Finally! After a long winter, spring officially starts March 20. And not long after that things will start coming back to life on Mackinac Island.
Yes, horses will return to Mackinac and the ferry boats will ramp up their daily service. Fort Mackinac will blast into another season of historical reenactments and the island’s unique downtown stores – and fudge shops! – will reopen.
But even sweeter than that, the beauty of spring will be on full display along Mackinac’s 70-plus miles of trails and paths that crisscross the interior of the island. Spring wildflowers soon will dot the landscape throughout Mackinac Island State Park, which covers more than 80 percent of the island.
You’ve probably heard of the lilacs on Mackinac. They are some of the largest lilac stems in the world, and they’re celebrated each June with the island’s annual Lilac Festival. But they’re not the only flowers to enjoy on Mackinac.
Spring brings a beautiful bloom of many native wildflowers that are worth a walk through the woods to see. When you visit Mackinac this spring, keep in mind these wildflower-viewing tips from the island’s resident botanist, Bogan Lane Inn owner Trish Martin:
- Spring tends to arrive just a bit later to Mackinac than many other parts of Michigan with purple, pink and white mayflowers (hepaticas) starting to bloom around May 20 or so. “When we see those we know spring’s here,” Martin says.
- Trillium are abundant on Mackinac and easy to identify because they are so large and showy. Other wildflowers to see include Yellow Trout Lily, Spring Beauty, Toothwort, Starflower, Gaywing, Jack-in-the-Pulpit and more. Here’s a look at some of the spring wildflowers you can find on Mackinac. The Lady Slippers are among the last spring wildflowers to bloom in mid-June.
- Mackinac is like many islands in the Upper Great Lakes where the outer rim is belted by northern white cedar, leaving most of the wildflowers to grow in the interior. But because Mackinac has higher elevation than most islands, there are different niches where a broader variety of wildflowers grow.
- In the spring around Croghan Water along the trails near British Landing you can find wetlands edged with beautiful Marsh Marigold, for example. Meanwhile, around the top of the island near Fort Holmes on Juniper, Morning Snack, Beechwood and Cliffview trails, “it looks like God went out and planted a garden,” Martin says. “That whole area in there is just phenomenal in the spring. It is just gorgeous.” The trails are easy to get to, nice to walk and you can hear spring songbirds, too.
- In addition to the natural beauty of Mackinac’s forested paths and trails, the island is full of private and public gardens that showcase a wide variety of flora in spring, summer and fall. There are cottage gardens, hotel gardens and even some of the garbage cans on Mackinac are decorated with flowers!
The 2019 season kicks off on Mackinac on April 21 when ferry companies resume regular daily schedules of trips to the island. Find spring lodging deals here.