Bay View Woods, in Petoskey, offers five diverse and beautiful hiking trails open to the public. Whether you are wandering on your own through hardwoods ablaze with fall color or taking one of the summer guided tours Bay View hopes to reinstate in 2021, you will find flora, fawna, bogs and even geological features unique to this natural preserve.

Photo by Bay View Association

The Bay View community encourages those lucky enough to be in and around Bay View to be sure to get out on the trails to experience the beauty of every season. Kenyon Stebbins, chair of the Woods Advisory Committee, explains, “The Bay View Woods consists of approximately 172 acres of varied habitats, including cedar-hemlock wetlands and mixed hardwoods. Nearly three miles of trails meander throughout the woods, including extensive boardwalks through the wet areas.

“This past summer, despite windstorms that felled many trees, a large number of volunteers spent hundreds of hours improving the trails. With a lot of hard work and great camaraderie, we made the trails more user-friendly by leveling many sections of boardwalk, as well as distributing wood chips (by wheelbarrow) to numerous wet areas of the trails.”

Kenyon adds that Bay View welcomes members and visitors alike to enjoy the woods, and hopes to resume free public guided walks next summer.

The Bay View Woods is a natural preserve that is home to magnificent wildlife such as birds, deer, squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits and even an occasional fox. It’s also a great place to identify wildflowers and bird calls.

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The two main entrances are located off of Knapp. The Old Indian Trail entrance is at Knapp and Richards, and the Gateway Trail entrance is on Knapp, close to Cedar. Even though the gates are closed, you may walk around them and go for a hike. (No bicycles, mopeds or motorcycles allowed, and dogs must be leashed.) Please stay on the trails and refrain from picking any flowers.

Stop by Wade Administration Building in Bay View (Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) to pick up a “Through the Woods” guide that includes the trail names, distance, difficulty and description of what you may see. Or flip through the Bay View Woods trail guide online. Happy trails!

Photo by Bay View Association

Photo(s) by Bay View Association