As part of its 25th-anniversary celebration, the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy teamed up with and Michigan author Jim DuFresne to produce a new guidebook for Northern Michigan trails. “The Trails of M-22” features 40 beautiful trails that are accessible from Northern Michigan’s beloved highway.

The guidebook includes maps of each trail, which can be downloaded to smartphones and tablets or as PDF files to be printed later.

We talked with Glen Chown, the executive director of the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, about the new M-22 trail guide and their anniversary.

How does it feel to be able to celebrate the work you do and your 25th-anniversary with a guidebook to some of the most beautiful trails in Michigan?

“Our region’s spectacular landscapes inspire and restore us. They make Northern Michigan a great place to live, work and play. Connecting people to these amazing places is important to our mission and to the future stewardship of these lands. Of course, we work very deliberately to balance public access and use with protecting natural features, unique habitats and scenic beauty. We are so thrilled to partner with Jim DuFresne, who is such a highly respected author, on this book to present these spectacular trails as part of our 25th-anniversary celebration. Our hope is that visitors fall in love with these special places and come to understand the importance of protecting and caring for them.”

What are some of your favorite trails included in the book?

“It’s hard to choose a favorite! There’s a lot of diversity of experience offered along M-22. I love the views of Lake Michigan, the hikes through the woods, the mountain biking opportunities, the fantastic birding sites, equally. That said, it’s a spiritual experience for me to take in the beauty from the two overlooks at Green Point Dunes. To look out over Lake Michigan and the Upper and Lower Herring Lakes and know that this is here forever, that these places will never be ruined, it’s both inspirational and very humbling.”

A view of Green Point Dunes, photo courtesy of Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy

m22 trail guide
M-­22 has grown to be more than just a highway. It’s a symbol that represents the beauty and fun of Northern Michigan. How does M­-22 fit into the work done by the GTRLC?

“One of the very first private land conservation easements in the State of Michigan is along Lake Michigan and the M-22 corridor, and our biggest ever land protection, Arcadia Dunes, the C.S. Mott Nature Preserve encompasses both sides of M-22 in Benzie and Manistee Counties. Since the very inception of our organization, critical properties along that stretch were identified as priorities for permanent protection. The Arcadia Marsh is a great example of protection and restoration—it is one of only 15 or so remaining coastal marshes on the east side of Lake Michigan and these marshes are some of the most productive ecosystems in the world. The need and opportunity to protect critical dunes, scenic vistas, working farms and the water quality of Lake Michigan is strikingly evident along M-22 and this is exactly our mission.”

Is there anything you’d like to add?

“I would encourage anyone with an interest in learning about these incredible places to attend a Conservancy hike, our staff and volunteer hike leaders are very knowledgeable and these hikes are fun and informative. And of course, we rely heavily on volunteers to help us care for the trails so if anyone is interested in supporting the trails that way, we would be eternally grateful.”

Get your own copy of the newest M-22 trail guide.

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Photo(s) by Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy