Trip Finder: Great Lakes

Your favorite Great Lakes hikes—from dayhikes to weekenders to multiday trips.

Photo: msterrific/iStock via Getty Images

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Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park (Carr Clifton)

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Lisa Brainard (courtesy)



SHORE Beach Trail, IN

Walk among 1,100 native plant species on this eight-mile loop through Indiana Dunes State Park. Look for sandhill cranes on the boardwalk over the marsh, then skirt behind the nature center to summit Mts. Jackson, Holden, and Tom. $5 entrance fee;

DEEP WOODS Middle Loop Trail, OH

Three connected loops make up the 29-mile Backpack Trail in Ohio’s Zaleski State Forest. Steep, craggy hills and deep ravines in second-growth oak-hickory stands conceal old cemeteries and abandoned homesteads. Target the eight-mile Middle Loop. 

PADDLE Lake Clark, MI

Launch from the north end of this Sylvania Wilderness lake, and nose around the bays on the hemlock-laced eastern shore. Stow your canoe at the Pine campsite and hike among never-logged giants on a four-mile out-and-back through deer and beaver habitat.



Thordarson Loop Trail, WI

Rock Island State Park sits 14 miles from the mainland in Lake Michigan. This 5.2-mile loop traces its perimeter and visits 150-year-old Pottawatomi Lighthouse at mile 1.5. Snag shoreside campsites at Rock Island Campground (sites A through E are the most remote).

DEEP WOODS Ice Age National Scenic Trail, WI

This 1,000-miler celebrates the state’s glaciated past. For a 20-mile, greatest-hits tour, hike west from Weyerhauser on the quartzite ridges of the Blue Hills. Camp just past North Lake, with views of the lumpy hills, and continue north to Devils Creek. End at Murphy Flowage.

PADDLE Stockton Island, WI

This isle has one of the country’s highest black bear densities (up to 35 roam its 10,054 acres). Paddle (or ferry) 12 miles from Bayfield, and steer your kayak around the eastern shore to the lone campsite at Trout Point, “an idyllic Superior view,” says Lisa Brainard (right).



Porky Loop, MI

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is one of the Midwest’s largest. Summit its highpoint (1,834-foot Government Peak) and beach-camp on Lake Superior on a 42-miler. Trails: Lake Superior, Little Carp River, Escarpment, and Speaker’s.

DEEP WOODS Superior Hiking Trail, MN

From Temperance River State Park, hike past the river’s cauldrons and sliver canyons to cover-shot views of the Sawtooth Mountains. Maple, birch, balsam, and spruce dress the path on steep terrain lining the Cascade River. End at the Gunflint Trail. (53 miles)

PADDLE Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, MN

Welcome to the mother lode of paddling adventure in the Lower 48. See the best on this seven-day strike from entry #16. Float Moose River to Nina Moose Lake and begin a horseshoe-shaped route to your takeout at Little Indian Sioux River (#14).


Preston, Minnesota native Lisa Brainard, 52, is an outdoors columnist for the Bluff Country Newspaper Group. Her favorite hike? Stockton Island. “I like the Tombolo and Anderson Point Trails,” she says.

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