9 of Our Favorite Hiking Trails to Get Movin' in West Michigan!

9 of Our Favorite Hiking Trails to Get Movin' in West Michigan!

West Michigan is home to some of the most beautiful and diverse hiking trails in the United States. From stunning views of Lake Michigan to sprawling forests and rolling hills, the "Mitten" offers a range of unique outdoor experiences that can be enjoyed by hikers of all skill levels. Whether you are looking for an easy stroll or a full day hike, we have plenty of great West Michigan Hiking Trails to share.

Grab your hiking boots and join us on a journey through Michigan's finest outdoor trails!


Empire Bluff Trail

Empire Bluff Trail

Location: Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore
Length: 1.5 miles
Type: Out & Back
Difficulty: Moderate
Dogs Allowed: Yes, in select areas

The Empire Bluff Trail is a 1.5-mile out and back trail that takes hikers through the scenic Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore in Michigan's Lower Peninsula, and is among the most known West Michigan Trails on our list. Featuring a modest elevation gain of 170 feet, this hike offers stunning views of Lake Michigan and the surrounding landscape.

As you make your way up Empire Bluff, keep your eyes peeled for some of the native wildlife that flourishes in the area. You might catch a glimpse of white-tailed deer, wild turkey, coyotes, or foxes along the way. The trail also winds through a number of different habitats including woodlands, meadows and wetlands, making it a great spot for birdwatchers to observe some unique species.

At the top of the bluff lies sprawling views of Lake Michigan and the surrounding forests. It's not uncommon for visitors to stay here for hours on end to take in all the sights and sounds of Michigan's nature at its best. When it comes to hiking in West Michigan trails, Empire Bluff is one you won't want to miss!


Ottawa Sands with Golden

Ottawa Sands Park Loop

Location: Grand Haven, MI
Length: 2.9 miles
Type: Loop
Difficulty: Easy
Dogs Allowed: Yes, on-leash

Ottawa Sands County Park is the perfect spot for a peaceful, leisurely stroll. Located just outside Grand Haven, Michigan, this 2.9-mile loop trail winds around a small inland lake and is perfect for walking in the Summer.

The Ottawa Sands Trail is an easy hike that features gentle inclines and sandy trails that are perfect for barefoot exploration. Along the route you'll come across lush forests and calming streams that wind their way throughout the park. The trail also passes by picturesque views of the channel and surrounding dunes.

Next time you're in the Grand Haven area, check out this local favorite. And when you're finished, check out the charming main street of downtown Grand Haven (maybe grab a Pronto Pup if they're open for the season).


Silver Lake Dune Buggy

Silver Lake State Park

Location: Mears, MI
Length: 2.6 miles
Type: Loop
Difficulty: Moderate-Hard
Dogs Allowed: Yes, on-leash

While there is no specific hiking trail, Silver Lake State Park is one of our absolute favorite places to go hiking in West Michigan. Located in the small town of Mears, Michigan, this park is a great spot for hikers looking to explore scenic views and vast dunes, especially along the west end.

Razorback dune is a popular hiking destination within the Silver Lake State Park in Michigan. It is one of the largest and highest sand dunes in Michigan, stretching along the shoreline of Lake Michigan. The hike up to Razorback offers stunning views of both Silver Lake and the surrounding dunes.

Shade is pretty much non-existent, so be sure to pack plenty of water and sunscreen for your outdoor activities. And when you're done working up a sweet, don't forget to throw on your bathing suit and cool off in Silver Lake!



Manistee River Loop Trail

Location: Manistee National Forest
Length: 19.2 miles
Type: Loop
Difficulty: Hard
Dogs Allowed: Yes, on-leash

The Manistee River Loop Trail is one of Michigan's most popular backpacking destinations, and runs along the North Country Trail for more than six miles. Located within the Manistee, this 19.2-mile loop trail offers a longer hike plenty of solitude and stunning views throughout its forests, meadows and wetlands.

This trail provides a great opportunity for backpackers to gain some valuable experience. Along the route, you'll pass by several rivers and lakes, providing plenty of chances to cool off in Michigan's crystal clear water.

Once you've completed the loop, make sure you set up camp near the Manistee River for some relaxing camp food around the fire. Just make sure to practice Leave No Trace principles and respect the pristine nature in the National Forest!


Blandford Nature Center

Highlands Loop @ Blandford Nature Center

Location: Grand Rapids, MI
Length: 1.9 miles
Type: Loop
Difficulty: Easy
Dogs Allowed: No 

Highlands Loop at Blandford Nature Center is a great spot for outdoor enthusiasts living near downtown Grand Rapids. Running along on the Northwestern edge of Grand Rapids, this 1.9-mile loop trail winds through calming woodlands and features several sections of paved trails that are perfect for families with younger hikers.

There is a generous parking area, as well as a nature center for some quick learning prior to your hike (they charge a modest $3 entry). There are plenty of options for a short hike, or visitors can link up the major trail sections for a good workout. Feel free to bring your dog as well, just make sure they stay on a leash!


Fort Custer

Fort Custer Recreation Area Loop

Location: Augusta, MI
Length: 21 miles
Type: Loop
Difficulty: Moderate
Dogs Allowed: Yes, on-leash

We're including Fort Custer on our list, specifically to appeal to the mountain biking community in our great state of Michigan. While the trail can be use for hiking as well, it's best suited for bikers due to its length and terrain.

The Fort Custer Recreation Area Loop is located in Augusta, and features 21 miles of scenic trails that wind through the Michigan countryside. The trail is rated moderate difficulty due to it technical sections with bridges, stairs, rocks and roots. The north trail mountain bike paths circles around Eagle Lake, while the south trail features moderate hiking opportunities.

Be sure to wear your helmet and utilize the Michigan mountain biking etiquette while exploring Fort Custer. This trail is known as Michigan’s premier mountain bike destination, and it's important that we all keep it that way!


Silver Creek Walk

Silver Creek Pathway

Location: Manistee National Forest
Length: 4.4 mi
Type: Loop
Difficulty: Moderate
Dogs Allowed: Yes, on-leash

Silver Creek Pathway is a 4.4-mile loop trail near the town of Luther, Michigan that offers a unique outdoor experience for hikers and nature lovers alike. Its length and moderate difficulty make it an ideal adventure for those looking to explore Michigan's beautiful terrain without having to go too far.

One of the main draws of Silver Creek Pathway is its year-round availability - so no matter when you choose to visit this trail, you are sure to be treated to some spectacular scenery. During autumn months you can witness the trees dressed in stunning shades of orange and yellow and marvel at Michigan's changing seasons; while during winter months the blanketed snow provides a stunningly peaceful contrast against Michigan's rolling hills and forests.

Dogs are welcome on this trail as long as they remain leashed in most areas; however there are some sections where off-leash dogs are permitted - just be sure to double check with park officials before bringing your furry friend along.

No matter what time of year you choose to hike Silver Creek Pathway, one thing is certain - you won't regret making the trip out!


Kirk Park Loop

Kirk Park Loop

Location: West Olive, Michigan
Length: 1.2 miles
Type: Loop
Difficulty: Easy
Dogs Allowed: Yes, including designated off-leash hours


Kirk Park in West Olive, Michigan is a great spot to explore the outdoors. This 1.2 mile loop trail offers stunning views of Lake Michigan and easy trail access for everyone (including a paved trail).

At Kirk Park, you can take advantage of the picnic shelter (which can be reserved), Kirk Park Lodge (also reservable), swimming beach (no lifeguards present), and an off-leash dog beach with limited hours from May 1 - September 30. The main trail connects with the parking lot to the South, and has a few options for paths.

Kirk Park in Michigan is an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts looking to get their fix of fresh air and activity. Along with its stunning views of Lake Michigan, Kirk Park also features a horseshoe pit for those who want to test their skills. This horseshoe pit consists of two stakes set 40 feet apart, and it provides a great way to let loose and enjoy Michigan's outdoors.

This is also a great spot to beat any crowds in the Pigeon River area. If you're looking for a fun outdoor activity in Michigan that's suitable for all ages and skill levels then head over to Kirk Park!


The trails namesake

Duck Lake Trail

Location: Michillinda, MI
Length: 2.8 miles
Type: Out and back
Difficulty: Easy
Dogs Allowed: Yes, on-leash

Duck Lake Trail is a popular hiking destination in between Michigan's Duck Lake State Park and the lake itself.

The trail itself is relatively easy in terms of difficulty, and can be completed within an hour or two for most hikers. Although visitors will need a Michigan Recreation Passport for vehicle entry at the State Park, this requirement does not apply to those travelling by foot or bicycle.

The Duck Lake Trail features a variety of Michigan's flora and fauna throughout its journey, with sights ranging from blooming wildflowers to towering trees that provide natural shade while exploring the area. Visitors are also encouraged to bring along their four-legged friends, as long as they keep their pet on a leash during their hike.

Back to blog


I can’t wait to bring Callie on some of these trails!


I will not support Blandford Nature Center anymore, but love some of the other spots listed!


Love recommendations for hikes and new places to check out! Highly encourage Blandford Nature Center for anyone looking for good ways to volunteer in nature and within the community! They have a community garden, local artist and musician events, kids events, animal rescue, etc!


A great checklist for summer 2023. I would love to know about dog friendly options in west Michigan.


Great compilation and all close to home! We’ll be sure and check them out. Thanks!


Leave a comment

1 of 3