Best lake trails in Michigan

38,546 Reviews
Explore the most popular lake trails in Michigan with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.
Map of lake trails in Michigan
Top trails (522)
#1 - Mosquito Falls and Chapel Falls via Chapel Loop
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
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Length: 10.1 mi • Est. 4 h 35 m
Chapel Loop takes you to both Mosquito Falls and Chapel Falls, with stunning views and options to pit stop at Mosquito Beach and Chapel Beach along the way. Start early from the large parking area so you can enjoy lots of time at each scenic overlook. Some parts of the trail run right along the cliff edge on Lake Superior, but not so much that it’s entirely dangerous. Chapel Beach at the bottom is the perfect treat for a long trek. Bring a swimsuit! Once you’re finished, catch Chapel Rock Trail back to the starting point. This route is around ten miles round trip, but there are many trails leading to various points around Chapel basin, so it is easy to customize your trip based on your needs. Dogs, however, are not allowed and users have reported there is a $180 fine for bringing dogs on the trail.Show more
#2 - The Manistee River Loop Trail
Manistee National Forest
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Length: 19.3 mi • Est. 9 h 4 m
The Manistee River Loop Trail is easily one of the best backpacking trails in Lower Michigan outside of the peninsula of Michigan area. It is almost always busy on the Manistee River Trail side, where campsites are often doubled or even tripled up to accommodate all nature lovers. The waterfall site 2 miles south of the suspension bridge is a great spot to enjoy the stars and fall asleep listening to the falls. Be sure to pack water as it is quite the hike up, down, and around the ravines throughout this trail and potable water is not always available. During the first few miles there are some decent sights in the higher hills especially near reds hill. The nice part of the NCT is users can camp anywhere really, although camping in a ravine isn't too rewarding. Users cross a couple of roads and reach Eldridge Creek which offers water for the first time along with a decent campsite in some pines on the west side of the creek. After passing the Marilla trail junction, users start heading to the MRT and finally get to see the Manistee River after about 9 miles of hiking in ravines. Users then cross over the Suspension Bridge and reach the MRT, at the campground along the north trail where users might want to stop for water as they offer a potable well. The MRT hugs the river for the duration of the southward trip back to red bridge. While enjoying this trek, it is a good idea to set up camp with a couple neighbors to practice safe camping, especially if attempting this route alone. The sound of the river and the proximity of the campsites to water make for an easy night of sleeping, especially along the MRT side of the river, where high and dry sites are perched with amazing views of the river. If using the MRT side of the river for the trek, users should know that this side has more hills, so you definitely get a workout. Trekking poles are a must for the whole trail because of the hills that are sometimes steep and slippery - no matter the season. Be aware that the campsites on the MRT are full in the summer. This is a very popular and great trail that is well worth a drive anywhere that users live in Michigan. Please remember to keep the great outdoors great and pack out your trash, and to leave no trace of your use to preserve the Huron Manistee National Forests for others. Show more
#3 - Empire Bluff Trail
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
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Length: 1.5 mi • Est. 43 m
#4 - Penosha Trail
Brighton State Recreation Area
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Length: 5.0 mi • Est. 2 h 16 m
#5 - Crooked Lake Trail
Pinckney Recreation Area
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Length: 4.5 mi • Est. 2 h 1 m
This loop is part of the Potawatomi Trail. It also circles Crooked lake and intersects with several other trails, such as the Silver Lake trail. Terrain ranges from flat, well packed dirt to boardwalk to sand, to rugged hills. It is a very good training loop for cross country running, as well as conditioning hikes. There are some wonderful views along the trail, as well as a camping area should you wish to camp there. It is important to note that this trail is open during hunting season, so take appropriate precautions.Show more
#6 - Potawatomi Trail
Pinckney Recreation Area
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Length: 17.4 mi • Est. 7 h 49 m
#7 - Escarpment Trail
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park
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Length: 8.2 mi • Est. 4 h 27 m
SEASONAL CLOSURE: During the winter months, the trailhead may be closed. There are alternate parking options 2 miles before the trailhead on 107th memorial highway. The Escarpment Trail can be directly accessed via 3 trailheads, and makes up a portion of Porcupine Mountains State Park's very robust trail and backpacking system. Several of the other trails can be accessed via Escarpment Trail. The westernmost 2 miles of this trail follows the ridgeline to the north of Lake of the Clouds, which is easily the most scenic - and visited - place in Porcupine Mountain State Park. If you're planning to visit this portion of the park be prepared for large crowds as Lake of the Clouds offers some incredible photo opportunities. The other two trailheads are located just off of the road (M-107) approximately two and four miles east of the Lake of the Clouds parking area.Show more
#8 - Saugatuck Dunes South Trail
Saugatuck Dunes State Park
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Length: 5.2 mi • Est. 2 h 25 m
$9 fee for non-residents to park A day-use park along a secluded strip of Lake Michigan shoreline, Saugatuck Dunes State Park offers 1,000 acres of land with 2.5 miles of shore line. The Lake Michigan beach is a 0.6 mile hike from the picnic parking area. In addition, the park has fresh water coastal dunes that are over 200 feet tall. The park's terrain varies from steep slopes to rolling hills. The park, located in Allegan County, is relatively undeveloped. The land for Saugatuck Dunes was acquired in 1971 from the Augustinian Order, who used the buildings as a seminary. When the state took ownership, the structures were used as a prison and state police offices.Show more
#9 - Grand Marais to Munising via North Country Trail
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
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Length: 41.7 mi • Est. Multi-day
This trail includes sand dunes, cliffs, wooded areas, rivers, mud, uphill, and downhill. This area is good anytime from early spring to late fall. It is recommended to not go in early June, as that is when the flies are in the area and they are bad, almost intolerable at times. Go early May or wait until July when the flies have moved further south. There is so many great things about this trail. Water falls are everywhere. Fantastic views no matter where you look. One of the best beaches users have ever seen is at the Little Beaver Lake trailhead. The trail head points users to the left toward beaver lake, the main trail keeps going straight, but if turning right and go through the small cluster of trees, users will come out on a deserted white sand beach along Lake Superior. It's like walking into another world. The water is crystal blue and the sand is white and completely untouched. Show more
#10 - Pyramid Point Loop
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
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Length: 2.8 mi • Est. 1 h 31 m
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