With the weather warming up many Michiganders are itching to hit the trails and get hiking. We can't blame them! Springtime in Michigan is stunning, and outdoor-activity lovers can take full advantage of the beautiful greenery and new blooms with a hike along the Jordan River Pathway. The Jordan River Pathway is located in the northern part of Michigan's lower peninsula. It's just a little north of Mancelona, Michigan, and is about a 2-3 day, 18.8-20.3 mile backpacking trip.
The trail is a loop, making it easy for backpackers to return to their vehicles without having to plan for a pickup at their end destination. It’s good to keep in mind that the trail isn’t an easy trek – the Michigan Trails Map rates it as a moderate to challenging level of difficulty. The trail dips in and out of a valley, and there is a walk-in campground near the halfway point. Because the trail follows the Jordan River closely, there is a ton of interesting wildlife in the area – including beavers, raccoons, minks, otters, waterfowl, and herons. If you wanted to make it a longer trip, you could break the mileage up into shorter increments each day and explore some of the interesting off-trail sites.
A quick trip off the trail takes you to the Jordan River National Fish Hatchery. They create 3.0 million lake and brook trout to repopulate the Great Lakes Region every year. You can tour the main hatchery, visitor center, or schedule a guided tour and take a lunch break in their picnic area. You should also make sure to catch a few of the amazing natural scenic points on your trip. Two that seem especially amazing are Deadman’s Hill Overlook and Landslide Lookout. Both are just a few miles off the trail, and both provide panoramic views of the Jordan River Valley and the Mackinac State Forrest.
If you are planning on taking on the Jordan River Pathway in the springtime, keep in mind that since you’re near a major waterway there will be mosquitoes. Pack insect repellent, make sure your tent is completely bug-proof, and dress appropriately for the notoriously finicky Michigan spring weather.
Michigan is an amazing place to explore the great outdoors – and after this long winter, we’re ready for spring to get started. Do you have a favorite Michigan spring hike? Tell us about it in the comments!