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4 Trails to Explore on Mackinac Island

One of the best parts of Mackinac Island is you can go exploring and get lost without actually getting lost. (Just make sure you don’t miss the last ferry from Mackinac Island back to the mainland if you’re not spending the night!)

Mackinac Island is over 80% state park and has 70+ miles of trails. You’ll find everything from footpaths through the woods and paved trails along the bluff to horse trails and mountain biking paths for the adventurer.

It’s easy to feel like you’re the only person on Mackinac Island when you step away from downtown and venture into the interior. The trails are well marked and easy to navigate especially if you grab a detailed Mackinac Island map at the Tourism Bureau booth. Then you’re ready to start exploring!

Here are four trail routes to get you started on your adventures!

Mackinac Island Trail Map featuring color-coded paths for hiking, biking and horseback riding

Mackinac Island’s Famous Formations & Forts

Light Green: Paved trail good for hiking or biking

This is a highlighted route to some of the most iconic places on Mackinac Island. Start on Huron Road behind Fort Mackinac. Mackinac Island’s Revolutionary Era Fort features 14 original buildings, interactive exhibits, and live demonstrations.

Continue east along the Arch Rock (South) Bicycle Trail where you’ll find the Mackinac Island Botanical Trail. Seven turnouts feature interpretive signs and information on flora, fauna, and the natural history of Mackinac Island.

From here you’ll make it to Mackinac Island’s iconic Arch Rock, a limestone arch created by thousands of years of erosion. At 146 feet above Lake Huron and 50 feet wide, Arch Rock is a breathtaking sight and one of the must-see features on Mackinac Island.

From Arch Rock, take Rifle Range Road where you can make a stop at Mackinac Island’s legendary Skull Cave and eventually meet with Garrison Road. Continue on Garrison toward the interior of Mackinac Island where you’ll see three cemeteries including Mackinac Island’s Post Cemetery, the final resting place for Fort Mackinac soldiers, their families, and local officials.

Off of Garrison, you’ll go up Fort Holmes Road, making your way to the earthen Fort Holmes and the highest point on Mackinac Island. When you’re going up, be sure to make a stop at Point Lookout where you’ll see Mackinac Island’s majestic Sugar Loaf, a limestone rock formation rising 75 feet from the forest floor. You can also take the stairs and see Sugar Loaf up close! The top of Fort Homes Road boasts panoramic views of Lake Huron. You’ll see ferries transporting guests to and from Mackinac Island, freighters loaded with goods moseying through, and sweeping views of the Mackinac Bridge. You can also take a self-guided tour of Fort Holmes.

10 Must-See Sights for Nature Lovers on Mackinac Island

Tranquill Bluff Trail on the east side of Mackinac Island offers incredible views from the cliffs high above Lake Huron.

Mackinac Island’s East Bluff and Leslie Avenue

Purple: Partial foot trail (not paved) and partial bike trail (paved)

Experience Mackinac Island’s historic homes and scenic trails. Start behind Fort Mackinac and make a side stop at Anne’s Tablet. There you’ll see top-down views of Main Street. Continue on Huron Road in front of the historic East Bluff cottages. Follow Manitou Trail, the footpath leading out to Robinson’s Folly, a lookout on the east side of Mackinac Island above Mission Point Resort.

Manitou Trail winds its way to Arch Rock. Use caution as it’s rocky and has many tree roots along the trail. This is good for hikers, walking your bicycle, or advanced mountain bikers. If you are on a bicycle you can still visit the gorgeous Mackinac Island viewpoint at Robinson’s Folly, double back, and take Huron Road over to Arch Rock.

From Arch Rock, Leslie Avenue is a narrow path filled with curves and nature. It’s paved and good for both hiking and biking. If you’re feeling adventurous, Tranquil Bluff Trail is a footpath with two stunning lookouts and steep hills right along the bluff. It’s good for mostly hiking and runs next to Leslie Avenue.

When you make your way to British Landing Road, you’ll find yourself almost smack dab in the middle of Mackinac Island. You can see the Mackinac Island Airport from here and you’re close to Mackinac Island’s historic Wawashkamo Golf Course, a nine-hole links course and home of the Battlefield of 1814. It also has one of the oldest clubhouses in Michigan. You can then make your way down British Landing Road to British Landing and see the State Park Nature Center, grab a snack from Mackinac Island’s Cannonball Oasis, and head back along scenic M-185 or take the direct road through the middle of Mackinac Island toward downtown.

Mackinac Island’s Cannonball Oasis serves famous fried pickles and other food halfway around M-185 near British Landing.

Mackinac Island’s Croghan Water Trail and Eagle Point Cave

Blue: Non-paved trail good for hiking or advanced mountain biking

Croghan Water Trail is a nice walking path around Mackinac Island’s Croghan Water, a natural drainage area for meltwater and rain. In the spring you’ll find it filled with water and wildlife. Throughout the season it dries up, but the reeds and wildlife stick around until the snow flies. Continue your journey toward Tranquil Bluff Trail. Here you’ll find another hiking path that will take you to Mackinac Island’s Eagle Point Cave. Complete the loop on Swamp Trail and end at British Landing Road. This route is mostly for hikers or advanced bikers.

Mackinac Island’s Sunset Rock near the Inn at Stonecliffe is a worthwhile destination after a hearty hike or bike ride.

Mackinac Island’s Stonecliffe and West Bluff

Dark Green: Paved trail good for hiking or biking

This loop will take you to the west side of Mackinac Island. From the Four Corners by Mackinac Island Airport, continue on Annex Road. This is a paved road and is great for either walking or biking. Continue up Stonecliffe Road and enjoy the views of Mackinac Island’s stately Inn at Stonecliffe. Enjoy a beverage, a bite to eat, and the stunning views at the Lawn on Stonecliffe. You can also take the back trails and make your way to Sunset Rock. The views are grand any time of the day but it’s also a good location to watch the sunset over Mackinac Bridge.

Stonecliffe area is also home to places to stay such as Mackinac Island’s Sunset Condos and Lakebluff Suites. You’ll also find Mackinac Island’s popular Woods Restaurant, a Grand Hotel property, as well as the back-nine of Grand Hotel’s golf course.

A return to town should include a ride down Stonecliffe Road back on to Annex (towards town) with a turn on Grand Avenue. Make a point to stop at Pontiac’s Lookout and even hike part of Pontiac Trail, along West Bluff. Turn back toward Annex Road and continue down the hill where you’ll reach the other area called Four Corners. From here you can decide to head into the Village (where many residents and workers live), go to Fort Mackinac and the east side of Mackinac Island, or down Cadotte Avenue into downtown.

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