The Best Michigan Hikes for Families from 5 Local Moms

With Great Lakes views, towering forests, and impressive waterfalls, there is no shortage of beautiful hiking trails in Michigan. For some kid-friendly travel inspiration, I’ve teamed up with 4 other local moms to share the best Michigan hikes for families.

Best Michigan Hikes for Families

Best Michigan Hikes For Families

  • Miners Falls Trail at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (Munising)
  • Upper Falls Trail at Tahquamenon Falls State Park (Paradise)
  • Empire Bluff Trail at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (Empire)
  • Old Growth Trail at Hartwick Pines (Grayling)
  • Lighthouse Trail at Ludington State Park (Ludington)
  • The Ledges Trail at Fitzgerald Park (Grand Ledge)
  • Mt. Pisgah Dune Boardwalk (Holland)
  • Wildwing Trail at Kensington Metropark (Milford)

Best Michigan Hiking Trails For Families Map

Miners Falls Trail at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (Munising, MI)

Miners Falls Rd, Munising, MI 49862

  • Trail Length: 1.2 miles out and back
  • Dog-Friendly: Yes, on leash
  • Parking: Small parking lot with room for about 20 cars
  • Restrooms: Restrooms located in parking area
  • Fee: $10 seven-day vehicle pass – check here for NSP fee info
Best Michigan Hikes for Families - Miners Falls Trail at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (Munising, MI)

Miners Falls Trail Description

Really, the whole Pictured Rock National Lakeshore area is a gorgeous natural treasure in Michigan. With ancient rock formations, waterfalls, and Lake Superior views, you can’t go wrong with any adventure at Pictured Rocks.

For an awesome family hike, the relatively easy Miners Falls Trail is a great option. Take the 0.6 mile wooded path out to an observation platform to see a stunning 40-foot waterfall. Soak in the beautiful Miners Falls view before enjoying the return journey back. 

Upper Falls Trail at Tahquamenon State Park (Paradise, MI)

24019 Upper Falls Drive, Paradise, MI 49768

  • Trail Length: 1 mile out and back
  • Dog-Friendly: Yes, on leash
  • Parking: Large parking lot
  • Restrooms: Restrooms located along the paved trail
  • Fee: Included with a Michigan Recreational Passport or $10 daily fee – check here for DNR fee info
Best Michigan Hikes for Families - Upper Falls Trail at Tahquamenon State Park (Paradise, MI)

Upper Falls Trail Description

Michigan’s largest waterfall, Tahquamenon Falls, is a must see on a trip to the Upper Peninsula.

From the Upper Falls trailhead parking lot, you can either take the paved trail, which is very convenient for strollers, or the Nature Trail to the viewing platforms. Watching the powerful and root beer colored Tahquamenon Falls is a delight for all ages.

After you see the waterfall, there’s also a brewery and souvenir shop near the parking lot. Very unique and convenient to visit a restaurant right in the state park!

Empire Bluff Trail at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (Empire, MI)

Wilco Rd, Empire, MI 49630

  • Trail Length: 1.5 miles out and back
  • Dog-Friendly: Yes, on leash
  • Parking: Medium parking lot that fills up early
  • Restrooms: Vault toilets located in parking area
  • Fee: $25 seven-day NPS vehicle pass – check here for NPS fee info
Best Michigan Hikes for Families - Empire Bluff Trail at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (Empire, MI)

Empire Bluff Trail description and photo contributed by Lisa Brouwer. Catch Lisa’s latest adventures on her website West Mitten Mom and on Instagram @westmittenmom.

Empire Bluff Trail Description

If you are looking for the Caribbean in Michigan, this is the place for you.  

The Empire Bluff Trail is apart of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and one of the most popular hikes in the area.  A 1.5-mile round trip back in and back out trail is considered moderate as you hike up an incline which takes you through a beech-maple terrain and ending at a bluff with a boardwalk trail and observation area.  As you reach the top you will see the beautiful blues of Lake Michigan along with the sand dunes lining the coast.  On a clear, sunny day you can see South Manitou Island. 

Even though it is considered a moderate trail, our young family loved this trail and have completed it numerous times. As you start the trail, there are boards built in the trail making it perfect for toddlers to hop along.  There is also a bench halfway with a great view making a great mid-break spot. 

As you reach the top your kids will love trying to find the South Manitou Island or South Bar Lake, playing in the sand and dunes, running the boardwalk, and just taking in the panoramic views this bluff has to offer.  We always end with a picnic lunch at one of the tables provided at the trail head.  

This may not be the “real Caribbean”, but it sure doesn’t lack the beauty that Pure Michigan has to offer.

Old Growth Forest Trail at Hartwick Pines State Park (Grayling, MI)

2833 Monarch Dr, Grayling, MI 49738 (Visitor Center address)

  • Trail Length: 1.25 miles
  • Dog-Friendly: Yes, on leash
  • Parking: Large parking lot
  • Restrooms: Restrooms located in Visitor Center
  • Fee: Included with a Michigan Recreational Passport or $10 daily fee
Best Michigan Hikes for Families - Old Growth Forest Trail at Hartwick Pines State Park (Grayling, MI)

Old Growth Forest Trail Description

With 49 acres of old growth forest in Hartwick Pines State Park, here you can catch a glimpse of what Northern Michigan looked like before the logging boom of the 1800s.

As a paved and relatively flat 1.25 mile path, the Old Growth Forest Trail is a great path for adventurers of all ages and abilities. Definitely one of the best Michigan hiking trails for families!

Along the trail, there are opportunities to explore historic buildings. Take a rest to reflect in the charming Chapel in the Woods and learn more about the history of the logging industry in the Logging Museum.

Read more about the Epic Forests in Hartwick Pines.

Lighthouse Trail at Ludington State Park (Ludington, MI)

8800 M-116, Ludington, MI 49431

  • Trail Length: 4 miles out and back
  • Dog-Friendly: Dogs are allowed on leash on hiking trails, but not on beach areas
  • Parking: Large parking lot
  • Restrooms: Restroom located in the beach house
  • Fee: Included with a Michigan Recreational Passport or $10 daily fee 
Best Michigan Hikes for Families - Lighthouse Trail at Ludington State Park (Ludington, MI)

Lighthouse Trail description and photo contributed by Jackie Kanyolo. See more of Jackie’s Michigan travel recommendations on her website From Michigan with Love Blog and on Instagram @frommichiganwithloveblog.

Lighthouse Trail Description

A hike along the Lighthouse Trail to the Big Sable Point Lighthouse at Ludington State Park is another, great family friendly hike in Michigan. It is relatively flat, 2 miles to reach the lighthouse from the parking lot.  However, on either side of the trail, there is plenty to marvel at – from woods to towering sand dunes, and from seasonal ponds to interesting historical sites. 

Make your hike a fun, educational experience by stopping at the helpful signs along the way to learn about the dune ecosystem. If you need to take a break, there are several benches lining the trail. 

Once you reach Michigan’s tallest lighthouse, visit the museum and climb to the top of the tower (applicable from mid May through late October). There is also an immaculate beach to relax at north of the lighthouse. Guaranteed its incredible beauty will give your family an extra burst of energy to go for a swim or continue to walk along the beach a little further.

This hike is recommended for families with older children or experienced hikers able to carry a toddler or infant for 4 miles total. Remember to carry snacks and water as the time it takes to complete this hike may vary. If your family also enjoys biking, this trail is bicycle friendly and even has a bike rack outside the lighthouse. 

To discover more activities and things to do in Ludington, check out Jackie’s article on Ludington here.

The Ledges Trail at Fitzgerald County Park (Grand Ledge, MI)

100 Fitzgerald Park Dr, Grand Ledge, MI 48837

  • Trail Length: 0.6 miles out and back
  • Dog-Friendly: Yes, on leash
  • Parking: Large parking lot
  • Restrooms: Restrooms near parking area
  • Fee: Daily fee of $3 for Eaton County residents/$5 for non-residents
Best Michigan Hikes for Families - The Ledges Trail at Fitzgerald County Park (Grand Ledge, MI)

Fitzgerald County Park description and photo contributed by Cassondra Scott. Read more of Cassondra’s travel tips and tricks on her website Cassondra Wanders the World and on Instagram @cassondra.wanders.

Fitzgerald County Park Description

Grand Ledge, Michigan presents a rich history, as it is home to some of the greatest natural parks in the Lower Peninsula. These incredible parks have been drawing spectators for ages, to see The Ledges, 270 million-year-old massive sedimentary rock cliffs lining the trails and banks of the Grand River. Fitzgerald County Park clocks in at 78 acres and offers a range of facilities, including year-round recreational opportunities and a nature center. 

There are 3-miles of hiking trails within Fitzgerald County Park, the Ledges Trail being one of the most popular for its ease and stunning views. Wander along Michigan’s longest river, Grand River with towering Sandstone Cliffs reaching up to 60 feet overhead, as the footpath takes hikers across Sandstone creek via a small pedestrian bridge and passes under the Railroad bridge.

Walk from 0.3 miles into the park to see The Ledges and up to 2.5 miles out-and-back. Fitzgerald County Park is open daily from 8am to dark with a seasonal entrance fee. 

Mt. Pisgah Dune Boardwalk (Holland, MI)

2280 Ottawa Beach Rd, Holland, MI 49424

  • Trail Length: 0.5 miles out and back
  • Dog-Friendly: Dogs are not allowed on the boardwalk
  • Parking: Use the Black Lake Boardwalk East parking lot (address above)
  • Restrooms: None on site, but public restrooms are available in the nearby Holland State Park
  • Fee: None 
Best Michigan Hikes for Families - Mt. Pisgah Dune Boardwalk (Holland, MI)

Mt. Pisgah Dune Boardwalk Description

For a short dune hike with gorgeous views at the top, Mt. Pisgah Dune Boardwalk is one of the best Michigan hiking trails for families.

As part of the Historic Ottawa Beach Park, Mt. Pisgah is the large dune just outside Holland State Park. For parking, use the Black Lake Boardwalk East, cross the street, and take a short walk on Ottawa Beach Road to the trailhead. There is a two-hour limit to this parking lot.

This is a short hike with lots of stairs and spots to rest along the way up. At the top lookout, 157 feet above the water, take in the beautiful views of Lake Macatawa, Lake Michigan, and the Big Red Lighthouse.

For more hiking adventures, you can connect with the wooded, natural Holland State Park trails from the top of the dune. When you come back down Mt. Pisgah, the rest of the Historic Ottawa Beach Park features boardwalk paths along Lake Macatawa.

Wildwing Trail at Kensington Metropark (Milford, MI) 

4570 Huron River Pkwy, Milford, MI 48380

  • Trail Length: 1.9 miles
  • Dog-Friendly: Dogs are not allowed in the nature and farm areas, but are allowed on leash on other park trails
  • Parking: Large parking lot 
  • Restrooms: Restroom located in the nearby Nature Center
  • Fee: $10 daily fee or purchase a Metroparks Annual Pass
Best Michigan Hikes for Families - Wildwing Trail at Kensington Metropark (Milford, MI) 

Wildwing Trail description and photo contributed by Lauren Weber. Check out Lauren’s family adventure recommendations on her website Mrs. Weber’s Neighborhood and on Instagram @mrswebersneighborhood.

Wildwing Trail Description

The Wildwing Trail is near the Metropark’s Nature Center and is a beautiful place to take a hike during all seasons. At 1.9 miles, the trail is the perfect loop for older kids, or for shorter legs to easily turn around. 

There are several places amongst the trees where birds will come up and feed directly out of your hand if you have bird seed. Grab some black oil sunflower seeds, be still and quiet, and watch as several species flock to you. Common sightings are red-winged blackbirds, chickadees, downy woodpeckers, and more. 

Additionally, there is a lake and wetlands along the trail, which offers families the opportunity to see even more wildlife such as cranes, snakes and turtles. 

When the Nature Center is open, make sure to stop inside and ask the docents about the animals on display — they love sharing their knowledge and we always learn something new. It truly is a magical place for families to take in the beauty of nature!

Happy Hiking

I hope you have many fun family hikes in your future!

Have you explored any of these spectacular kid-friendly hiking trails? What other trails would you add to this Best Michigan Hikes for Families list? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

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