Here is a sampling of the area's most popular and beautiful nature preserves and natural areas. Nearly all allow hiking, some allow biking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing as well.
A Nature Lovers Dream, most within 20 minutes of the Inn, or make a day of it and explore the trails around the Sleeping Bear Dunes area. Hike all day, and then enjoy a bottle of wine from any of the area's many wineries on the beach at Lake Michigan!
The Grass River Natural Area offers nature lovers 1100 acres of wilderness to discover with marked hiking and biking trails, boardwalks over scenic waterways, nature classes and scheduled events, guided tours and animal & bird-watching galore. Offers good snowshoeing in winter too! The best of Northern Michigan is yours to explore right here. Only 3 minutes from the Inn.
The Jordan River Valley is an 18,000-acre block of state-owned forest in northeast Antrim County. Wildlife and beautiful scenery are common along the Jordan River, Michigan's first waterway to be officially designated as a "Wild and Scenic River". Access to the river valley is provided by an 18-mile hiking trail, the Jordan Valley Pathway. The Pathway contains several loops of varying lengths, one of which begins at Deadman's Hill, which offers a spectacular vista of the surrounding countryside and river. A second breathtaking and popular vista is Landslide Overlook. Part of this Pathway is the "North Country National Scenic Trail", that extends 4,000 miles from New York to North Dakota.
The Antrim Creek Natural Area is comprised of 156 acres with nearly one mile of shoreline on Grand Traverse Bay. It supports an incredible array of natural diversity including hardwood forest, forested wetland, conifer swamp, shrub thicket, meadow, wet meadow and coastal dune. It supports a wide range of flora and fauna including federal and state listed threatened plant species. Visitors can enjoy hiking the marked trails, swimming on the beatiful beach, cross-country skiing and bay fishing! Use the link above to visit their website.
An extensive wooden boardwalk winds through a beautiful cedar swamp and crosses a small creek as it makes its way to the observation tower at the wild and scenic east end of Skegemog Lake. The boardwalk provides a unique opportunity for visitors to walk into the heart of a lush, wet cedar swamp without needing boots or waders and is a favorite sunning spot for the secretive Massasauga rattlesnake (Michigan’s only rattlesnake). Walk quietly and watch carefully for these small snakes basking along the grade from late spring through summer. From the boardwalk you may view all manner of birds and other wetland wildlife. Bald eagles nest in the area and the observation tower provides a good vantage point to catch them perching or fishing along Skegemog Lake.
Although not in Antrim County, this is one of the most popular natural areas in northwest Michigan. Over 10 miles of hiking, biking and cross-country ski trails. Hiker trailhead located at Guernsey Lake State Forest Campground. Skiing trailhead 5.5 miles SE of Williamsburg via M-72 & Broomhead Road. An extensive 11-mile trail system winds around many scenic little lakes dotting the preserve, allowing visitors to explore the lakes and surrounding area on foot, skis, bike, or horse. This serene site is part of the Pere Marquette State Forest. Motorized vehicles are prohibited, so wildlife is abundant.
More than 100 miles of designated hiking trails with thirteen on the mainland for hiking. Most are maintained during winter for cross country skiing and snowshoeing. Each trail has a trailhead with a parking area and hiking trails on the dunes are marked by blue-tipped posts. Each trail offers its own unique beauty and challenge..some have beautiful views from high vistas overlooking lakes, hills, or dunes, while others take you through fields of wildflowers to views of fields, lakes or forests. Others take you through the sand dunes to explore the hardy vegetation and wildflowers that flourish in this harsh environment. There are also hiking trails on North and South Manitou Islands. If you've never been to Sleeping Bear Dunes, it's a MUST, truly the most beautiful part of Michigan!