Looking for some of the funnest and most scenic trails around Michigan. Copper Harbor is your spot. It is an all-season resort town in northeastern Keweenaw County, Michigan located on the Keweenaw Peninsula which juts out from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan into Lake Superior. Due to its natural environment and surroundings it is a popular tourist destination within the Great Lakes region. One popular spot for visitors is Hunter’s Island which is the name of a non-hilly point running out from the west into Lake Superior. It was named for an early settler of the area named Mr. Hunter who owned a tract of land on what is now Hunter’s Point or Hunter’s Island. Situated at the opening of the harbor itself is the historic Copper Harbor Lighthouse built in 1866, replacing an earlier lighthouse made in 1849. It is only accessible via a short ride in a compact open vessel from the Copper Harbor marina. Exhibits inside the lighthouse museum cover both the lighthouse history along with the local shipwreck culture of the area. Another popular site known as “the most beautiful road in Michigan” is the Brockway Mountain Drive that is an 8.8 mile route that follows the backbone of a 753-foot-high ridge between the towns of Copper Harbor and Eagle Harbor and is the highest paved road between the Rocky Mountains to the west and the Allegheny Mountains to the east. Constructed during the 30’s, this very picturesque road offers stunning views of Lake Superior and Keweenaw Penisula as well as the archipelago of Isle Royale.
The Blue Water River Walk is a one mile stretch of land that runs along the St. Clair River in Port Huron, Michigan. It has it’s own unique naturalized shoreline that is made up from natural rocks, pebbles and boulders while also consisting of many native plants, flowers, trees and shrubs that grow in their own natural landscape and habitat onshore. The River Walk provides for a place where the natural habitat can thrive and visitors can take a walk along the shoreline and enjoy looking for turtles, watch the freighters or enjoy a nice outdoor picnic. A very unique and noticeably different feature of the new St. Clair river shoreline along the Blue Water River Walk is the huge boulder and stone structures sticking up from the water just offshore. These are huge offshore reefs that extend downwards almost 15 feet into the river bottom. These large boulders weigh as much as 4,000 pounds and are resting on two other layers…recycled slabs of cement on the very bottom and a middle layer of smaller boulders. All together over 8,000 tons of rock, stone, cement and boulders were used to build these reefs.
These offshore reefs are a critical element to the overall naturalization of the St. Clair River shoreline. The reefs are there to serve two purposes: first, they help to knock down the incredibly strong wave energy caused by passing boats and if left unchecked those waves can create serious damage and erosion to the new shoreline. Secondly, they create new shallow water habitats between the reefs and the shoreline which is critical to the growth and development of small fish, reptiles and amphibians.
The River Walk has a 10′ wide asphalt Pedestrian trail that runs the entire length of the Blue Water River Walk. Posts have been placed along the west edge of the trail for increased safety for walkers and to keep vehicles off the trail.
Sanilac Petroglyphs Historic State Park is located in the state of Michigan consisting of 240 acres of land containing the largest collection of Native American petroglyphs in Michigan. The carvings were created in the pre-Columbian era and represent s aspects of Native American spirituality. There is also an interpretive hiking trail within the park along the nearby Cass River.
The main feature of the park is a 1,000 square foot sandstone outcrop with around 100 petroglyphs on it which makes this the largest grouping of such carvings in Michigan. These carvings were likely carved between 400 to 1,400 years ago and were discovered by the area’s settlers after much of the Thumb region was burned over .by a massive forest fire in 1881.
Many archaeologists have studied the site dating back to the 1920’s. The stone tools and pottery found in the park show that various tribal groups have occupied the area periodically throughout the last 8,000 years. The petroglyphs were thoroughly recorded in 1940 by Darrel Richards and Carl Holmquist of the Aboriginal Research Club of Detroit who created drawings and castings of the carvings which are now in the collection at the Cranbrook Institute of Science in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
In addition to the rock carvings, the Cass River floodplain forest within the park can be explored via a 1.5 mile trail loop which crosses the river twice. The area is home to a wide variety of animals including deer, turkey, ruffed grouse, green heron and belted kingfisher. Also, numerous outcrops of Marshall Sandstone are visible along with the site of a 19th century logging camp.
Located on the Northwest end of Lake Superior near the town of Laurentia, you will find the island called Isle Royale. It is part of the state of Michigan and along with 450 surrounding islands it makes up the territory called Isle Royale. This whole cluster of islands is 45 miles long and 9 miles wide covering over 206 miles in total area making it the fourth largest lake island in the world. In addition, it is the second largest island located in the Great Lakes and the largest natural island in Lake Superior.
Isle Royale is only about 15 miles of the Canadian and Minnesotan shores of the lake. There are no roads on the island making hiking the main method of movement and transportation. In Rock Harbor one can find wheeled carts available to move personal belongings from the Rock Harbor marina to the cabins and hotel.
Isle Royale was given to the United States by the 1783 treaty with Great Britain but the British remained in control of this land until after the War of 1812 and the already settled Ojibwa peoples considered the island to be their territory. The island was once the site of several lake trout and whitefish fisheries as well as a few resorts but as of today there are no permanent inhabitants. A major attraction to the island are it’s several shipwrecks located on the western tip making for exciting scuba dives and providing a glimpse into some maritime history of the area.
As for recreational activities one can enjoy hiking, backpacking, fishing, canoeing, kayaking and bird watching. Wheeled vehicles are not permitted on Isle Royale such as bicycles or canoe portage devices. There are many campgrounds to explore with most of them being accessible only by water. There are two small settlements on the island and they are Rock Harbor (which has a resort, marina and basic amenities) and Windigo, a smaller facility on the far western end of the island. A typical National Park Service campground will consist of a few shelters (cabin-like structures with one wall of mosquito-proof screen), individual tent sites with a picnic table and group camping sites. There are one or more pit toilets at each facility. Campgrounds along the shore have a boat dock and overnight boaters are a common sight at the campgrounds. The waterfront locations also attract many canoeists and kayakers. Please note that no wells are available so one should plan to bring their own water for the trip.
There are over 170 miles of hiking trails for everything from day hikes to a two week circumnavigation kike with some of the trails having steep grades that are quite challenging. The most popular, best marked and longest single route in the 40 mile Greenstone Ridge Trail that extends down the island’s backbone. A memorable adventure for the serious hiker.
Located on the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan in Manistee Township, Manistee County, Michigan……Orchard Beach State Park is a public recreation area covering 201 acres just north of the city Manistee which has a beach, campground and hiking trails.
The park dates back to 1892 when it first opened and was developed by the Manistee, Filer City and Eastlake Railway Company. The site was purchased by the Manistee Board of Commerce after the company stopped trolley service to the park and then became part of the Michigan state park system in 1921.
The Civilian Conservation Corps was active in the park during the 1930’s and Corps efforts included the construction of several limestone structures including a pump house, pavilion, line house and toilet. In 2009 the park was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places having been cited as “one of the most intact examples of a Michigan state park developed in the 1930’s and 1940’s under National Park Service guidelines.
In 2019 it was reported that erosion caused by high water levels on Lake Michigan threatened the park’s historic pavilion with destruction. The pavilion stands only 50 feet from the edge of the bluff. High water had covered the sandy beach at the base of the bluff below the pavilion since 2017 and the stairway built to access the beach from the pavilion led straight into the high waters of Lake Michigan.
As for activities and amenities the park offers swimming, fishing, three miles of hiking trails, picknicking facilities and a 166 site campground.
The N.C.T. or generally known as the North Country Trail is a footpath stretching over 4,600 miles from Central Vermont (Middlebury) to Lake Sakakawea State Park in central North Dakota connecting both the Long Trail with the Lewis & Clark Trail. Passing through eight states….it is the longest of eleven National Scenic Trails that combine for a total of 3,129 miles to explore.
The trail begins in Vermont and proceeds to the western end of the state….cutting across northwestern Pennsylvania then follows southwest through the hilly region of southern Ohio until in gets near Cincinnati turning north through western Ohio on to the hills of southeast Michigan. It continues from southeast Michigan through the western Lower Penisula, crosses the Straits of Mackinac and takes a northern route through the Upper Penisula. After crossing northern Wisconsin, one leg follows the shores of Lake Superior onwards to the northeast corner of Minnesota before turning west where it meets the other leg in central northern Minnesota. The trail enters southeast North Dakota and continues to its other termination point in the center of the state.
The NCT also threads its way through 57 state parks and state historic areas, 47 state forests, 22 state game areas, seven water conversation districts and at least ten county forests and parks. Several hundred miles of trail will eventually cross private land thanks to owners who have granted easements across their property.
There are about 10,000 people involved with the NCT either through membership in the North Country Trail Association or membership in one of eight organizations affiliated with the NCTA.
Here in Michigan when the weather is nice, everyone is outside enjoying it. Whether it be hiking, biking, swimming, fishing or what other activity, Michiganders love to capitalize on favorable weather. Here are 5 hikes in Michigan that you shouldn’t miss out on in 2020!
5 Hikes in Michigan for 2020
Empire Bluff Trail – Sleeping Bear Dunes
Chapel Beach – Pictured Rocks Lakeshore
Lake of the Clouds – Ontonagon Area
Hogback Mountain – Marquette
Arch Rock – Mackinac Island
Empire Bluff Trail – Sleeping Bear Dunes
Welcome to Sleeping Bear Dunes! One of Michigan’s premiere destinations. The Empire Bluff Trail at Sleeping Bear Dunes is one of the best you will find and is incredibly rewarding. Not only are the views outstanding, this hike is very easy! Clocking in at only 1.5 miles round trip, this hike is worth its weight in gold. This trail will get very busy during summer season so plan wisely.
Chapel Beach Loop – Pictured Rocks Lakeshore
Apart of the Pictured Rock National Lakeshore, is the Chapel Beach Loop. What makes the Chapel Beach Loop such a great trail is the scenery on the trail and the end destination. The trail has an abundance of plant variety as well as easy changing terrain. As scenic as the hike is in, the cream rises to the top at the end. Chapel Beach is a pristine beach complemented by a lovely chapel beach lookout point. You won’t be dissapointed.
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a United States National Lakeshore located along the northwest coast of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan in Leelanau and Benzie counties near Empire, Michigan. The park covers a 35-mile-long (56 km) stretch of Lake Michigan’s eastern coastline, as well as North and South Manitou islands. This Northern Michigan park was established primarily because of its outstanding natural features, including forests, beaches, dune formations, and ancient glacial phenomena. The lakeshore also contains many cultural features including the 1871 South Manitou Island Lighthouse, three former stations of the Coast Guard (formerly the Life-Saving Service) and an extensive rural historic farm district. In 2011, the area won the title of “The Most Beautiful Place in America” from Good Morning America. In 2014, a section of the park was named the Sleeping Bear Dunes Wilderness by the United States Congress
The park is named after an Ojibwe legend of the sleeping bear. According to the legend, an enormous forest fire on the western shore of Lake Michigan drove a mother bear and her two cubs into the lake for shelter, determined to reach the opposite shore. After many miles of swimming, the two cubs lagged behind. When the mother bear reached the shore, she waited on the top of a high bluff. The exhausted cubs drowned in the lake, but the mother bear stayed and waited in hopes that her cubs would finally appear. Impressed by the mother bear’s determination and faith, the Great Spirit created two islands (North and South Manitou islands) to commemorate the cubs, and the winds buried the sleeping bear under the sands of the dunes where she waits to this day. The “bear” was a small tree-covered knoll at the top edge of the bluff that, from the water, had the appearance of a sleeping bear. Wind and erosion have caused the “bear” to be greatly reduced in size over the years.