5 tips for finding spring wildflowers on Mackinac Island

After a long winter on Mackinac Island, spring finally returns each year. By the calendar, spring officially starts in late March. But on Mackinac Island, the surest signs of spring include the return of Mackinac Island horses, the arrival of the season’s first ferry boats and the blast of the Fort Mackinac cannon on opening day.

Even sweeter than all that, the beauty of spring really shines through in the countless wildflowers that emerge all over Mackinac Island State Park.

You’ve probably heard of Mackinac Island’s lilacs. They are some of the largest lilac stems in the world, and they’re celebrated each June with the annual Mackinac Island Lilac Festival. But they’re not the only flowers to enjoy while visiting Mackinac Island in the spring.

Spring brings a beautiful bloom of many native wildflowers along Mackinac Island’s 70-plus miles of trails and paths. They are definitely worth a walk through the woods to see!

When you visit Mackinac Island in the spring, keep in mind these wildflower-viewing tips from the island’s resident botanist, Bogan Lane Inn owner Trish Martin:

Woman in Field of wildflowers near Mackinac Island's Grand Hotel

When Spring Wildflowers Bloom on Mackinac Island

Spring tends to arrive just a bit later to Mackinac Island than many parts of the country. Purple, pink and white mayflowers (hepaticas) start to bloom around May 20 or so. “When we see those we know spring’s here,” Martin says.

Wildflowers in Field in Mackinac Island State Park in spring

What Spring Wildflowers To See On Mackinac Island

Trillium are abundant on Mackinac Island 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. Take a closer look at some of the spring wildflowers you can find in Mackinac Island State Park. The Lady Slippers are among the last spring wildflowers to bloom in mid-June.

A woman stands amid spring wildflowers in many colors on a cloudy day on Mackinac Island

Where Spring Wildflowers Grow on Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island 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. And because there’s more elevation change on Mackinac Island than on many islands, you’ll find a wider variety of wildflowers as you hike through the different parts of Mackinac Island State Park. In the spring around Croghan Water along the trails near Mackinac Island’s British Landing you can find wetlands edged with beautiful Marsh Marigold, for example. Meanwhile, around the top of Mackinac 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.

Yellow flowers bloom behind a white picket fence with the blue water off Mackinac Island in the background

Keep An Eye Out for Mackinac Island Flower Gardens

In addition to the natural beauty of Mackinac Island’s forested paths and trails, there are many 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 Island are decorated with flowers!

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