Best Backpacking in Michigan

Hiking trail symbol on a tree in Michigan
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Michigan, the Great Lakes State, boasts a mesmerizing tapestry of natural wonders that beckon adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts alike. Tucked away within its expansive landscapes lie some of the most captivating backpacking destinations in the country. From rugged coastlines and towering dunes to dense forests and serene rivers, Michigan’s diverse terrain offers a backpacker’s paradise like no other. Join us as we venture into the heart of Michigan’s wilderness, uncovering its hidden gems and immersing ourselves in the awe-inspiring beauty that awaits those who dare to tread its trails. Grab your backpack and get ready for an unforgettable journey through some of the best-kept secrets in the world of backpacking.



Isle Royale National Park

Isle Royale National Park, a remote island sanctuary in Lake Superior, beckons with untamed wilderness and breathtaking vistas. This rugged gem invites adventurers to traverse its pristine trails, encounter abundant wildlife, and immerse themselves in nature’s grandeur. Embark on an unforgettable journey through the heart of Michigan’s wilderness, where the allure of Isle Royale’s untouched beauty awaits your discovery.

Reasons To Go Backpacking in Isle Royale National Park:

  • Pristine Wilderness: Experience the unspoiled beauty of this remote island, surrounded by the pristine waters of Lake Superior.
  • Abundant Wildlife: Encounter moose, wolves, foxes, and numerous bird species in their natural habitat, offering unforgettable wildlife sightings.
  • Scenic Hiking Trails: Traverse rugged trails that lead to breathtaking vistas, stunning waterfalls, and picturesque shorelines.
  • Solitude and Serenity: Embrace the tranquility and solitude of Isle Royale, away from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
  • Unique Adventure: Embark on a unique backpacking adventure in one of the least-visited national parks in the United States, ensuring a truly special and immersive experience.

Recommended Gear: Backpack, Hiking Boots, Water Filter, Tent, Headlamp, Layered Clothing, Bear Canister


Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, a mesmerizing gem along Lake Superior’s shoreline, enthralls visitors with its magnificent sandstone cliffs and vibrant hues. This natural wonderland captivates adventurers and nature enthusiasts alike, offering a picturesque playground for exploration. Embark on an unforgettable journey through the rugged trails and pristine beaches, immersing yourself in the splendor of Pictured Rocks’ breathtaking landscapes.

Reasons To Go Backpacking at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore:

  • Spectacular Cliffs and Rock Formations: Witness the awe-inspiring beauty of the colorful sandstone cliffs and unique rock formations carved by the lake’s relentless waves.
  • Stunning Lake Superior Views: Enjoy breathtaking vistas of Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world, as you hike along the scenic trails.
  • Waterfalls and Caves: Encounter numerous waterfalls cascading into the lake and explore hidden caves nestled within the cliffs, adding a sense of wonder to your journey.
  • Pristine Beaches: Relax on pristine, sandy beaches along the lakeshore, providing a perfect spot to rejuvenate after a day of hiking.
  • Abundant Wildlife: Observe a diverse array of wildlife, including eagles, deer, and various bird species, thriving in the park’s rich natural habitats.

Recommended Gear: Backpack, Hiking Boots, Water Bottle, Camera, Camping Gear, Rain Jacket, Snacks


Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, a rugged and captivating expanse in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, lures adventurers into its enchanting embrace. Home to ancient forests, cascading waterfalls, and panoramic vistas, this park promises an immersive wilderness experience like no other. Embark on a journey through the untamed beauty of the “Porkies,” where untouched landscapes and diverse wildlife await discovery amidst a realm of natural splendor.

Reasons To Go Backpacking in Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park:

  • Spectacular Scenery: Immerse yourself in the breathtaking beauty of ancient forests, cascading waterfalls, and stunning vistas.
  • Challenging Trails: Embark on rewarding hikes along rugged trails that lead to hidden gems and panoramic overlooks.
  • Abundant Wildlife: Encounter diverse wildlife, including moose, black bears, and white-tailed deer, in their natural habitat.
  • Remote Wilderness: Experience a true wilderness escape, far from city crowds, allowing for a peaceful and serene backpacking experience.
  • Outdoor Recreation: Enjoy a variety of activities, from fishing and kayaking to birdwatching and stargazing, amidst this pristine wilderness setting.

Recommended Gear: Backpack, Hiking Boots, Camping Gear, Water Filter, Binoculars, Insect Repellent, Headlamp


Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, an enchanting stretch along Lake Michigan’s eastern coast, captivates visitors with its towering sand dunes and picturesque landscapes. This natural wonderland invites adventurers to explore its sandy shores, hike through lush forests, and witness stunning sunsets over the lake. Embark on a journey to discover the mesmerizing beauty of Sleeping Bear Dunes, a treasure trove of scenic wonders and outdoor delights.

Reasons To Go Backpacking at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore:

  • Unique Sand Dunes: Experience the thrill of hiking through vast and ever-shifting sand dunes, providing a unique and challenging terrain.
  • Scenic Overlooks: Enjoy panoramic views of Lake Michigan from towering bluffs and scenic overlooks along the lakeshore.
  • Diverse Ecosystems: Encounter diverse ecosystems, from lush forests and meadows to freshwater lakes and sandy beaches.
  • Stunning Sunsets: Witness breathtaking sunsets over Lake Michigan, creating picturesque moments to cherish forever.
  • Starlit Nights: Camp under the starry night sky, away from city lights, and embrace the tranquility of this dark sky park.

Recommended Gear: Backpack, Hiking Sandals, Sun Protection, Water Bottle, Camping Gear, Camera, Insect Repellent


Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area

Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area, a hidden gem on the shores of Lake Michigan, beckons adventurers with its untouched beauty and serene atmosphere. This pristine wilderness offers miles of sandy beaches, rolling dunes, and lush forests to explore. As you venture through this coastal oasis, immerse yourself in the tranquil ambiance and discover the tranquility of Nordhouse Dunes, a haven for nature enthusiasts and backpackers alike.

Reasons To Go Backpacking in the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area:

  • Secluded Beaches: Experience the bliss of pristine, secluded beaches along the shores of Lake Michigan.
  • Unspoiled Nature: Explore an untouched wilderness area with diverse ecosystems, including dunes, forests, and wetlands.
  • Tranquil Atmosphere: Enjoy a peaceful and serene environment, away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
  • Abundant Wildlife: Encounter a variety of wildlife, from songbirds to deer, thriving in their natural habitat.
  • Stargazing Opportunities: Camp under the starry night sky and witness breathtaking views of the celestial wonders above.

Recommended Gear: Backpack, Hiking Boots, Camping Equipment, Water Filter, Insect Repellent, Sun Protection, Binoculars


Manistee River Trail

The Manistee River Trail, a scenic gem in northern Michigan, meanders through a picturesque landscape of lush forests, rolling hills, and breathtaking river views. This beloved trail offers a captivating hiking experience, allowing adventurers to immerse themselves in the region’s natural splendor. Traverse the serene pathways along the riverbanks, witness stunning vistas, and relish the tranquility of the Manistee River Trail’s enchanting wilderness.

Reasons To Go Backpacking on the Manistee River Trail:

  • Breathtaking River Views: Experience stunning vistas and serene river views as you hike along the trail.
  • Lush Forests: Immerse yourself in the beauty of lush forests, home to diverse plant and wildlife.
  • Tranquil Atmosphere: Enjoy a peaceful and secluded atmosphere, perfect for a rejuvenating backpacking trip.
  • Abundant Camping Spots: Find numerous camping spots along the trail, offering a chance to spend nights under the stars.
  • Varied Terrain: Encounter a mix of terrains, from rolling hills to river valleys, providing a diverse and rewarding hiking experience.

Recommended Gear: Backpack, Hiking Shoes, Camping Equipment, Water Filter, Insect Repellent, Sun Protection, Trail Map/GPS


Jordan River Pathway

The Jordan River Pathway, nestled amidst the wilderness of northern Michigan, presents an enticing invitation for backpackers seeking an unforgettable adventure. This scenic trail winds through the heart of the Jordan Valley, offering a captivating journey through lush forests, picturesque riverbanks, and panoramic vistas. Embark on a soul-reviving escapade along the Jordan River Pathway, where nature’s serene beauty unfolds at every step.

Reasons To Go Backpacking on Jordan River Pathway:

  • Picturesque Landscapes: Immerse yourself in breathtaking landscapes, from lush forests to picturesque riverbanks.
  • Tranquil Wilderness: Experience a sense of peace and serenity amidst the unspoiled beauty of the Jordan Valley.
  • Abundant Wildlife: Encounter diverse wildlife, such as deer, birds, and small mammals, thriving in their natural habitat.
  • Varied Terrain: Enjoy the diversity of the trail with rolling hills, river crossings, and scenic overlooks.
  • Solitude and Seclusion: Escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life, finding solitude in the heart of nature along the Jordan River Pathway.

Recommended Gear: Backpack, Hiking Shoes, Camping Equipment, Water Filter, Insect Repellent, Sun Protection, Water/Snacks


High Country Pathway

The High Country Pathway, nestled within the rugged beauty of the Huron-Manistee National Forests in Michigan, offers an enticing escape for backpackers seeking an unforgettable wilderness experience. This 80-mile loop trail winds through diverse landscapes, from dense forests and rolling hills to pristine rivers and peaceful meadows. Embark on an immersive journey through the heart of nature, where the High Country Pathway unveils its hidden wonders.

Reasons To Go Backpacking on High Country Pathway:

  • Diverse Landscapes: Experience a variety of landscapes, from dense forests and rolling hills to serene meadows and flowing rivers.
  • Secluded Wilderness: Escape into the tranquil embrace of the Huron-Manistee National Forests, far from city crowds.
  • Abundant Wildlife: Encounter a rich array of wildlife, including deer, turkeys, and other native species, thriving in their natural habitat.
  • Challenging Adventure: Challenge yourself with the 80-mile loop trail, offering a rewarding and adventurous backpacking experience.
  • Scenic Views: Revel in stunning vistas and scenic overlooks that unveil the beauty of Michigan’s wilderness along the High Country Pathway.

Recommended Gear: Backpack, Hiking Shoes, Camping Gear, Water Filter, Insect Repellent, Sun Hat, GPS Watch


Lake Superior

Lake Superior, an enchanting jewel nestled along Michigan’s northern border, commands admiration with its breathtaking expanse and untamed allure. This magnificent Great Lake offers an outdoor haven for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike. With its picturesque shoreline, rocky cliffs, and pristine beaches, Lake Superior invites explorers to uncover the wonders that lie within its vast and captivating beauty.

Reasons To Go Backpacking in Lake Superior:

  • Spectacular Scenery: Experience the mesmerizing beauty of Lake Superior’s expansive shoreline, rocky cliffs, and turquoise waters.
  • Remote Wilderness: Discover a true wilderness escape amidst the untouched landscapes and serene surroundings.
  • Abundant Wildlife: Encounter diverse wildlife, including eagles, deer, and other species, thriving in their natural habitat.
  • Tranquil Beaches: Relax on pristine sandy beaches and revel in the peaceful atmosphere of this Great Lake.
  • Outdoor Adventure: Embark on a thrilling backpacking adventure, with a variety of trails and opportunities for exploration and discovery.

Recommended Gear: Backpack, Hiking Shoes, Camping Gear, Water Filter, Insect Repellent, Sun Protection, Binoculars


Waterloo-Pinckney Trail

The Waterloo-Pinckney Trail, tracing through the heart of Michigan, invites outdoor enthusiasts to embark on a scenic journey through diverse landscapes. This picturesque trail winds its way through lush forests, rolling hills, and serene meadows, offering a rewarding backpacking experience. Explore the unspoiled beauty of the Waterloo-Pinckney Trail, where nature’s wonders unfold at every turn, promising a memorable and rejuvenating adventure.

Reasons To Go Backpacking on the Waterloo-Pinckney Trail:

  • Scenic Beauty: Experience the captivating beauty of diverse landscapes, from lush forests to serene meadows.
  • Tranquil Escape: Immerse yourself in the tranquility of untouched wilderness, far from the noise of city life.
  • Rewarding Hiking: Explore a well-maintained trail with varying difficulty levels, providing a rewarding backpacking experience.
  • Abundant Wildlife: Encounter a variety of wildlife, including deer, birds, and other native species, thriving in their natural habitat.
  • Peaceful Camping: Enjoy peaceful nights camping under the stars, surrounded by nature’s embrace along the Waterloo-Pinckney Trail.

Recommended Gear: Backpack, Hiking Shoes, Camping Gear, Water Bottle/Snacks, Bug Spray, Sunscreen, Trail Map/GPS


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