Michigan Wildflower Hikes to Take This Spring
| 3 min read
It happens unexpectedly to so many of us each spring. We’re walking near our homes or riding our bikes and we turn a corner and there they are: a little bunch of pretty wildflowers that catch us off-guard after a long and drab winter. There is something about these delicate little blooms and their cheery colors that just seem to sing “spring.” Their season is fleeting, so if you love these early blossoms, it’s worth it to pencil in some deliberate trips to see them. Here are some suggestions for Michigan wildflower hikes to take this spring.
Wildflowers are really any type of bloom that grows by itself, without planting or care from people. Most of the time, we think of these as solely native plants, but they can also be from seeds dropped from elsewhere. These can be as delicate as a lady’s slipper – a small orchid often seen in woodland areas – or as bright and bold as a Black-Eyed Susan.
Health benefits of wildflower walks
While you’re out admiring these spring and summer beauties, you’ll appreciate the added physical and mental benefits that come with wildflower walks. Spending time outdoors means you’ll likely feel more relaxed, your heart rate will slow down and your muscles will feel less tense, according to the U.S. Forest Service, which promotes the health rewards of getting outside.
Hikes and bike routes
Here are some examples of great wildflower hikes – or wildflower biking routes – in Michigan. Some suggestions come from the state’s tourism leaders and others from The Nature Conservancy, a global environmental agency that works in Michigan. Tip: Love finding wildflowers? Just take a picture. Some may be illegal to pick, and others may be rare enough that they are on federal or state threatened or endangered lists. Enjoy the beauty and leave them so someone else can do the same.
Tunnel of Trees: This 20-mile corridor that follows the shoreline curve of Lake Michigan from Harbor Springs to Cross Village is a wildflower wonderland every spring. Every May, this picturesque route along M-119 has the big lake’s signature blue hues on one side and woodlands carpeted in white trillium flowers on the other side. It’s a sight to behold, whether you’re cycling along the road or stopping to visit the handful of little nature preserve tracts along the way. Pure Michigan has shared some stops to make it a daytrip adventure.
Portage Point Woods Preserve: This preserve stretches along Lake Michigan near the tiny town of Onekema, north of Manistee. Its 120 acres is a unique back-dune forest habitat that is home to several kinds of wildflowers. Look for dwarf ginseng, bloodroot, trillium and jack-in-the-pulpit.
Ives Road Fen Preserve: This rare type of fen preserve sits along the edge of the River Raisin in Tecumseh. Woodland wildflowers abound here after years of work by volunteers to return the fen land to its natural state. See the pretty Black-eyed Susans and the carnivorous pitcher plants with their cup-like blooms.
John Arthur Woollam Preserve: This spot is for the adventurous wildflower seeker. It’s located in the Upper Peninsula, east of the Les Cheneaux Islands and along the rocky shoreline of Lake Huron. If you trek here, you’ll not only see some great raptor and other bird species, but you’ll likely find pitcher’s thistle and Houghton’s goldenrod in this coastal wetland expanse.
Erie Marsh Preserve: The space stretches for more than 2,000 acres in Monroe County, along Lake Erie’s North Maumee Bay. Characterized as a coastal wetland, it is home to some colorful surprises, including the swamp rose-mallow and the American lotus, which are both listed as threatened species in Michigan.
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