6 Great Hikes in Traverse City For The Whole Family

Northern Michigan offers some of the best trails and most beautiful, scenic vistas anywhere in the country. There’s no better place than the Traverse City region to experience the majesty of a rigorous Michigan hike. Meadows, forests, and sand dunes all make this area unique. Looking to take in the great outdoors on your next trip Up North? Consider a Traverse City hike.

I am committed to raising my three young girls to love the great outdoors as much as I do. For most adults, fresh air and beautiful scenery are reason enough to head out for a hike. Kids often need something more to nudge them out the door. In my experience, finding or creating adventures that excite them is the best motivation. The hiking trails in and around Traverse City are a great place to seek adventure with the whole family.

The following Traverse City-area trails offer awesome opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors. You’ll be working up an appetite while experiencing a Traverse City hike. Therefore, I’ve also identified some tasty spots to grab a bite to eat near each trailhead.

Empire Bluff Trail

Best hikes in traverse city
Photo courtesy of Jay Harrington

The Empire Bluff Trail in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore leads to a spectacular view of Lake Michigan. The bluff at the trail’s end is more than 400 feet above the Lake Michigan shoreline.

This hike itself is relatively short (less than two miles round trip) and easy (no steep climbs).  It’s a great choice for kids. This trail is also accessible year-round. It’s one of our favorite trails to hike with snowshoes in the winter.

Where to Eat: Joe’s Friendly Tavern for a burger or Empire Village Inn for pizza, both in Empire.

Pyramid Point

Best hikes in traverse city
Photo courtesy of Jay Harrington

Pyramid Point is also part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. It features views of Lake Michigan and the Manitou Islands that rival Empire Bluffs. The Pyramid Point trail is about a mile and a half hike up to the scenic overlook point. It’s another family-friendly trail. It cuts through meadows and maple-beech forests before reaching the high bluffs. It’s not a difficult hike for most adults, but presents a challenge for little ones who have fun scampering up the ascending trail. The payoff at the top is worth the effort for everyone.

Where to Eat: Head north/east on M22 from Pyramid Point and hit up Market 22 for some deep dish Detroit style pizza.

Whaleback Natural Area

Best hikes in traverse city
Photo courtesy of Jay Harrington

Head north up the Leelanau Peninsula and enjoy the scenic drive through farms and orchards. Catch views of Lake Michigan on your way to Whaleback Natural Area. Whaleback is part of the Leelanau Conservancy. It is located just south of the town of Leland. It’s a beautiful hike with a gradual ascent through big hardwood trees. It leads up to a viewing platform overlooking Lake Michigan that sits atop a 300 foot bluff.

Where to Eat: Check out The Cheese Shanty in Fishtown and enjoy one of the best sandwiches you’ll ever taste (try the pretzel bread!)

Veronica Valley Park

Best hikes in traverse city
Photo courtesy of Jay Harrington

Veronica Valley Park is maintained by Leelanau County. It is located approximately four miles southwest of Suttons Bay and four miles south of the Village of Lake Leelanau. It was previously a nine hole golf course that has been converted into trails and fishing ponds.

The trails wind through gently rolling hills, open meadows, and wetlands. If you have kids in tow, and they’re not sufficiently worn out from the hiking and fishing, there’s also a picnic and playground area for them to let loose on.

Where to Eat: Head east a couple of miles to the VI Grill in Suttons Bay for pizza and burgers.

DeYoung Natural Area

Best hikes in traverse city
Photo courtesy of Jay Harrington

The DeYoung Natural Area is another of the natural areas preserved and maintained by the Leelanau Conservancy. DeYoung sits on an historic farmstead near the shores of Cedar Lake that dates back to the 19th century. It’s a short 10 minute drive, or 20 minute bike ride (you can access it from the TART Trail), from downtown Traverse City.

There are hiking trails through forests and scenic meadows. A great fishing platform stands on over a mile of preserved shoreline on Cedar Lake. There is also an edible garden called the Cedar Creek Food Forest full of different varieties of fruits and vegetables.
Where to Eat: Make the short drive to Traverse City where you’ll have tons of options to choose from. Can’t decide where to eat? Head to The Little Fleet. There’s something for everyone offered in one of the many food trucks parked there in spring, summer, and fall.

Traverse City’s Fairy Trails

Best hikes in traverse city
Photo courtesy of Jay Harrington

There are few things as magical as a hike on one of Traverse City’s many trails and pathways. It’s not just the fresh air and beautiful surroundings that thrill and inspire, but also the sense of discovery that comes from exploring nature’s wonder. From a brilliant blanket of trillium to a majestic soaring eagle, there is always something to see while on a Traverse City hike through the forest.

Now there’s even more to discover on Traverse City’s Fairy Trails. The Fairy Trails are a magical place for kids of all ages to explore. Children can discover fairy houses built along the Cedar Cathedral Trail at The Village At Grand Traverse Commons. Kids are invited and encouraged to build a fairy house of their own on the trails.

Where to Eat: Pick up some of the best tacos, burritos, and tostadas you’ll find north of the border at Spanglish. I is located near the entrance to the Fairy Trails.

Which of these hikes is your favorite? Where are some of your favorite areas to hike? 


— Update: 21-03-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article Six Beautiful Day Hikes near Traverse CityJuly 15, 2021 from the website madelinemarquardt.com for the keyword best hikes in traverse city.

Looking for the best day hikes near Traverse City, Michigan? Traverse City is a perfect vacation destination for water lovers and hikers, with beaches, rivers, and some of the best day hikes in the state.

From the sand dunes of Sleeping Bear to the backwoods of the North Country Trail, come explore some of the best day hikes near Traverse City, Michigan.

Best hikes in traverse city

Traverse City, Michigan is known for cherry festivals and wineries, clear blue water and rolling hills. It’s a popular vacation spot for Michiganders, and for good reason! The nearby Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore offers some of the most beautiful day hikes in the Midwest, and the North Country Trail winds through Michigan’s scenic forest and along wild rivers.

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Deciding where to hike near Traverse City can be hard! I was lucky enough to grow up spending the better part of every summer in and around Traverse City, and recently lived nearby for several months. I’m happy to show you around! All of these day hikes are great for families, and less than one hour from Traverse City, Michigan!

Hike Clay Cliffs Natural Area near Leland, MI

Located just 40 minutes drive north of Traverse City, Clay Cliffs Natural Area is a short and quiet hike with wildflowers. Wind through the woods to reach views of Lake Michigan and the clay cliffs. On the way back, you’ll see views of Lake Leelaunau.

Best hikes in traverse city

This is a beginner level hike at less than two miles round trip, and likely to be less crowded than some of the similar trails in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Clay Cliffs Natural Area is an awesome option for families looking for an easy day hike near Traverse City hoping to get views of Lake Michigan.

This trail is dog-friendly provided your dog is on a leash!

After your hike, head to the Chimoski Bakery and walk the lakefront in Suttons Bay, Michigan.

Hike and Swim Sand Lakes Quiet Area Pathway

Located 40 minutes drive west of Traverse City, Sand Lakes Quiet Area is a 7-8 mile trail system throughout sandy lakes. This path follows the North Country Trail, and offers great swimming options.

Best hikes in traverse city

Sand Lakes Quiet Area Pathway is a great day hiking option near Traverse City. The hike begins at the Guernsey Lake State Forest Campground. Sand Lakes Quiet Area is a dog friendly trail!

Sand Lakes is the perfect day hike for anyone looking for a longer, more difficult hike and a nice place to spend the whole day. There are plenty of picnic spots and places to jump in the water. The trail is especially beautiful in the fall.

After a long day on the trail, head back into town and visit one of Traverse City’s many Microbreweries.

Love FREE detailed hiking & trail guides? Want detailed road trip advice, links to incredible campsites, and more? Join the Hello Stranger Newsletter for outdoor advice from your favorite paddling guide/indie outdoor writer (me!)

Hike Pyramid Point, Sleeping Bear Dunes

If you’re wondering where to hike near Traverse City, add Pyramid Point to the top of your list. Pyramid Point Trail in the Sleeping Bear Dunes is a quick hike to some of the most beautiful views near Traverse City! Located in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Pyramid Point is a three mile loop, or less than a mile round trip out to the overlook and back.

Best hikes in traverse city

Pyramid Point hiking trail is less than one hour from Traverse City. One of the best things about this trail is the views of the Manitou Islands in the distance, and colorful currents in the water below.

After hiking Pyramid Point, head south to visit the rest of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Recently named as home to some of the world’s best beaches by USA Today, the Sleeping Bear Dunes are a must-visit day trip from Traverse City.

Note: All dogs must be leashed in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Some beaches are closed to dogs due to the endangered Piping Plovers. You can find beach closures here.

Hike and Swim the Dune Climb, Sleeping Bear Dunes

A trip to Traverse City is never complete without visiting the Sleeping Bear Dunes! And there’s no better place to fully experience the Sleeping Bear Dunes than the Dune Climb hike.

At the Dune Climb, hikers scale a large sand mountain. After the first hill, you travel on foot for two grueling miles. The long trek pays off when you reach one of the most beautiful Lake Michigan beaches in the state! Hike past ghost trees stripped by the sand, and unique dune grass ecosystems.

Best hikes in traverse city

The Sleeping Bear Dune Climb is one the most difficult day hikes near Traverse City, MI, but also one of the most rewarding. Come prepared with sandals fit to hike and swim in, and pack plenty of water and a good lunch!

After hiking the Dune Climb, head south to North Bar Lake for a relaxing swim. The Dune Climb and North Bar Lake are both no pet zones.

Hike Empire Bluffs, Sleeping Bear Dunes

Tucked away in the tiny coastal town of Empire, Michigan, the Empire Bluffs Hike leads to one of the most beautiful views in the Sleeping Bear Dunes! This hike is less than two miles round trip, and easily one of the best day hikes less than one hour away from Traverse City.

Best hikes in traverse city

Especially beautiful in the fall, the Empire Bluffs Trail is one of the most beautiful (and most popular) hiking trails near Traverse City. After your hike, swing by Sleeping Bear Surf and Kayak for a Great Lakes Surf lesson and to meet some very lovely people!

Hike The North Country Trail

Ever dreamed of a trail that stretches thousands of miles through the highlights of the North Country? The North Country Trail (NCT) is just that trail. Some of the most beautiful sections of the NCT are right here near Traverse City along the Manistee River.

Best hikes in traverse city

Sections of the NCT can be used to make some of the best day hikes near Traverse City. Trailheads include Old US 131 State Forest Campground, near Baxter Bridge State Forest Campground, High Rollaway on the Manistee, and the Manistee River Trail.

All of these day hikes are less than one hour from Traverse City. Most of these trails are dog friendly!

Hike Grass River Natural Area

Are you wondering where to hike near Traverse City for the best wildlife and accessible trail options? Visit the Grass River Natural Area. Located on the Chain of Lakes, the Grass River is an excellent place to see river otter.

This trail system will take you out to the scenic Grass River and over crystal clear streams. Other pathways will take you out into the woods where you might see deer and porcupine. The Grass River Natural Area is especially beautiful in the spring and fall, and is suitable for all age levels.

Best hikes in traverse city

While portions of the Grass River Natural Area are dog-friendly, the boardwalk and adaptive trails are no pet zones!

After visiting the Grass River, head into the nearby town of Bellaire, Michigan for lunch at Short’s Brewery. Walk through the town out to the Intermediate River, and enjoy the shops and friendly environment of small town Michigan.

Hi there! If you liked this article, you might like some of the more comprehensive trip planning guides I’ve made. For PDF downloads of hiking guides for the Traverse City Region, the North Shore, and the Gunflint Trail, AND a download of Hidden Gems of the Northern Great Lakesbecome a paying subscriber of Hello Stranger. Paying subscribers (starting at $5/month, unsubscribe at any time) help fund free trail guides like the one you’re reading right now, and make it possible for me to work as an indie writer!

Bonus Hike: Visit the Maritime Museum at Sleeping Bear Point!

Tired of hiking? Interested in Lake Michigan Maritime History? Pop by the Maritime Museum at Sleeping Bear Point in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore!

Read more  20 Best Family Hikes in the Smoky Mountains

Best hikes in traverse city

From the old Coast Guard Station and Maritime Museum, you can access the Sleeping Bear Point Trailhead. This hike will take you past beautiful sandscapes along Lake Michigan.

Note: the maritime museum grounds is a no pet zone.

Where will your next adventure be?

  • Explore the 15 Most Beautiful Great Lakes Destinations
  • Wondering where to kayak near Traverse City? I’ve got some ideas for you!
  • Check out the best kayaking spots on Lake Superior
  • Here are thirty midwest hiking trails, ranked best to worst. Where does your favorite fall?

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— Update: 23-03-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article 15 Best Traverse City Hiking Trails (For All Levels & Pet-Friendly) from the website www.townandtourist.com for the keyword best hikes in traverse city.

Traverse City is the heart of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, home to the abundant and ever-changing natural scenery and distinct shores of Lake Michigan.

The area highlights towering cliffside overlooks, rolling sand dunes, and dense forests for miles in all directions. With the constantly shifting climate and its diverse landscape, Traverse City is central to an array of unique outdoor opportunities.

In these hills or along its shores, the allure of the Upper Peninsula is available for curious adventurers, waiting to be discovered.

1. Old Mission Point Park

Best hikes in traverse city
Credit: Frank Cardoze / Flickr


Directions:  
From Traverse City, head north on M-37 N/Center Road and drive for 14.8 miles. Turn right onto Swaney Road and drive for 0.9 miles. Merge onto Old Mission Road and continue for 1.2 miles and the parking area will be on your left.

The Old Mission Point Park Trail is a wonderful hike through the Old Mission Peninsula. The hike follows through beautifully forested meadows and sandy beaches before reaching a storied lighthouse.

This well-marked and maintained trail is a packed dirt pathway with manageable elevation changes. The hike ultimately leads to Mission Point Lighthouse.

This lighthouse was built in 1870 and was decommissioned in 1933. Today, this iconic landmark is available for tours, allowing for a peek into the past while overlooking the banks of Grand Traverse Bay.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 6.1 Miles
Elevation Gain: 252 Feet

2. Sand Lakes Quiet Area Trail

Best hikes in traverse city
Credit: Pure Michigan


Directions:
From Traverse City, head east on US-31 N and drive for 5.6 miles. Turn right onto M-72 E and drive for 0.8 miles. At the traffic circle, take the 2nd exit to stay onto M-72 E and continue for 0.5 miles. At the next traffic circle, take the 2nd exit to continue on M-72 E and drive for another 4.5 miles.

Make a right onto N Broomhead Road and drive for 0.4 miles. Turn left onto Deal Road for 1.5 miles and merge right onto Lackey Road. Continue for 1.6 miles and turn right onto Guernsey Lake Road.  After 2.8 miles, turn right, followed by an immediate right – your parking area for this hike.

The Sand Lakes Quiet Area Trail is a tranquil walk around a protected area of the Upper Peninsula – intended to be peaceful and secluded. In 1973, Sand Lakes was designated a “quiet area” and all motorized activity was restricted.

The wide and comfortable trail takes you along the calm shores of five small lakes, surrounded by the backdrop of rolling hills of the Upper Peninsula woodlands.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance:
7.4 Miles
Elevation Gain:
396 Feet

Related Read: 20 Best Waterfalls in Michigan

3. Meadow Loop and Copper Ridge Trail

Best hikes in traverse city
Credit: Art Garcia-Cuellar / Flickr


Directions: 
From downtown Traverse City, head west on E Grandview Parkway and drive for 0.9 miles. Turn left onto US-31 and continue for 0.6 miles. Make a right turn onto Seventh Street and drive for 0.2 miles. Turn left onto S Elmwood Avenue followed by an immediate right onto Medical Campus Drive. Continue for another 0.3 miles and turn left, followed by a right and the parking area will be on your left.

The Meadow Loop and Copper Ridge Trail wanders through the natural beauty of Burns Park. This urban trail takes you away from the city and descends along to the Old Orchard Trail.

The trail will loop around wildlife-abundant wetlands, wildflower blossoming meadows, and lush and forested hillsides. The hiking trail is poorly marked, but sometimes getting a little lost only leads to offshoots that allow for wonderful overlooking views from the ridge.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 2.4 Miles
Elevation Gain: 324 Feet

4. Fern Lake Loop

Best hikes in traverse city
Credit: Ed E / AllTrails


Directions: 
From downtown Traverse City, head west on E Grandview Parkway and turn left onto US-31 S. Drive for 0.3 miles and make a right onto W Front Street. Continue for 0.9 miles and merge onto N Long Lake Road. Drive for another 5.1 miles and turn left onto Timbers Trail. After 0.5 miles, turn left and the parking area for this hike will be on your left.

Fern Lake Loop is an incredibly scenic hike that follows the shores of two picturesque lakes. The trail begins following the calm banks of Long Lake before wandering to Fern Lake.

Once reaching Fern Lake, the trail will loop along the calm waters of this majestic lake in Traverse City’s Recreation Area. With a well-marked pathway and comfortable terrain, this hike is suitable for hikers of all skill levels.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance:
2.1 Miles
Elevation Gain:
124 Feet

Related Read: 20 Top Treehouse Rentals in Michigan

5. Vasa Trail

Best hikes in traverse city
Directions: 
From Traverse City, head west on US-31 N/Munson Avenue and drive for 4.9 miles. Turn right onto Bunker Hill Road and drive for 0.8 miles. Make a right onto Bartlett Road and continue for 0.5 miles. Turn left onto Eagle Crest Drive and the parking area will be on your left.

The Vasa Trail is a comfortably shaded journey through Pere Marquette State Forest. The dense forest is perfect for an outdoor adventure that takes you deep within the wilderness, far away from civilization.

The trail was built as a long-distance mountain biking trail with wide and level pathways. This single-track trail is easy to follow. While expert hikers can complete this in a single day, this trail is an excellent backpacking opportunity for beginners.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 26.3 Miles
Elevation Gain: 1,446 Feet

6. Pelizzari Natural Area Loop

Best hikes in traverse city
Credit: Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy


Directions: 
From Traverse City, head on E Grandview Parkway and drive for 0.4 miles. Merge onto E Front Street and drive for 0.4 miles before turning left onto Peninsula Boulevard. Continue for 0.9 miles and slight right onto M-37 N. After 1.3 miles, the parking area will be on your right.

This hike through the Pelizzari Natural Area is a beautiful trek through open fields and meadows that explores native Old Mission Peninsula.

The hike through these undisturbed lands wanders through former apple orchards before farmers would clear the land for their agriculture.

With the dense forests surrounding these open meadows, this hike is an excellent opportunity to see diverse wildlife – especially for bird-watching enthusiasts.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 2.2 Miles
Elevation Gain: 209 Feet

7. Boardman Valley Trail

Best hikes in traverse city
Credit: TART Trails


Directions: 
From downtown Traverse City, head south on Cass Street and drive for 2.2 miles. Use the left two lanes to turn left onto W South Airport Road and drive for 0.4 miles. Turn right onto Racquet Club Drive and drive for 0.3 miles and the parking area will be on your right.

The Boardman River Trail is an urban trail with wonderful nature viewing opportunities. This trail brings you along comfortable boardwalks and packed dirt walkways that are suitable for adventurers of all skill levels.

As you wander, you will encounter beautiful fields of vibrant wildflowers paralleling the wide Boardman River. The trail provides little shade, be sure to bring plenty of skin protection. With the plentiful water source, this trail is abundant with wildlife, but also pesky insects.

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Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 
6.2 Miles
Elevation Gain:
239 Feet

Related Read: 20 Best Romantic Getaways in Michigan

8. Cedar Run Loop

Best hikes in traverse city
Credit: Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy


Directions: 
From Traverse City, head west on E Grandview Parkway and drive for 0.9 miles. Merge onto W Grandview Parkway and continue for 0.6 miles. Turn left onto M-72 W and drive for 5.7 miles and turn left onto Tilton Road. After 1.0 miles, turn left onto Cedar Run Road. Continue for 3.5 miles and turn left onto Tucker Road and after 0.8 miles, the parking area will be on your left.

The Cedar Run Loop is a well-maintained trail that traverses through a woodlands forest in the Cedar Run Creek Natural Area. This comfortable trail is a level pathway with some elevation gain, suitable for hikers of skill levels.

Cedar Run is less traveled, making for a wonderfully secluded hike in a private woodland environment. Best visited after periods without rain, the trail can become muddy with overwhelming amounts of irksome insects.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 4.6 Miles
Elevation Gain: 298 Feet

9. South Long Lake Loop

Best hikes in traverse city
Credit: Ryan Phillips / AllTrails


Directions: 
From Traverse City, head west on E Grandview Parkway and drive for 0.9 miles. Turn left onto US-31 S and continue for 1.2 miles. Make a right onto Silver Lake Road and drive for 3.0 miles, then merge onto N West Silver Lake Road. Continue for 0.8 miles and turn right onto Secor Road. After 1.6 miles, the parking area will be on your left.

The South Long Lake Loop is a comfortable hike that takes you to the shores of its picturesque waters, as well as the eastern forest. The eastern forest has seen great transformation throughout the years.

Originally a swampy marshland, settlers would convert it into farmland. In recent times, it has been designated a place of recreation with hopes of returning it to its original state. The site is now dense forestlands, perfect for an afternoon walk near the lake.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance:
1.7 Miles
Elevation Gain:
111 Feet

Related Read: 20 Best Clear Water Beaches in Michigan

10. VASA Single Track Loop

Best hikes in traverse city
Credit: TART Trails


Directions: 
From Traverse City, head east on US-31 N and drive for 2.9 miles. Turn right onto N Four Mile Road and drive for 2.1 miles until reaching a traffic circle. Take the 3rd exit onto E Hammond Road and drive for 1.0 miles before merging onto High Lake Road. After 0.4 miles, slight left onto Supply Road. Continue for 1.8 miles and the parking area will be on your left.

The VASA Single Track Loop is a technical mountain biking trail that is an excellently secluded hike through the forest.

As an offshoot of the VASA Trail, this pathway leads to more difficult climbs, twists, and turns to make for an active, but an enjoyable journey through the woods.

The trail is comfortably shaded and is a well-maintained pathway and is suitable for hikers of most skill levels. Keep an ear out for ambitious mountain bikers, this trail is popular among cyclists.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 11.2 Miles
Elevation Gain: 518 Feet

11. Miller Creek Nature Reserve and Horse Fly Trail

Best hikes in traverse city
Credit: The Grand Traverse Conservation District / Flickr


Directions: 
From Traverse City, head south on Cass Street and drive for 2.2 miles. Turn right onto W South Airport Road and continue for 0.7 miles, then turn left onto Crossing Circle. After 0.1 miles, the parking area will be on your right.

The Horse Fly Trail in the Miller Creek Nature Reserve is a fantastic walk through the middle of the former Red Pine Plantation.

The Horse Fly Trail bends through beech forests, crosses boardwalks over cedar marshes, and wanders the open meadows of Miller Creek.

The Preserve is in an urban setting, surrounded by light industrial and commercial properties. However, it takes little time to escape the busy lights and become entrenched in the native beginnings of the Upper Peninsula.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 3.5 Miles
Elevation Gain: 173 Feet

12. Muncie Lakes Pathway

Best hikes in traverse city
Credit: sarac_energizer / Flickr


Directions:
From Traverse City, head east on US-31 N and drive for 2.9 miles. Turn right onto N Four Mile Road and drive for 2.1 miles until reaching a traffic circle. Take the 3rd exit onto E Hammond Road and drive for 1.0 miles before merging onto High Lake Road. After 0.4 miles, slight left onto Supply Road.

Drive for 2.8 miles and turn right onto Rennie Lake Road and turn left. Drive for 3.1 miles and turn left, drive for 0.3 miles, and turn left onto Ranch Rudolf Road. After 0.2 miles, the parking area will be on your left.

The Muncie Lakes Pathway is arguably the most popular trail in the history of Traverse City. The rolling trail brings you through beautiful sections of the Pere Marquette State Forest.

The hike brings you past multiple pristine lakes, following the calming shores of the Boardman River. The trail then ascends above the picturesque city with wonderful overlooking views of the city and the surrounding Boardman Valley.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 8.4 Miles
Elevation Gain: 396 Feet

13. Boardman Lake Trail

Best hikes in traverse city
Credit: TART Trails / Flickr


Directions: 
From Traverse City, head east on E State Street and drive for 0.1 miles then turn right onto Boardman Avenue. Continue for 0.2 miles and turn left onto E Eighth Street. Drive for 0.4 miles and turn right onto Woodmere Avenue. Continue for 0.3 miles and turn right onto Hannah Avenue and after 0.3 miles, the parking area will be on your right.

The Boardman Lake Trail follows along the northeastern boundaries of Boardman Lake. This section is primarily a dense forest that cuts through the very middle of Traverse City.

While encircling the lake, this trail provides easy access to libraries and parks, as well as breweries and eateries. The walk around Boardman Lake is a perfect getaway for locals to enjoy peace within nature, without leaving the city.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 4.2 Miles
Elevation Gain: 127 Feet

14. TART Trail

Best hikes in traverse city
Credit: Noah Sorensen / Flickr


Directions: 
From Traverse City, head east on E Grandview Parkway and drive for 0.4 miles then merge onto E Front Street. Drive for 1.1 miles and merge onto US-31 N. Continue for 4.9 miles and turn onto Bunker Hill Road. After 0.1 miles, the parking area will be on your right.

The Traverse Area Recreation Trail or “TART” is an urban trail that travels through the heart of commercial Traverse City. This paved trail is a comfortable walk with little elevation gain and is suitable for hikers of all skill levels.

The hike leads you through several pristine parks, lively downtown Traverse City, and charming local neighborhoods. This trail is popular with cyclists, so be sure to share the trail.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 11.7 Miles
Elevation Gain: 111 Feet

15. Clay Cliffs Loop

Best hikes in traverse city
Credit: The Leelanau Conservancy


Directions:
From Traverse City, head north on M-22 S and drive for 15.3 miles and turn left onto M-204 W. Drive for 2.1 miles and turn right onto E Horn Road. Continue for 2.2 miles and turn right onto N Eagle Highway. Drive for 2.9 miles and turn onto M-22 S. After 2.1 miles, the parking area will be on your right.

The Clay Cliffs Loop is a beautiful trail with vast overlooks of Lake Michigan. This short but sweet hike along these gorgeous naturally crafted cliffs is densely lined with vibrant wildflowers.

As you descend the loop, you will also be witness to picturesque views of reflective Lake Leelanau. The hike is quite popular – try to get here early to beat the crowds.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 1.4 Miles
Elevation Gain: 150 Feet

References

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About the Author: Tung Chi