This spring, we’ve released a new edition of The Trails of M-22, our guide to 48 wonderful trails along Michigan’s most beautiful highway. That includes all the trails on the mainland of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
You can order the second edition of M-22 in our eshop but here are some of new trails we’re sure you’ll enjoy:
Treat Farm Trail — Sleeping Bear Dunes
Located in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Treat Farm Trail is a 1.1-mile walk along an old road to the historic Treat Farmstead and then the edge of Empire Bluff for a panoramic view of Lake Michigan.
The adventurous can continue by climbing Old Baldy to a nearly 360-degree vista of the surrounding landscape or carefully thread their way along the perched dunes to the observation deck at the end of the Empire Bluff Trail. Combining Treat Farm Trail with Empire Bluff Trail would be a semi-loop of 3.2 miles that would leave you 1.2 miles from where you parked your vehicle.
Overlook Trails — Arcadia Dunes
In 2017, the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy unveiled the Overlook Trail in Arcadia Dunes in Benzie County, the first universally accessible path to a dunes overlook along the Lake Michigan coast.
The half-mile Overlook is part of the Baldy Trails system and was a significant upgrade of the existing route from the trailhead to post No. 7. The new trail features a 6-foot-wide surface of compacted crushed stone and a massive boardwalk with switchbacks to maintain a manageable grade. There are benches for a quick rest and an impressive dual-level observation deck perched more than 300 feet above Lake Michigan at the end. The view, especially at sunset, is stunning.
East & Central Ridge Trails — Palmer Woods Forest Reserve
When the East Ridge Mountain Bike Trail was designed and built in 2018 at Palmer Woods Forest Reserve, it was the first public mountain bike trail in Leelanau County. It opened to rave reviews from the mountain biking community and encouraged the Leelanau Conservancy to oversee the construction of the adjacent Central Ridge Mountain Bike Trail the following year.
Both loops are intermediate flow-style single tracks, allowing riders to weave downhill through a series of berms, rollers and switchbacks at higher speeds. Together they combine for almost 6 miles of trails dedicated solely for off-road cycling.
Kettles Trail — Sleeping Bear Dunes
We’ve been hiking there for years but Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore finally finished and dedicated the Kettles Trail in 2019. The park’s newest trail is a 3.4-mile trek through an intriguing and rugged area with numerous kettles along with a jumbled array of ridges, mounds and potholes.
The first 1,000 feet of the trail is a fully accessible path of compacted stone surface that leads to an overlook of a kettle. The remainder of the trail often utilizes old two-tracks that climb the slopes and ridges of the kettle topography, some with a more than 20 percent grade.
Arcadia Marsh Boardwalk— Arcadia Marsh Nature Preserve
Located in Manistee County, the 400-acre Arcadia marsh borders Arcadia Lake and is fed by Bowens Creek. Restoration began in 2010 after Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy acquired 155 acres and, working with other conservation groups, restored the natural channel of Bowens Creek to revigorated the marsh.
In 2019, the nearly mile-long foot trail was converted into a universally accessible path that includes 0.75 miles of boardwalk across the swamp, making Arcadia Marsh a destination for easy hiking and great birding.
Camp Arcadia Trail — Arcadia Dunes
Complementing Dry Hill Trails in Arcadia Dunes-C.S. Mott Nature Preserve is Camp Arcadia Trail. Originally Camp Trail was laid out along fairly level terrain, making the 3-mile loop much more appealing to those just getting into off-road cycling. In 2019, the Norman Road spur was added, providing an additional mile of much more challenging terrain for mountain bikers.
For a ride of intermediate difficulty, mountain bikers begin at the Norman Road trail with a heart-pounding climb of more than a mile before merging into the Camp Trail loop. Needless to say, this 3.7-mile outing finishes with a wild downhill run.
City of Boston Shipwreck — Green Point Dunes Natural Preserve
A half mile into the hike at Green Point Dunes Nature Preserve you reach the first observation deck overlooking Lake Michigan and just beyond that is the second deck, offering one of the most dramatic views seen anywhere along M-22. From that perch, you can gaze at open dunes towering above the shoreline, at the remains of a streamer that ran aground in 1873 or, if you arrive late in the day, the sun fading into a watery horizon.
Sand dunes, shipwrecks and sunsets.
But what makes this 2-mile hike such a great kid’s adventure is a beautiful beach serves as the halfway point, a place where the curious can explore the 19th-century shipwreck with just a mask and a snorkel. The City of Boston is only 150 feet offshore, angled in 7 feet of water with its stern buried in the sand bar and its bow occasionally less 4 feet below the surface of the lake. No scuba gear required for this wreck.
Frankfort, MI US
Arcadia, MI US
M-22 & Norman Road
Arcadia, MI US
List of Trails