10 Best Winter Hikes in Michigan

By Steve Anderson

10 Best Winter Hikes in Michigan

It's winter in Michigan, and for some people that may mean hibernation. For others, however, it means an opportunity to get out in the snow and cold air for some invigorating outdoor recreation. Walking in a wintery landscape is a thrill for many. So, here are 10 great winter hikes in Michigan, enough to make even a diehard couch potato think twice! 

1. Noquemanon Trail Network, Marquette, MI

Marquette's Noquemanon Trail Network is easily one of the best winter hikes Michigan can offer thanks to one key point: its sheer variety. Not only will you have a short trail to hike in Baby Lake Trail, but you'll have a longer trail—around two miles—in Teal Lake Trail. Trails with lights, trails with rough terrain, and more await those who take on the Noquemanon Trail Network, a system of trails that delivers no matter your interest.

2. Heritage Trail, Drummond Island, MI

Drummond Island's Heritage Trail is one of the most impressive winter hikes Michigan can offer. Set on an island—which is by itself a feat—and offering two separate trails, you'll be able to catch scenery from the Potagannissing Bay shoreline to an array of caves and limestone outcroppings. With plenty of wildlife to see as well—it's often regarded as a great trail for birdwatching—Heritage Trail offers a full range of sights to see on foot.

3. Seven Bridges Natural Area, Kalkaska County, MI

Not too far from Rapid City, the Seven Bridges Natural Area was spared from ending up as a subdivision by narrow chance. Now a natural area with some incredible sights, a walk through here in winter will be an experience to remember. Featuring the ruins of a sawmill, trail and boardwalk going through cedar trees and a host of rivers to see—as well as four of the original seven bridges still active—you'll see things on a winter hike here you won't see anywhere else.

4. Grand Rivers Edge Trail, Grand Rapids, MI

The Grand Rivers Edge Trail offers a unique experience because of its location: downtown Grand Rapids. Yes, there's an actual trail running through one of Michigan's biggest cities. Running 5.4 miles and completely paved, you'll be able to get what amounts to a complete walking tour of Grand Rapids—or at least a large swath of it—as seen from the banks of the Grand River. So, for a trail that even the most rustic of Upper Peninsula trails can't match, Grand Rivers Edge is waiting for you.

5. Fred Meijer White Pine Trail, Grand Rapids, MI

Sometimes known simply as the White Pine Trail, this trail runs from Grand Rapids all the way up to Cadillac. Moreover, it has stops in a variety of communities in between, so you can make the trail as long or as short as you wish. Since it was formerly a rail line, it's got a bit of history thrown in with it too, so whether you want a short hop, an all-day excursion, or just a brief brush with Michigan's economic history, you'll find everything you need to make a great hike happen right here.

6. North Country National Scenic Trail

The North Country National Scenic Trail is another thoroughly unique experience: the single largest trail the United States can offer, running 4,600 miles from end to end. Yes, that's more mileage than any part of Michigan can boast, and that's because Michigan is one of seven states that has elements of the trail contained within. Michigan's part is heavy on the water features, including lakes, waterfalls, and plenty more.

7. Presque Isle Park, Marquette, MI

It may sound like a park, but it's a park that contains one of Michigan's greatest winter hikes. Found in Marquette, the Presque Isle Park—Presque actually translates to English as “almost,” so it's “almost an island”—offers 323 acres of land to see. Featuring a two mile stretch along Lake Superior—which by itself is a magnificent sight of frozen glory in winter—you'll have the great natural beauty of the area augmented by the crystalline magnificence of snow to make it about as complete as it can be.

8. Iron Ore Heritage Trail

Iron Ore Heritage Trail is so thoroughly steeped in Michigan history that it's actually been referred to as “the outdoor linear museum.” A 47-mile trail, visitors can get a look at large portions of the Upper Peninsula. There are trailheads in Ishpeming, Negaunee, Marquette and Harvey, just to name a few. Since the trail is actually comprised of several materials—there's asphalt and crushed limestone involved in paving, and some plain dirt trail as well—you'll be able to start and stop most anywhere you like and carry on accordingly.

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9. Kensington Metropark, Milford, MI

Milford is home to this fine Michigan winter hike, an operation covering 4,486 total acres of Michigan forest and hills. The best part about this is that, while it offers an excellent set of hikes, it's also got more than that going on. If you want a simple, short hike, you can do that, and you can follow it up with a variety of other activities. This is especially welcome if you're hiking with young children. 

10. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Michigan's Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore—which also represents the United States' first National Lakeshore—is easily one of Michigan's most picturesque and natural wonder-laden sights the state can offer. All those factors make it a winner in winter too, thanks to a huge range of trail to consider. With almost 100 miles of trails to consider all told, and some of Michigan's most amazing sights found therein, you'll have just about everything you could ask for right here.

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