Michigan's state motto is, in the original Latin, "Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice." Translated to English this means, "If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you." Essentially, you don’t have to look very far to see something beautiful here in the Great Lake State. Michigan is home to a wide array of natural beauty that can best be absorbed on a beautiful, scenic hike. Here are five great trails to soak in the stunning nature of the state.
The Escarpment Trail, part of the Porcupine Mountains near Ontonagon, is a comparatively short track with a four-mile pace but a surprisingly steep elevation change. This combination makes it considered moderate in difficulty, but the views are amazing. Between views of Lake Superior, Lake of the Clouds, and the Carp River Valley, one of Michigan's comparatively few mountains will provide some of its best hiking.
Want to see what just over 18,300 acres of woods looks like? Take a step into the Sylvania Wilderness near Watersmeet. Formerly a private hunting preserve until its purchase by the US Forest Service in 1967, Sylvania features some of the most extensive forest in North America. Home to a host of tree species and wildlife, as well as a variety of lakes, you'll have just about any kind of view you could ask for waiting for you here.
Not all the great hikes can be found in the Upper Peninsula. The Jordan River Pathway near Mancelona is regarded as one of the more popular weekend backpacking options the Lower Peninsula can offer. Featuring cedar trees, a trout stream, and plenty of shade, it's a great look at not only woods and water, but also some excellent wildflower growth as well. Since it's a loop, it makes transportation a comparatively easy venture, and a built-in campground at the halfway point makes it a perfect weekend hike with the kids.
One of the southernmost hikes in Michigan, and part of Warren Dunes State Park near Sawyer, the Mt. Randal Loop is a four-mile hike over sand dunes. With an amazing view of Lake Michigan, some bits through local woodland, and even a chance to check out pretty much every different kind of sand dune there is—and yes, there's more than one kind of sand dune—you'll have an exciting time afoot running the Mt. Randal Loop. It's heavily visited in summer months, though, so it's suggested to come in April when the wildflowers are starting to bloom. October, when the leaves change color in the region, is also recommended.
Described on its website as a, “sanctuary for hikers,” the Bird Hills Nature Area is the largest park in Ann Arbor. Covering approximately 160 acres, Bird Hills is comprised of marsh areas, wet forest, mesic forest, among other ecosystems. You will find five trailheads here, all of which are easily accessible: Down Up Circle, Bird Road, Beechwood Drive, and two near the Newport Road parking area. These trails are unpaved, and they twist through magnificent forestry affording views of beautiful oaks, hickory, and spring wildflowers.