Top 12 Outdoor Adventuring Destinations in Michigan for You to Visit
If you’re looking for outdoor adventuring, Michigan has many places to offer. Its four Great Lakes, 11,000 inland lakes, and 36,000 miles of rivers and streams provide the perfect setting for many outdoor activities.
You can kayak, snorkel, or dive while on vacation in Michigan. The state’s underwater adventure is legendary, with Thunder Bay, Michigan a popular destination. For a truly unique Michigan experience, visit the state’s waterfalls and explore the great outdoors.
There are a lot of popular activities in Michigan’s waters and also plenty of lands to explore. Here are the top 12 of the best places to get outdoors in Michigan:
For an outdoor adventure in Michigan, make your way to the remote Point Abbaye Nature Area. Located about 11 miles off the main road, it’s a beautiful spot with sweeping views of Lake Superior and the Huron Mountains.
Access to the Western UP Water Trail and kayak/canoe access make this an ideal location for a day trip or overnight stay. The drive is worth it, especially if you love nature and adventure.
From the town of Zeba, you’ll drive up the peninsula on Skanee Road, passing the quaint town of Zeba. The road then brushes the shoreline of historic Pequaming Bay before gliding through the town of Aura.
From there, you’ll wind your way back down Townline and onto Silver River. You’ll reach the tip of the peninsula in about two hours of scenic driving along this rugged landscape.
Little Presque Isle Marquette
This small island is an excellent place for hiking or simply lounging around, as the shore is four miles long and boasts several habitats that are perfect for bird watching.
Also, you can enjoy the six-mile Harlow Lake Nordic Ski Trail.
There are many things to do on Little Presque Isle, so you should be sure to bring the whole family!
The nearby Escanaba River State Forest is an excellent choice for those looking to explore a beautiful lake.
Two miles of Lake Superior frontage trails are available to explore, as well as rocky cliffs. You can also enjoy the beautiful scenery by renting a cabin at the Marquette DNR office. It’s not free, but it’s well worth it.
You’ll have a wonderful time exploring the state’s natural attractions, and the area has something for everyone.
Black Rocks Marquette
The first stop on any trip to Marquette should be Presque Isle Park, which features scenic overlooks and the infamous Black Rocks.
These cliffs are a popular spot for cliff jumping into Lake Superior. While most visitors do not experience injuries during the plunge, they do report that the thrill is worth it.
Here, you can enjoy a scenic hike to nearby Rock Island, a natural hot spring, or take a dip in the crystal-clear water.
Another great spot for a day out in Marquette is Stucko’s, a classic sports bar and pub with outdoor adventuring in the summer and indoor seating in the winter.
You can even order a “Shoop” (a giant boot full of beer) if you’re in the mood for some cold beverages. Nearby, you can also visit Blackrock’s Brewery, located in a historic yellow house.
A half-mile-long trail, which features benches and uneven terrain, allows you to take in the view.
Ocqueoc Falls Millersburg
If you are in the mood for a waterfall, look no further than Ocqueoc Falls in Millersburg. The largest waterfall in the Lower Peninsula is just a short distance away.
There is a vault restroom available, as well as wheelchair and stroller accessibility.
Visitors can experience the roar of the waterfall during the summer months or enjoy a refreshing dip after a day of hiking or other outdoor activities.
The trail is easily accessible, but you’ll need to purchase an annual park pass or buy a daily vehicle pass to enter the park.
Make sure to pack a change of clothes, as you’ll likely be outdoors for a while. Bring sunscreen and goggles, since the river bottom is not as sandy as you’d find at a beach.
Don’t forget to pack a towel if you plan to spend a few hours at the waterfall. Enjoy the outdoor adventuring at your leisure.
Platte River Honor
If you’re looking for a unique Michigan outdoor adventure, consider camping in the small town of Honor. Located near Lake Michigan and the Platte River, Honor offers a variety of outdoor activities for all ages and abilities.
The town even holds an annual Coho Festival in August to celebrate the area’s most prized catch, the Coho salmon. The area has many excellent camping opportunities, including the Platte River State Forest Campground, which offers 26 sites for tents. No reservations are required for this campground. You can also boat on the river or hike along a 2.5-mile trail.
The Platte River is one of Michigan’s most iconic destinations for tubing. The river is located in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. You can hire a kayak or canoe and head for the mouth of the river, where you can catch a glimpse of the majestic lake.
There are restroom facilities in the park, as well. Taking a canoe or kayak down the Platte River is a great Michigan outdoor adventure.
Bald Mountain Recreation Area Lake Orion
If you’re looking for the best outdoor adventure in Michigan, consider a trip to Bald Mountain Recreation Area, a 4600-acre state park located just 40 minutes outside of Detroit.
The park features hiking trails, a swimming beach, and picnic areas, as well as hunting and fishing opportunities. For those looking for a more active adventure, the Bald Mountain trails offer fifteen miles of hiking and biking opportunities.
The Bald Mountain State Recreation Area in southeast Michigan offers four-thousand acres of rolling hills with extensive trails.
The park has inland lakes, trout streams, wild game, and even two rustic cabins that can be rented out. It is open year-round, making it a great place for outdoor adventuring. The park also has a beach store and paddleboard rentals.
Miners Castle U.S. National Park Service
The rock face at Miners Castle is a geological treasure. This area has three major layers of sandstone. Ice and rain have molded the face, creating an array of colors. In fact, some of the rocks are copper-colored. The lakeside town of Munising is a short drive away.
The town is home to several interpretive exhibits and is a 17-minute drive from the park.
The best way to see the infamous sandstone landmark is by water. While the view is spectacular, the waterfalls are best viewed from the water. You can see the cascading falls from the lower overlook deck and the west end of Miners Beach.
Unfortunately, you cannot view them from the top, or from the North Country Trail. By the end of summer, the cascades are reduced to a trickle. Nevertheless, Bridalveil Falls is often featured in postcards featuring the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, making it one choice for outdoor adventuring lovers.
Turnip Rock Port Austin
If you’ve never heard of Turnip Rock, you’re in for a treat. This amazing Upper Thumb rock formation is considered one of the top 10 places in Michigan.
For thousands of years, it’s been separated from the mainland and carved by waves. It was recently named by CNN as one of the most beautiful rock formations in America. In 2016, Pure Michigan magazine included Turnip Rock on its cover.
Even international travelers arriving at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport have seen it. If you’re in the mood for outdoor adventuring, kayaking the waters of Port Austin is an excellent choice.
Port Austin kayakers can kayak out to Turnip Rock and photograph it from the water. Port Austin Kayak rents kayaks and stand-up paddle boards so you can paddle out to the rock.
The trip can take up to four hours. The Pinnebog River, located in Port Crescent State Park, is 39 miles long. You’re likely to see a wide range of wildlife while you paddle out and back.
Hogback Mountain Marquette
Located just north of Marquette, Michigan, Hogback Mountain is the southernmost peak of the Huron Mountains. The mountain is one of the most challenging hikes in the state. At nearly 600 feet above sea level, the summit is almost completely bare of vegetation.
This makes it as close to an alpine environment as you can get in Michigan. Hikers who enjoy a little solitude will find Hogback Mountain to be an ideal choice.
From Marquette, MI, you can take a 2-mile hike up Hogback Mountain to take in the incredible views of Lake Superior. The trailhead is located just off County Road 550. Half a mile beyond the trailhead is Sugarloaf Mountain and Wetmore Pond.
After you have hiked Hogback Mountain, you can visit nearby Sugarloaf Mountain and Wetmore Pond.
Laughing Whitefish Falls Munising area
If you love waterfalls, the Laughing Whitefish Falls in the Alger County, Michigan area may be just the place for you.
The waterfall is over 100 feet high and is one of Michigan’s most picturesque locations. Hikers can also take advantage of a mile-long trail to view the falls from an observation deck. The falls are accessible to people with disabilities, and dogs are allowed on leashed trails.
There are several ways to see Laughing Whitefish Falls, the most popular of which is from the water.
Hikers can hike up the trail to reach the falls from a higher viewpoint, but it is much less crowded than other Upper Peninsula waterfalls. Laughing Whitefish Falls is formed by the Laughing Whitefish River, which flows into Lake Superior.
The area is named for the rocks that resemble laughing fish.
Michigan is a state with no shortage of outdoor adventure opportunities. There are many different activities to choose from, so there is something for everyone. From kayaking to hiking, biking and fishing, there are activities to please everyone.
We have highlighted just a few of the many possibilities in this post, but we would love to hear from you about your favorite Michigan outdoor adventures. Have you visited any of these locations? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below!