Many Northern Michigan preserves and natural areas have dog-friendly trails, but remember, state law requires all dogs to be leashed (yes, even really well-behaved ones). Three local conservancies share some doggy do’s and don’ts.


Leashed dogs are welcome at most GTRLC preserves and natural areas. Favorites in Traverse City include Hickory Meadows, a popular neighborhood spot for dog walking, and Timbers Recreation Area, which offers a beautiful scenic loop. Due to sensitive natural features, dogs are not allowed at Arcadia Marsh or designated sanctuaries. Become a GTRLC newsletter subscriber and receive upcoming field guides on dog-friendly hikes.


LTC offers “dog loops” at popular preserves. The short, designated paths give pets a quick bathroom break before hitting the main trail. Find them at Offield Family Working Forest Reserve in Harbor Springs, The Hill Nature Preserve in Boyne City and Allan and Virginia McCune Nature Preserve in Petoskey. Dogs are allowed at all LTC areas except Woollam Family Nature Preserve, Sally Stebbins Nature Preserve, Thorne Swift Nature Preserve and Waldron Fen Nature Preserve, to protect breeding birds.


All LC natural areas allow dogs on a six-foot leash. The best dog-walking trails can be found at DeYoung Natural Area, Clay Cliffs Natural Area, Palmer Woods Forest Reserve, Krumwiede Forest Reserve and Chippewa Run Natural Area, all located in Leelanau County. (Note: Pets and humans are discouraged from visiting ecologically sensitive areas, including Soper Natural Area and Gull Island Preserve.)