Michigan is one of the greatest destinations around for backpackers, and with good reason. After all, with so many lakes, rivers and forests, there's just about every hike you can imagine here. So pack up, pack light, and get ready for five of the most beautiful backpacking trips Michigan has to offer!
Michigan's Jordan River Valley in Antrim County is home to the river of the same name, the Jordan River. It's one of Michigan's oldest protected rivers, making it a sight to see in and of itself. That's before the wildlife comes into play—from herons to mink to otter and more. Some have even noted bear sightings in the area, proving that large parcels of Michigan are still very much ruled by the wild. From spring wildflowers to fall foliage, you'll have your choice of breathtaking sights in the land the Bible gave a name to.
Just east of Grayling, and part of the Huron-Manistee National Forests, sits the Wakeley Lake Foot Travel Area, a site situated around one of Michigan's many lakes. Forested land is the name of this game, with trees aplenty ranging from the oak and alder to pines in red, white, and jack varieties. Those who show up between March and mid-July will be able to catch loons nesting, and it's even known as a habitat for eagles. Best of all, at least for some, is the well-known catch-and-release fishery that's produced bass up to six pounds and bluegill around a foot long.
Near Mecosta, the Tubbs Lake State Forest Campground offers two campgrounds for backpackers to enjoy, the Tubbs Lake Mainland and the Tubbs Lake Island campgrounds. With only 33 campsites available on a first-come basis, you'll have to be careful about when you go here. Those who do, however, will have access to a wide array of water activities from fishing to boating thanks to a chain of lakes in the area, as well as the sheer unique nature of the Tubbs Lake Island campground. Tubbs Lake Island is a small island specifically built as a waterfowl habitat after the construction of Winchester Dam, a unique parcel of land by any standard.
Ludington Canoe Trail, not far from Grand Rapids, offers an unusual experience for backpackers, particularly for backpackers who want to try their hand at canoeing. Geared toward those with little, if any, experience, the Ludington Canoe Trail runs four miles, and features three points at which you'll have to carry your canoe. Featuring a host of wildlife from swans to herons and plenty of trees and water to see, the Ludington Canoe Trail will ultimately produce an experience like few others you've had backpacking.
Near Traverse City, you'll find the Sand Lakes Quiet Area, home to a feature that's going to be a big deal for rock hounds: marl lakes. Marl, also known as marlstone, is an unusual feature of either a calcium carbonite or lime-heavy mud. That's worth seeing in and of itself for the geology buff, but beyond that, there are huge hills of oak and pine, and a pervasive silence in the atmosphere because of a complete lack of motorized activity in the area. For peace, quiet, amazing scenery, and rocks like no tomorrow, head up to the Sand Lakes Quiet Area.