake Michigan. There are several access points to Lake Michigan. About a mile of the trail follows Aral Road (a two-track but car accessible) south of Esch Road and the Otter Creek crossing. Over a mile of the west end of the Lasso Loop travels along a former railroad bed.

PLATTE SPRINGS PATHWAY

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Overseeing
organization

Michigan DNR

Web page

Web page #1 for trail
Web page #2 for trail

Web page for Platte River State Forest Campground

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2

General idea

Woodsy trail that parallels the Platte River near the shore and high along a bluff. (Requires crossing the river on foot.)

Length

1.5 mile main loop. (Though the DNR Web page claims 2.5 miles total.)

Hiking time

A little over an hour round trip.

Difficulty

Moderate – there are several minor hills and two larger, moderately steep hills.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes, but not recommended. Crossing the river in winter could be a challenge without the proper gear. Some areas near the river contain a lot of tree fall and the two fair-sized steeper hills would be a real challenge for cross-country skiers as well.

General location

In central Benzie County, ESE of Honor.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead location

Click here for links to view all Benzie County trailhead locations at Google Maps or in Google Earth.

Directions

The trailhead is located within the Platte River State Forest Campground. (No entrance fee or vehicle permit is required to park your car or use the trail.) From the intersection of Main Street (US-31) and Henry Street in Honor, take Main Street 0.9 miles to Goose Road. Turn right (southeast) and go 1.7 miles to the entrance for the Platte River State Forest Campground on the right (south). The trail starts from the campground road very near the Platte River — there's a small sign there. A small parking lot is available at the east end of the campground road loop. There are restrooms nearby.

More details

A Michigan Recreational Passport is required to use this area.

From the campground road, the trail goes about 100 feet and then crosses the Platte River to connect to the main loop. There is no bridge, so be sure to plan accordingly. Consider wearing water shoes or sandals to cross the river, then switching to normal hiking footwear. Expect the water to be at least a foot deep in the deepest sections. As you cross, move to the right (downstream) a little to stay on harder, sandier river bottom. Other areas of the river can be quite soft.

There are lots of springs along this trail, but for the most part it goes around them. With the springs and soggy ground on this side of the river, expect a lot more bugs (mosquitoes) here than on the other (campground) side.

This wooded trail has several small ups and downs, and larger, steeper hills as it moves from along the river to the top edge of the bluff high above the river.

The trail is not often used and not always easy to distinguish. There can be leaves covering it and tree-fall across it near the river, as well. But blue dots and cross-country trail markers on trees as well as seven sign posts help mark the way.

From the Michigan Trail Maps Web site:

"The pathway is marked on the south side of the campground loop and within 100 feet of the trailhead you arrive at the Platte River. There’s a bench here to kick off your boots or the watery crossing. The trail is easy to spot on the other side where post No. 2 and a another bench is located. You can do the ford in bare feet but there are patches in of stones and mud to contend with. Slipping on a pair of sport scandals is better.

You head upstream briefly and then swing sharply south (right) to scale climb the river bluff along the first of many springs encountered in the area. After topping off the trail descends the ridge and climbs again along a stretch where it's easy to wander off course. Follow the blue blazes! Post No. 3 is reached at Mile 0.6 where there is a bernch and just beyond it a huge maple that is stunning in October. The post also marks a cutoff spur down the bluff to post No. 4 though it’s hard to distinguish.

The main trail continues to cling to the steep bluff providing glimpses of the Platte River below between the trees. You pass more giant beech and maples before descending sharply to post No. 5. Head west (left) to cross a pair of springs and follow the separate loop where post No. 7 is located, reached at Mile 0.9 after a another climb up the bluff.

You backtrack to post No. 5 and then follow the trail as its winds through a stand of cedar along the river back to Post No. 2, reached at Mile 1.5. The Platte is so clear that in the summer you watch trout feeding during a hatch and in the fall coho salmon spawning upstream. One more dash across the river and you’re back at the campground."


POWER ISLAND TRAILS

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Overseeing
organization

Grand Traverse County

Web page

Web page #1
Web page #2
Web page #3

Trail map

None found.

General idea

Well-maintained trails weave through the island's interior, filled with a beautiful stand of northern hardwoods.

Length

5 miles

Hiking time

Varies with the route taken.

Difficulty

Easy to moderate.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Perhaps, but access is only by boat, which may be difficult or not recommend during winter months.

General location

In central northern Grand Traverse County, an island in West Bay off the west side of the central area of the Old Mission Peninsula, immediately southwest of Bowers Harbor, and NNE of Traverse City.

Road map

Road map

Directions

Being an island, water transportation to the island required.

To get to the public boat launch – from Traverse City, head north on Highway 37 about 9 miles out from the base of Old Mission Peninsula. Follow the signs to Bowers Harbor, turning left on Seven Hills Road, then left again onto Bowers Harbor Road. Cross Peninsula Drive veering to the right onto Neah-ta-wanta Road. Very soon on the left (west) side of the road is the public boat ramp. Adequate parking and a port-a-john toilet are available at the site.

More details

Power Island sits off Bowers Harbor (on Old Mission Peninsula) in West Grand Traverse Bay north of Traverse City. Power Island is also known as Marion Island and Ford Island, and many online maps have the old / wrong name.

The island is a 202-acre property about two miles from the Bowers Harbor Boat Launch. The island includes forest and beach areas and is used primarily for its beaches and picnic areas. A primitive campground (with just a handful of campsites) is located on Bassett Island, which is connected to Power Island via an isthmus (during low-water periods) off the northeast tip. Features of Power Island include swimming, picnic area, restrooms, campsites, and hiking.

The island has a boat dock, swimming beach, and a treat for hikers: approximately 11 miles of well-maintained hiking trails that weave through much of the island's interior. Make sure to appreciate the views from the bluffs on the western coast. The island is filled with a beautiful stand of northern hardwoods, including beech, sugar maple, basswood and red oak, as well as more than 250 plant species. Wildlife includes a diverse population of songbirds, red fox and bobcat (who prey on such small mammals as the meadow vole, woodland deer mouse, and short-tailed shrew). There's a high ridge known as the Eagle's Nest and along the wild western shore are steep bluffs and rocky shoals.

Being an island, water transportation is required. You can easily kayak over in about an hour; it's about around 5-7 miles round trip depending on your route. See Paddling from Bowers Harbor to Power Island. This is a great day trip or overnight trip for beginner paddlers.

From the boat launch site, head southwest to Power Island. After about 1 mile you (can) exit the shelter of Bowers Harbor and head into the west arm of Grand Traverse Bay. If you follow the north shore of the harbor rather than heading straight to the island, watch out for the shallow sand-and-boulder bar that extends out from Tucker Point. At mile 2.5: Crossing to the east side of Power Island, you come to a dock and sand beach that is very popular with other boaters for day use.

Near the dock you will find access to the hiking trails.

(Is there water access from the mainland at the closest point to the island that's less that 1 mile away? To be incestigated.)


PROVEMONT POND RECREATION AREA

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Overseeing
organization

Owned by Leland Township

Web page

Web page

Trail map

Rough trail map

General idea

Trails in pretty wooded hills on either site of fishing pond.

Length

0.7 miles of trails
• West trail – 0.5 miles
• East Trail – 0.2 miles

Hiking time

40 minutes round-trip

Difficulty

Easy – trails are flat the whole way. But they are not well-maintained, at present, so expect some tree-fall, expecially on the east side.

Open to mountain
bikes

Unknown. The West Trail would be perfect for mountain bikes. The East Trail could be, too, if was cleaned up just a little.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In eastern central Leelanau County, west of the village of Lake Leelanau.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead location – at the end of the access road to the area at the the northwest corner of the lake.

Directions

From the intersection of M-204 and St. Joseph Street in the village of Lake Leeanau, atak M-204 west 0.9 miles to French Road. Turn left (south) and go 400 feet to Popp Road. Turn left (south) and go 100 feet to the access road to the Provemont Pond Recreation Area. Turn left (east) and go about 700 feet to the pond. There is parking for 3 cars ar best and no restroom.

More details

At the township's Web page they say about this area, "90 acres of undeveloped woodland; fishing pond." It's a lovely piece of woods and cute little pond.

From the trailhead,
• go south on the West Trail which runs along the pond's inlet creek moslty in woods at foot of a hill all the way to a gravel road. It feel like an old railroad or logging road.
• go east across the levy to take the East Trail south along the east side pond – it dies out perhaps 200 feer south of the end of the lake.

The two trails are unmaked. They could easily be connected by building a simple footbridge upon an existing concrete structure that crosses the inlet creek not too far south of the pond.

Note: the area is open to hunting.

PYATT LAKE NATURE PRESERVE

Back to Trail List

Overseeing
organization

Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy. See their complete GTRLC nature preserve list. Also known as the Bill Carls Nature Preserve.

Web page

Web page

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2
Trail map #3

General idea

Pretty loop trail through the woods.

Length

0.83 mile loop

Hiking time

30 minutes.

Difficulty

Easy.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In central northern Grand Traverse County, in the central area of the Old Mission Peninsula, north of the Bowers Harbor community, and NNE of Traverse City.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead location - general vicinity

Directions

20 minutes north of Traverse City on Old Mission Peninsula near Bower's Harbor.

From Traverse City, take M-37 over 9 miles north to 7 Hills Road. Veer left on to 7 Hills Road and go north about 0.5 mile to Bower's Harbor Road. Turn left (west) and go about 0.5 miles to Peninsula Drive. Cross the street turning right somewhat as road become Neahtawanta Road. Take this northwest 0.5 miles to Pyatt Road. Turn right (north) — about 1/4 mile down the road is the parking area.

More details

Also known as The Bill Carls Nature Preserve. The hills crisscrossing the preserve are sand dunes formed when this area was part of the larger lake. The dune ridge located here — a regionally unique habitat — is known as wooded dune and swale. These glacial "tracks" make this preserve a living laboratory for geology buffs! It is also perhaps the most botanically diverse property in private ownership in Grand Traverse County as more than 250 plant species have been identified on the property.

PYRAMID POINT TRAIL

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Overseeing
organization

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Web page

Web page #1
Web page #2

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2
Trail map #3

General idea

• Short lookout trail leads to the top of Pyramid Point.
• Main loop has long gentle hills through woods and meadow.

Length

2.7 miles loop with a short spur to a lookout point high over Lake Michigan.

Hiking time

Varies with route taken.

Difficulty

Moderate

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In the central northern area of Leelanau County, northeast of Glen Arbor.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead location

Directions

From Glen Arbor, take M-22 about 4.5 miles northeast to Port Oneida Road. Turn left (north) and go less than 2 miles to Basch Road. Turn right (east) and go about 0.6 miles to the parking area on the left (north) side of the road. Restroom.

More details

NOTE: The use of this (and any) area within the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (SBDNL) requires a national park pass. See here for more details about SBDNL passes.

The short trail to the lookout at the top of Pyramid Point leads through a flat meadow then up a short but moderate hill through the woods. Great views here, high above Lake Michigan. See the South and North Manitous Islands, and on clear days the Fox Islands.

The main loop has long gentle hills, is mostly in the woods, but with a few parts in meadow.

The dunes to the east of the top Pyramid Point are fun to explore. On the back side (south side) of the dunes, in sort of the SE corner, you can go down a long sandy hill that connects with the main loop.

RAILROAD POINT NATURAL AREA

Back to Trail List

Overseeing
organization

Owned by Benzie County and protected by the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy. See their complete GTRLC nature preserve list.

Web page

Web page

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2

General idea

Pretty trail in the woods with a lovely view overlooking Crystal Lake.

Length

Around 1.2 miles round trip.

Hiking time

About 45 minutes round trip.

Difficulty

Easy to moderate — relatively short trail but it includes several gentle hills.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In western central Benzie County, WNW of Benzonia.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead location

Click here for links to view all Benzie County trailhead locations at Google Maps or in Google Earth.

Directions

From the traffic light in Benzonia (M-115 west and US-31), take M-115 west 1.8 miles to Mollineaux Road. Turn right and go west 0.6 miles and watch for the “Parking” sign on the left (south) side of the road. The entrance to the parking lot is on the right (north) side of the road. There's usually a Port-a-Pottie availlable.

More details

At the overlook you’re offered a unique view of Crystal Lake from atop the high bluff above the lake. This area has been known locally as “Railroad Point” ever since the Toledo Ann Arbor & North Michigan Railroad established service between Frankfort and Beulah in the 1890’s

There are two ways to the overlook:
1. The shorter and easier, old two-track trail.
2. The Mary Margaret Johnson Trail — a slightly longer, woodsier, and hillier trail. It's marked with purple blazes on trees and includes an extra little loop that goes by another section of the bluffs high above Crystal Lake.

Update from December 2012 – in early 2013 this area will expand from 60 to 200 acres. The additional property will include a cottage on Crystal Lake, 40 acres between Mollineaux Road and M-115, and 100 acres south of M-115. The latter will include much of the Crystal Lake Outlet and extend to and include a tiny piece of the Betsie River. Of course we hope trails will be established on the new property!

RANSOM LAKE NATURAL AREA

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Overseeing
organization

Owned by Almira Township. Protected by the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy. See their complete GTRLC nature preserve list.

Web page

Web page

Trail map

Trail map

General idea

Easy and very pretty loop trail that travels next to Ransom Creek and around Ransom Lake.

Length

2 miles round trip for the Western spur and loop aronud Ransom Lake.
• Western spur trail along Ransom Creek — 0.3 miles.
• Loop around Ransom Lake — 1.4 miles.
• Optional Northern spur trail — 0.3 miles.

Hiking time

A little over an hour round trip.

Difficulty

Easy — the main trail and Western spur trail are flat the whole way. But note that the Northern spur trail, if you take it, is a steady climb up a gentle hill.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes, but see the Winter Use note in Directions below .

General location

In northeastern Benzie County, southeast of the village of Lake Ann.

Road map

Road map

Click here for links to view all Benzie County trailhead locations at Google Maps or in Google Earth.

Directions

There are two access points:

    West entrance trailhead location –

    • From Lake Ann at the intersection of Lake Ann Road (2nd Street) and Maple Street (County Highway 610), take Lake Ann Road south 0.9 miles the entrance on the left (east). There’s a blue “Ransom Lake Trail” sign on right (west). Turn left (east) and go 0.1 miles to the parking lot. Restroom.

    • From downtown Honor, take US-31 east 9.2 miles to Lake Ann Road, then north about 4 miles. (Or from Lake Ann, take Lake Ann Road about 1 mile south south Maple Street.) Watch for the blue “Ransom Lake Trail” sign on the left (west) side of the road. There is a short access road down to a small parking area on the right (east) side of the road. Restroom.

    North entrance trailhead location –

    • From Lake Ann at the intersection of Lake Ann Road (2nd Street) and Maple Street (County Highway 610), take Lake Ann Road south 0.4 miles to Nofsger Road. Turn left (east) and go 0.6 miles to Bellows Lake Road. Turn right (south) and go less than 0.1 miles to the Ransom Lake Road entrance on the right (west). Roadside parking only. Trek in the 0.1 mile entrance road to parking area and the start of the Northern spur trail — it’s about 0.3 miles long down a gentle hill to the main loop. Restroom.

    • From downtown Honor, take US-31 east 9.2 miles to Lake Ann Road, then north about 4.5 miles to Nofsger Road. Turn right (east) and go 0.6 miles to Bellows Lake Road. Turn right (south) and go less than 0.1 miles to the Ransom Lake Road entrance on the right (west). Roadside parking only. Trek in the 0.1 mile entrance road to parking area and start of the Northern spur trail — it’s about 0.3 miles long down a gentle hill to the main loop. Restroom.

Winter Use: If the main (West) entrance is closed you’ll need to enter via the North entrance (see above). This is not plowed, either, so there is roadside parking only (see location here), and you need to hike / snowshoe / ski in the 0.1 mile entrance road to get to the parking area where you'll find the entrance to the northern spur trail. (A few hundred feet past the Enter Only road is the Exit Only road. You make find it better to park there and hike / snowshoe / ski in that 0.1 mile road to get to the parking area and the entrance to the northern spur trail.)

More details

Open to the public for hiking, hunting, fishing, bird watching, and nature study. Lovely wooded terrain and surrounding hills. Very pretty Ransom Creek and Ransom Lake.

From their former Web site: "Nestled within the hills of hardwood forests near Lake Ann in Benzie County. The property encompasses the beautiful, secluded Ransom Lake, 220 acres of wildlife habitat, forests, and wetlands, along with 3500 feet of Ransom Creek frontage, the property is adjacent to state land and land preserved for nature education. This project was a long-time dream of residents of Almira Township. This land will now be preserved forever."

The western spur portion of the trail follows Ransom Creek. The main loop trail goes around Ransom Lake. There are two footbridges over Ransom Creek where it enters and exits Ransom Lake.

From the northeast section of the loop trail is the Parsons Center Trail (part of Parsons Center and owned by Eastern Michigan University) which parallels Ransom Creek for about 0.3 miles on its route from Bellows Lake.

Note: In the southeast corner (perhaps 100 feet northeast of where the trail leaves the thick woods at the southern finger of the lake), there's an unmarked trail that heads southeast zigzagging up the hill then heads south into state lane. Something to explore...!

RAVEN RIDGE NATURE PRESERVE

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Overseeing
organization

Little Traverse Conservancy

Web page

None found for the preserve.
Raven Hill Discovery Center

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2

General idea

Mostly woodsy trail with a few hills and an overlook.

Length

3 miles of trails involving several loops, and includes the trail to the Raven Hill Discovery Center.

Some trail lengths:
• Lookout Trail: 0.4 miles
• Orange Loop: 0.5 miles
• Blue Loop: 0.5 miles
• Red Loop: 0.7 miles

Hiking time

Varies with the route taken.

Difficulty

Easy — appears to only involve some easy hills.

Open to mountain
bikes

Maybe.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In central southern Charlevoix County, ESE of East Jordan.

Road map

Road map

Directions

From East Jordan, take C-48 (aka State Street and the East Jordan - Boyne City Road) east about 4.5 miles to Pearsall Road. Turn right (southeast) and within 50 feet, turn left (south) onto Fuller Road. Go over 0.7 miles (past Deer Creek and up the big hill) to the Raven Hill Discovery Center on the right (west).

You can park at the Raven Hill Discovery Center ( location) and hike about 0.4 miles to the preserve. Or, go another 0.3 miles to Rogers Road (aka Seasonal Road). Turn left (east) and go just over 400 feet and on the right (south) you'll see the parking area and the tralhead for the preserve.

More details

If you strart at the Raven Hill Discovery Center (4737 Fuller Road), you can experience "a regional science and technology center, as well as a cultural, historical, and art center." This appears to be a nice woodsy trail that travels up and down a hillside and one trail includes an overlook.

REFFITT NATURE PRESERVE

Back to Trail List

Overseeing
organization

Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy. See their complete GTRLC nature preserve list.

Web page

Web page

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2

General idea

Pretty, woodsy trail near Traverse City through hardwoods, pines, and cedars with a several small boardwalks over marshy areas and creeks.

Length

1.7 mile loop

Hiking time

45 minutes

Difficulty

Easy. It's flat the whole way.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes, but a deep hard-pack of snow on the boardwalks could be difficult on skis.

General location

In central northern Grand Traverse County, immediately east of Traverse City.

Road map

Road map

Directions

Two access points and parking areas:

At the west end – Park in the lot on the southeast corner of the intersection of Three Mile Road and Parsons Road (on the south side of the railroad tracks). The trail starts from the parking lot and head east. (The north side of the tracks is the TART bicycle trail.) No restroom.

At the east end – From the intersection of US-31 and Four Mile Road, go about 0.2 miles south to Pine Drive. Turn right (west) and go about 0.5 miles to the "end" (before it turns to the south). There you'll find a wooden gate, kiosk, and tiny parking lot. No restroom.

More details

The Reffitt Nature Preserve is located adjacent to the TART trail, and not far from the Traverse City State Park.

ROGERS FAMILY HOMESTEAD NATURE PRESERVE

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Overseeing
organization

Little Traverse Conservancy

Adjacent to this property (to the north) is the Dressel Nature Preserve with no trails.

Adjacent to this property (to the east across the river) is the Jordan River Nature Preserve with a 0.4 mile trail going north from Fair Road. It appears to be mostly in open meadow.

The three preserves together are sometimes called the Jordan River Nature Preserves.

Web page

None found.

Trail map

Trail map

General idea

Semi-wooded / semi-open trail on west side of and generally paralleling the Jordan River.

Length

1.1 miles long, and 2.5 miles round trip if you include the loop on the south end.

Hiking time

1.5 hours round trip.

Difficulty

Easy.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In central southern Charlevoix County, south of East Jordan.

Road map

Road map

Directions

There are two access points:

The main trailhead and parking location. This is the south end of the trail.

From the east side of East Jordan –go south on M-66 (S. Lake Street) for 1.5 miles to Rogers Road. Turn left (east) and parking for the preserve is 0.5 miles down on the left (north) side of the road.

From the west side of East Jordan – go south on M-32 (Maple Street) for 1.5 miles to Rogers Road. Turn right (west) and parking for the preserve is 0.5 miles down on the right (north) side of the road.

The north end of the trail at the intersection of Erie and Echo Streets near town.

More details

Located just downstream from a public access / canoe launch, this 135-acre preserve includes 1.2 miles of frontage along the Jordan River as well as an easy trail that appears to be an old railroad. The loop on the south end goes closest to the river.

RUGG POND NATURAL AREA

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Overseeing
organization

Owned by Kalkaska County and managed as a natural area

Web page

Web page #1
Web page #2
Stories and photos of the area

Trail map

Rough trail map

General idea

Trail across the man-made dam, through woods and meadow paralleling river, to small bridge across river at the area's southeast corner.

Length

0.7 miles one-way.

Hiking time

Maybe 40 minutes, round trip.

Difficulty

Easy, it's flat the whole way.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In northwestern Kalkaska County, northwest of Kalkaska.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead and parking location

Directions

From the intersection of 131 and M-72 in Kalkaska, go west 1.7 miles on M-72 past the Kaliseum to Valley Road. Turn right (north) and go 3.2 miles to the entrance to the area on the right (east) side of the road.

More details

Beautiful scenery year around.

Rugg Pond is a 14-acre man-made pond fed by the Rapid River at the southeast, and Little Rapid River at the southwest. The earth dam that created Rugg Pond was completed around 1904 and used for a time to generate electricity for the village of Kalkaska and surrounding area. According to legend, Ernest Hemingway spent a night fishing from the Rugg Pond Dam powerhouse. A historical marker near the parking area provides more information.

There are two outflows from the dam – one is a cement spillway channel and the other a gigantic metal pipe made from what looks like the bolier of an old steam engine.

There's a boat launch off the parking lot, and locals say there are some decent trout in the lake.

The area has other wildlife. "Any serious birder with a good lens can see many different species of water bird during the spring migration" one site said. There is n activea beaver lodge used by those year-round residents. The pond is also "home to the rare-but-recovering pair of Trumpeter Swans."

Across the dam, an unmarked nature trail heads southeast along the pond and parallels the river along the area's northeast edge. The path travels through woods and meadows. At the area's southeast corner, it turn sharply to the WSE and crosses the river on a light-duty wooden bridge. Not far past the bridge, the trail connects to Hansen Road via an old two-track.

According to a 2007 Record Eagle ariticle, officials plan to upgrade the trail here to encircle Rugg Pond. "Local officials are eyeing the spot for the next improved trail in the Kalkaska Area Recreation and Transportation Trail System." As of September, 2014, this has yet to happen.

While you're in this area, visit the Seven Bridges area about 3 miles north on Valley Road.

SAND LAKES QUIET AREA

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Overseeing
organization

Michigan DNR

Web page

Web Site #1
Web Site #2

Trail map

Trail map – 1000 pixels wide (328 kB)
Trail map – 2274 pixels wide (1 mB)

General idea

Rolling hill and wooded trails surrounding five marl lakes.

Length

11 miles

Hiking time

Varies with the route taken.

Difficulty

Easy to moderate.

Open to mountain
bikes

Yes.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In northeastern Grand Traverse County, east of Traverse City, and SSE of Williamsburg.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead and parking location

Directions

From Traverse City, go northeast on US-31 to M-72 in Acme, turn right (east) and go 5.7 miles on M-72 to Broomhead Road. Turn right (south) and go 3.7 miles (which makes a left/right 0.5 mile "dog-leg" along the way) to the large parking lot.

More details

A Michigan Recreational Passport is required to use this area.

The area has five marl lakes surrounded by rolling hills of oak-pine forest. It's a fun place to explore.

The North Country Trail passes through this area and shares some of its trails.

The Michigan Shore to Shore Riding and Hiking Trail skirts along the south end of the property here but is not on the hiking trails.

SEVEN BRIDGES

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Overseeing
organization

Owned by the Michigan DNR. Stewarded by the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy.

Web page

Web page #1
Web page #2

Trail map

Rough trail map

General idea

Two main trails, one in the woods with FOUR bridges that cross the Rapid River and its tributaries, and the other mostly all uphill to a valley overlook. There are a few unofficial trails, as well, all in the woods and sometimes along the river.

Length

• East side trails — The main trail is 0.7 miles long (round-trip) and includes a small loop around a meadow at the east end. That loop intersects a two-track that runs about one mile south through the property, in the woods and paralleling the river, with private property at both ends. There is at least one other trail — a "fisherman's trail" going south from the eastern-most bridge at least 0.1 miles along the east side of the river.
• West side trail — 0.3 miles one-way to valley overlook shown on the trail map

Hiking time

• East side, main trail — maybe 20 minutes if done at a steady walk.
• West side trail — 45 minutes, round trip, to valley overlook shown on the trail map

Difficulty

• East side trail — easy, everytihng is flat. But some of the unofficial trails along the river have lots of tree roots to climb over, and more.
• West side trail — strenuous up hill for 0.2 miles following an old-two-track. At the top it's relatively flat. The two-track continues west to the edge of the property. But to get to the valley overlook shown on the trail map, you'll need to head south to a point sticking out east along the ridge. There's no clear path and lots of trees and brush to maneuver around.

Open to mountain
bikes

• East side trail — yes, but please walk your bike in the bridges area. The meadow at the east, and the old -two track are suitable for mountain bikes.
• West side — yes, but most of it is a steep two-track that the average hiker will avoid. You'll need to walk up the trail, and it would be a wild ride coming down.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

• East side trail — yes.
• West side trail — yes, but this trail would be very difficult to go up or down on XC skiis.

General location

In northwestern Kalkaska County, NNW of Kalkaska, and ESE of Rapid City.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead and parking location

Directions

From the intersection of 131 and M-72 in Kalkaska, go west 1.7 miles on M-72 past the Kaliseum to Valley Road. Turn right (north) and go 5.8 miles. You will see a sign for The Seven Bridges area and a small parking lot on the right (east) side of the road. (If you get to Underhill Road, you've gone about 0.6 miles too far.)

More details

Thie area is best knowm for its rustic wooden bridges built at various sites across the Rapid River and its adjacent tributaries. The bridges were built by the four Rickers brothers who homesteaded the property. The remains of the dam used by a sawmill (built in1882) can still be seen when crossing the first three bridges. The nearby fourth bridge crosses what looks like a tributary of the river.

The Rapid River is a blue ribbon trout stream and the Seven Bridges area has over one mile of river frontage, providing public access over that distnace to the river.

Note that only FOUR of the original seven bridges exist today, and they have since been improved.

There are two unmarked, undesignated trails....

• East side trails — The "main" trail on the east side of Valley Road travels through a wooded area crossing three bridges and leads to a small loop around a meadow on the property's east side. After the third bridge, one can choose to turn right (south) and cross the fourth bridge that leads to a "fisherman's trail" going south along the east side of the river. Or, if you go out the meadow, the trail there intersects with a two-track that runs south through the property, in the woods and paralleling the river, with private property at both ends.

• West side trail — If you have some good "land legs," you can "climb" up the steep two-track on the west side of the road. The first part is strenuous going up hill following an old-two-track to the top of Rickers Mountain. At the top it's relatively flat. The two-track continues west to the edge of the property. But to get to the valley overlook shown on the trail map, you'll need to head south to a point sticking out east along the ridge. There's no clear path and lots of trees and brush to maneuver around. Not in summer, but in late fall, winter, and early spring there is are said to be great views of the valley from here.

While you're in this area, visit the Rugg Pond Natural Area about 3 miles south on Valley Road.

SHAUGER HILL TRAIL

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Overseeing
organization

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Web page

Web page #1
Web page #2

Pierce Stocking "Scenic Drive Ski Trail" Web page

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2

Scenic Drive Ski Trail map #1
Scenic Drive Ski Trail map #2

General idea

Pleasant hilly trail through the woods.

Length

2.4 mile loop.

Hiking time

About 1.5 hours.

Difficulty

Moderate — Some easy to moderate hills along the trail.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Cross-country skiing: Yes. This trail is part of the 8 mile long Pierce Stocking "Scenic Drive Ski Trail" – a "designated cross-country ski trail." and also includes the unplowed Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive.

Snowshoeing: No.

General location

In southwestern Leelanau County, north of Empire.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead and parking location

Directions

Access the trail from the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive.

From Empire, take M-22 north about 2 miles to M-109. Turn left (north) and go 1.3 miles to the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive on the left (west) side of the road. About 0.2 miles in is the parking lot. The trailhead is on the left (south) corner of the lot. Parking, restrooms

More details

NOTE: The use of this (and any) area within the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (SBDNL) requires a national park pass. See here for more details about SBDNL passes.

The trail crosses Shauger Hill Road (formerly Dune Valley Road) twice and the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive twice. The trail goes primarily through a climax maple-beech forest and some pine forest in pretty hilly terrain.

In the summer, it’s lack of outstanding views and shoreline, in a park filled with them, has most people looking elsewhere to hike. That makes this trail a nice escape from crowds. Even when the viewing decks are packed and Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive is lined with vehicles crawling slowly along, you will likely encounter few if any other hikers on this foot path.

SHORE-TO-SHORE TRAIL

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Overseeing
organization

Maintained by the Michigan Trail Riders Association.

Web page

Web page #1
Web page #2
Web page #3
Web page #4

Trail map

Map #1 & Map #2
Map #3 & Map #4
Map #5
Map #6 — for a general idea of the main trail

The maps below from Outdoor Michigan are the best I've found, so far. You can zoom in and out, and it shows neighboring features:
Map of main trail
Map of the Southern Spur
Map of the Northern Spur
As good as these are, the still only provids a general idea of where the trail runs. They are often a few hundred feet off of the real trail, and has other inaccuracies.

The MTRA has detailed maps available. They are not as detailed as I expected, nor are they 100% accurate, but they have details horse riders will need.

Trail Camp Maps

General idea

Trail across lower Michigan connects the town of Empire on Lake Michigan with the community of Oscoda/AuSable on Lake Huron. There are also two spurs: a southern one to Cadillac and a northern one to Cheboygan.

Length

Appoximately 220 miles.

The first few segments, starting at the west end (Empire beach at Lake Michgan) and heading east...
• Segment 1 — Empire beach at Lake Michgan to Garey Lake Trail Camp — 8.5 miles
• Segment 2 — Garey Lake Trail Camp to the Lake DuBonnet Trail Camp — 16.5 miles
• Segment 3 — Lake DuBonnet Trail Camp to Schecks Trail Camp — 23.5 miles

Hiking time

Varies with the route taken.

Difficulty

Moderate, because of the hills, length, and varied terrain.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

The main trail, from west to east, runs from Empire Lake Michigan to Oscoda/AuSable on Lake Huron. Covered on this page will be (eventually) the details for Leelanau, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkasksa, and Crawford Counties.

The southern spur, that runs from Scheck's Campground and Trail Camp in Grand Traverse County to Cadillac in Wexford County, will also be covered, at some point.

The northern spur, that runs from near Luzerne to Cheboygan, will not covered as it's out of the range of this Web page.

Road map

A road map of the entire trail would show all of northern Lower Michigan, but see the maps above for a general idea of the areas involved.

See also the Shore-to-Shore Trail Segments section below for trail details for hiking for the first few segments of the trail starting at the west end at Empire. There are road maps for each segment.


The following are details for the west end point and trail camps on the western part of the trail and the southern spur...

The trail's west end is at the Lake Michigan Beach Village Park in Empire. At the beach. the easiest access to Lake Michgan for those with horses may be at the very south end, or the north end at the boat launch.

Trail camps locations for the western part only of the main trail, from west to east:

Garey Lake Trail Camp — In Benzie County, southeast of Empire. off of Pettengill Road (aka Oviatt Road, aka County Line Road).

The trail enters at the northeast corner and exits at the southeast corner. There's one set of restrooms in the middle of the camp.

While there, from the northeast corner of the camp, take a connecting trail 800 feet to the east to visit Garey Lake State Forest Campground. You'll find two more restrooms and 750 feet to the east via campground roads is access to Garey Lake. If needed, from the southwest corner of the campground, there is a 0.2-mile trail going straight south that connects to the Shore-to-Shore trail leading south from the trail camp.

Lake DuBonnet Trail Camp — In Grand Traverse County northwest of Interlochen, at the northwest (inside) corner of Lake DuBonnet. (The lake is sometimes called Mud Lake, as it was once called the Mud Lake Flowage before the dam was put in on the west end.) The main entrance is at the southwest corner, the trail exits at the northeast corner. There are two sets of restrooms.

Schecks Trail Camp — In Grand Traverse County on the upper Boardman River, about 0.5 miles west of Ranch Rudolph on Brown Bridge Road.The trail enters at the west end and exits at the northeast corner. There's at least one set of restrooms at the camp. (The sign there wehre the trail comes in on the west end that says "Mud Lake 25.8 miles" is talking about Lake DuBonnet Trail Camp, as Lake DuBonnet is sometimes called Mud Lake. And the miles is not far off, I think my 23.5 is more accurate.)

Kalkaska / Rapid River Trail Camp — In Kalkaska County, a little northwest of Kalkaska. (From US-131 and M-72/C.R. 612 in Kalkaska, take US-131 north to Beebe Road, take that north to Metazgar, take that west to Rice Road, take that south to the camp.)

Goose Creek Trail Camp — In Crawford County on the Manistee River west of Frederic. From Manistee River Road and C.R. 612, take Manistee River Road south about 0.3 miles to the camp on the right (west).

Trail camps locations going south of Shecks Trail Camp on the southern spur to Cadillac:

Hopkin's Creek Trail Camp — In Missaukee County, southeast of Fife Lake, and northeast of Manton. From M-42 and US-131 in Mantan, go east 5 miles to Lucas Road (Arlene). Turn left (north) and go 5.6 miles and cross over Hopkins Creek. Go another 0.3 miles north to a dirt-road to the left (west). Take it 1.7 miles to the camp.

Cadillac Trail Camp — In Wexford County, north ot Cadillac. From Business US-131 and Boon Road, take Business US-131 north to 30 Road. Turn right (east) and go 1.0 miles to 43 1/2 Road. Turn left (north) and go 0.2 miles to where it curves to the east and becomes Long Lake Road (no sign). Take that 0.8 miles to just past (150 feet) an intersection with another unsigned road (West Long Lake Road). The camp is on the left (north).

Directions

See the Shore-to-Shore Trail Segments section below for trail details for hiking for the first few segments of the trail starting at the west end at Empire.

Also, contact the Michigan Trail Riders Association.

More details

This Shore-to-Shore Trail is also known as the Michigan Riding and Hiking Trail. The trail is open to all users except bicyclists. Hikers and other users need to be aware that the primary use of the trail is by horseback riders. Hikers should wear good stout shoes or boots as the trail can be loose and sandy, or hard and bumpy, both kept that way by regular horse traffic. Some of the single-tracks can be well worn and include occasional exposed roots. Be mindful of other "attributes" that can be found in the trail due to horse traffic.

Look for trees, telephone poles, and light-blue-tipped posts with the trail symbol as shown to the right, as well as blue blzes on trees. Posts should be found at major turns in the trail, and a few other key locations. The signs used on trees and poles are blue plastic triangles. (Note: the DNR also uses blue plastic triangle signs for some of its pathways, but not with the Shore-to-Shore logo.)

This is the longest continuous trail in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. Riders can get more information through the Michigan Trail Riders Association.

  • From west to east, the trail stretches from Lake Michigan (at Empire) to Lake Huron (near Oscoda).
  • Around Traverse City, the trail passes through areas such as Garey Lake, Lime Lake, Lake Dubonnet, Ellis Lake, East Creek Reserve, Shecks Trail Camp on the Boardmad River, Muncie Lakes, the Sand Lakes Quiet Area, and then heads north of Kalkaska before continuing eastward.
  • There's also a southern spur that goes down to Cadillac, and a northern spur that ends east of Indian River.
  • The North Country Trail also joins the Shore-to-Shore trail for a short distance north of Kalkaska.
  • The trail passes under Interstate 75 north of Grayling and continues eastward to follow the scenic AuSable river on toward its destination — the town of AuSable just south of Oscoda.

This is one of the few trails in the midwest offering a long-distance hike / ride experience complete with established trail camps along the way. The trail features campgrounds (complete with privies and wells) at approximately 18 to 25 mile intervals. Most of the camps overlook (or are near to) lakes or rivers.

The trail is relatively easy to hike and navigate as some of it follows existing roads, two-tracks, well-marked pathways, and/or snowmobile trails. The trail ranges from a single-track loose, sandy path to the edge of a paved road. Although the trail is fairly "urban" in some areas, it avoids the tourist destinations of Michigan's north country. Its scenery – some of the most beautiful in the state – ranks highest on the list of its special attractions.

See below for trail details for hiking for the first few segments of the trail starting at the west end at Empire.


Shore-to-Shore Trail Segments (from the west end (Empire) to Schecks Trail Camp. More later as time permits.)

Trail details for hiking...

The following are details for hiking the trail. I've hiked some portions but not all for the trail segments listed. I started with many maps, including those from the MTRA, but none are detailed enough or 100% aaccurate. Next I found and viewed the location of the trail from all road crossings. Then, where possible and allowed, I drove some of the roads and two-tracks involved. Finally, in some locations, I actually hiked the trail.

For horse riders, there are special considerations and rules that need to be followed. The Guide Book, maps, and directions from the Michigan Trail Riders Association have additional and up-to-date details for horse riders. Contact the MTRA for the latest information.

The details below start at the west end of the trail — at Lake Michgan at Empire — and head east. (I'll cover the first three or four segments of the trail — those that are in northwestern Michigan and within about an hour of Traverse City.)

(This is a work in progress. SLOWLY I will add to this list.)


Segment Length Road Map
Details

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Empire beach at
Lake Michgan to
he Garey Lake
Trail Camp
8.5 miles Road
map
of area
About 75% of this segment is in the woods. A few miles ride on paved roads, but the rest of the trail is on two-tracks or a single-track path.

• At 0.0 miles — From the Empire beach, take existing roads (Niagara to Lake to Front to M-22) 0.5 miles to the main intersection of M-22 and M-72. (Note S2S Trail sign posts on north side of Niagara St at Lake St, and near NW corner of M-22 and M-72 / Front Street).
• At 0.5 miles — From that main intersection, walk along M-72 east 0.8 miles to a point 150 feet past McClary Road (called Cohedas Road on some maps). If you get to Westview Drive, you went too far.
• At 1.3 miles — Here the trail goes off the road and slightly into the woods on the right (south) side of the road. The trail parallels M-72 mostly in the woods. Fairly flat with some small hills involved.
• At 2.6 miles — The trail crosses Kitlinger Road and continues to parallel M-72.
• At 2.8 miles — The highway curves to the left, but the trail breaks away from being by the road and continues to head southeast a little (perhaps 1/2 mile). Then it turns straight south, and goes mostly through woods. The trail appears to be fairly flat with some small hills involved.
• At 4.5 miles — The trail arrives at paved Osborn Road. Turn left (east) and follow the road. (Some maps show the trail crossing the road and using Spring View Drive – that is incorrect.)
• At 5.1 miles — The trail arrives at County Road 677 (aka Benzonia Trail, aka Valley Road). There's a sign that says: Platte River Snowmobile Trail. From here, the trail is a sand and dirt two-track and mostly flat all the way to Petengill Road. The trail starts out going east.
• At 5.35 miles — The trail encounters another two-track (under some power lines) and turns right (south).
• At 5.6 miles — The trail turns to the left (east). From here, the trail goes almost straight east.
• At 7.4 miles — The trail crosses Plowman Road and continues east.
• At 8.1 miles — The trail turns to the right (south).
• At 8.4 miles — The trail crosses Pettengill Road (aka Oviatt Road, aka County Line Road) 1.3 miles west of Pearl Lake Road – there's a 150-foot jog the west. Then the trail continues south as a single-track.
• At 8.5 miles — Arrive at the Garey Lake Trail Camp. The trail enters at the northeast corner and exits at the southeast corner.

Garey Lake Trail
Camp to the Lake
DuBonnet Trail
Camp
16.5 miles Road
map
of area

Recommened hiking sections of this segment:

  • Garey Lake Trail Camp to Fowler Road (2.8 miles)
  • Bronson Lake Road (just south of the creek) to Lake Ann Road (2.9 miles)

About 90% of this segment is in the woods. A few miles ride on wider gravel roads, but the rest of the trail is on two-tracks or a single-track path.

This segment is in Benzie County except for about a milke on the east end.


• At 0.0 miles — Leave the Garey Lake Trail Camp, head south about 400 feet, east about 600 feet, then (mostly) south for quite a ways. The trail is a single-track. Expect several small hills, and maybe a few moderate ones. (if you see a sign talking about Mud Lake, it's referring to the trail camp at Lake DuBonnet, as the lake was once called the Mud Lake Flowage before the dam was put in on the west end.)
• At 1.6 miles — At this point, you are on a ridge a few hundred feet west of the orphan lake section of Lime Lake. There's no sign, but watch for a "dip" in the ridge line for the trail going down a moderage hill to the lake. Be sure to check it out; it's a beautiful little lake. There are light weeds and grasses at the edge of the lake, but it is approachable on foot. (If needed, there is a "fisherman's path" going along the west and north side of this lake and the main lake and eventually it connects to the access road for Lime Lake.)

From here the trail heads south, bends southwest, then west, then southwest again through woods. There are many little hills to go up and down, and few small valleys. Perhaps two-thirds of the way along the trail becomes a recognizable two-track.
• At 2.5 miles — The trail leaves the two-track and turns straight south as a single-track along the edge of the woods. Perhaps 0.1 miles before the end is a sign for those going north that says "Just 4 More Miles" – which is wrong as it's about 2.7 miles.
• At 2.8 miles — The trail crosses Fowler Road (1.2 miles west of Rayle Road, and 2.4 miles east of Valley Road) and continues south following Spear Road. There is a STOP sign on it at Fowler Road, but no road sign identifying it as Spear Road.

Spear Road is a dirt and sand two-track, and climbs mostly uphill for the first 0.7 miles or so. Near the top of the climb, there are a handfull of "waterholes" filling the whole width of the road, but you can easily walk around them. These might not be present after a long dry period.
• At 3.4 miles — Spear Road goes straight, but the "main" road and the trail angles southwest. This "connector" road is not shown on any road maps. But it's obvious in person and easy to see on the Outdoor Michigan trail map.
• At 3.8 miles — The road intersects with Haze Road and does a sharp turn to the left.
• At 4.4 miles — The (old) Eliza Lake Road, is it's even still there, goes off the the left (east). It may be hard to spot, and may only exist on road maps.
• At 4.9 miles — The road/trail crosses Brozofsky Road.
• At 5.6 miles — There is an unnamed road going off to the right (northwest). Continue south following Haze Road.
• At 6.1 miles — Arrive to Hooker Road. Turn left (east) and follow the road.
• At 7.5 miles — Cross Rayle Road and continue east on Hooker Road. From here to C.R. 669 the road is wide and gravel.
• At 8.0 miles — Cross C.R. 669 (Maple City Highway). It's a gravel road for about 0.3 miles, then becomes a sand and dirt two-track. Surrounding 0.7 miles along is a large "dip" in the road as it goes by a grassy pond on the left (north).
• At 9.0 miles — Cross Hulbert Road. It's a gravel road for about 0.1 miles, then becomes a sand and dirt two-track. Mostly flat except for one "down and uphill" section in the middle.
• At 9.5 miles — Come to Burnt Mill Road. (There is a STOP sign on Hooker Road here, a Seasonal Road sign, and Shore-to-Shore Trail markings, but no road sign identifying it as Hooker Road.) Turn right (south) and follow the road. It's wide and "hard" gravel. Watch out for light traffic.
• At 10.5 miles — Cross Oakley Road. (Just 0.3 miles to the east is Bronson Lake. Be careful, the access road to the lake is "steep" for cars and loose gravel.)
• At 10.6 miles — Jeri Road goes off to the left (east), and connects to Oakley Road, if needed.
• At 10.8 miles — Cross the Platte River. About 100 feet past the the river, Bronson Lake Road heads ESE. The trail follows the road.
• At 10.9 miles — The road splits. Marl Road (if it can even be seen), goes to the far right (SE). The "official" Bronson Lake Road goes off to the right (ESE), but it's not used often. The "main" road (and the trail) goes to the left (ENE). It has no name on the maps. (For what it's worth, this main road arcs to the north then returns and reconnects to the "official" Bronson Lake Road after 0.9 miles. This is easy to see on Google Maps.)
• At 11.0 miles — Cross a creek. It has deep banks, is 3 to 4 feet wide, and flows north from Bell Lake and joins the Platte River just before the log dam south of Bronson Lake. From here, the trail arcs, heading ENE, east, then SE.
• At 11.6 miles — The trail turns to the left (north) around here, leaving the road. It's a single-track that goes downhill into the creek's valley
• At 11.7 miles — The trail crosses the creek. This three-feet-wide, deep-banked creek flows WNW into Bronson Lake. The small, wooden bridge over the creek says MTRA 1997. This is a very pretty little valley. From here, the trail climbs steadily a small hill.
  At 11.8 miles — The trail intersects with a two-track. From here it goes NE and E several times, all in the woods on flat ground, and the trail is relatively hard. (FWIW, to the west of the intersection, the two-track quickly dies out.)
  At 12.1 miles — The trail takes a sharp bend to the left, from ESE to NNE.
• At 12.7 miles — The trail crosses Reynolds Road (600 feet north of Victory Lane or 0.2 miles south of Rainbow Camp Road). Continue east. The trail is a single-track here. There are some small hills.

*** Road map of trail section from Reynolds Road to Lake Ann Road.

*** Photo of trail section from Reynolds Road to Lake Ann Road.

This map and photo trace the actual trail from a satellite view, and are therefore very accurate.
• At 13.0 miles — The trail intersects with another trail from the south and turns to the left (northeast). There can be a few soggy spots in the valleys during wetter times of the year. There are a few small hills and a few short but moderately steep ones.
• At 13.3 miles — The trail intersects with a lake trail going east along the north side of Peanut Lake. You're about 200 feet from the lake to the east, yet no easy access to the water was seen nor a waterhole mentioned on the trail map. (Note, the lake trail rejoins the main trail at 13.7 miles, if you want to explore.) The main trail goes north up a gentle hill.
• At 13.4 miles — The trail turns to the right (east), bends to the northeast, then heads east. (At the turn, during June, 2014, there were a few interesting markers, in the form of Santa Claus and an Elf — two small signs on posts.) It's around here the trail becomes a recognizable two-track. It stays flat until 14.0 miles..
• At 13.7 miles — As the trail curves northeast it's joined by the the lake trail.
• At 13.9 miles — Around this area the trail gently curves north.
• At 14.0 miles — The trail leaves the two-track and heads generally northeast down a single-track. (If you need/want to, you can follow the two-track – it adds just 0.1 miles to the trip. Here's a right turn along that two-track where it turns the east, 0.1 miles past where the trail veered off.)
• At 14.1 miles — The trail joins the "Mud Lake two-track" trail and goes south on the flat but sandy two-track. (If you take the two-track 0.1 miles to the north, you can see the often pretty Mud Lake, one of three in the county.)
• At 14.2 miles — Cross the Platte River (again). There's no access to the water for horses. For people it's not hard.
• At 14.3 miles — The two-track turns to the left (east). The two-track is really sandy here.
• At 14.5 miles — The trail breaks away from the two-track. A few hundred feet after that, the trail crosses Lake Ann Road a few feet south of Buckley Road (an unsigned two-track on the east side of Lake Ann Road). From here the single-track trail heads southeast, then east. The trail goes gently uphill, flat for a while, then gently downhill near the end.
• At 15.3 miles — The trail intersects with the Douglas Road two-track. Follow it northeast.
• At 15.5 miles — Encounter Buckley Road. From here, follow the sandy, flat two-track southeast.
• At 15.8 miles — The DNR's Lost Lake Pathway crosses the road here. It's confusing, as they also use blue plastic triangle markers. But note their markers show a XC skiier and a hiker and not the Shore-to-Shore Trail logo. There's also a Shore-to-Shore Trail post there marking the way, but it's rotting fast.

Stay on the two-track going southeast.
• At 16.1 miles — Intersect with Lake DuBonnet Trail Road, a gravel road. From here, there's a single-track trail that goes ESE 1/4 mile to the north end of the trail camp. To enter camp at the main entrance, take the road south.
• At 16.2 miles — There's another single-track trail that goes east 1/4 mile to the north end of the trail camp. To enter camp at the main entrance, keep following the road south.
• At 16.3 miles — There's a two-track access road that goes east ENE to the trail camp's main entrance at its southwest corner.
• At 16.5 miles — Arrive at the Lake DuBonnet Trail Camp.

Lake DuBonnet
Trail Camp to
Schecks Trail
Camp
23.5 miles Road
map
of area
• At 0.0 miles — Leave the Lake DuBonnet Trail Camp on the trail, which is a two-track heading NNE along the lake.
  At 0.5 miles — The trail turns to the right and heads generally ENE.
• At 0.8 miles — Intersect with Lake DuBonnet Trail Road (a two-track) and follow it ESE.
• At 1.5 miles — The trail crosses an unnamed two-track under power lines. Continue ENE.
• At 1.8 miles — Arrive at Fisher Road, follow it southesst.
• At 3.3 miles — Arrive at South Long Lake Road. The creek you crossed over 200 feet ago was the very early Platte River (a third time). Follow South Long Lake Road southwest for just 200 feet to the gravel Rogers Road on the left (south). Follow it south.
• At 4.1 miles — There's an arc in Rogers Road as it goes around a former lake bed.
• At 4.3 miles — The road straightens out and heads south again at 4.3 miles. A few hundred feet later is a two-track going east – ignore it.
• At 4.4 miles — Watch for the trail as it angles off the road to the left (southeast). Follow it.
• At 4.9 miles — The trail intersects with a two-track on the north side of Ellis Lake. Turn left (east). About 200 feet along is a small bridge over the inlet to Ellis Lake. Continue east then southeast.

(The inlet comes from an unnamed, very large beaver pond to the north. Notice the 300-foot beaver dam at the southwest corner of this "pond." Technically, this inlet and pond may be part of the Betsie River.)
• At 5.4 miles — Arrive at Ellis Lake Road. (600 feet to the left (west) is the access site for Ellis Lake.) Take the road south.
• At 5.7 miles — Arrive at US-31. (Note, here you're just 1.3 miles east of Interlochen Corners if you need any services). Cross the highway — be careful! Travel east along US-31.
• At 5.9 miles — Arrive at Duck Lake Road which heads straight east as US-31 bends ENE. Follow Duck Lake Road. It's paved with a narrow gravel shoulder.

For the next several miles in this urban section of the trail, watch for blue plastic markers on telephone poles (on either side of the street) and wooden posts at a corner of intersections.
• At 6.9 miles — Duck Lake Road bends to the south; continue to follow it.
• At 7.1 miles — Arrive at Fall Road. Turn left (east).
• At 8.1 miles — Arrive at C.R. 633.

NOTE: Many maps show the trail going north and then using Vance Road to the east. That has changed. The trail now uses Blair Town Hall Road to go east.

Turn right (south).
• At 8.9 miles — Intersect with Blair Town Hall Road. Turn left (east).

NOTE: For those following the MTRA map, there's a problem. They drew Blair Town Hall Road, and therefore the trail, 1/2 mile too far south. And it's wrong for over 4 miles going east.
• At 10.9 miles — Cross M-37, continue east. After about a mile the road switched from being paved to hard gravel.
• At 12.8 miles — Intersect with Megan Road coming from the left (north). Blair Town Hall Road turns to the right (south). The trail goes straight east.

From here until the trail reconnects with Blair Town Hall Road at 17.6 miles, the trail follows dirt and sand two-tracks and it's flat the whole way except for a few dips at creek crossings. There are alternating woods and open areas.

*** Road map of trail section from Megan Road to Blair Town Hall Road just east of Mayfield.

*** Photo of trail section from Megan Road to Blair Town Hall Road just east of Mayfield.

This map and photo trace the actual trail from a satellite view, and are therefore very accurate.
• At 13.1 miles — The two-track splits in two. One road goes straight. Follow the other road that bends to the right and goes southeast.
• At 13.3 miles — There's another two-track going off to the right (west) and curving southwest.
• At 13.4 miles — Arrive at a decent-sized North-South gravel road. (Google Maps calls it Hoosier Valley Road, which looks very incorrect.). From here going east there are two parallel two-tracks. Take the left (northern) one. This has the trail markers on it. (But you'll wind up on the southern one a little later, just past 14.0.)
• At 13.9 miles — The trail turns to the left (north). A few hundred feet later the trail bends to the right (northeast).
• At 14.0 miles — The two-track splits in two. The left fork goes northeast. Follow the right fork that bends and goes east. A few hundred feet later the trail joins the southern two-track mentioned at 13.4 above. From here the trail goes ESE.
• At 14.3 miles — Come to an open area. The real Hoosier Valley Road comes in on the left (north) and exits 400 feet later to the right (south).
• At 14.6 miles — The trail slowly bends to the right (SSE).
• At 14.9 miles — The trail is joined by another two-track coming in on the left (NNE). The trail bends to the southwest.
• At 15.1 miles — The trail intersects with another and takes a sharp turn ot the left (southeast).
• At 15.2 miles — The trail crosses a creek and bends to ENE, then passes through an open area.
• At 15.5 miles — The trail crosses another two-track and turns to the northeast. 300 feet long the trail crosses Jaxon Creek.
• At 15.7 miles — The trail crosses another small creek.
• At 15.8 miles — The trail intersects with another and turn to the right (southeast).
• At 16.2 miles — The trail intersects with decent-sized gravel road. Go straight ((ESE).
• At 16.3 miles — The trail turns to the left (north). From here is goes north, east, north, then east again around the outside edge of a gas well property.
• At 16.5 miles — You're now east of the gas well property. Head east.
• At 16.7 miles — Cross a two-track and cross Freedom Road.
• At 17.0 miles — Intersect with a two-track going under power lines. Then right and go south east.
• At 17.4 miles — 200 feet before Blair Town Hall Road, the trail breaks to the east via a single-track trail.
• At 17.6 miles — Come to Blair Town Hall Road, a wide, hard, gravel road. Head east on the road.
• At 17.8 miles — On the north side of the road is a grassy bluff, and a 0.2 mile trail on the bluff that starts here. It's optional but looks fun.
• At 17.9 miles — If you want to explore Mayfield Pond Park, there's a footpath here on the right (south) that leads to the park.
• At 18.1 miles — Cross railroad tracks. You're on the north side of the little village of Mayfield. Continue east then northeast.
• At 18.3 miles — Arrive at Garfiled Road. Turn left (northeast).
• At 18.8 miles — Intersect with Mayfield Road, take it to the right (southeast). Follow the road.
• At 19.6 miles — Arrive at a small clearing at the right (south). Near the southeast corner of the clearing the trail heads southeast into the woods then turns and parallels the road.
• At 19.7 miles — The trail crosses the small East Creek. This is a good watering hole. (If need be, you can cross the creek via Mayfield Road 60 feet to the north.) 120 feet past the creek the trail joins the road.
• At 19.8 miles — The trail leaves the road and goes in the woods on the right (south) and parallels the road.
• At 20.7 miles — The trail comes to a two-track crossroad, turns left (north), goes about 60 feet, crosses Mayfield Road, then turns to the northeast following a two-track.
• At 21.2 miles — The trail passes through a natural gas well area.
• At 21.4 miles — The trail crosses Fish Creek Road and continues northeast.
• At 21.9 miles — The trail bends to the north.
• At 22.1 miles — The trail crosses Scharmen Road and continues north. The road the trail is sharing now is called County Road.
• At 22.4 miles — 50 feet before Brown Bridge Road, the trail turns of the road to the right (northeast) and becomes a single-track path.
• At 22.5 miles — The trail crosses a two-track.
• At 23.0 miles — The trail comes out on Brown Bridge Road. (A few feet later on the right (south) is the start to the Southern Spur to Cadillac, I think.) Follow the road to the right (east then north).
• At 23.1 miles — The trail crosses the Boardman River. 250 feet later, you'll pass by the entrances to the main Scheck's Campground on the left (west) and right (east). This is NOT the trail camp.
• At 23.2 miles — The trail leaves the road and goes into the woods.on the right (south) and then turns east.
• At 23.5 miles — The trail enters the west side of Schecks Trail Camp.
  This is a work in progress. More coming as time allows...

SILVER CREEK PATHWAY

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Overseeing
organization

Michigan DNR

Web page

Web page #1
Web page #2
Web page #3
Web page #4

Silver Creek State Forest Campground
Lincoln Bridge State Forest Campground

Trail map

Trail / road map #1
Trail / road map #2
Trail / road map #3
Trail / road map #4 & Trail / road map #5
Trail / road map #6 & Trail / road map #7

General idea

Well-marked wooded loop trail provides an intimate experience with the Pine River, paralleling both sides of the river. It includes a few ups and downs and several great vistas along the way.

Length

4 mile loop.

Hiking time

Around 2 hours.

Difficulty

Moderate – several easy to moderate hills along the way.

Open to mountain
bikes

Yes.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In northeastern Lake County, north of Luther.

Road map

Road map

Directions

You can begin your hike from either end of the loop via the two access points:

1) South End – Trail access at the south end of the trail's loop is at the Silver Creek State Forest Campground.

Approaching from the south – from the village of Luther, take State Road north about 3 miles to the Silver Creek State Forest Campground.

Approaching from the north – from Hoxeyville (southeast of M-55 and M-37) take 11 1/4 Road south to State Road. Take State Road south to the Silver Creek State Forest Campground, which is 0.2 miles south of the intersection with 9 Mile Road.

South footbridge and rough trailhead location. There's a footbridge over the Pine River from the campground which leads to the western half of the trail. The eastern half leads north from the campground.

Parking is available early on the entrance road to the campground. Restrooms nearby.

2) North End – Trail access at the north end of the trail's loop is very near the Lincoln Bridge State Forest Campground – near the end of 10 Mile Road west of State Road. Actual trail access is by the Pine River at end of 10 Mile Road, 0.7 miles west of State Road.

Approaching from the north – from Hoxeyville (southeast of M-55 and M-37) take 11 1/4 Road south to State Road. Take State Road south to 10 Mile Road. Turn right (west) and go 0.7 miles to the river.

Approaching from the south – from the village of Luther, take State Road north. about 4 miles to 10 Mile Road. Turn left (west) go about 0.7 miles to the river.

North footbridge and rough trailhead location. There's a footbridge (the Lincoln Bridge) over the Pine River which leads to the western half of the trail. The trail going south (along the eastern side of the river) starts at the south end of road loop (and launch area) by the river.

Park in the road loop at the launch area by the river OR back 0.3 miles at the main parking area on 10 Mile Road. Restrooms are nearby.

More details

Silver Creek Pathway is in Lake County and in the Pere Marquette State Forest.

The trail crosses the Pine River at a footbridge in the Silver Creek Campground at the south of the loop and the Lincoln Bridge footbridge at the north end of the loop.

A Michigan Recreational Passport is required to use this area at the Silver Creek and Lincoln Bridge access sites,

The eastern half of the trail is mostly on a hill above the river offering great views. The western half of the trail is down close to the water offering a more intimate experience with river.

SILVER LAKE RECREATION AREA

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Overseeing
organization

Garfield Township and the Grand Traverse Conservation District.

Web page

Web page

Trail map

Trail and park map #1
Trail and park map #2

General idea

Nice park and trail area by Hidden Lake and the north branch of Silver Lake.

Length

The paved loop is 0.7 of a mile. The three unpaved loop trails total 1.4 miles.

Hiking time

15 minutes for the paved loop and perhaps 20 minutes for the unpaved trail portions.

Difficulty

Easy to moderate. The paved trail is completely flat. The unpaved trail has several small hills and one moderaate sized hill.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In northwestern Grand Traverse County, southwest of Traverse City.

Road map

Road map

Main parking location (There is no main trailhead. There is another parking area a little earlier on the entrance road.) Restrooms.

Directions

From Chun's Corner south of Traverse City (where US-31 intersects with M-37 and both go north together), go west about 0.8 miles to East Silver Lake Road. Go north around 2.6 miles, the park is on the left (west) side of the road.

More details

Also known as Silver Lake Park. Amenities include three picnic pavilions, restrooms, a tee-ball field, tennis courts, paved and unpaved walking trails, a sledding hill, and plenty of open space for playing catch or tossing a Frisbee.

The paved loop surrounds the open portion of the park. Two of the unpaved trails meander thorugh a pretty piney woods around Hidden Lake and near the shores of the north branch of Silver Lake, a third trail goes around an open meadow.

SKEGEMOG SWAMP PATHWAY

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Overseeing
organization

Owned by the Michigan DNR. Managed and maintained by the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy. Also known as the Skegemog Lake Pathway.

Web page

Web page #1
Web page #2
Web page #3

Skegemog Lake Wildlife Area

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2

General idea

Main pathway – Hike an old railway grade trail, then through a swamp/forest paralleling Janis Creek to a small observation tower at Skegemog Lake.

Length

Main pathway – 1.6 miles, round trip.
North Shore Pathway – 2.4 miles round trip

Hiking time

Main pathway – Less an hour, round trip.
North Shore pathway – Just over an hour, round trip.

Difficulty

Easy — it's all flat.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In northwestern Kalkaska County, northwest of Kalkaska, ENE of Williamsburg, and south of Rapid City.

Road map

Road map

Main pathway – Trailhead location
North Shore Pathway – Trailhead location

Directions

To the Main pathway:

  • From Traverse City, take US 31 north to M-72. Turn right (east) and go 8 miles to Hill Road, which veers off to the left. Follow Hill Road over a mile to Rapid City Road. Turn left (north) and go 2.3 miles, and look for the sign and parking area for Skegemog Swamp Pathway on the left (west) side of the road.

  • From Kalkaska take M-72 west about 4.5 miles to Rapid City Road. Turn right (north) and go 3 miles, and look for the sign and parking area for Skegemog Swamp Pathway on the left (west) side of the road.

More details

The paths lead you to through the Skegemog Lake Wildlife Area, property of the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy.

Main pathway – Skegemog Swamp Pathway –

From the main parking lot:

  • Walk about 400 feet southwest through the woods.
  • At the abandoned railroad grade trail, go straight south about 0.4 miles to the footbridge on the right near where Janis Creek goes under the trail.
  • Cross the footbridge on the right and follow the path and boardwalk which lead west about 0.2 miles through the swamp and forest, paralleling Janis Creek, to a small observation tower. Here you'll find a great view of Skegemog Lake and wetlands.

While on the boardwalk, it is advised to stay on the path so you do not get stuck in that very "soft-bottomed" swamp.

North Shore Pathway –

Just a little northwest of the Skegemog Swamp Pathway is another fairly wild trail called the North Shore Pathway that takes you through a "tunnel of trees" in the woods and a boggy area to the north shore of the lake. To get there from the Skegemog Swamp Pathway parking lot, take Rapid City Road 0.4 miles north to Schneider Road, then turn left and go 0.4 miles west to Round Lake Road. Unlike what's shown on the trail maps for the Main pathway, the trailhead and tiny parking is on the west side the intersection of Schneider and Round Lake Roads. No restroom

Map of trail and satellite view of trail.

The trail is flat an easy, and the last two-thirds look like they use a former, light-duty railroad. From the trailhead, walk west 0.8 miles then south 0.1 miles to a fork. From here, both paths lead to the lake, as you can see on the trail maps. The far western trail has a bench and a slightly better view. There's an open area at the shore at both paths. Watch out for turtles. The short path ends here, at the lake. The longer path ends here, at the lake.

Round Lake Road path –

From the south end of Round Lake Road (0.3 miles to the south of Schneider Road) there's a 0.6-mile-long path (and former two-track) tht goes south, then SSW to the lake. But in June after a long winter, the two-track became a wide, water-filled root, and no easy way around it. Perhaps this path is do-able in the fall after a dry summer?? Otherwise, it's too "boggy."

Connector trail to the North Shore Pathway:–

There's an easy connector trail the connest the parking lot for the Main pathway to the North Shore Pathway. From the main parking lot:

  • Walk about 400 feet southwest through the woods.
  • At the abandoned railroad grade trail, cross it going straight. The 0.5-mile footpath heads WNW to the south end of Round Lake Road.
  • (Once there, you can try the Round Lake Road path (see just above), but it's not recommended, as it's too boggy at the end.)
  • Instead, go north on Round Lake Road 0.3 miles to Schneider Road and the entrance to the North Shore Pathway (see above) on the west side of the intersection.
  • Besides a few blue-plastic triangles, the trail is marked with blue blazes on trees when heading east, and red or purple blazes when heading west.

Other access sites to the Skegemog Lake area — visitors can access the Skegemog Lake Wildlife Area property from four parking areas (the two above and two below):


SLEEPING BEAR DUNES NATIONAL LAKESHORE

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Overseeing
organization

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

NOTE: The use of any area within the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (SBDNL) requires a national park pass. In "The Trails" section just below are all the trails in the SBDNL covered on this Web page. See here for more details about SBDNL passes.

Web page

Main Web site
Another Web page

Trail map

Hiking trails Web page

General idea
and location

The National Lakeshore stretches along Lake Michigan from just north of Frankfort (west central Benzie County) to well northeast of Glen Arbor and north of Maple City (central northern Leelanau County). It includes the Sleeping Bear Dunes, the world's largest moving sand dunes. There are over 100 miles of hiking trails, made up of 12 official trails, many unofficial (and unmarked) ones (two are covered on this Web page), and two islands – see the list below.

Road map

Road map #1
Road map #2

The Trails

Official Trails:
   • Alligator Hill Trail
   • Bay View Trail
   • Cottonwood Trail
   • Dunes Trail to Lake Michigan
   • Empire Bluff Trail
   • Good Harbor Bay Trail
   • Old Indian Trail
   • Platte Plains Trail
   • Pyramid Point Trail
   • Shauger Hill Trail
   • Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail
   • Sleeping Bear Point Trail
   • Windy Moraine Trail
Islands:
   • North Manitou Island
   • South Manitou Island
Unofficial and/or Unmarked Trails:
   • Boekeloo Trail
   • Crystal Lake Hills
   • Greenan Bluffs Trail
   • Tweddle and Treat Farm Area

SLEEPING BEAR HERITAGE TRAIL

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Overseeing
organization

A TART System trail. See here for their complete list of trails. And TART is working with local communities and the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Web page

Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail Web site
See also – Leelanau Scenic Heritage Route Web site

Trail maps

• The 5 miles from the Dune Climb to Glen Arbor – completed summer 2012
• Phase 1 – Empire to Glen Arbor – completed June 6, 2014
• The entire proposed trail – map #1
• The entire proposed trail – map #2

General idea

Mostly paved, multi-use trail running through the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore between the towns of Empire, Glen Haven, Glen Arbor, and next to the Sleeping Bear Dunes Climb.

It's planned to go even further in future phases. (We'd love to see it go from Frankfort to Northport, then come south and connect with the Leelanau Trail in Sutton's Bay! But one step at a time.)

Length

Completed as of June, 2014: 9.3 miles (Empire to Glen Arbor)
Proposed total: 27 miles

From south the north to east... (and some intermediate points along the way)
• 2.6 miles from Empire (north LaCore Road) to Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive
   - 0.2 miles to North Bar Lake Road

• 2.5 miles from Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive to Dunes Climb

• 2.1 miles from the Dunes Climb to Glen Haven
   - 0.4 miles to "Frogs and Toads" pull-off with short boardwalk and benches
   - 0.6 miles to Harwood Drive
   - 1.3 miles to to Dune Valley Road

• 2.1 miles from Glen Haven to Forest Haven Drive
   - 0.4 miles to D.H. Day Campground
   - 0.8 miles to M-109

Hiking time

• From Empire to Glen Arbor: less than 4 hours.
• The entire trail, when complete: around 11 hours.

Difficulty

Easy to moderate:
• Moderate: Empire to the Dunes Climb – there are some small to moderate hills along the way.
• Easy: Dunes Climb to Glen Arbor – it's mostly flat the whole way.

Open to mountain
bikes

Yes, and road bikes, and roller blades.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes. During the winter the trail is exptected to be primarily for cross-country ski use.

General location

In southwestern Leelanau County, from Empire to Glen Arbor (at present).

Road map

Road maps:
• From Empire to the Dunes Climb
• From Dunes Climb through Glen Haven to Glen Arbor
• The entire proposed trail area (south of Empire to Good Harbor Trail)

Trailhead – north LaCore Road (north end of the road at Voice Road, 1.6 miles north of Empire)
Trailhead – Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive (at the west end of a 0.2 mile spur that connects to the main trail)
Trailhead – at foot of Dunes Climb
Trailhead – at Glen Haven
Trailhead – at Forest Haven Drive (southwest of Glen Arbor)

Directions

• To north LaCore Road – from the 5-way intersection of LaCore Street, Salibury Street, and M-22 in Empire, take LaCore Street north 1.6 miles to just before it turns to the east and becomes Voice Road. (Along the way, LaCore Street becomes LaCore Road.) The off-road (paved) trail starts here. Roadside parking only, no restrooms. (There are restrooms at the Sleeping Bear Dunes Hart Visitor Center in Empire on M-72 just east of M-22.)

• To the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive – from Empire, take M-22 north about 2 miles to M-109. Turn left (north) and go 1.3 miles to the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive entrance on the left (west) side of the road. About 0.2 miles in is the parking lot. The 0.2 mile spur that connects to the main trail starts at the east corner of the lot. Parking, restrooms.

• To the Dunes Climb parking lot – from Empire, take M-22 north about 2 miles to M-109. Turn left (north) and go about 3.5 miles to the Dunes Climb entrance and parking lot on the left (west) site of the road. You should also notice the (giant!) dunes on the left. Parking, restrooms.

• To Glen Haven — From Empire, take M-22 north about 2 miles to M-109. Turn left (north) and go about 4.5 miles to Glen Haven Road. Continue north 0.4 miles to where the trail crosses the road. Parking, restrooms.

• To Forest Haven Drive near Glen Arbor — From the intersection of M-109 and M-22 in Glen Arbor, take M-109 (Western Ave) west 760 feet to Forest Haven Drive. Turn left (south) and go 0.3 miles to where the trail heads west from the road. No parking, no restrooms. (0.3 miles to the south at the sharp bend in the road, there's parking for a few cars at the trailhead for the Alligator Hill trail.)

More details

NOTE: The use of this (and any) area within the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (SBDNL) requires a national park pass. See here for more details about SBDNL passes.

This is a multi-use trail — for use by hikers, runners, bicyclists, rollerbladers, cross-country skiers, baby strollers, wheelchair users, and people of all physical abilities.

Hunting is allowed in the propery through which the trail runs. It's advised to wear bright-colored clothing during hunting season.

Be aware that deer are present throughout the trail propery. Be especially cautious when riding in the evening and before sunset.

Progress:
• Summer 2012 — the initial 4.2-mile trail segment between the Dune Climb and Glen Arbor was completed.
• June 6, 2014 — the 5.1 segment from Empire to the Dunes Climb was completed.
• Construction for the Glen Arbor to Port Oneida segment is anticipated to be complete by spring 2015, and the Port Oneida to Bohemian Road section complete in 2016, adding nearly 8 miles more to the trail.

The entire proposed trailway will parallel M-22 and M-109 and run from a point just south of Empire on Manning Road to the northern end of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore at the end of County Road 651 (Good Harbor Trail Road) at Lake Michigan.

For the most part, the trail runs parallel to existing road corridors, and in the places where it departs, the trail is built over old logging roads, abandoned railroads, and existing trails to keep forest disruption to a minimum. Where the trail runs though the villages of Empire and Glen Arbor, the trail divers to low-traffic roads, on routes approved by village councils.

The trail is 10 feet wide with two-foot shoulders. The surface is mostly asphalt with occassional stretches of smoothly-compacted crushed limestone. Boardwalks trace above wetlands to avoid filling any of these critical habitat areas.

The trail is in the process of raising funds – your support of this trail project is greatly appreciated – see this Web page for details.

This trail travels along the western portion of the Leelanau Scenic Heritage Route.

SLEEPING BEAR POINT TRAIL

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Overseeing
organization

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Web page

Web page #1
Web page #2

Trail map

For all four hiking trails on the dunes:
Trail map #1
Trail map #2

General idea

Lovely loop trail with varied terrain (from the woods to rolling sand dunes) and very terrific views!

Length

2.8 mile loop.
There's also 0.2 mile spur from the trail over the dunes to Lake Michigan beach.

Hiking time

About 2 hours.

Difficulty

Moderate. Some easy and moderate size hills throughout the trail, and hiking across open sand dunes.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In southwestern Leelanau County, WNW of Glen Arbor.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead and parking location

Directions

From Empire, take M-22 north about 2 miles to M-109. Then turn left (north) and go about 4.5 miles to Glen Haven Road (where M-109 turns to the right (east)). Go straight on Glen Haven Road (M-209) about 1/2 mile to Glen Haven at Lake Michigan beach. Then turn left (west) on to Sleeping Bear Dunes Road and take it PAST the Maritime Museum (on the right (north) side of the road) a few tenths of a mile to the gravel parking lot. Restroom.

More details

NOTE: The use of this (and any) area within the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (SBDNL) requires a national park pass. See here for more details about SBDNL passes.

From the parking lot you can start south through the woods, or go northwest up the dunes.

The loop goes through forest at the dune's edge, then takes you atop the northern point of the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes. Some parts of the trail are dirt path, some packed gravel, but most part are in the sand..

At the top are perhaps some of the best views in the whole National Lakeshore. Glen Lake, Lake Michigan, Sleeping Bear Bay, the Manitou Passage, North and South Manitou Islands, The Crib (lighthouse), the South Manitou Island Lighthouse, Betsie Point, and Pyramid Point are all on tap for your viewing pleasure!

From the northeast part of the loop, there's also 0.2 mile spur that goes over the dunes to Lake Michigan beach.

SLEEPY HOLLOW NATURE PRESERVE

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Overseeing
organization

Little Traverse Conservancy

Web page

None found for the preserve.

Web page for Little Traverse Conservancy nature preserves in Charlevoix County with hiking.

Trail map

Trail map (copied from their brochure)

General idea

Lovely little wooded trail in second-growth hardwood forest.

Length

A little more than a mile.

Hiking time

Perhaps 25 minutes?

Difficulty

Easy.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In central Charlevoix County, NNW of East Jordan.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead location

Directions

NNW of East Jordan on M-66.

From East Jordan, at the intersection of M-66 (Lake Street) and C-48 (Water Street), M-66 north 5.1 miles to the 5-way intersection with Phelps Road and Sleepy Hollow Lane. Bear right (north) to take Sleepy Hollow Lane and go 0.2 miles to a junction with – a bend in the road to the left, two private driveways on the right, and the entrance to the preserve on the left. Turn left (north) and the parking lot is just 90 feet in.

More details

Beautiful second growth forest of ash, aspen, beech, hemlock, and maple. Large stumps with fire scars scattered throughout the preserve are a testimony to past logging days. The spring-fed Sear Creek flows through this 55-acre property and empties into the south arm of nearby Lake Charlevoix.

SOUTH LONG LAKE FOREST NATURAL AREA

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Overseeing
organization

Long Lake Township

Web page

Web page – then scroll down to South Long Lake Forest Natural Area.

PDF brochure

Trail map

Trail map

General idea

Easy hike through prety woods.

Length

1.7 miles total – 1.3 mile loop with 0.2 mile connector to the parking lot.

Hiking time

40 minutes

Difficulty

Moderatly easy – there are some mild hills for maybe 40% of the way, otherwise it's flat.

Open to mountain
bikes

Yes.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In northwestern Grand Traverse County, NNE of Interlochen.

Road map

Road map of area

Trailhead location

Directions

From the intersection of South Long Lake Road and US-31 just north of Interlochen (at Wendy's), take South Long Lake Road north 3.6 miles to the small parking lot for the area on the right (southeast) side of the road. (It's across from the entrance to Eastwood Shores.) No restroom.

More details

229 acres of primarily forested land which includes both upland and wetland habitats. The property has several existing trails and two-tracks to enjoy.

On the back-side there's a 0.2 mile connector to the Luhr's Trail two-track off of Bass Lake Road.

A bit of history – The property originally consisted of upland forest and wooded swamp wetlands until the mid-800s when settlers began clearing the land. Logging occurred in all areas of the property with any tree species of several inches in diameter or larger being harvested. Following this period of logging, the non-sloping areas were extensively used for traditional agriculture, which included grazing, crop cultivation, and orchard establishment. In more recent history, the property has been owned by the Hall family who managed the forest for timber and enjoyed the property for recreation activities.

SOUTH MANITOU ISLAND

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Overseeing
organization

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Web page

Main Web page
South Manitou Island Hiking
Manitou Island Transit

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2
Trail map #3

General idea

Explore the history and varied terrain of the island — from sandy beaches to gravel-surfaced slopes to the traditional dirt path through the woods.

Length

7 miles at least on official paths.

Hiking time

Varies with route taken.

Difficulty

Easy to moderate.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

N/A — there is no passenger ferry service during the winter.

General location

On the South Manitou Island of Leelanau County, northwest of the county mainland and Glen Arbor.

Road map

Road map

Fishtown at Leland, MI location

South Manitou Island -- Visitor Center / Ranger Station area

Directions

The island is accessible either by private boat, or passenger ferry operated by Manitou Island Transit, which is at the west end of "Fishtown" in Leland.

More details

The passenger ferry operates only from May through October.

The island is roughly 3 miles long by 3 miles wide. The hiking terrain varies from sandy beaches to gravel and boulder-surfaced slopes, as well as the traditional dirt path through the woods.

The Visitor Center is in the old island post office in the village with exhibits telling the human and natural history of the island. It's open daily from mid-May through early October.

The island is home of the famous South Manitou Island Lighthouse. This 100-foot lighthouse tower, active from 1871 to 1958, marked the location of the only natural harbor between here and Chicago. The light was reactivated in May 2009 and is lit from May to November..

Old Growth Cedars – Tucked away on the southwest corner of the island is a grove of virgin white cedar trees. One of the fallen trees showed 528 growth rings!

Very visible off the south shore is the shipwreck of the Francisco Morazan. There are other shipwrecks off the east shore, but submerged.

SPIRIT of the WOODS

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Overseeing
organization

Spirit of the Woods Conservation Club

Web page

Web page

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2 (Based on a photo of their beautiful, hand-painted poster / map onsite.)

General idea

The trails explore mostly along the wild and lovely Bear Creek which twists and turns throughout the area.

Length

Over 1.5 miles of trails / paths.

Hiking time

Varies with route taken.

Difficulty

Easy to mildly strenuous. Trails range from a short, flat, handicap-accessible sidewalk to near mountain-goat like trails on the hills along / above the creek. Many of the trails are relatively easy along the creek.

Mickey's Trail was constructed specifically for accessible walking and fishing.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Snowshoeing — yes.
Cross-country skiing — would not be easy or practical.

General location

In central Manistee County, WNW of Brethren.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead and main parking location

Directions

From the main intersection in Brethren — High Bridge Road and Graf Road (aka Brethren Hwy and eastbound Coates Hwy) — go north 0.5 miles to westbound Coates Highway. Turn left (west) and go 1.3 miles to Spirit of the Woods Road on the left (southwest) side of the road. Turn left (southwest) and go 0.2 miles to the main parking lot just past the clubhouse.

More details

A beautiful nature preserve owned by the Spirit of the Woods Conservation Club. It's been open to the public without charge since 1939. The club conducts educational tours for school children and offers a Conservation Day Camp in season.

There is a hand-painted poster / map and trail maps onsite at the kiosk by the clubhouse. There's a nearby latrine that's open year-round.

Bear Creek is the largest tributary to the Manistee River below Tippy Dam. This property offers some of the most easiy accessible water on Bear Creek. The creek (and this area) are very popular with anglers for migratory salmon and steelhead, as well as resident brook and brown trout.

Bear Creek should be called "Rootbeer River" as its color looks like rootbeer due to all the tannins in it from nearby vegetation.

TART TRAIL

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Overseeing
organization

A TART System trail. See here for their complete list of trails.

Web page

Web page

Trail map

TART Trail – Downtown Detail map #1
TART Trail – Downtown Detail map #2

Interactive Map of full trail

TART Trail and Urban Trails map

TART Trails Network Map #1
TART Trails Network Map #2

General idea

Paved, flat trail runs along Grand Traverse Bay through downtown Traverse City, neighborhoods, and includes the Mitchell Creek watershed.

Length

10.5 miles total
• Eastern section: from M-72 at Bates Road to Lautner Road: 2 miles
• Main section: Bunker Hill Road to M-22/M-72 intersection: 8.5 miles

Hiking time

3.5 hours if you walk both parts.

Difficulty

Easy - it's flat the whole way.

Open to mountain
bikes

Yes, and road bikes.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes, if it's not plowed.

General location

In central northern Grand Traverse County, the trail starts east of Traverse City, travels through the city, and then west of the city it connects to the Leelanau Trail.

Road map

Road map

Directions

You can pick up the trail at many places. See trail maps and the points below for details.

A few key points along the trail, from east to west:

At M-72 and Bates Road intersection – east end of east section. Tthere's a small parking area on the south side of M-72.

At Lautner Road and entrance to Acme Skyport intersection – west end of east section. Roadside parking only)

At Bunker Hill Road – east end of main section. There's parking on the northeast side of Bunker Hill Road.

At 3 Mile Road and Parsons Road intersection – there's parking at the southeast corner of the interection.

At Garfield Ave crossing by Hannah Ave

At 8th Street crosiing at Woodmere Ave (just north of the public library)

At the US-31 Boardman River bridge by the bay – where the trail goes under the bridge and loops around to head west along the bay)

At US-31/M-72 crossing at Division Street – where the trail crosses US-31/M-72 and Division Street, then heads northwest between (and parallel to) the highway and Bay Street.

At M-72 crossing at M-22

At Carter Road crossing – west end of main section. The trail north is the Leelanau Trail, which runs north to Suttons Bay.

No restrooms at these locations.

More details

A favorite for bicyclists, runners, walkers, and in-line skaters, the trail runs from at M-72 at Bates Road in Acme (the trail's east end) to the M-22/M-72 intersection in Traverse City (the trail's west end). There's a gap in the trail on the eastern end between Lautner Road and Bunker Hill Road, separating the trail into two sections (for now).

At its west end the trail connects to the Leelanau Trail, which runs north to Suttons Bay.

Parking is available at numerous parks, Traverse City public parking lots, and other points along the trail.

TEICHNER PRESERVE on LIME LAKE

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Overseeing
organization

Leelanau Conservancy. See their complete preserve list.

Web page

Web page #1
Web page #2

Trail map

Rough trail map
Satellite view of trail — from which you can see much of the boardwalk

General idea

Short and easy trail through wetland forest to the shore of Lime Lake.

Length

0.23 miles, one way.

Hiking time

Less than 20 minutes round trip

Difficulty

Easy.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In central northern Leelanau County, east of Glen Arbor, NNE of Maple City, and NW of Cedar.

Road map

Road map

Directions

Lime Lake Road Trailhead — This area is east of Glen Arbor and north of Maple City and Cedar, and just south of the Little Traverse Lake region on the NE corner of Lime Lake. From the intersection of Lime Lake Road and M-22, take Lime Lake Road 1 mile south to the trailhead on the right (west) side of the road.

More details

From the Upnorthtrails.org page — the "short and easy trail leads through fragile wetland forest to the shore of Lime Lake. The terrain is flat and there are some boardwalked sections. Visitors can view a diversity of trees, wildflowers, and rare ferns."

From the Leelanau Conservancy page — "on the property are an enormous elm tree and chestnut tree, unique among all Leelanau Conservancy properties. Early settlers likely planted today’s giants, while later inhabitants planted an orchard that partially remains."

THREE MILE TRAIL

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Overseeing
organization

A TART System trail. See here for their complete list of trails.

Web page

Web page

Trail map

Trail map

TART Trail and Urban Trails map

TART Trails Network Map #1
TART Trails Network Map #2

General idea

Urban, non-motorized pathway along 3 Mile Road in Traverse City from US-31 to just south of Airport Road.

Length

2 miles

Hiking time

Less than an hour.

Difficulty

Easy — it's flat the whole way.

Open to mountain
bikes

Yes, and road bikes.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

(It's assumed so if it's not plowed in the winter.)

General location

In central northern Grand Traverse County, the trail travels along the east side of Traverse City.

Road map

Road map

Directions

Three are key points along the trail:

At US-31 and 3 Mile Road – the north end of the trail. There's parking at the Traverse City State Park on the north side of US-31.

At the TART Trail crossing by Parsons Road – there's parking at the southeast corner of the interection.

At the bridge over Mitchell Creek on 3 Mile Road – the south end of the trail.

No restrooms at these locations.

More details

Trail goes along 3 Mile Road from the Traverse City State Park beach on US-31 to South Airport Road. The trail also intersects with the existing TART Trail at Parsons Road.

Phase 2 (when complete) will extend the trail from South Airport Road to Hammond Road.

TIMBERS RECREATION AREA

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Overseeing
organization

Protected by the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, owned & managed by Long Lake Township.

Web page

Web page #1 – then scroll down to Timbers Recreation Area
Web page #2
Web page #3

Trail maps

Trail map (made from a photo of the on-site map, then improved)

Expect the trail system to grow from what's shown.

General idea

Wooded trail in rolling hills with shoreline on Long Lake and along most of Page Lake, and completely surrounding Fern Lake. There's access to Long and Fern Lakes.

Length

Around 1.9 miles round trip

Hiking time

About an hour.

Difficulty

Easy. Gentle rolling hills thoughout the property. The trails are former two-tracks or 4-feet-wide paths.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In northwestern Grand Traverse County, WSW of Traverse City, and ENE of Lake Ann.

Road map

Road map

Park location and boundary

Timbers Recreation Area trailhead

Directions

Direction from Traverse City — from the intersection of North Long Lake Road an Cedar Run Road, take North Long Lake Road 5.0 miles southwest then west to Timbers Trail. Turn left (south) and go 0.4 miles to the parking lot on the left (south) side of the road (where is turns west). There's parking, but no restoom.

More details

For 50 years (until 2009) this 256-acre area was The Timbers Girl Scout Camp. The property's history as an active Girl Scout camp demonstrates that the property can support active recreational use while minimizing impact to its natural features. Existing historic buildings offer additioanl potential future use.

"Now there's public access (here) for the first time ever, and it's a historic property, and it has a lot of unique cultural heritage, as well as the natural beauty," said Glen Chown, Executive Director of the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy. He couldn't stress enough how (acquiring and protecting this property) was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and how a lot of people have yet to experience this land since it previously belonged to the Timbers Girl Scouts. Development of the property’s management plan and management activities, including decisions regarding existing structures on the property, additional trail development, and invasive species removal, will all be undertaken with the assistance of the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy.

The Timbers Recreation Area provides residents and visitors an opportunity to enjoy the Long Lake waterfront in a natural setting. It will also provide other options for recreation: fishing, hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiiing, kite-flying, wildlife viewing, swimming, kayaking, and more. It will be ideal for families or groups who want to spend the day at a single destination, but would like to enjoy more than one activity.

The property is a combination of mesic northern hardwood and evergreen forest, open fields, and riparian wetlands. The area also boasts nearly 9,000 feet of shoreline on three lakes — 2,000 feet on Long Lake, the entire 4,500 feet of shoreline of the 20-acre Fern Lake, and roughly 2,400 feet on Page Lake (3/4 of its shoreline).

The property has a network of two-tracks and trails throughout, and ample acreage offering a great potential for further trail development. The trails are not yet marked, but when they are, it will be with purple blazes on trees. Currently (fall 2014), you can follow white diamond XC skiing signs around some of the trail. There are trail maps posted at significant points along the trail.

There is access to Fern Lake at post #2, and there may be a trail to that lake just west of post #5. There is access to Long Lake at post #6. There is no official trail to Page Lake, yet, but there may be an unofficial trail to that lake from post #5.

At many of the posts there are addtional, unofficial trails.

Swimming and kayaking is allowed. If kayaking, be sure to bring your wheels to attach to the boat as it's quite a carry to the water (0.5 miles to Long Lake and 0.7 miles Fern Lake. Is kayaking allowed at Page Lake? If so, there's nearby access to it from Forest Lodge Road. (If not yet, maybe in the future,)

TRAPP FARM NATURE PRESERVE

Back to Trail List

Overseeing
organization

Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy. See the complete GTRLC nature preserve list.

ALERT — This trail is temporarily closed. The GTRLC wants to control the spread of the invasive garlic mustard and re-route Cold Creek which flows through the property. A re-open date has not been specified.

It will take a major effort to restore the path to its former glory — it's been closed since 2011 and there's a lot of tree fall to clear, especially from the March 2012 snowstorm, and many since. There will be a lot of overgrowth to be cleaned out as well.

Web page

Web page

Trail map

Trail map

General idea

Easy trail through the woods. Along the main loop are lots of "interesting" tree roots, the trail crosses Cold Creek, and there's a 1600-foot boardwalk.

Length

1.5 miles of trails.
• Main loop — 0.7 miles
• South trail — 0.6 miles
• East trail — 0.2 miles
• South trail and main loop — 1.9 miles (round trip)
• East trail and main loop — 1.1 miles (round trip)
• South trail, main loop, and East trail — 2.3 miles (round trip)

Hiking time

Round trip —
• East trail and main loop — about 30 minutes
• South trail and main loop — around an hour
• South trail, main loop, and East trail — 1.3 hours

Difficulty

Easy – the entire trail is flat, but on some parts there are many tree roots in the path to watch out for. The northwestern area of the main loop is often soggy.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes, but a deep hard-pack of snow on the boardwalk could be difficult on skis.

General location

In central Benzie County, east of Beulah.

Road map

Road map

Click here for links to view all Benzie County trailhead locations at Google Maps or in Google Earth.

Directions

There are two entrances, trails from both connect to the main loop:

South entrance trailhead location — From Beulah at the intersection of US-31 and Narrow Gauge Road (East Street), take Narrow Gauge east 0.2 miles to the trail’s parking lot and trailhead on the left (north) side of the road. The South trail starts here. No restroom.

East entrance trailhead location — From Beulah at the intersection of US-31 and Narrow Gauge Road (East Street), take Narrow Gauge east 0.6 miles to Eldridge Road. Turn left (north) and go 0.6 miles and watch for the small sign to trail entrance on left (west) side of road. Roadside parking only. The East trail starts here. No restroom.

More details

Very wooded trail. A few areas are a former vegetable farm, but except for a few irrigation ditches it’s hard to see now as the preserve is very overgrown. On the main loop there’s a 1600-foot boardwalk which twice crosses Cold Creek, the main feeder to Crystal Lake. On the north and west parts of the loop the trail can be soggy and there are many gnarly tree “feet” (roots) crossing the path.

TWEDDLE & TREAT FARM AREA

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Overseeing
organization

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Web page

Web page #1
Web page #2

Trail map

Rough trail map

General idea

Two parts — easy woods trail between two former farms, and hilly trail going up sand dunes to the Lake Michigan bluffs.

Length

1.2 miles round trip to Treat Farm.
2 miles round trip to the bluffs / dunes.

Hiking time

40 minutes round trip to the Treat Farm.
1.5 hours round trip to the bluffs / dunes.

Difficulty

To the Treat Farm — Easy – The trail between the two farms is a gentle hill and easy.
From the Treat Farm to the top dunes:
• Strenuous – If you hike to the top the steep way.
• Moderate – If you hike to the bluffs / dunes by going around to the south then circling back to the top.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In southwestern Leelanau County, south of Empire.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead for trail to Treat Farm. (You are already at the Tweddle Farm – it's right there on the southeast corner.)

Directions

From Empire, take M-22 south "around the hill" to Stormer Road. Turn right (west) and go about 1/2 mile to the Tweddle Farm at the corner with Norconk Road. No restroom.

More details

NOTE: The use of this (and any) area within the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (SBDNL) requires a national park pass. See here for more details about SBDNL passes.

Unmarked trails. The main "trail" is the former Treat Road which goes from the Tweddle Farm west through the woods about 0.6 miles to the Treat Farm.

About 1000 feet southwest of the Treat Farm are some tall sand dunes at the edge of Lake Michigan. At the base of these dunes you can climb about 100 feet to the top via a steep sandy trail. Or, for a slightly longer but more gradual way to the top — circle around to the left (south) of the dunes and once at the bluffs, circle back to the top . At the top, you're about 400 feet above Lake Michigan. You'll experience here some terrific views overlooking the lake!

Note, some refer to the top of the dunes there as Old Baldy. This is a common term for such a feature, and should not be confused with the Old Baldy that's part of the Arcadia Dunes.

More adventurous hikers who don't mind playing mountain goat a ways can connect to the Empire Bluff Trail and make a large loop. To do this, from atop the dunes southeast of the Treat Farm, go north along the bluff about 1 mile, staying at roughly the same (or higher) elevation. You'll come to the boardwalk for the Empire Bluff Trail. Take that trail back east 0.75 miles to its parking lot on Wilco Road. Turn right (southeast) and go 0.55 miles to M-22. Turn right (south) and go 0.1 miles to Stormer Road. Turn right (west) and go 0.4 miles back to the Tweddle Farm. Total loop: 3.8 miles. (Note: doing this loop going the other direction – coming FROM the Empire Bluff Trail – is tricky and not recommend unless you know exactly what to watch from as you come south on the bluff to sand dunes southeast of the Treat Farm.)

UPPER HERRING LAKE NATURE PRESERVE

Back to Trail List

Overseeing
organization

Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy. See the complete GTRLC nature preserve list.

Web page

Web page

Aerial map

Aerial map #1
Aerial map #2

Trail map

Trail map

General idea

Easy trail and boardwalk through meadow and wetland.

Length

1.2 miles round trip.

Hiking time

About 40 minutes round trip

Difficulty

Easy – flat trail and boardwalk

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes, but a deep hard-pack of snow on the boardwalk could be difficult on skis.

General location

In southwestern Benzie County, SSE of Frankfort/Elberta.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead location

Click here for links to view all Benzie County trailhead locations at Google Maps or in Google Earth.

Directions

From the intersection of M-22 (Lake Street) and M-115 (Forest Ave) in Frankfort, take M-22 south 5.4 miles to the entrance and parking lot on the left (east) side of the road. (It’s 0.2 miles past (south of) Elberta Resort Road, and immediately past a home that was once a school house.) No restroom.

More details

This trail has three phases, a two-track through meadow, a short single-track path through woods, and a 900 foot boardwalk through a marsh / wetland area. The trail ends at a few ponds that are former marl pits.

VANDERLIP CREEK between East Middle School and the Carlisle Fields

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Overseeing
organization

Owned by TCAPS and stewarded by the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy. The Grand Traverse Conservation District is also a partner.

Web page

None found

Trail map

Trail Map

General idea

Trails along the edge of and in the woods surrounding Vanderlip Creek between East Middle School and the school's Carlisle sports fields.

Length

0.8 miles of trails
• Yellow trail – 0.3 miles
• Orange trail – 0.1 miles
• Green trail – 0.3 miles
• White trail – 330 feet
• White dashed trail – 250 feet

Hiking time

For all pieces – 25 minutes

Difficulty

Easy. The trails are mostly flay with a few slight hills here and there.

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In central northern Grand Traverse County, southeast Traverse City.

Road map

Road map

Carlisle Fields Trailhead

Directions

From the interection of Hammond Road and Garfield Road south ot Traverse City, take Hammond Road 2.5 miles east to Carlisle Road / Chartwell Drive. Turn right (south) and go 225 feet to Carlisle Road. Turn right (southwest) and go 0.4 miles to the entrance to the main parking lot for the Carlisle sport fields on the right (west). (It's directly across from Center Ice on the east side of the road.) Parking and port-a-potties on-site.

More details

From the Carlisle sport fields parking area, take the paved path WNW 120 feet to the trailhead. None of the trails are marked, and some follow the edge of the woods in the fields, making it a little confusing. Take a copy the trail map so you know where to go. The trails are a combination of paved path, boardwalk, grassy field, wider foot path, and single-track path.

Descriptions for each trail. (Follow along while viewing the trail map.)

  • Yellow trail – from the Carlisle fields trailhead, go north following the paved path. It bends to the west, then goes into the woods, which is the east end of the orange trail. Do not enter the woods, but instead, turn right (northwest) and go along the edge of the woods to the northwest corner of the field. Here the trail goes into the woods as a wider foot path. It goes north, turns west, crosses the creek via a small foot bridge, bends to the south, slowly comes out of the woods, then arrives at the East Middle School entrance. The paved path headed southeast into the woods is the west end of the orange trail. The paved path going south is the northwest end of the green trail.

  • Orange trail – cuts directly through the property, bisecting the north from the south. All in the woods and paved at both ends, most of it is a wide boardwalk. It crosses over the creek and connects the East Middle School entrance with the east side of the yellow trail. The paved white dashed trail intersections with this trail just east of the creek.

  • Green trail – from the Carlisle fields trailhead, the trail runs 200 feet west in the fleld along the woods. At the corner, the two white trails head northwest into the woods. The green trail turns left (south) and continues for 300 feet in the fleld along the woods. At the southwest corner of the field, the trail turns right (west) and heads into the woods as a single-track path. Just before crossing the creek via a small wooden bridge, the white trail comes in on the right (north). Past the creek, the trail continues west through the woods, then comes out at the East Middle School fields. The trail turns right (north) and follows a paved path to the East Middle School entrance.

  • White trail – is mostly a single-track path, and is all in the woods. It's a "prettier" alternative to the green trail in the southeast corner of the property.

  • White dashed trail – a paved path all in the woods, it connects the eastern part of the green trail with the orange trail just east of the creek. It's a "prettier" alternative to taking the yellow and orange trails to the creek.

VASA PATHWAY

Back to Trail List

Overseeing
organization

A TART System Trail. See here for their complete list of trails.

Web page

Web page #1
Web site #2

Trail map

Trail map #1
Trail map #2
Trail map #3
Trail map #4
Trail map #5

TART Overall Trail System map

General idea

A series of several marked loop trails mostly in the woods that offer a variety of challenges from easy to difficult.

Length

A series of loop trails: 3K, 5K, 10K, 25K.

Hiking time

Varies with the route taken.

Difficulty

Easy to difficult. There are several smaller to moderate hills and a few strenuous ones.

Open to mountain
bikes

Yes.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In northeastern Grand Traverse County, east of Traverse City, and SSE of Acme.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead location

Directions

From Traverse City, take US-31 north to Bunker Hill Road (which is just south of M-72). Turn right (east) and take it about a mile to Bartlett Road, then turn right (south) and go about 0.6 miles to entrance and trailhead parking area on the left (east) side of road. Restrooms.

More details

Used by cross-country skiers, runners, hikers, mountain bikers, walkers, and naturalist's year round.

Perhaps the real highlight of VASA is the extensive network of unmarked trails. These trails spider through the property and conservatively offer another 30 miles of trails.

VERONICA VALLEY COUNTY PARK

Back to Trail List

Overseeing
organization

Leelanau County

Web page

Web page

Trail map

Summer trail map #1
Summer trail map #2
Winter trail map #1
Winter trail map #2

General idea

Easy trails on former golf course with gentle hills that pass through open space meadow, with some wetlands, and woods.

Length

About 2 miles of hiking trails,
1.3 miles of XC trails, and
0.4 miles of snowshoeing trails.

Hiking time

Less than an hour if you did all the hiking trails.

Difficulty

Easy (assumed, as it's a former golf course).

Open to mountain
bikes

No.

Open to XC skiing
and snowshoeing

Yes.

General location

In eastern central Leelanau County, southwest of Suttons Bay, and south of the village of Lake Leelanau.

Road map

Road map

Trailhead at County Road 641

Trailhead at Maple Valley Road

Directions

In the east central area of Leelenau County, a little east of south Lake Leelenau (the lake). Southwest of Suttons Bay, and south of the village of Lake Leelenau on County Road 641.

For those coming from Traverse City, start at M-22 and M-72 at west bay and take M-22 north 1.3 miles to Cherry Bend Road. Turn left (west) and go 4.0 miles to County Road 641. Turn right (north) and go 6.5 miles to Maple Valley Road. There are two parking lots for summer use:

  1. County Road 641 p