Step Outside - Michigan WELCOME TO STEP OUTSIDE! Find the best outdoor fun near you! en-us 30 Step Outside - Michigan 144 144 Sat, 20 Oct 2018 04:07:55 -0500 Best Places to Fish in the Midwest This Fall Walleyes and a variety of salmon are on the autumn menu in the Midwest as anglers have a last chance to fish open water before the winter freeze starts to set in. Fishing for either species can be excellent; how the weather and the water temperatures line up are more critical where salmon are concerned, but the fall run extends well into November.

Walleyes aren’t so picky, and all the traditional waters such as the Mississippi River, Big Saint Germain Lake in Wisconsin, Otter Tail Lake in Minnesota and Great Lakes feeder streams give up tons of  ’eyes in the fall.

One Last Salmon Fling

The big attraction nowadays is king (chinook) salmon that make their fall spawning runs up rivers and creeks. Whether fishing from a small boat or a Great Lakes charter boat, latching on to a 20- or 30-pound king can quickly warm up an otherwise chilly fall day.

Hot Spots To Fish: Michigan’s Grand River, which empties into the eastern side of Michigan, is a prime destination for salmon. Getting Bit Guide Service (616-570-2946, in Grand Rapids is a good starting point. In fact, any port of call along Lake Michigan on either the east or west sides is likely to have plenty of knowledgeable salmon guides or charters. Fishing from jetties or piers – such as the famed McKinley Pier in Milwaukee – is also productive during the fall salmon runs.

In northwestern New York, the Salmon River lives up to its name through mid-October, but the run might linger into November in the Lake Ontario feeder, depending on the weather. Coho and steelheads also are in the mix too.

The Yankee Angler (315-963-2065, in Pulaski, N.Y. keeps tabs on the fishing. In the big waters of Lake Ontario’s southern shore at Rochester, N.Y., give Reel Em In Sportfishing Charters (585-317-5325, a call.

Farther to the northwest, the waters and feeders of Lake Superior near Sault Ste. Marie are teeming with big salmon. One of the benefits here is that you can always slip in to the St. Mary’s River System to get away from those rough autumn nor’ westers. Live To Fish Charters (906-440-7797) can help make it happen.

New York rivers and inshore waters are teeming with big salmon in the fall.

Tackle You’ll Need: Salmon tackle and striped bass tackle (see above) are practically interchangeable. Fish might range from a few pounds to well over 20 pounds, and rods and reels should be in the medium- to-heavy range. A light- to-medium spinning outfit capable of holding a couple of hundred yards of 10- to 14-pound-test monofilament or 30- to 50-pound-test braid should do for most applications, especially when casting lures. Try the Okuma Epixor XT-20 with a matching rod.

Quick Tip: Just to hedge your bets, tie a foot-long section of 2x mono to your streamer hook and add a beadhead Prince nymph or similar pattern to the other end. When salmon are finicky, they might flash at a streamer, but not take it. Sometimes, a smaller mouthful such as a nymph trailer will seal the deal.


Best Lures/Bait: For the most part, spawn-run salmon hit spoons, crankbaits or roe bags out of reaction rather than hunger. Shiny lures, such as the Luhr-Jensen Twinky Rig behind a flasher, the Acme Kastmaster Spoon and a variety of soft-plastic swimbaits or hard crankbaits, will elicit strikes. Fly fishermen favor Dahlberg Divers, Wooly Buggers, Hex Nymphs and Glo Bugs.

Walleyes Are Hungry and Willing

In similar fashion to bass, walleyes follow baitfish from the bigger lakes to feeder creeks and rivers with current.

Hot Spots To Fish: The Van Hook Arm of Lake Sakakawea (701-421-0360, in North Dakota is a prime walleye destination, as is Wisconsin’s Lake Winnebago (920-598-0586,

Tackle You’ll Need: Power fishing it’s not. Though walleyes might fatten up to well over 10 pounds, 2- to 4-pound fish are more the rule. Depending on the average size of the fish, 4- to 10-pound-test monofilament or fluorocarbon will do.

For spinning enthusiasts, the Quantum Vapor PT with matching rod will work. If you prefer trolling to casting, or bouncing a weight and natural bait on the bottom, try a baitcasting outfit such as a Fenwick/Pflueger Night Hawk or Iron Hawk combo.

Quick tip: Trolling at night with diving jerkbaits, such as the Storm Original ThunderStick or Lucky Craft Pointer 110, is a great way to catch walleyes. Troll in patterns from deep to shallow and back again, as the fish tend to relocate up and down drop-offs and channel runs depending on bait movement.


Best Lures/Bait: Leeches, nightcrawlers, minnows and everything from crankbaits to spinners will find favor with hungry fall walleyes. Top picks include: Rapala’s Shad Rap, Berkley’s Flicker Shad, Mepps’ Black Fury, Rapala’s Husky Jerk and Northland Fishing Tackle’s Forage Minnow Jigging Spoon.

Photograph Courtesy of Michigan Department of Natural Resources Walleyes weighing more than 10 pounds apiece are routinely caught in the fall, but most fish are "good eating size," averaging about 3 pounds. Thu, 11 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0500
10 Best Outdoor Fall Activities in Michigan Now is the time to start planning all of your fall activities in Michigan! Whether you’re interested in attending a local festival or you’re going apple picking, there’s something for everyone here. Without further ado, here are the best outdoor fall activities in Michigan. 

There's a 20-mile stretch of Michigan, between the towns of Cross Village and Harbor Springs, that's known as the “Tunnel of Trees.” Named for the fact that the entire stretch is tree-lined, it's one of the best spots Michigan can offer for a color tour. Given the sheer quantity of trees in Michigan, that's saying something. The Tunnel of Trees, however, has an advantage over many for not only its sheer length of deciduous, color-changing trees, but also for the views of Lake Michigan that you'll catch along the way.

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Allegan County, Michigan is the ideal place to visit in the cooler months. From the beginning to the end of foliage season, your eyes will feast in the array of warm-toned colors. Hidden Ridge RV Resort in the small village of Hopkins is a local favorite that offers rustic-style cottage as well as trailer camping until the end of October. It is in the perfect location, in the middle of picturesque lakes, woodlands, and nearby town attractions. There are always events and activities going on in the area, as well as plenty of hiking trails, boating opportunities, fishing, volleyball, basketball, and much more. Don’t forget to bring graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows for s’more makin’ around the campfire!

Apple picking can be found all over Michigan, but Blake Farms carries an unusual distinction: it's in the Metro Detroit area. Home to Blake's Orchard & Cider Mill, Blake's Big Apple, and a few other locations, you'll find a host of u-pick options for apples here that in some cases start as early as mid-August. It only starts there, though; check out the hard cider bar, the non-alcoholic cider and donuts options, hayrides, and even a downright agrarian amusement park known as “Blake's Funland” that boasts cornstalk mazes, a literal mountain of straw, and more.

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For one of the best fall hikes in Michigan, head up to Marquette for the Sugarloaf Mountain Trail. You can choose from an easy route or a more difficult steep route, but either way, the hike is well worth the climb. In fact, once you reach the top, you'll be able to check out three different major viewing points, including a look at Lake Superior from an impressive elevation and a view of the Superior Dome, the largest wooden dome and fifth-largest dome structure on the planet. 

Fall is bass fishing season in Michigan, and one of the best—some say most overlooked—points of bass fishing in Michigan is the Grand River. Flowing from Hillsdale County to Lake Michigan and spanning 260 miles, it's the longest river in all of Michigan and represents the watershed with the second-largest drainage in Michigan. It's also home to some phenomenal bass fishing, reports note, and a good day could bring you a legendary amount of bass. 

Head over to Dexter to experience one of the best examples of another thing you'll find all over Michigan; the Blast Corn Maze. Corn mazes are kind of a Midwest institution. The Blast contains fully 10 acres of corn, into which three and a half miles of trails have been carved for your wandering pleasure. Three exits of various sizes are on hand, and if you finish the maze with time in a day to spare, check out the other options. A corn cannon—which is just as exciting as it sounds—is on hand, along with a straw mountain, a corn box, and plenty other options.

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Color tours can be great in Michigan, but the problem is that you're always looking up. One of Michigan's great tourist destinations, Frankenmuth, has fixed that by building the Frankenmuth Aerial Park. The Aerial Park is a series of platforms built into the trees connected by a range of bridges, including zip lines, that offers guests a slate of challenges to get from one platform to another. That's exciting at most any time of the year, but when you're there in fall, you get to experience the color changes right at treetop level, a feat that few color tours will ever offer.

Color tours are great, even when you're running a zipline through the trees and experiencing color at eye level. But if you want the most extravagant view possible, go up to Traverse City and check out TC Helicopter Tours. The Traverse Bay area is already picturesque enough in fall—there are people who routinely go there just for the fall color—but to experience it in a helicopter is a whole new experience. With many different tours to choose from, you'll be able to check out what may be Michigan's most beautiful season from a bird's-eye level. There's even a sunset tour to check out the area right as the sun's going down, and with Traverse City's array of dining and entertainment options, you'll have plenty waiting for you when you land.

Fall festivals are a big part of a Michigan fall, and one that brings in visitors for miles around is the annual Grand Rapids ArtPrize event. Running from mid-September to early-October, you'll have plenty of time to check out this comparatively new, but still vital event that effectively covers a large portion of Grand Rapids in art from around the world. Free to view and completely open to the public, you'll watch artists vie for half a million dollars in prizes, and you'll even get a chance to vote for the winners yourself! 

This is the ride you don’t want to miss, grab your bike, and head to the Tour de Livingston Festival in Livingston County which is a festival all about experiencing the radiant golden color of the trees from the seat of your bike. The ride donates 100 percent of the proceeds to the Livingston County United Way Basic Needs Programs, so you can pedal for a local charity. You’ll get a choice of how long you want your route to be, from 5-100 miles, ending with a delicious meal prepared by the chef of the local favorite restaurant Mt. Brighton. 

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10 Best Archery Outfitters in Michigan Archery is a serious practice in Michigan. Whether it’s bow hunting or simply target practice, Michigan folk have a passion for the sport. But if your bow is in need of some repairs before the start of the season, or if you need to pick up some new gear, head to one of these excellent local archery outfitters in the state! 

Compounds and Crossbows in Lansing is exactly what the label says it is—a place for compound bows and crossbows. PSE is its primary stock in trade, and it goes beyond that into other items, including those available by special order. It's not just about sales, either, as it's got a complete service department—free inspections and tune-ups for $34.99—along with a wide variety of parts and components to keep your archery gear in its prime condition.

PSE and Darton compound bows!

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Northern Michigan knows plenty about archery, as demonstrated by a stop in Ossineke's Hunter's Shack Archery. Featuring several varieties of bows along with arrows in both pre-fletched and raw shaft, you'll be able to get in on most anything you need for archery or bow hunting. Plus, Hunter's Shack Archery offers a 20-yard indoor range and even a PGA golf simulator assuming you want to do something besides archery. That makes it about as full-service as it comes.

With locations in Clinton Township and Royal Oak, MJC Archery works to cover all the archery needs of the Southeast Lower Michigan area. Featuring not only a range of bows—compound, crossbow and traditional are all represented here—but also custom-built arrows, a range of additional supplies, league competition where you can match skill against a variety of other archers in the vicinity, you've got just about everything you could ask for here. There's even a 20-yard indoor range just to try out your hardware.

Shooting some spots at MJC Archery!

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Gauthier's Archery in Traverse City is currently celebrating its 37th year of operation, which is something of a feat for most any retail store these days. With a wide array of bows, crossbows and arrows, you'll be able to find just what you need to get started or resupply your shooting aspirations. Two separate indoor ranges provide the means to test out your hardware, and there are even winter leagues to keep your skills sharp and private lessons where you need improvement.

An unlikely archery supplier awaits you in Sturgis with Lost Nation Archery. Focused not on the very latest in shooting technology, but rather on “traditional archery,” Lost Nation Archery still stocks plenty of choices in shooting systems, but more on the old-fashioned longbow than the modern composites and the like. That's not to say there still won't be plenty of options, but the options are more commonly focused on the simpler material. You'll also find gear specifically for children, as well as a slate of books and DVDs about the craft.

Grand Rapids' Archery Unlimited looks to live up to its name as much as possible, by offering not only a complete range of bows, but also arrows and other accessories. Whether it's arrows for hunting, arrows in carbon or aluminum, or any of a range of other options, you'll find all you could ask for right here. Best of all, Archery Unlimited is the only dealer of “Totally Titanium” broadheads around, making it worth a look for that reason alone.

SideCar company archery outing! #workhardplayhard #bullseye #sidecarstudios

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It's no surprise that the Upper Peninsula has a fondness for archery, and that's demonstrated in Ishpeming's Straight Line Archery. It's recently moved into the old Miracle Lounge bowling alley, and in the process added several new options for users. A 28-target seasonal range, an indoor range, and a 3D range all combine to offer plenty of options for recreational shooting at any time of year, and throwing in the sheer range of options available in terms of purchase and after-sales service only improves things further.

Ed's Archery in Clio provides a wide array of hardware options for its shoppers, not only in compound bows by also in crossbows. Crossbows are actually a pretty big part of Ed's Archery, as it's not only the home but one of the sponsors of the Michigan Crossbow Federation. Best of all, it also features not only indoor and outdoor ranges, but also a complete service facility to keep your hardware in prime condition.

Hale's not only offers the best in bows and arrows, but also services what it sells, and even boasts an indoor range with private lessons to help keep you in proper shooting shape. This classic hardware and sporting goods stores combination is unbeatable for top-quality gear! 

In Essexville—not far from Bay City—Bay Archery Sales looks to be one of the Bay Area's leaders in archery services. We already know there's plenty of competition up that way, so what separates Bay Archery? How about a staff of archery professionals, for one, including some directly involved in product development? How about a background of sales and service for tens of thousands of different bows? How about a product line ranging from bows to crossbows and most everything to keep both kept and fed? How about a complimentary packet of passes to local bow clubs with purchase and even a loaner bow when service is needed? That's a pretty telling line of services, and makes it clear that Bay Archery is ready to provide.

Can't wait to pick this baby up #mathews #halon

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10 Best Bait and Tackle Shops in Michigan In a state so full of lakes and rivers as Michigan is, it's no surprise that fishing is a very big deal. From salmon to trout to the good old Michigan bluegill, you'll find plenty of places to fish and plenty of kinds of fish to pursue. But you won't get far with the wrong gear—you'll need the right equipment to go fishing in Michigan. From top-of-the-line rods and reels to live bait, here are the 10 best bait and tackle shops in the state. 

Ostensibly the sequel to Captain Chuck's, Captain Chuck's II in Ludington won't skimp on its offerings. It's not only got rods and reels from some of the biggest names in fishing, but it's also got a wide range of “Made in Michigan” hardware to consider, allowing you to support the same state that brought you the great fishing to begin with. Throw in referrals to fishing charter services, regular fishing reports, and updates on new tackle, and you'll have a complete one-stop shop for where to find them and how to get them.

Cold day to install!

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Benton Harbor's Tackle Haven offers about all the gear an angler could need, from rods to reels to outerwear for taking on the wet environment and well beyond. But any store can offer hardware—Tackle Haven distinguishes itself with its extras. It not only offers information about area charter fishing operations, but offers regular fishing reports on area activity. Throw in a regular fishing tournament sponsored annually, and boat storage services—great for those winter months when all the fishing is ice-based—and you've got the total package.

Welcome to Curtis, Michigan, an Upper Peninsula destination that's home to Mick's Bait Shop. Mick's bills itself as “...your Upper Peninsula source for live bait, fishing tackle...” and plenty more. This includes a line of custom rods and custom tackle, including a set of patent-pending spinner baits under the Hooked on Tackle Co. brand name. It's additionally part of the Manistique Lakes Area, which puts it within an easy hop of some of the Upper Peninsula's best fishing spots, and will provide fishing reports to keep anglers apprised of the latest doings.

Frankfort Tackle Box, found not at all surprisingly in Frankfort, boasts a sound array of lures, rods and reels to keep anglers well-supplied. Frankfort Tackle Box goes the extra mile by bringing together a slate of links about the Michigan area, including resources (ever wonder how to avoid commercial fishing nets on the Great Lakes? They'll tell you.), local accommodations, and even weather reports.

With a wide range of options for gear—including a slate of discounted clearance items—Lakeside will have pretty much everything you need on hand. It goes on from there to present a daily fishing report from its own Captain Dan, a measure which is always welcome for those not wanting to waste a day on the water. There's even word about area tournaments and even area hotels for those who want to stick around the area more than a day.

Kalkaska is home to Jack's Sport Shop, an operation that's been running for over 50 years now. Named one of Michigan's top three sporting goods stores in Northern Michigan by the Detroit Free Press, the store is home to not only a wide array of hardware but plenty of expertise on the area and its hunting and fishing operations. Jack's is also home to a substantial array of ice tackle as well, meaning it's ready for fishing whether the water is solid or liquid. Check out the regular fishing reports as well as the store's blog for all the latest on fishing in the area.

While it's got a sizable lineup of fishing products, Anderson's Probait features something a little new and different: a complete message board system online. Not only can you shop for material at Anderson's, but you can also discuss all the latest developments in fishing technology and plenty of other topics with fellow members of the fishing community! 

Check out Nunica to find Fish On, a shop that distinguishes itself by offering actual fishing seminars. No, really—seminars about fishing topics, ranging from general knowledge issues to discussion of new techniques in the field. Last year's seminar event even came with door prizes and a catered lunch for a $25 entry fee. Throw in several services on site—line spooling and repair for starters—as well as the latest in fishing technologies and you're ready to go fishing.

Bear Lake's Osborn Sports Shop won't just offer the full range of live bait—a staple of most any tackle and bait shop—but it will also offer the means to get at the fish. Osborn Sports Shop offers kayaks for rent, just $15 gets one for the day. You'll need a credit card and driver's license, but you can still rent a kayak quite inexpensively. It also offers archery and trapping supplies as well as swimming and camping gear, so you'll be covered no matter when or where you fish and may want other material on hand as well for the ancillary sports.

Over in Rockford, Great Lakes Fly Fishing Company is waiting for all the fly fishers out there. That's especially important as Great Lakes specializes in fly fishing. Naturally, it's got all the supplies and assorted gear one could ask for, and it also boasts both new and used equipment. It's even got some vintage estate gear for those who think that they just don't make 'em like that anymore. Throw in a complete line of educational products and lessons and you'll have the fullest fishing experience right here.

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Camping Done Right: 5 Essential Outdoor Stores in Michigan When it comes to camping, it can't be done without a certain amount of hardware. Whether you're going full-on glamping or getting back to nature, you'll need some tools to get the job done. Michigan's got a wide variety of camping retailers in both local shops and national chains, so here's a rundown of five of Michigan's best to get you on your way.

Bill and Paul's Sporthaus in Grand Rapids puts its focus on knowing its customer's needs. Whether you're looking for bug-repellent clothing for a simple summer campout, a Big Agnes two-person tent, a Nocturne sleeping bag rated to 15 degrees Fahrenheit for a winter excursion, or something as simple as a lineup of Clif Bars, Bill and Paul—routine guests on local television stations like Fox 17—will be ready to help you get properly equipped. 

Ann Arbor's Bivouac can cover you on a variety of fronts for camping. Birdwatchers will appreciate the Nikon binoculars and Nemo shelter-tents. Hardcore campers, meanwhile, will welcome Benchmade knives and Liberty Mountain shelf-stable meals complete with flameless heating elements. There's all that plus GoPro cameras to help ensure that you'll never miss a moment of your big excursion. If you're not the type to go camping often, Bivouac can even offer gear rental services so you're not sinking a lot of cash into something you won't use often.

There are several Field & Stream locations throughout Michigan, but the one in Kalamazoo is a recent addition that is worth noting. It's got several of Field & Stream's major Field Tech services built right into it, including gun, bow, and tackle specialists. There's also a camping specialist on hand to cover all your questions about various product offerings. There will be plenty of product offerings here, including a host of products from Field & Stream itself like cots and lanterns. It's not just Field & Stream's own material, though, as we'll also have Mr. Heater space heaters, several entries from Coleman, and a world of products beyond.

REI is one of the best-known camping goods suppliers around, famous for its high-impact clothing. The store will offer actual classes for those who want to learn more about the camping craft. For those who don't need education but are just looking for the hardware, REI won't disappoint. How about a Tepui tent that incorporates your car in the design? Keen and Merrill hiking shoes and boots for those long hikes? Or perhaps an Osprey or REI-branded bag to carry it all in? No matter your purpose, REI will cover you.

Pinconning, just a bit north of Bay City, isn't too far from some of the best camping the state can offer. That in turn means a great opportunity to supply those folks looking to take advantage, and Northwoods Wholesale Outlet should fit the bill nicely. Whether you're looking for a variety of miscellany under the Coghlan's mark—everything from solar-heated camp showers to soap holders—or Coleman tents for a variety of conditions, you'll be covered right here. There are even hunting, fishing, and footwear-specific items to round out your camping plans.

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5 Beautiful Backpack Camping Spots in Michigan 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.

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5 Awesome Campgrounds for Families in Michigan With longer, warmer days comes thoughts of family camping trips. Packing up the kids for a weekend and heading out into nature makes for a memorable experience. And in Michigan, there is plenty of natural beauty to explore. From comfortable family campgrounds, to fun RV parks, you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for at these five awesome family-friendly campgrounds in Michigan. 

Silver Lake's Dunes Harbor Family Camp focuses very closely on providing experiences for the family. Featuring not only a string of amenities ranging from the full-on RV camper to the most basic tent camper—including a full ice cream shop as part of the camp's store—Dunes Harbor covers the waterfront nicely. The fact that it's only a few minutes from the actual waterfront of Lake Michigan doesn't hurt either, and with a wide variety of community activities, young families will love this spot.

Head for Glen Arbor to try out D.H. Day Campground. Geared toward the more primitive camping experience, this campground is a stone's throw from the Sleeping Bear Dunes, one of the greatest natural wonders Michigan can offer. Whether enjoying the beach, hunting for the official Michigan stone—the Petoskey stone—or just enjoying a campground steeped in tradition, D.H. Day Campground will offer a wonderfully family-friendly experience for campers.

One beautiful place to spend the weekend!

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Lake Leelanau not only provides an excellent space for RV campers, but it can also support regular tent campers as well, offering a playground, a clubhouse, laundry facilities, and more. Oh, and don't forget it's right there on Lake Leelanau, and the entirety of the Leelanau Peninsula is open to you as well. Traverse City isn't even that far, and that means a lot of exciting options.

Family-owned and operated, Logan Hills Campground not far from Hale offers an incredible natural setting, complete with a lake for fishing, boating, and all around fun. Offering tent sites—with either “primitive” or with water and electric options—as well as your choice of three cabin types and RV parking, you'll have plenty of options for a place to lay your family's collective head down when all that fun comes to an end for the day.

Out in Hopkins lies Sandy Pines, a campground whose biggest focus is fun. Activities aplenty pack this campground, starting with a complete water park. No really, a water park. That's just the start—there's a complete 18-hole golf course on hand here as well, so you can camp not more than several hundred feet from a golf course. Throw in several different ball games—from tennis to basketball to the comparatively new gaga ball—and a complete ropes course along with readily-accessible beach, and family fun will be the name of the game at the accessible Sandy Pines.

So good for the soul.

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5 Awesome RV Campsites in Michigan Everyone knows that camping can be a great way to escape back to our roots—closer to nature. For those who miss their creature comforts and want something a little less rustic, try out RV camping! The recreational vehicle is one great option to avoid mosquitos, get a good night of sleep, and access all the amenities you might need on your trip. In Michigan, you’ll find plenty of excellent places to park your RV. Here are five awesome spots. 

Ludington State Park near Ludington is regarded as one of the most popular parks in Michigan. So much so, in fact, that it's commonly advised you plan to reserve one of the over 300 campsites at least six months in advance. Featuring fishing, boating, swimming, a lighthouse—the Big Sable Point lighthouse—and a host of other activities, it's not surprising that campgrounds here fill up so fast. 

An all-ages resort—great for the family—that features not only themed weekends but its own arcade, along with fishing, a pool, fitness rooms, shuffleboard, pickleball courts and more, Hidden Ridge RV Resort will give you a variety of options readily accessible from your RV. Throw in the town of Hopkins itself nearby—and the fact that it's between Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids—and you'll have plenty to see and do.

Talk about your no-brainer: an RV park that's part of a casino resort in Michigan means plenty to see and do. Little River Casino Resort RV Park in Manistee will offer that in spades, including access to an indoor and an outdoor pool. Go swimming regardless of the weather outside! Better yet, there's a free shuttle running to the casino itself, and all the park's sites include access to water, electric, and cable television hook-ups. Some will even boast sewer hook-ups, though there's a full restroom with shower facility available in the park itself. Just to top it off, the RV park even offers coffee, tea, and hot chocolate at no extra charge, so for those needing a bit of a jolt before setting out, stop on in.

Out near Lake St. Clair, a recent addition to the RV campground slate has opened up, and it's Northpointe Shores RV Resort. You’ll find the RV resort is conveniently located in close proximity to Port Huron. There are bathhouses on-site as well as pet facilities, and full hook-ups. One thing to note: Northpointe prefers newer RVs only, and will only accept RVs no older than 20 years on its grounds. 

Head up to Irons to check out the Irons RV Park & Campground, regarded by many who've been there as one of Michigan's best. The basics are well in hand here, including 45 by 65 pull-through sites complete with full hook-ups. Those who want back-in electric and water, meanwhile, will get those here as well. With several nearby attractions from the Blessing of the Bikes in May to July's Trout-o-Rama, and plenty of activities from kayaking to golf and hunting to check out, there's plenty on hand to see and do. 

Aleksey Stemmer/ Mon, 13 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0500
5 Gorgeous Beach Campsites in Michigan If there's one thing Michigan is known for, it's lakes. Between the five huge ones that ring the state to the host of smaller ones located throughout, there's a lake almost everywhere you look. For those who want to spend a little more time with our lakes, there are a wide variety of waterfront camping alternatives for you. So grab your tent and let's check out five of the most gorgeous waterfront camping spots in Michigan.

According to a “Good Morning America” poll, Sleeping Bear Dunes is the single most beautiful place in the United States. Glen Arbor's world-famous beach offers a commanding view of Lake Michigan, and with camping available, you can literally fall asleep in the most beautiful place around. If you're in need of something to do before you get sleepy, don't worry—attractions abound from lighthouses to wineries, and with plenty of dining options, you'll be able to get a good meal before you hit the sleeping bag.

If you're looking for camping that isn't on a Great Lake, then consider the next best thing at Young State Park. Close to Boyne City, and on Lake Charlevoix, Young State Park offers access to terrain from fields to cedar swamps for you to check out. But this isn't just a shot at primitive camping—there are 240 different campsites to consider, complete with electricity, and even two miniature cabins. While you're there, try out kayaking and canoeing, along with extensive hiking, metal detecting, and even cross-country skiing in season. Your individual definition of beauty will likely find something to match it here.

Out in Lakeport, along the shore of Lake Huron not far from the Canadian border, sits Lakeport State Park. Lakeport State Park has the unusual distinction of being split into two parts, with the village of Lakeport separating the two. There are 250 separate campsites to make use of, along with a camper cabin for those without tents or campers who still want to camp. Enjoy a variety of attractions in the immediate area like swimming, hiking, and even metal detecting. 

Sunset Bay RV Resort and Campground near Ahmeek has its share of distinctions to go along with it. Not only is it one of Michigan's oldest continuously-operating campgrounds—it's been up and running since 1944—but it's also one of the farthest north campsites in the state. That means you're saying hello to Lake Superior, Michigan's most massive lake. It may be a smaller site—just 11 tent-only sites, 23 combination RV and tent sites, and two cabins—but what it lacks in size it will make up for in beauty and grandeur. And yes, the sunsets are indeed as gorgeous as the name implies.

There's not much of Lake Erie that actually comes in contact with Michigan, but that little strip of ground is actually home to some of the most exciting real estate the state has to offer. William C. Sterling State Park, meanwhile—in Monroe—is one of the best campsites around for those who want to see Lake Erie firsthand. With 1,300 acres to see and 256 campsites immediately on the lakefront, there's plenty of room to go around. Fishermen, meanwhile, will find absolutely breathtaking catches around here thanks to fishing lagoons and the Lake Erie coast fishing. 

Dean Drobot/ Mon, 13 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0500
5 Energizing Hikes in Michigan When the beginner hike is too easy, it’s time to try a new challenge. Don't worry, Michigan's got you covered. There are more physically-demanding hikes across the state that will get your muscles moving and leave you feeling accomplished at the end of the day. Lace up your boots and grab your water bottle before you tackle these five energizing hikes in Michigan. 

Not far from Brethren, the Manistee River Loop Trail is considered a moderate-difficulty hike running 23 miles. Traffic is comparatively light due to its length, mainly, and is considered both kid-friendly and dog-accessible, though dogs will need to be on a leash. The scenery out here is impressive, including the Manistee River for which the trail is named. A waterfall, a creek, suspension bridge, huge amounts of forest, and staggering availability of camping spots along the trail makes this one a highly-versatile winner for an intermediate hike. 

This 1.5-mile hike roundtrip has terrain described as hilly, which makes it a bit more of a challenge than your average hike. Once you reach the end of the trail, you will be treated to high-up views from the bluff overlooking Lake Michigan. Proceed with caution—do no descend the bluff because it can be very dangerous. 

The Porcupine Mountains near Ontonagon represent a perfect opportunity for hikers thanks to one main reason: an abundance of hiking trails, all of which are interconnected. Thanks to this, hiking through the Porcupine Mountains can be about as easy or as difficult as you want it to be, and can incorporate just about any kind of scenery you could ask for. Commonly regarded as a moderate challenge, though, is the Porcupine Mountains’ Escarpment Trail, running roughly four miles in length—eight miles roundtrip—which offers peaks, lakes, and some impressive 400-foot cliffs.

A national wildlife refuge near Saginaw, Shiawassee contains three trails within its purview: The Woodland Trail, the Ferguson Bayou Trail, and the Wildlife Drive, a seasonal trail that's accessible by car. The Woodland Trail and Ferguson Bayou Trail should provide a more challenging experience that won't tax hikers too greatly. Both trails run about 4.5 miles worth of walking, and the Woodland Trail is somewhat more primitive. The Ferguson Bayou Trail features graveled roads and several beautiful views. While your definition of “moderate difficulty” may be fluid, the variety of choice seen here should accommodate it, whatever it may be.

Paint Creek Trail, near Rochester in Oakland County, is something of a rarity in Michigan trails: A trail both owned and managed not by the state, but by a private entity, the Paint Creek Trailways Commission. The first “non-motorized rail-to-trail” in Michigan, it runs 8.9 miles, and was formerly part of the Penn Central Railroad. Now a hiking, biking and walking trail of moderate difficulty due mainly to its length, it will offer a smooth, eight-foot-wide trail that goes through several towns and provides plenty of sights to see along the way. 

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Making the Most Out of Rifle River Recreation Area To truly appreciate the nature that surrounds you, immersing yourself in a state park or national forest is the way to go. From its giant shimmering lakes to its densely-wooded forests, Michigan boasts glorious natural spaces that would be any outdoorsperson’s dream. Begin your exploration with Rifle River Recreation Area. With its trails, ponds, and campsites, here’s how to make the most out of your adventure.  

If you've never heard of the Rifle River Recreation Area, not too far away from Lupton, then you're in surprisingly broad company. You're also, however, not yet privy to one of Michigan's best-kept recreational secrets. Home to over 4,400 acres of woods, campsites and more, this wonder has no shortage of natural and man-made excitement waiting for you. Grab your camping gear and hiking boots, because it’s time to start exploring. 

Those looking for a place to hike within the Rifle River Recreation Area will have two worthwhile choices here. The longer of the two is the Rifle River Multi-Use Trail, a 14-mile trail that allows for not only hiking, but also mountain biking and, when the weather cooperates, cross-country skiing. Hikers here will be able to catch views of several bodies of water, as well as proceed past several different campground sites.

The second hiking option for the Rifle River Recreation Area—one that doesn't involve mountain biking, for those who'd rather not run the risk of sharing the trail—is Pintail Pond, a three-quarter-mile nature trail that features as its primary scenic vista the pond of the same name. Home to a wide variety of natural features, from carnivorous plants to trees of impressive magnitude like the Black Spruce, you'll be able to see a wide variety of scenic views herein.

The Rifle River Recreation Area has several places to camp—there are about a half-dozen at last report. With so many options, you'll find just what kind of camping experience you want, but perhaps the best in the camp goes to Devoe Lake Rustic. Featuring swimming and a boat launch thanks to the proximity of the lake, this spot looks to offer an authentic camping experience. There's a handicap-accessible vault toilet here as well, so it won't be completely rustic, but just rustic enough to let you know you've been camping. Several sites are available within, so finding a place to camp here likely won't be a challenge.

Going just beyond the recreation area into Mio, you'll find one of the area's most unusual attractions: a monument set up for a bird. Not so much for one bird, but for a species. Specifically, we're talking about the Kirtland Warbler, and the Warbler Monument it engendered. Said to be the first monument to a songbird ever established on Earth, it features a four-foot-high replica of a Kirtland Warbler, an endangered species of songbird. The bird was carved from fiberglass and plastics, and received a dedication when it opened in 1963 by National Audubon Society member Roger Tory Peterson.

After a long day of hiking and scenery viewing, you'll be needing a good hearty dinner. LumberJack Food and Spirits in West Branch should fit that bill nicely, offering up a selection of fare that's perfect for the outdoors in Michigan. Ribs, steak, and more will set things up nicely, and a wide array of drinks are available as well. LumberJack puts its focus on local blends, including area microbrew beer and local wine from, among others, the Rose Valley Winery.

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Start Your Trek: 7 Unbeatable Hiking Retailers in Michigan Hiking is both wonderful exercise and great adventure. And what’s better than that? Michigan offers a host of opportunities for hiking, but as most hikers know, it's simply not accomplished without the right gear. Michigan retailers understand this point just as well. Next time you’re looking to go on a trek, check out these seven unbeatable hiking retailers in Michigan. 

Lee's Adventure Sports has been bringing its patrons “fun and adventure since 1954.” Particularly these days, with retailers always coming and going, that's no mean feat. Lee's Adventure Sports got to where it is by understanding its market and providing high-end gear. Whether you're looking for a fleece jacket from the North Face or for the more specific Mountain Athletics line from North Face, you'll be able to get what you need for a long, comfortable hike here.

With several locations throughout Michigan, chances are there's a DICK's Sporting Goods not too far away from where you're inclined to hike. That's good news, because DICK's has most of the material any hiker could ask for. From dry bags and other storage gear from Geckobrands to a Kelty carrier for your infant—why not start your little one off loving hiking from an early age—you'll have all the material you need to ensure a great hike.

This is nothing like Camp-It! #TentDoorOpen

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With locations in both Traverse City and Birmingham, Backcountry North serves as an excellent supply point before taking on some of the greatest hiking the state can offer in the Upper Peninsula. While Backcountry North's location makes it a unique find in hiking supply, it also offers plenty of the brands that customers require to get the most out of a trip. Keep yourself hydrated with an Osprey hydration pack or keep yourself dry with an Outdoor Research rain jacket. Wet or dry, Backcountry North stands ready.

Grand Haven is home to Earth's Edge, a hiking supply store that delivers on several fronts. Sure, Grand Haven is probably better known for its beach life and water fun than hiking, but you'll have ample opportunity to hike here as well. Get set up for those hikes with Keen footwear or Thule bags to carry your various bits of gear around, making sure your hike is as comfortable and safe as you can make it.

Demo tents don't set themselves up πŸ˜‰β›ΊοΈπŸ• #JakeMovesAtSuperSpeed #TimeLapse #TentSetup

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Linwood’s entry into the hiking store, Frank's Great Outdoors, has been continuously running since 1945, and that's a downright testament to how closely Frank's follows its customers' needs. This dedication shines through nicely with the sheer range of gear Frank's can offer, starting with coolers from Orca and STABILicers footwear designed to give you excellent traction even in icy conditions. Whether your hikes are warm-weather or cold-weather, Frank's will give you the leg up you need.

With locations in Marquette and Houghton, Down Wind Sports is an excellent place to get your hiking gear right in the midst of the great Upper Peninsula, which is pretty much the king of hiking spots in Michigan. Offering customers a slate of special events and even some trip reports—as well as a selection of used gear for the more budget-conscious hiker—you'll be able to incorporate a wide variety of materials into your hikes. Check out the La Sportiva footwear line, or the Mountain Hardwear line of jackets and other clothes to keep you warm and comfortable while hiking.

Ann Arbor may not seem like a likely place for hiking, but its Sierra Trading Post will deliver all the value a hiker could ever ask for. Whether you're needing some Marmot outerwear for the colder hikes, or some Asolo boots for most any temperature hiking, you'll be ready for whatever conditions the trail can throw at you. That gives Sierra Trading Post a nice leg up on many of its competitors thanks to its sheer versatility.

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5 Wonderful Birdwatching Hikes in Michigan Michigan is known for its beautiful natural spaces and abundant wildlife. Make the most out of your next trek through Michigan wilderness by bringing along a pair of binoculars. From trumpeter swans, to orioles, to some special bald eagle sightings, here are five of the most wonderful birdwatching hikes in the state.  

The Pointe Mouillee State Game Area, near Rockwood, offers 4,040 acres worth of ground to cover, sufficient to rank it among the largest freshwater marsh restoration projects on Earth. While there, you'll not only have one major hike on your hands, but also the ability to see a host of different bird life, from black billed plovers to glossy ibises. You'll even be able to spot bald eagles, and that alone could make the trip worthwhile for some birders. There's some hunting allowed in the area, so be sure to check things out before your trip. 

The Sleeping Bear Birding Trail is actually too large to be near any one town, as it encompasses 123 miles of Highway M-22, running from Manistee to Traverse City. Naturally, that's way too much to hike, but you'll have plenty of choices along the trail to set up a hike most anywhere you’d like. The real high point of the trail, however, is the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, which is not only a national park, but also has been designated an Important Bird Area. The area has seen several different birds, including trumpeter swans, American pipits, and even double-crested cormorants.

The best part about the Sunrise Coast Birding Trail is that you'll have a staggering array of options in terms of where you want to stage your birdwatching hike, because there are no less than 28 separate hot spots along this run. The Sunrise Coast extends all the way from East Tawas to Mackinaw City, and in 2014, was found to be home to 188 different bird species. The sheer variety of the Sunrise Coast Birding Trail helps ensure that, no matter what you're looking for, it's a pretty safe bet that it can be found here. There are even some special events like the spring Raptor Watch, where you can see thousands of great lakes piping plovers engaged in seasonal migration.

If you're looking for a more contained hike, then head to Pleasant Lake and the Phyllis Haehnle Memorial Sanctuary. This sanctuary encompasses fully 1,000 acres of land, and offers two miles of trails therein. It's also home to better than 200 separate bird species, which is impressive enough. However, for those looking for a place to see Michigan's sandhill cranes, the Phyllis Haehnle Memorial Sanctuary will provide in a big way, as it's known to attract several thousand of these birds in the midst of migration.

Eagle lake πŸ’š #twighlightzone #Michigan

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Those looking for a more cosmopolitan birdwatching hike will love to know about Grand Traverse Commons, with a 500-acre campus and miles of trails. Birdwatchers will be able to catch an array of species depending on the season; it's said to be home to one of the state’s best spots to catch an oriole or an indigo bunting. That by itself is worthwhile, but even birdwatchers need to eat and rest. So, after all that birdwatching, hit the Village at Grand Traverse Commons, home to an equally broad array of shops and dining options to satisfy those needs for creature comforts.

Beautiful exploration hike with Lucas around the Grand Traverse Commons

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SPOTLIGHT: Things to Do in and Around Yankee Springs Recreation Area Did you know that 20 percent of Michigan's forested land is state forest? Throw in the assortment of non-forest state parks and you've got a recipe for finding great state parks all over. We're going to take a look at one excellent location in particular—Yankee Springs Recreation Area—and run down not only what to do when you're there, but what you can do in the immediate area to make a full day, or longer, of your trip. Let’s get started. 

Middleville's Yankee Springs Recreation Area comes with a wide array of options. Not only is there a kettle formation that was carved glacially—known as the Devil's Soupbowl—but there's also fishing, horseback trails, 12 miles of mountain bike trails, 30 miles of hiking trails, and nine separate lakes contained within its bounds that makes for a host of summer fun activities as well as some winter ones. With over 5,200 acres total to its credit, you'll have plenty to do here. Since it's situated almost halfway between both Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo, there will be even more awaiting once you've enjoyed your time at the park.

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If you were the type to hit the park early, breakfast likely came to mind. On the Grand Rapids side, stop into Real Food Cafe for some of the best such breakfast you'll find in town. Featuring mouthwatering options such as the hearty Monster Omelet (bacon, sausage, ham, green onions, green peppers, mushrooms, and Monterey jack cheese) and the Bananas Foster waffles made with a carmelized brown sugar-butter sauce, it will be easy to recover from your hike. 

If you decide to travel south of the park, breakfast is best personified with Portage’s Cafe Meli. Featuring huge omelets and heaps of fresh fruit—along with more diverse choices like crepes, waffles and French toast—you'll have a breakfast here that will keep you happy well toward lunch, and potentially even beyond. 

Smoked salmon Benedict 🍳 photo credit: @tina.poon

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Grand Rapids' public museum of the same name delivers some absolutely amazing exhibits, great for when you're in the mood for a more indoor hike. Featuring exhibits related to dragons and fantasy creatures, the human brain, a puzzle room, and an exhibit involving two live lake sturgeon, you'll be able to experience a host of disciplines and learn much about not only Michigan proper, but about the wider world beyond as well.

If you're looking for something more competitive to the north of the park, then try Clique Lanes in Grand Rapids. An old-fashioned 16-lane affair on two levels, Clique Lanes offers a bowling experience of the kind that might have been engaged in years prior. But it's not just old fashioned fun—it's also got some updates to it. A complete roster of menu options and craft beers also accompanies the experience, and provides a way to keep going even when you've been bowling for some time.

#cliquelanes #bowling #grandrapids #michigan

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You've just had one big day in Grand Rapids, so it's a great time for some dinner. One of the best such dinners in the entire city comes from the Electric Cheetah, a restaurant that will pursue eclecticism with such fervor that you'll barely know if you're coming or going. Whether you're looking for something small like the hot goat dip—featuring goat cheese and cream cheese together in a dip—or to compete for a shot to win a free Yahtzee sandwich—roll a Yahtzee in three rolls or less, yell Yahtzee, and get a sandwich featuring turkey, pork belly, cheddar and Granny Smith apple—you'll have most anything to satisfy your tastes here.

Zazio's, for dinner on the Kalamazoo side, takes one unique concept—the “open kitchen” format—and applies it to the Italian restaurant. Pasta of all types are on hand—from Pappardelle to Agnolotti—to dishes of chicken and shrimp. There's even a chef's table for up to 36 people where you can watch the meal prepared in an even more interactive fashion. So, no matter what you've got a hankering for, you can watch it prepared in front of you, and potentially even sit mere feet from the chef engaged in such activity himself.

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5 Great Hiking Trails in Michigan Michigan is a state packed full to the brim with natural beauty, from the bottom of the mitten to the northernmost peak of the Upper Peninsula. Hiking trails abound in Michigan, and offer a great place to stretch the legs, check out some of nature's greatest wonders, and spend some time together as a family in the midst of it all. So lace up those hiking boots and check out five of Michigan's greatest hiking trails. 

Head to Watersmeet to check out the Sylvania Wilderness, a massive 18,237-acre affair that's part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. Featuring 50 campsites, hikers can come for a day or stay for a while. With 34 named lakes, and everything from rivers to waterfalls to massive amounts of forest, the result is a package of natural beauty so sweeping, intense, and awe-inspiring that it's practically tailor-made for families. The area has even been home to a set of Ojibwa artifacts, so it's entirely possible your hike may turn up exciting new insight into Michigan's past.

Not far from Bessemer is the North Country Trail, home to the Porcupine Mountains waterfall hike. It's called that for the obvious reason: there's a lot of waterfalls located on this trail. How many waterfalls? Try one every mile. Naturally, there's more here than just a whole lot of waterfalls, so for anyone wants forests, mountain views, or just several different lengths of hiking trail, North Country Trail will have just what you need.

A trail measuring four and a half miles one way, hikers will be able to follow said trail from the Upper Falls all the way to the Lower Falls along the Tahquamenon River. While walking the trail, hikers will be treated to a rolling path that actually changes elevation over the course of the route several times, ensuring not only variety in the scenery, but also variety in the topography as well.

Hiked some places. Got bit by mosquitoes. Saw some stuff. Great weekend πŸ•πŸ‘πŸΌ

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It's been called the “crown jewel of Lake Superior,” and with a comment like that to recommend it, it's easy to see why some might consider this the best hike around. For those who want a little more substance, the high points of this hike might be too good to pass up. A combination of dune, swale, and forest covering 430 acres and an 8.6-acre island, there's most everything here from rocky cliffs to sandy beach to wilderness timber. There's a little bit of everything at Little Presque Isle, and that makes this hiking destination one for the books.

Isle Royale National Park, found on an island in Lake Superior itself, represents one of the biggest chunks of pure, uninterrupted wilderness that Michigan can offer. Surrounded by water, it's a great place for a swim in the hotter months—typically, Superior is the last lake to fully melt—but there's a lot more than that here. Featuring some of the most impressive views around, Isle Royale is home to not only wolves, but also moose, both of which roam the island freely. Reports suggest it's also the single least-visited national park in the lower 48 states thanks to the fact it can only be reached by seaplane or by boat, which—for those who want to see true wilderness untrammeled by man—makes this a natural winner.

ehrlif/ Wed, 08 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0500