Hiking the Grand Traverse Backcountry

G

reat views and placid inland lakes are just a few of the perks that come with tackling these trails; a wicked workout buzz and post-hike treats are part of the package, too.

SCENIC SECLUSION

Stop and listen – absolute silence. This is your first clue that a hike through Sand Lakes Quiet Area is a blissful escape from civilization. More than 10 miles of trails snake throughout this 3,000-acre preserve, meandering through hushed forests and around five oasislike lakes. You’ll find Sand Lakes about 3 miles south on Broomhead Road off M-72. Smitten with all the solitude? Bring a tent and pitch it wherever you wish; free camp cards are available at the Michigan Department of Natural Resource’s Traverse City Field Office (970 Emerson Rd., 231-922-5280).

SHORT AND SWEET

A brisk half-mile jaunt along the Boardman River, Keystone Rapids Trail is ideal for lunchtime lollygagging. Just follow Cass Road out of town, turn right onto Keystone Road and look for a wooden sign marking the trailhead. Wander down the woodchip path as it threads through fields and clusters of hardwoods. Take a moment to survey the river from the viewing platform, then head back to the trailhead where a small dock begs you to shed your shoes and cool your heels in the water.

ROOM FOR A VIEW

Up, up and up. That’s where you’re headed on the Grand Traverse Commons trails, which ramble through flat wetlands before climbing a steep, wooded hill. The trailhead is just minutes from town, behind the historic campus of the former State Hospital (1200 W. Eleventh St.). It’s a hefty hike, sure, but all that work won’t be for naught – a clearing at the top offers a stellar view of the city. Plus, the ultimate post-hike treat – a strawberry and pineapple Sunrise Smoothie – is waiting for you at Another Cuppa Joe (1200 W. 11th St., 231-947-7730), right at the bottom of the hill.

Emily Bingham is assistant editor of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine.[email protected]

Note: This article was first published in April 2006, and was updated for the web February 2008.

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