Hiking Trails in Northern Michigan

Get out and explore over 100 miles of hiking trails and thousands of acres of natural beauty. The Leelanau Peninsula is home to numerous nature preserves that allow you to enjoy quiet recreation in one of America’s most sought-after destinations.

Alligator Hill Hiking Trail

Alligator Hill Trail
Several loops make up 9 miles of trails, features lookouts over Big Glen Lake and the Manitou Islands and remnants of D.H. Day’s 1920’s golf course.

Bay View Trail
8 miles of loops ranging from easy to difficult. Less crowded than some of the other trails, making for a nice quiet hike through old forests and farm fields with multiple historic buildings where you can learn about the area’s rich history.

Boardman Lake Hiking Trail

Boardman Lake Trail
3 miles of heavily wooded trails that stretch around the northern and eastern sides of Boardman Lake. New dock and pavilion along the trail for visitors to enjoy.

Boardman River Trail
Planned for a total of 3 sections spanning from North Country Trail to Traverse City. Section 1 runs 7 miles between NCT and Mayfield Pond Park. When complete, it will connect the soccer fields, YMCA, Nature Education Reserve, Kingsley, and the NCT.

Brown Bridge Quiet Area
Designed for quiet recreational activities, this nature reserve has 3 different loops ranging from 2.2 miles to 4.2 miles in length and easy to moderate difficulty. Observe diverse ad thriving wildlife throughout this tranquil nature preserve. Dog friendly.

Clay Cliffs Natural Area

Clay Cliffs Natural Area
Short and challenging trail that offers incredible panoramic views of Lake Leelanau and Lake Michigan from towering bluffs.

Cottonwood Hiking Trail
Located at Stop #4 on the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. 1.4 miles of interpretive trail through rolling dunes, moderate in difficulty. Get the self-guided trail map at MichiganTrailMaps.com.

Dunes Trail
Begins at the top of the Dune Climb and takes you on a challenging 3.5 mile round trip across the dunes to a refreshingly cool Lake Michigan. Enjoy the view of Lake Michigan and South Manitou Island—you earned it! Make sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen.

East Creek Reserve
Moderately difficult 4 miles of multi-use trails. Can connect to other local trails such as Boardman River Trail.

Empire Bluffs Trail Lake Michigan OverlookEmpire Bluffs Trail
1.5 miles through beech-maple forest, open fields, and dunes with incredible views of Lake Michigan. Trailhead located at Wilco Rd off M-22. Pets must be kept on maximum 6-foot leash.

Good Harbor Bay Trail
2.8-mile loop that begins with low dunes, but the rest is wooded making for a shady stroll through nature. Picnic area and Lake Michigan beach make it perfect for families with young children. Spend the day hiking through the woods, playing on the beach, and enjoy a picnic with a view of Lake Michigan.

Grace MacDonald Park
A wonderful place to spend an afternoon with friends and family, Grace MacDonald Park features a variety of outdoor recreation. In addition to hiking trails, there is a pavilion with grills and picnic tables, playground equipment, baseball diamond, all-purpose field with soccer goals and football uprights, pickle ball court, volleyball court, tennis court, and horseshoe pits.

Sabin Pond in AutumnGrand Traverse Natural Education Reserve
Just 3 miles outside of TC, this reserve offers diverse wildlife and a series of rapids that runs through a part of the 505-acre property.

Hickory Hills
Great views of the surrounding area with hiking trails and disc golf course.

Hickory Meadows
112.5-acre preserve and one of the area’s newest hiking spots. 2 miles of dog friendly hiking trails.

Houdek Dunes Natural Area
Explore the Leelanau Conservancy’s largest and most diverse preserve. Some of Northern Michigan’s largest white birch trees can be found in these Giant White Birch Tree in the Houdek Dunes Natural Areahardwood forests. Challenging terrain with uphill climbs.

Keystone Rapids & Boardman Pond
Over 5 miles of trails through a 525-acre reserve. Easy to moderate difficulty, winds through the terrain and ends with a view of Boardman Pond.

Lake Ann Pathway
Scenic overlooks and quiet nature can be found along the 3.4 miles of multi-use trails. Most of the pathway runs along water. Dog friendly.

Leelanau State Park Trail
Located 30 miles north of TC on M-22 are over 4 miles of well-marked trails. Stop by the historic Grand Traverse Lighthouse, which is open to the public.

Leelanau Trail
17 miles of paved pathways between Traverse City and Suttons Bay, with many views of forests, farms, vineyards, lakes, ponds, and more. Edible Trails at Cedar Creek Food Forest and DeYoung Forest Garden.

Lost Lake PathwayLost Lake Pathway
6.2 miles of multi-use and dog friendly trail. Moderate difficulty.

Mall Trail
Nearly 2 miles of paved pathway, runs parallel to US-31 from 14th St to South Airport Rd. Connects you with many local businesses and restaurants.

Muncie Lakes Pathway
8.6 miles of multi-use trails through rolling terrain and mixture of hardwood, pine trees, and meadows. Scenic overlooks of the Boardman Valley. Easy to difficult. Dog friendly.

North Manitou Island
15,000 acres of uninterrupted hiking, backpacking, and solitude. Free transportation provided by the Manitou Island Transit Co in Leland.

Old Indian Trail
2 scenic loops of easy terrain, each about 2.5 miles long. Leads to a view of Lake Michigan and a wide expanse of low beach dunes.

Old-Mission-Peninsula-ParkOld Mission Peninsula Park
Over 2 miles of easy, multi-use trails. Located on the tip of the Old Mission Peninsula adjacent to one of the area’s most beautiful beaches.

Old Mission Point Park Trail
At the 45th parallel lies a 650-acre reserve and 5 miles of trails that covers the west and east arms of the Grand Traverse Bay and returns to the Mission Point Lighthouse.

Pelizzari Natural Area
Wind through 3.2 miles of forests and meadows. Dog friendly.

Platte Plains Trail
3 loops totaling 14.7 miles of mostly flat terrain through pine plantations, open fields, and some low beach dunes near Lake Michigan. Pets must be kept on a 6-foot maximum leash.

Power Island BeachPower Island
Accessible only by boat, Power Island has picnic facilities, restrooms, and hiking trails. Beautiful views of West Grand Traverse Bay. Feels like your own private island.

Pyatt Lake Nature Preserve
A quiet place to enjoy nature with 1.1 miles of footpaths, located in the heart of the Old Mission Peninsula.

Pyramid Point Trail
2.7 miles of moderately steep and hilly trails through maple-beech forest, high bluffs, and rolling meadows. Lookout high point over Lake Michigan with a beautiful view of the Manitou Islands at the end of a small spur, just 0.6 miles from the trailhead.

Reffitt Nature PreserveReffitt Nature Preserve
100 acres of lush plant and animal life that is protected, owned, and managed by the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy. 1.7 miles of hiking trails that are adjacent to the Traverse City State Park and TART Trail.

Shauger Hill Trail
2.4 miles of hilly footpaths that take you through maple-beech forests.

Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail
27 miles of paved, multi-use trails that will connect Empire and Port Oneida, as well as various attractions along the way. Designed with all of your friends and family in mind—handicap accessible, accomodates walkers, runners, bicycles, rollerblades, and baby strollers. Trailheads at Bar Lake Rd, Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, Dune Climb, Glen Haven, Alligator Hill, Crystal River, Bay View, and Port Oneida.

Sleeping Bear Point Trail
Covers 2.8 miles of sand dunes with great views of Lake Michigan and South Manitou Island. Features a 0.5-mile spur that leads to Lake Michigan beach. Moderate difficulty.

South Manitou IslandSouth Manitou Island
17 miles of hiking trails that wind around the island’s many attractions including beaches, giant cedars, shipwrecks, a 19th century lighthouse, and the once-inhabited farms of early settlers. Free trail map provided by the Traverse City Tourism Visitor Center. Transportation provided by the Manitou Island Transit Co in Leland.

Sand Lakes Quiet Area
5 small lakes surrounded by rolling green hills that make up this 2,800-acre preserve in Pere Marquette State Forest. 7.4 miles of moderately challenging, multi-use trails. Feels a million miles away from TC, but really only a short drive. Ban on motorized activity.

Sedge Meadow & Woodland Trails
2.6 miles of boardwalks over wetlands and grassy river terrain.

Three Mile Trail
Runs 2 miles along Three Mile Rd from State Park beach on US-31 to South Airport Rd. Phase 2 is in the works and will extend the trail from South Airport Rd to Hammond Rd.Vasa-Pathway

Vasa Pathway
Series of different loops with varying difficulties. Partially funded through the Recreation Passport—check “YES” when renewing your Michigan license plate to gain access to over 102 state parks, hundreds of miles of pathways, and more.

Whaleback Natural Area
1.6 miles of moderate to challenging trails with views that make it worth every step. Located within the Leelanau Conservancy.Whaleback Natural Area

Windy Moraine Trail
An easy 1.5-mile loop that is particularly beautiful when the leaves are changing colors. Not as scenic as some of the other trails, but it is very relaxing.

Yuba Creek Trail
2.8 miles through 413 acres of open meadow terrain. Namesake stream flows for 5,000 feet on the property.