8 Little-Known Hiking Areas In Michigan For Outdoor-Minded College Students

Hiking is one of the most popular activities among students in Michigan. Why? Because it’s fun and affordable! Hiking areas in Michigan offer all the conditions for a day or overnight treks. There are trails for every taste, duration, and level of training. So which areas are the best for hiking? Below you will discover tips for this activity and the top 8 hiking areas in Michigan close to specific colleges.

What Do You Need For Hiking If You Are A Newbie?

Sparty at Michigan State University – Courtesy of Dean

If you are just starting your path in this activity, there are several essential points about this type of vacation. Here are some helpful tips and rules that will come in handy for all beginners:

  • Choose routes based on your skill level. Michigan offers many trails that require no experience or special training. This is an excellent option for a start. However, don’t start with trails for advanced travelers! 
  • Explore the area before you go. You shouldn’t go hiking alone. Find a company, read reviews, and be sure to get a map or travel guide.
  • Have a sufficient supply of water and food. Hiking, even on the plains, is physically demanding. This means you should have enough water and snacks to replenish your energy.
  • Take insect repellent. Some of the trails go through dense forests and bushes, which means there is a high risk of encountering mosquitoes. Without specialized repellents, such an encounter with insects can spoil your hiking experience and holiday.
  • Wear specialized shoes. Hiking boots aren’t just for professionals. These are shoes where you can comfortably overcome long distances, minimize the risk of injury and go through challenging sections of the trail.
  • Take care of your insurance. If you go hiking, then insurance is a must-have. Consider special offers from EKTA Traveling even if you go hiking for one day.
  • Have a basic first aid kit. Even if you are going on a short hike, it is recommended that you have a basic set of medicines with you. For example, these are bandages, plasters, and antibacterial remedies.

Let’s move on to the most exciting part of this activity. It’s time to select the top hiking area for holidays in Michigan.

Top Hiking Areas for College Students in Michigan

The varied terrain of this state, combined with beautiful forests and coastline, makes even the most inactive people enjoy the natural beauty. But what makes Michigan so unique? This state offers itineraries for travelers of all skill levels, starting from avid city dwellers ending with ardent fans of extreme and challenging routes. A wide range of trails ensures that you can choose the perfect course for your capabilities and get away from the bustle of the city and student routine. 

Below you will find a list of the most exciting trails for all skill levels but with vibrant landscapes and stunning nature.

North Manatou Island Loop – Ferris State University

If you are a bulldog at Ferris State University you are a two-hour drive to visit one of the prime hiking areas in Michigan. This is an overnight camping and hiking experience that will take your skills up a notch. Take the Manitou Island Transit ($21) for a short boat trip from Leland’s famous Fishtown. The North Manitou Island offers miles of hiking trails, beaches, and camping. On the other hand, if you are looking for a place for a fantastic exploratory day-trip, this venture will satisfy your wanderlust tendencies 100%.

The whole island is a part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, and there is a lot to see. North Manitou Island includes 15,000 acres of wilderness with a visitor-use concept that stresses seclusion, self-sufficiency, and a feeling of adventure. North Manitou camping is “open”: you select the campsite! Camping, however, is absolutely forbidden within 300 feet of Lake Michigan. Moreover, if you want to enjoy hiking, many places to walk, here you can look at the shipwreck, which is considered the key attraction of this place.

North Manitou camping costs are $10.00 per night per back-country permit (4 individuals are permitted on a permit) or $20.00 per night for parties of 5-10. Every group requires a National Park Pass, which costs $25.00 per week.

Isle Royale’s Greenstone Ridge Trail – Michigan Tech

Isle Royale Bull Moose
Isle Royale Bull Moose – by Evan Hardy of OutdoorSkillz.com

If you want to go on a multi-day trip, consider this destination. The island stretches for 45 miles and offers over 160 miles of hiking trails. You can get here by ferry from Copper Harbor. The round-trip fare for the 4 hour trip to isle Royale is $150. (2022 season rates)

This route divides the island into two parts, where you will see an incredible landscape. You will need to go through dense forests, rocks, and bushes. It should be noted that this trail is suitable for advanced hikers. Without proper preparation and experience, this trail will be challenging, and it will become a memorable experience for your years at MTU. Who knows may even see a moose.

Pyramid Point Trail – Northwestern Michigan College

The Sleeping Bear Dunes is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. This National Shoreline allows everyone to enjoy nature, regardless of their preparation and hiking skills. Different trails suit different levels of training. It is easy to admire nature here through simple and cozy hiking trails. Or you can go along the popular hiking trail through the dunes, which starts at the foot of the daunting climb.

Pyramid Point Trail is considered one of the most beautiful trails where you can admire the beauty of the lake. This 3-mile route requires no special training and is suitable for beginners. It is a forty-minute drive to the trailhead from the campus of Northwestern Michigan College and Traverse City.

Big Carp River Trail – Northern Michigan University

Porcupine Mountains - Hiking Areas in Michigan
Porcupine Mountains – Carp Lake Courtesy Keenan Barber

If you are looking for a place to improve your hiking and camping skills, you will definitely like this option. It is located in the Big Carp River Trail, Michigan’s largest and most remote park. The park is a two-and-a-half-hour drive from the campus of NMU in Marquette.

This 16-mile trail is recommended for those looking for a great view of the area and the scenery. The advantage of this place and this trail is that you can adjust your route based on your preparation. Along this path, you get the opportunity to camp, plus enjoy nature and stunning views. It is worth noting that this is not the best option for beginners, so only those who already have experience and knowledge should go here.

Jordan River Pathway – Michigan State University

This is one of the most popular trails among students. The reason for this is the presence of a camp. The trail is 19 miles long and is suitable for beginners and those who already have experience with hiking and travel activities. The stream saves from the sultry heat in summer; the hilly terrain and stunning nature will help you escape from the routine and enjoy nature. In addition, the group campgrounds allows the whole company to stay here for the weekend.

Antrim County is home to the Jordan River Pathway, which runs beside the Jordan River and the Jordan River hatchery. At one end, there’s Deadman’s Hill on US Route 31 in Michigan, and at the other, there’s the Pinney Bridge forest campsite. Leached dogs are welcome companions on this trek. The Jordan River Pathway is a 3 hour drive north from MSUs East Lansing Campus.

Great Warren Dunes Trail – Western Michigan University

This is a top-rated destination for Chicagoans looking to escape from the sweltering heat. But this place does not lose its beauty in the fall. At this time, the tourists who love nature, stunning views, and bright colors can meet each other along this pathway. This 4-mile trail winds through woodland and towering dunes. It offers spectacular views of the golden beach of Lake Michigan. This place is also suitable for beginners who enjoy nature but do not have any hiking skills.

The Warren Dunes State Park is only a one hour drive from Kalamazoo and WMUs campus.

Penosha Trail – University of Michigan

If you are looking for a beginner’s route but want to gaze at the stunning nature, this is a great place to start. This area is located in the Brighton Recreation Area just north of Ann Arbor and west of the Detroit metropolitan area. This 5-mile trail is surrounded by hills, maples, oak trees, and lakes. This place is ideal for a visit in the summer to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. 

Also, this place is lovely in the fall. Finally, this trail does not require any physical training; therefore, it can be an excellent option for those who are not yet familiar with all the nuances of hiking but want to start. The trailhead is a 30 minute drive north of the U of M campus in Ann Arbor.

Waterloo Trail – Albion College

In the west of Detroit, this hiking trail is open for you. If you want to experience all the delights of tourist life, go hiking, and at the same time stay close to civilization, this is what you need. But this does not mean that there is no solitude with nature. On the contrary, hills, plains, and wild animals will create the feeling that you are far from the big city. The Waterloo-Pinckney Hiking Trail in the Waterloo Recreation Area is part of a huge trail system that covers much of Southeast Michigan.

It should be noted that this is a multifunctional trail. Therefore, you can walk on foot and by bike. This is also a good place for a busy weekend with friends. The trailhead is less then an hours drive east on I-94 from Albion

Wrapping Up About Hiking Areas In Michigan

Hiking is an excellent activity for students, especially those studying in Michigan! Here you can find many treks that will turn your mind around and convince you that the time spent in nature is the best. So select the trail, pack your backpacks, and set towards nature and a day or two of freedom from study.

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