Top 10 Hiking Trails in Michigan

Michigan is a highly underrated travel destination. It has so much to offer visitors from a rich cultural heritage, unique attractions, and friendly people.

Compared to many other popular tourist destinations, Michigan also offers great value for money.

What really draws tourists to our state, however, is it’s natural beauty. Michigan offers a wide variety of scenic natural attractions with diverse landscapes, from rolling hills and dense forests to sandy beaches and Great Lakes shorelines.

It’s the perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy hiking, camping, boating, fishing, skiing, and more.

Michigan offers a wide variety of scenic natural attractions such as the Great Lakes, forests, parks and beaches and there are hiking trails scattered throughout. With so many scenic trails, it’s hard to choose just ten, but here are the top ten hiking trails in Michigan for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

Top 10 Hiking Trails in Michigan:

1 – North Country Trail

This 4,800-mile trail spans seven states, including Michigan, offering a variety of landscapes for hikers. It begins in Vermont and stretches all the way to North Dakota. In Michigan, the trail covers over 800 miles, making it the longest trail in the state.

Whether you choose to hike shorter or longer portions of this trail, it allows hikers to experience some of the best natural features the north country has to offer. The trail is also well-marked and maintained, making it accessible to hikers of all levels of experience.

2 – Isle Royale National Park

Isle Royale offers a network of trails and backcountry campsites for hiking and backpacking. The park features a stunning natural landscape with scenic views of lakes, forests, and rocky shorelines, attracting visitors who are seeking breathtaking views.

Isle Royale is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including moose, wolves, and various species of birds, making it a popular destination for wildlife viewing. With its remote location and limited visitor access, this destination provides a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and is a great choice for those seeking solitude and tranquility.

3 – Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park

Home to a 35,000-acre old-growth forest, roaring waterfalls, miles of rivers and streams, more than 90 miles of hiking trails this state park offers stunning views of the scenic lakes, waterfalls, and dense forests that characterize the Upper Peninsula.

The park also contains a diverse array of wildlife including black bears, wolves, moose and eagles, making it a popular destination for wildlife watching as well.

There aren’t a lot of options for gas, food or other supplies inside the park so make sure you stock up before you enter. Ironwood and Ontonagon are nearby towns where you can get any necessary provisions for your trip.

4 – Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

The most popular trail in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is the Lakeshore Trail. This trail follows the shoreline of Lake Superior and offers stunning views of the park’s cliffs, beaches, and crystal-clear waters. The trail is approximately 42 miles long and takes multiple days to complete if you choose to hike the whole thing.

This trail offers breathtaking views of the Great Lakes and the colorful cliffs that give the park its name. The trails range from easy to challenging, and there are plenty of opportunities for bird-watching, wildlife sightings, and water activities.

Most hikers in this area choose to tackle shorter sections of trail while on their adventures. This hiking destination has the towns of Munising on one end and Grand Marais on the other so it’s easier to stock up on supplies or to grab a meal after a hike.

5 – Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

This park offers miles of trails that lead to towering dunes, scenic vistas, and hidden beaches. Some of the most popular hiking trails in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore include:

  1. Dunes Climb Trail: This trail offers a challenging hike to the top of the highest dune for panoramic views of Lake Michigan.
  2. Empire Bluff Trail: This trail offers a moderate hike through the woods with scenic views of the lake and surrounding bluffs.
  3. Alligator Hill Trail: This trail takes you through a diverse landscape of forests, wetlands, and dunes.
  4. Sleeping Bear Point Trail: This trail follows the shoreline of Lake Michigan and offers stunning views of the lake and surrounding sand dunes.
  5. Pyramid Point Trail: This trail offers a scenic hike to a lookout point over Lake Michigan with views of the surrounding countryside.

6 – Tahquamenon Falls State Park

This park is known for its stunning waterfalls, and the trails that lead to them are a must-hike for any nature lover. The park also offers plenty of opportunities for fishing, camping, and other outdoor activities.

Most visitors stay on the paved paths that lead to the upper and lower falls but there are other hiking options in the area. The Wilderness Trail is a 9.5 mile round trip, moderately difficult trail which takes you through the heart of the park’s backcountry and past several scenic overlooks. And it’s much less populated than the trails that are closer to the falls.

7 – Huron-Manistee National Forests

This 1.5 million-acre forest is home to over 600 miles of trails that lead through dense forests, rolling hills, and scenic lakes. Hikers can also explore historic sites, including the historic Hartwick Pines State Park.

We visited this park in the fall and it’s amazing how beautiful the old growth forests were that time of year. If you’d like to come along with us on our adventure, you can watch our video below.

8 – Manistee National Forest

This National Forest is a wonderful place for serious hikers to hit the trail. While there are plenty of shorter routes available, you’ll find the parking lots filled with overnight backpackers who are taking advantage of backcountry camping sites. The top hiking trails in Manistee National Forest include:

  1. Manistee River Trail – 27 miles long, easy to moderate difficulty, follows the Manistee River and offers scenic views, fishing opportunities, and access to backcountry camping sites.
  2. North Country Trail – passes through the forest. See above for more details.
  3. Big Manistee River Trail – 8 miles long, moderate difficulty, follows the Big Manistee River and offers scenic views and fishing opportunities.
  4. Little Manistee Trail – 20 miles long, moderate difficulty, takes you through the heart of the forest and past scenic rivers and streams.
  5. High Rollaways Trail – 7.5 miles long, moderate difficulty, takes you to the top of the High Rollaways and offers scenic views of the surrounding forests and lakes.

9 – Wilderness State Park

This 10,000-acre park offers miles of trails that lead to scenic vistas, remote beaches, and hidden waterfalls. The park is also home to a variety of wildlife, including bald eagles and moose.

When we visited the park, we enjoyed driving to the end of Wilderness Park Drive and walking toward Waugoshance Point. During drier times of year, you can sometimes traverse the marshy ground. When it’s wet, this area can either become a series of islands or it can be completely submerged.

It’s a fun adventure! You can get a better idea of what this area looks like in the video below.

10 – Michigan Legacy Art Park

Located on the grounds of Crystal Mountain in Thompsonville, Michigan, this unique park features over 50 sculptures and installations. Set along a scenic trail that winds through the 30 acre woods, the trail is a perfect destination for art lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, offering a unique blend of nature, history, and art.

These are just a few of the many incredible hiking trail systems that Michigan has to offer. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a beginner, there are amazing trails to explore for all fitness levels in our beautiful state.