Northern Michigan trails offer some of the most stunning hiking in the country. This Friday we offer five Traverse City trails that will have you bundled up and enjoying the last colors of fall in no time. It’s only fair we get you outside this weekend, as last week’s Friday Five was all about Northern Michigan’s fabulous, independent movie theaters.
The following Traverse City trails offer a plenitude of stunning vistas, recreational opportunities and wildlife suitable for exploration all year-round. Before the first snow falls, hit these spots for a last glimpse of the autumn colors, then trundle out the cross-country skis for an entirely new experience come winter. Happy Trails!
Note: Remember to wear a blaze orange hat (or vest) if you are out in the Michigan woods during firearm deer hunting season from November 15-November 30. It’s a good idea to steer away from trail #4 altogether during firearm season.
Arguably the most popular—and populated—route on the list, the TART (Traverse Area Recreation & Transportation) Trail is a 10.5 mile-long transportation corridor stretching from Bates Road in Acme Township to the M-22/M-72 intersection in Traverse City. Paved for its entire duration, and hugging some of the city’s main intersections and road arteries, the TART is utilized by both commuters and recreational bikers, hikers and skaters. While you may not find as much quiet or solitude on the TART as other trails on the list, you will enjoy a safe, well-maintained path that offers views of both East and West Grand Traverse Bay, Traverse City neighborhoods and the Mitchell Creek waterhead. Perfect for a casual weekend bike ride or morning jog before work.
For more information, visit traversetrails.org/trails/tart.
The Grand Traverse Commons Trails
The Village at Grand Traverse Commons, formerly home of the Traverse City State Hospital (which closed in 1989), is a bustling community of boutique shops, elegant restaurants, and beautifully restored historic buildings. At the center of the Village lies 480 acres of preserved parkland, which features rolling hills, dense forest, a variety of wildlife and groomed hiking trails. Depending on what trail you take, it is entirely possible to walk your dog for an hour or two at the Village and never encounter another human being. For those who prefer more social outings, the Village offers some easy walking areas for a short stroll with friends, which can be followed up by a glass of wine at Left Foot Charley or dinner at Trattoria Stella—both located on-site.
For more information, visit thevillagetc.com.
Boardman Lake Trail
The 3 mile-long Boardman Lake Trail (also overseen by TART) winds around the eastern and northern boundaries of Boardman Lake, with access and parking available at Hannah Road by the Traverse Area District Library and Logan’s Landing off South Airport Road. Offering breathtaking views of the lake and surrounding woods and fauna, the Boardman Lake Trail also provides easy access to the library, Oryana Food Co-Op, and Hull and Medalie Parks.
The first 2 miles on the east side were constructed in October 2005. The bridge over the Boardman River and connection to Oryana and the Old Town neighborhood was completed in 2008. The 3rd mile of the trail was completed November 2015 and ends at 14th Street.
For more information, visit traversetrails.org/trails/boardman.
Muncie Lake Pathway
A state-maintained trail, Muncie Lake Pathway extends for 11.5 miles through farm country and woodlands off Rennie Lake Road in Traverse City. Consistent trail markings and grooming makes the route popular in all four seasons—it’s as common to see cross-country skiers out in the winter as it is to see bikers in the summer. The trail consists of five loops ranging in size from .95 to 5.35 miles long, offering a variety of options for novices and experts alike. Allow yourself plenty of time to get back and forth on the pathways, however, there are no facilities along the trail.
For more information, visit michigandnr.com.
Hickory Meadows Trails
One of the most popular spots in Traverse City for dog walkers, Hickory Meadows is a 112.5-acre-park off Randolph Road only a mile from downtown Traverse City. The lush landscape is filled with sprawling meadowland, upland forest and miles of unpaved hiking paths. Hickory Hills Ski Area, a popular winter family destination, conveniently sits next door; in the summer, hundreds of disc golfers visit the area’s challenging course. Owned and operated by the Joint Recreational Authority (consisting of the City of Traverse City and Garfield Township Recreational Authority), the park has been dedicated to “viewshed preservation and passive recreational activities such as hiking and nature watching.” Be sure to bring a camera—the views from Hickory’s hilltops are spectacular.
For more information, garfield-twp.com/hickorymdws.asp.