6 Trails in Michigan Beach Towns to Try This Summer 

Shandra Martinez

| 3 min read

The view from the top of Mt. Pisgah (a large dune) at Ottawa Beach in Holland, Michigan on Lake Michigan
Exploring trails that crisscross the scenic parts of Michigan can be a wonderful summer adventure for hikers big and small. Whether it’s an all-day trip or just a short walk, you can find trails that run along a Great Lakes beach, take you down a forest path or wind through dunes or open fields. Michigan’s beach towns are home to some really picturesque spots that are great for trail users, no matter your age or ability level.
We’re sharing some of our favorite trails from across both peninsulas. So, slip on some comfortable shoes, grab your sunglasses and hat, and don’t forget to pack some snacks and water. You’ll be finding new favorite spots before you know it.
Belle Isle State Park. This urban beauty at the edge of Detroit boasts several miles of shoreline for biking and walking. Situated in the Detroit River, halfway between the United States and Canada, Belle Isle has an aquarium, maritime history museum and a conservatory featuring exotic plants. The Belle Isle Loop is a roughly 5-mile trail that takes you around most of the park’s perimeter with great waterfront views. There are also interior island hiking trails that run along a canal.
Boyne Valley Trailway. This new multi-use trail was designed for both walkers and cyclists. It stretches more than 6 miles, connecting Boyne Falls to Boyne City, which sits along the edge of Lake Charlevoix. This easy ride goes past a township park and a nearby nature preserve, in case you want to plan little adventure stops along the way.
Mt. Pisgah. Ready for a leg workout? This short trail and long climb near Holland State Park brings you to the top of a dune overlook area. Once you’ve climbed partway, you get a platform with a southern view of nearby Lake Macatawa, which is usually dotted with boat traffic. Finish the climb and you’ll be rewarded with sweeping westward views of Lake Michigan, the state park beach and Holland’s iconic Big Red Lighthouse. Want to turn your climb into a trail trek? Follow a small trail that runs behind the top of the dune. It becomes a forest trail leading you through the back dune area and down into the state park campground.
Tawas Point State Park. Hugging the shoreline of Lake Huron on the sunrise side of Michigan, Tawas Point State park offers a unique trail experience just for walkers that includes a lighthouse and great wildlife views. Hop on the Sandy Hook Nature Trail, a 1.5 mile loop that features a dune stretch along Tawas Bay and some sections of boardwalk. This trail also passes the Tawas Point Lighthouse. It’s a favorite spot for birders, as it’s in the migration flight path that crosses nearby Saginaw Bay.
Mackinac Island. You can walk, ride a bike or drive a horse and carriage along M-185, the only state highway in Michigan where cars are not allowed. This 8.2 mile perimeter road encircling Mackinac Island has lots of historical features and interpretive markers along the way. It also intersects with a handful of roads that take you up into the island’s interior, where more fun exploration awaits curious walkers and riders.
Presque Isle Park. If you’ve landed in Marquette, you know that wild beauty abounds in this Upper Peninsula destination. One spot that packs a lot of scenery into more than 300 acres is Presque Isle Park, located atop cliffs that jut out into Lake Superior. This park has a perimeter trail with some spectacular scenery, and interior trails which take you into the heart of the park. Want to add a little free-falling into your trail adventure? Stop at the ancient Blackrocks formation and take a big leap into Lake Superior, 15 feet below. The dip is sure to be refreshing.
Photo credit: Getty Images

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