Nature lovers – and all who just need to “be one with nature” – have endless choices north of the 45th parallel. The natural splendor is perfect for the eco-tourist traveling to unspoiled natural areas with a mindset for "treading lightly” as well as for the sportsman testing his or her skill. You’ll find pristine streams, forest-covered hills, wetlands, miles of trails through nature preserves and parks. You can also visit more than 80 waterfalls. Thousands of lakes – some as big as seas – are home to game fish like walleye, sturgeon and muskie. And from most anywhere, you can look up on a clear night and take in a clear sky filled with stars.
Take a walk on the breathtaking side. Here is the place to go to get up close and personal with nature. Some of the finest hiking and backpacking trails are available in Northern Michigan and the nearby islands. Rustic trails, breathtaking mountain areas, lush forests teeming with wildlife, sandstone cliffs, and incomparable waterways, wetlands, and inland lakes all hold wilderness adventures that are calling hikers and backpackers. Northern Michigan is also a leader in the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s efforts to convert abandoned railroad corridors into hiking and biking trails. For an interactive map of Michigan Trails by region, please click here.
Covering more than 3.8 million acres, the state’s northern forests support the largest organized recreational system in the United States. Today through great foresight and commitment, the state has created 100 majestic state parks and numerous state forest campgrounds.
A few that are particularly praise-worthy include the Hiawatha National Forest encompasses nearly 880,000 acres. Just off the Lake Huron coast of the Upper Peninsula is historic Mackinac Island State Park, recently honored by National Geographic as one of the ten finest in America. Pictured Rocks NationalLakeshore, located in Munising, is home to spectacular multicolored sandstone cliffs, beaches, sand dunes and waterfalls along 40 miles of the Lake Superior shoreline. In the sturgeon capital of Michigan, Onaway State Park has 10,000 acres of abundant fishing.
Thanks to careful land-use management, you can still see and touch 90 species of trees native to Michigan. Most of the parks and forests are open year round, so the seasonal activities offer opportunities for every interest. For a complete list of Michigan parks and forests, click here.
Island hopping in Michigan is a twelve-month adventure! Enjoy an entirely new vacation adventure by hopping from the mainland to some of Michigan’s islands. Northern Michigan has several islands with special charms for nature lovers, sportsmen, and others. You do not have to go to the Carribbean or Pacific to enjoy the islands. Head to Northern Michigan.
Ecotourists are drawn to historic Beaver Island, a heavily forested, fairly rustic island that offers shipwrecks for scuba divers, fishing, deer hunting and miles of trails for cross-country skiers, snowshoers, and snowmobilers. Grab the ferry to Drummond Island to explore an incredibly diverse wonderland of hardwood groves, rocky shores and sandy beaches. Two-thirds of the island is state owned so snowmobiling is out of this peninsula! Winter Ferries run Fridays and Saturdays through March 31 and by request other days. Off shore, see the De Tour Lighthouse, dating to 1847. Drummond Island fishing is at it's finest, where you'll find perch in late April, followed by Pike and Walleye in early May.
Isle Royale is the largest island in the largest of the Great Lakes, with more than 165 miles of scenic hiking trails and 36 campgrounds. It boasts more than 130 miles of pristine shoreline dotted by islands and channels that are accessible by kayak and canoe. North and South Manitou Islands have roots in the Chippewa Legend of the Sleeping Bear and are part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. They offer wilderness adventures for explorers, day hikers, and back country campers. Les Cheneaux Island is ideal for boating and sailing since its sheltered channels protect small craft from the Great Lakes’ winds.
The most popular island, Mackinac, originally named MichiliMackinac, was fought over by British, French and Americans, who fought over its strategic location between two Great Lakes and two great peninsulas. Bicycles and horse-drawn carriages give Mackinac Island a most relaxed atmosphere.