Set your alarm clock. Grab your breakfast-packed backpack and walking shoes. Here are four gorgeous Northern Michigan trails with rewarding views, perfect for a hike and breakfast picnic on the trail.

Arcadia Dunes Overlook Trail // Elberta

Some say the views from here resemble being by the ocean. See the Lake Michigan horizon and beautiful dune bluffs after a short 1-mile hike, thanks to efforts from the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy. There’s plenty of space to have breakfast at the overlook.

Grass River Natural Area // Bellaire

Seven miles of trails and boardwalk in Bellaire make for an ideal morning hike and picnic breakfast. Located along Antrim County’s Chain of Lakes, the watershed boasts forests, flora, and fauna–plus lots of breakfast pit-stop options at the river shore.

Boardman River Nature Center // Traverse City

Operated by the Grand Traverse Conservation District, the trails at this nature center trace the banks of the Boardman River and are ideal for exploring and sharing breakfast on the shoreline. At the center, you can even rent a Discovery Pack filled with activities to bring with you.

Allan and Virginia McCune Nature Preserve // Petoskey

Channeling Northern Michigan’s logging tradition, two-tracks line nearly four miles of trails at this Petoskey-area nature preserve. Stop for breakfast on a river bridge, like the one at spring-fed Minnehaha Creek.

Healthy Breakfast Picnic Foods

Quick foods to include in your breakfast backpack from Chef Laura McCain, RD, Munson Outpatient Nutritionist.

  1. Overnight oatmeal.
  2. Soft boiled eggs.
  3. Toss in an apple or pear.
  4. Take along a couple of cheese sticks.
  5. If you’re really going to be hiking off a lot of calories, bring homemade multigrain fruit nut muffins. Laura’s muffin recipe is below!

Multigrain Fruit and Nut Muffins

Makes two dozen muffins.

  • 2 cups walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 2 bananas, mashed
  • 1 zucchini (small), shredded
  • ½ cup coconut
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 9 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray muffin tin with an oil spray.
  2. Spread walnuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven as it pre-heats until fragrant, about 5 to 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  3. Wisk the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and walnuts together in a large bowl; set aside.
  4. Mix the mashed bananas, shredded zucchini, coconut, yogurt, eggs, butter, and vanilla together. Lightly fold the banana mixture into the flour mixture with a rubber spatula until just combined and the batter looks thick and chunky.
  5. Portion into muffin tins. Bake about 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Cool on wire rack. They freeze well.

Alternate flavor combinations:

Pumpkin substituted for bananas and zucchini (2½ to 3 cups pumpkin) along with Golden Raisins (1 cup) and Pepita seeds (1 cup) toasted.

Consider cranberries instead of raisins, pecans instead of walnuts, all zucchini instead of part banana along with chocolate chips and coconut.

Add some oatmeal (1/2 cup).

More Healthy Tips

Photo(s) by Dave Weidner