Explore the most popular nature trips trails in Highland State Recreation Area with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

hiking
3 days ago

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For some odd reason I started this loop clockwise from the parking lot . At first I had some difficulty staying on the trail. There’s a lack of markers at that end. The rest was really nice , well marked. Lots of boardwalks and not too many hills. It had a northern Michigan feel. Lots of deer. I’d do it again .

My daughter and I hiked this on a Saturday morning. The weather was a bit cool, so great for hiking and very few bugs. We hiked the A-B-C trails, which was about 13 miles.

A - 3.8 miles
B - 5.9 miles
C - 2.4 miles
D - 3.8 miles

The trail is marked every 1/2 mile, but we did miss a few markers because they can be a bit hard to see. The "points of interest" really weren't and we did not "see" any of them. The trails go up and down, and switchback often. Lots of roots and rocks. There is not much change to the trails.

There were plenty of mountain bikes. They can get going down the hills with limited visibility, so a couple of times they came up on us fast.

mountain biking
1 month ago

Good overall trail with many rocks and roots with steep and long climbs with steep descents. Not for beginners but nice trail but be sure to bring lots of water and extra tires or patches .

This is my favorite hike. The trails are all blazed nicely with trail maps at intersections. Trails are well maintained and wide with some boardwalks through the marsh and bog areas. Lots of different trail options so it doesn't get monotonous. There are 2 lakes. At the north end of the park you will hear traffic noise from M-59 but other than that I have to say this trail is just about perfect. It's my favorite place to hike.

2 months ago

This trail is nicely groomed and has a nice mix of "in the trees" and "more open space. The bugs are definitely out, but you feel it more in the wooded areas then the open path. Bring big spray and they dont bother you. We went earlier in the morning, and it was a nice temperature. If you go later, the open path areas will be hot. Very enjoyable!

we brought our bikes. a little hard for my 5 year old... but we did go 3.39 miles! not paved, i think that was what made it the hardest. but so pretty and quiet. gasp... bugs, there were bugs outside. we survived, did not donate to much blood to the suckers. will for sure be back!

Nice well marked trail.

I thought it was a nice trail - no major points of interest along the way, but it wasn’t bad. I hiked along the A and part of the B loop (took the cutoff back to A part way through the B section). It took me about about 2 1/2 hours and I think it was somewhere around 6 miles. Definitely bring bug spray, I couldn’t really stop because the bugs would just start to swarm around me if I stopped moving. This is a good trail if you want some distance to get in some exercise. I’m not a mountain biker, but it seems like it would be a pretty smooth trail to ride on.

hiking
3 months ago

This is a very natural trail. Not overly groomed but well marked and easy to navigate. I would have liked a bench or two and an outhouse, but otherwise a great trail. Not too busy. Campground was quiet.

Great trail! Here for a wedding great way to get some exercise in.

A challenging hike for this part of Michigan.

Hilly, buggy, and serpentine. Sometimes it felt like the trail went down a quarter mile slope down only to 180 at the trough and go right back up again.

Not much aesthetic or biodiversity as the trail only slithered around a few square miles of forest.

After a 6 hour hike, we walked out with 6 or 7 lbs of summer chanterelles. Pretty cool. I’ll go back in the fall to avoid the bugs.

I did the A loop on foot last weekend and really loved it. It's made up in a small area so typically you would be circling in the same area with pretty much the same views throughout which was a little disappointing especially because i like my trails to have a view at the end. Loop A was 3.8miles plus a 0.1mile from the parking lot so typically you would be doing a good 4 miles.
I agree with the advice of taking precautions for bugs and mosquitoes but that's everywhere.
If you are looking for a good weekend workout within an hour of Detroit this is the place to go!

A few heads up:
(1) you need a park recreation passport or you’re gonna end up paying $9 bucks for a day pass. You can buy a passport there if you’re a Michigander (it’s more expensive than if you buy it from the state directly though)
(2) Bring bugspray and some good hiking boots or an old pair of sneakers. There’s a lot of small ponds which make the trails quite swampy in a lot of parts so prepare to get muddy. And prepare to be best friends with every insect the woods are homes for. At one point I got so desperate, I broke off a branch and swung it around my head just to keep them from circling me. Yes I tried running too, but they were EVERYWHERE.

(3) As to the difficulty of the trails, the actual terrain I didn’t find challenging. What makes Highland formidable is the labyrinthine nature of the place. BE SURE TO GET A MAP AT THE PARK ENTRANCE.

Park near the Haven Hill/ Ed (?) barn if you want to start hiking at the blue, green, and red trailhead. If you park near the entrance, you’ve gotta walk about a mile or so before you reach it.
If you do park near the entrance, once you reach the intersection where the barn is, you’ll walk past the barn and see a couple toilet “vaults” before you hit the true trailhead.

(3b) The number-markers can be confusing are not always chronological, so keep an eye on your map.


(4) Perhaps most importantly, if you plan on hiking one of the red, blue, or green trails—especially if you’re coming from the park entrance—be sure you’ve got AT LEAST 32 oz of water on you. It’s a LONG ass trail. And if you get lost, as I did, you’ll start feeling like Tom Hanks in Castaway after an hour or two.

(5) Lastly, I’d give yourself five hours if you’re an average Joe going for the green trail—maybe even the blue trail. If you’re a newbie, you’ll likely need the time to get lost, swear, and turn around multiple times.

Overall, it’s a decent spot. I give it three stars because of the navigation difficulty and, well, because it’s not really all that beautiful. The marshes and bugs really took away most. The “scenic lookouts” aren’t really lookouts or scenes, they kind of make a fart noise in your head once you reach the top.

BUT (no pun intended) if you’re looking for a place to be truly ALONE in nature for a couple hours, this is a good spot. I didn’t see anyone on the blue, red, or green trails while I was out.

Also, I’ll give Highland props for the bathrooms available along the trails. They have a decent amount to compensate for the lengthy hikes.

Hope this helps! Happy Hiking!

KB

Probably the best hike I have done within an hour of Detroit. Fairly hilly with good trails and direction.

I only hiked trails A and B with my dog and we finished in about 2 1/2 hours with multiple stops. The backside of B was really muddy so I wish I just want back the way I came but it is early in the summer. There was a ton of bugs and spider webs, so prepare accordingly. Also, there was a crap ton of horse poop (pun intended). Would have been nice to not see so much of that.

Overall it is a really good hike, not necessarily “hard” but probably more difficult than moderate.

hiking
4 months ago

Well maintained, absolutely gorgeous! We hike these trails every week all year long. Great workout.

Nice easy trail. Takes about 2 hours to complete the A loop about 3.8 miles. Well maintained and light traffic. Perfect mid-morning hike.

hiking
8 months ago

This trail is pretty good. It definitely isn’t “hard” and I would rate it more at a “moderate” just because of the hills. One downside is that the people who bring their horses on the trail don’t clean up after them. There was horse manure all over the trail. I do wish the trail was marked better. I often doubted myself as I was waking because I didn’t know when to expect the half way point. All in all, I did like the trail and it was nice to get outside for once. The directions listed took me past the actual trail head. Go to the first bike staging area on the right and the trail starts across the street. The right or left trail entrance is perfectly acceptable, but I took the right to begin.

hiking
Monday, October 09, 2017

I did parts of this trail while doing the Green loop. I strongly recommend adding the inner loop north of Haven Hill lake (at 16, take the loop counterclockwise to 17 and then the cutoff back to 16) – it is a very pretty little addition. I didn’t like the “outer” loop (15 to 14, then back to 16, 15, and onward) as much, I probably wouldn’t repeat that part.

hiking
Monday, October 09, 2017

I hiked the Green trail, with the addition of the small loop north of Haven Hill lake. The green trail is nice. It is easy, with no long or particularly steep climbs and lots of shade for most of the trail. The section from marker 1 (by the historic barn at the horse trailer parking lot) through 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, to 11 at least, and maybe it was to 12 as well, is also used by horses. I’m not a fan of hiking on horse trails, although watching out for manure isn’t much different than keeping an eye out for rocks or roots. On the Green trail, if there isn’t manure there probably are rocks and roots, as a trail should have.
I strongly recommend adding the inner loop north of Haven Hill lake (at 16, take the loop counterclockwise to 17 and then the cutoff back to 16) – it is a very pretty little addition. I didn’t like the “outer” loop (15 to 14, then back to 16, 15, and onward) as much, I probably wouldn’t repeat that part. My pictures & track from those are under the "Haven Hill Lake and Woods" trail on here.

hiking
Saturday, September 30, 2017

Beautiful trail. Rarely encountered people Saturday morning. Well maintained and well marked.

hiking
Thursday, September 28, 2017

I hiked A+B+C on a Monday morning, arriving at the trailhead at about 9:00am. I met one runner who was finishing just as I set out; I saw nobody else, hiking or riding, the rest of the day. However, forecast temperatures were mid- to upper-80s, which might have kept some away. The woods were beautiful, with fall colors already well started. The trail managers had an abundance of maps available at the trail head - take one (see below). I greatly enjoyed my 12-mile, 6hr (I stop for lots of pictures) hike. My GPS showed a total of 1670 ft. of elevation gain/loss. Parts of the trail are pretty steep, but nothing too bad. Although it is common practice to have MTBs ride clockwise and hikers counterclockwise, there are no markings on this trail for counterclockwise hiking. Because some of the turnoffs (e.g. from A to B) have slightly different exit and return points, it is easy to miss the turnoff if you are hiking counterclockwise. Additionally, none of the intersections with horsetrails are marked for counterclockwise hiking (e.g. you see the intersection sign after you cross the horse trail), although it is pretty easy to distinguish the horse trail from the MTB/hiking trail. None of the mile posts have markings for counterclockwise hiking. If you are going to hike counterclockwise, grab a map or download a gps track (or, maybe, just don't).
NOTE: many of the tracks on here seem to under-report distances, not sure if it comes from using an app on a cell phone, or from the fewer datapoints collected by (faster) MTBs vs. hikers, but the track I downloaded (from an MTB) gave A+B+C as 9.3 miles; DNR map puts it at 12.1 miles, my Garmin put it at 11.5 miles. I would have carried another liter of water had I known it was 12 miles beforehand.

hiking
Thursday, September 28, 2017

This is an okay hike, but the trail is intended for mountain bikes. The best hiking is found just to the east in the Highland State Recreation Area.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

a great trail system, very well maintained, light traffic.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

A little washed out this year but still one of best trail in the area

Saturday, July 29, 2017

It's always lovely to be out in the woods, but it felt strongly like a dedicated mountain bike trail. I saw a lot of bikers, and I was the only hiker around. Also, once the bikes went by, I felt very isolated. Maybe it is just a personal preference, but I would like there to be a little more traffic. Maybe next time I need to bring a companion. In addition, when they rate a trail "difficult", they mean it!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

There's 4 trails and they're all amazing.

trail running
Friday, June 30, 2017

Great on weekdays, can get a bit congested on weekends. Love this park year-round to hike, walk, run. Good hills, challenge back vertical hill climb to Ford country home is killer! Can also be easy leisure walk if taken from front of park loop instead of back nature trails.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Wow!

hiking
Monday, May 29, 2017

This was our first hike that was rated difficult in Michigan. We weren't sure what to expect - there were 4 trails combined to chose from-and we did A Trail, the first loop from the trail head. It was a great hike with great variation in elevation. We did get turned around a bit- but we ended up where we needed to be anyways . With two starts to the trail head-the next time we do this hike we will have a whole new view. Great work out. Great sweat. Net time we will do A& B for a longer hike.

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