Celebrate summer with these outstanding outdoor destinations and adventures you can find only in Pure Michigan.
- Bike the Heritage Trail, Glen Arbor, Leelanau County: This hard-surfaced, non-motorized trail is 27 miles long, connecting Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park attractions and the picturesque town of Glen Arbor. There are several trailheads, which will affect your length of ride depending on where you begin. Walkers, runners, families, and those with disabilities can also utilize the trail, so be careful and follow proper etiquette (stay to the right, alert others when approaching from behind, ride single file if passing others, etc.). On a cooler summer day, it’s the perfect way to enjoy the sights of the national park. An interactive map is available online at https://friendsofsleepingbear.org/sleeping-bear-heritage-trail/. Maybe take a dip in Lake Michigan following your ride.
- Tone your arms paddling Indian River, Cheboygan County: Paddleboard, kayak, or canoe along part of the Chain of Lakes. You can choose from half-day trips to full-day trips, depending on your chosen launch and take-out points. Weekends see more pontoon and boat traffic, so try to go on a weekday or at least in the morning to avoid most of the traffic. Enjoy a leisurely paddle and take in the wildlife. Bring your own vessel or choose from various outfitters, who will even help drop you off and pick you up.
- Explore Cranbrook Gardens, Bloomfield Hills, Oakland County: The expansive 40 acres of Cranbrook Gardens surround Cranbook House. Favorite spots are the Sunken Garden, a formal garden surrounded by fieldstone walls; the Reflecting Pool; and the Japanese Garden, complete with waterfall and red bridge. Admission is free, and the gardens are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. through October. To get relief from the sun, go into the Cranbook Institute of Science, which sits on the same campus and is just a mile away.
- Picnic at Mill Creek Park, Dexter, Washtenaw County: Located on the north and south sides of Main Street, Mill Creek Park is comprised of a quaint, peaceful, split six acres. The creek flows into the Huron River. Walk the covered pedestrian bridge, throw some sticks into the creek (perfect for kids), spend some time on the fishing docks, and if you walk the path five miles you’ll eventually reach Hudson Mills Park.
- Bask in the sun at Holland State Park Beach, Holland, Ottawa County: Looking for a sugar sand beach? Holland State Park Beach is a beloved favorite for tourists and locals, and one of the most visited state parks. Holland State Park has a second beach on inland Lake Macatawa, which gets a little warmer than big Lake Michigan. Visit Big Red Lighthouse or take a stroll along the beach. Make sure you stay for the sunset.
- Get off the map at Point Abbaye’, Aura, Baraga County: You may not have heard of one of the most beautiful spots in Michigan. Point Abbaye’ is remote – an 11 mile two-track so take a car or truck – and most likely you’ll be the only vehicle in the parking lot when you arrive. Choose from three trails that lead to the point, the shortest of which will get you to Point Abbaye’ in about 20 minutes. At the end of the trail, you’ll reach a large rock shelf that overlooks Lake Superior as well as two mountain ranges to the left and right: Iron Range on the Keweenaw Peninsula and the Huron Mountains. If you’re feeling adventurous and little daring, take the shoreline back to the parking lot.
- Go fishing, Alpena, Alpena County: Several of the state’s largest inland lakes call this northeastern region home: Fletcher’s Pond, Grand Lake, Long Lake, and Hubbard Lake. The Thunder Bay River and Thunder Bay also provide superior fishing experiences. Bass fishing is the crème de la crème here, despite the popularity of other fish such as walleye and trout. Long Lake is the host site of a major bass competition each year. Just remember to get your fishing license from the DNR.
- Stroll along St. Clair Boardwalk, St. Clair, St. Clair County: This is the longest freshwater boardwalk in the world, stretching nearly a mile along the St. Clair River. Great Lakes freighters are a common sight and relatively close when they pass so that you can really experience their size. A favorite spot to relax is Palmer Park, which has many benches to choose from and sculptures to look at.
- Catch a boat to Isle Royale: Situated in Lake Superior, Isle Royale is a gem of nature. The national park is rugged and isolated and full of wildlife, including a wolf pack. It’s truly the backcountry, so only primitive camping is allowed (there are 36 campgrounds). To reach Isle Royale, you’ll need to leave from either the port in Houghton or Copper Harbor. The Ranger III makes berth at Houghton, and the Isle Royale Queen IV is at the ready in Copper Harbor. Schedules depend on the seasonality, and fares change based on high season or low season. On Isle Royale, you can hike (165 miles of trails), attend ranger programs, paddle inland lakes, go on a guided boat tour, or cast a line. Since it takes about six hours to get there, it’s definitely not a day trip. Plan to stay a day or two.
- Climb Hogback Mountain: Marquette County’s second most popular summit is for the true adventurer who loves a thrill and has the stamina to conquer any obstacle. Hogback has a series of narrow, twisty trails through diverse landscapes, and then a strenuous half-mile climb up a near-vertical rock face to finally reach the top. Since the summit is nearly treeless, you can get quite a view on a clear day. If you want to climb an “easier” mountain and still get a grand view, visit nearby Sugarloaf. But if you want bragging rights, climb Hogback. It takes roughly 90 minutes to make the journey.
Make sure you use the hashtag #MiRVLife to share your experiences!