Totally seclude yourself from the summer hustle and bustle of Traverse City. Set out on West Bay to hike the uninhabited grounds of Power Island or paddle calm, inland Long Lake until you reach South and Fox Islands, both open to the public, but each with unique ecosystems to explore. Pack a picnic and make a day of it!
On a foggy day, you might not even notice this island gem in the middle of West Grand Traverse Bay. Located about seven miles from downtown Traverse City and 2.75 miles from the nearest boat launch at Bowers Harbor on Old Mission Peninsula, this 202-acre county-owned oasis offers a microcosm of the best the region has to offer: sandy beaches, wooded hikes, rustic camping, and even a touch of history (auto titan Henry Ford owned the island from 1917 to 1944). For experienced open-water kayakers, Power Island makes for a sweet day trip; otherwise, renting or chartering a powerboat is the way to go (several local charter boat companies offer transportation to and from the island). Find the public dock on the east side of the island. Park department: 231.922.4818.
Islands of Long Lake
With four little islands scattered across its waters, Long Lake offers more choices for an island-hopping experience than even nearby Grand Traverse Bay. Though all of the islands are protected by a local conservancy, only two—South and Fox Islands—are open to the public. Thirteen-acre South Island has short-but-sweet hiking trails and views of its unusual island bog ecosystem; Fox Island’s blanket of second-growth hardwoods gives you a quintessential Northwoods experience and a chance to spot bald eagles, which nest on the island. Because of the calm waters, most days you won’t need anything more than a canoe or kayak to reach either island. GTRLC.ORG.