Northern Michigan
Spring Travel Ideas

Michigan’s Great Outdoors is an informal partnership of tourism leaders in Manistee, Mason, Oceana, Lake, Newaygo and Wexford counties.  The group’s mission is to partner together to promote tourism for a stronger economy. We are pleased to offer you a vast selection of Northern Michigan Spring Travel ideas throughout our region.  Read about and select the regions below to download a complete self-guided Guide here!

DOWNLOAD THE COMPLETE TOUR HERE, or browse by county below.




Mason County & The Pere Marquette River

Paddling the Pier Marquette River: The Pere Marquette River runs 63.9 miles from Lake County through Mason County and finally exiting into Lake Michigan.  The river is designated as a National Scenic River and is home to many species of fish and is quite popular  for all types of motorized and non-motorized recreational boating.  The river currents will run more swift during major rainfall events and during early  season thaws, however, it is typically smooth and easy flowing without any major obstacles making it great for all experience levels.  The marked access points are official access points to the Pere Marquette River and we  recommend only using these designated areas when on the river.


Make it a complete day and explore all that the region has to offer.  Take on one of the three cultural trails in the region.  Explore the Barn Quilt Trail, Agricultural Trail or Lumber Heritage Trail.  Each trail can be accessed online at:  Also venture to Historic White Pine Village, where history comes to life.  Visitors have been coming to the Village since 1976 to see and experience what life was like more than 100 years ago in Mason County. Visitors can  tour 30 buildings and sites displaying items from Mason County’s past.  If you make your way all the way into downtown Ludington be sure to check out the SS Badger, the pride of Lake Michigan’s Car Ferry Service.  You can find this amazing vessel on the shores of Lake Michigan at the waterfront park.


Newaygo County & The Loda Lake Wildflower Sanctuary 

There are over 150 different species of plants, wildflowers, trees and vegetation marked with posts that correspond to the trail guide available. The trail is about 1.5 miles long. A picnic area with grills and an outhouse is available for use by the trailhead. The sanctuary is located about 7 miles north of White Cloud. Head north out of White Cloud on M-37 and turn west at 5 Mile Road, and north onto Felch Ave. The entrance is in front of the sign.

Also enjoy bird watching: In Newaygo County, Michigan there are twelve swamps in which many different type of birds breed. In many Newaygo’s locations, bird watcher can contemplate the numerical bird species. Loda Lake is a perfect habitat for a rich diversity of species.


After a day enjoying the beautiful Loda Lake trail and nature area, enjoy some quality time in downtown Newaygo enjoying quaint shops and dining opportunities in this historic small downtown. You can also stop by Wisner Canoe Rentals and try your hand at the Muskegon River. Paddle or float, either way you are sure to relax for the afternoon.


Oceana County & The Silver Lake Sand Dunes

Sand, sun, and fun await you at the magnificent Silver Lake Sand Dunes nestled between the shores of Lake Michigan and Silver Lake. The Dunes are a natural phenomenon consisting of 2,000 acres of ever-changing sand dunes nearly 3 miles long and 1 ó miles wide. The lofty, rolling dunes attract more than a million visitors each year and are open 7 days a week from April 1 to October 31. The Dunes are divided into three sections. The northern area is reserved for off-road vehicles where you can test your vehicle and your sand driving skills, and it is operated by the Silver Lake State Park. Whether you bring your own vehicle or rent one from the several rental businesses in the area (see below), this is a thrill you must experience. Some of the rental businesses also offer tours.

The center region of the Dunes is for hiking, walking, and sandboarding. You can also access the beaches of Silver Lake and Lake Michigan from this area, so spend time swimming and sun bathing between hikes! The southern end of the Dunes is home to Mac Woods Dune Rides. Mac Woods has been here for more than 85 years allowing visitors to enjoy a 40-minute 7-mile tour of the Silver Lake Sand Dunes and Lake Michigan beach.

The ORV area of the Dunes can be found at 8690 West Fox Road in Silver Lake.


Take on the dunes yourself, or take a guided dune tour.  Click "Find Rentals" above to learn more.

Manistee County & The Manistee River Tail Loop

Enjoy this 20+ mile trail system along the high banks of the Big Manistee River between Tippy Dam and Hodenpyl Dam. There are numerous rustic campsites located throughout the area and many beautiful scenic overlooks. Make a weekend of camping and hiking by taking the Manistee River Tail/North Country Trail loop.

RECOMMENDED START LOCATION: If you are planning on making a two day trip out of this hike with rustic camping, we recommend you begin your journey at Red Bridge or the Upper River Trailhead. Here you will continue west and north along the North Country Trail section (red trail). Here you will meander through the hardwoods of the Manistee National Forest with scenic overlooks of the Udell Hills in the distance. A 10 mile hike will take you to the Hodenpyl Dam area and Seaton Creek Campground. You can also camp at designated areas along the North Country Trail. On Day two, you will be given the true beauty this area has to offer with an all day hike along the high banks of the Manistee River with photo opportunities at every turn.

PADDLING THE RIVER: Another way to enjoy this area is to paddle the stretch of the Big Manistee River between Hodenpyl Dam and Red Bridge. This is one of the most scenic stretches of river in the region. You will be met with switchbacks, sand bars, rope swings and high banks with soaring birds and wildlife at every turn. Because of the more remote nature of this area, the river is not heavily trafficked with the exception of fisherman during select times of the year and recreation paddlers during the peak summer weekends. You and your group will feel as through you are the only ones in the region.

Wexford County & The Upper Manistee River

The greater Cadillac area is blessed with truly beautiful canoeing and kayaking rivers, and several area lakes. Within twenty minutes of Cadillac are two designated National Wild & Scenic Rivers, the Pine and Manistee, the consensus crown jewels of Michigan’s paddlesport rivers. Canoeists, kayakers, and rafters come from across the nation to experience their raw beauty, forested river-scapes, and crystal clear waters. Numerous access sites and riverside campgrounds make it possible to paddle for just a few hours, all day, or for several days. Visitors can choose to paddle a calm stretch of river, a more spirited stretch of river, or a little of both.

PADDLING THE MANISTEE RIVER: Don’t have a watercraft? NO PROBLEM! The Cadillac area has many great paddling and tube rental locations that will give you all the necessary gear to enjoy an afternoon out on the water.

RIVER TIPS & TRIP OPTIONS: For those looking for a long, multi-day float. Taking US-131 all the way down to the Hodenpyl Dam access is a perfect 2 night trip with plenty of paddling. If you are interested in a single night canoe/camping trip, we recommend Baxter Bridge to Glengary. This is a perfect overnight for the beginner. The river is wide in many parts and there are plenty of places to get out and socialize with your group. For the single day paddlers, we recommend the Harvey Bridge to Glengary. If you are up for a workout, you can complete the Fire Lane to Glengary stretch, but it is a long day on the water.

Lake County & ORV Trails

Lake County has over 311 miles of ATV/ORV Trails for public use. This is comprised of 88 miles of “motorcycle only” trails for dirt bikes and 223 miles for ORVs. Each year thousands of ORV & Motocross participants enjoy our many trail systems and discover the beauty of our forests and the challenges of maneuvering the trails. Over 60 miles of trails are groomed by Iron’s Area Tourist Association. The Little Manistee Trail is a 46 mile loop of beginning and intermediate-level trails with a single track for bikes and a 96” wide trail for ORVs. The Lincoln Hills Trail is a 21 mile intermediate trail system with a single track for bikes and a 96” wide trail for ORVs.
Tin Cup Trail is 21 miles of intermediate to expert 35” single track for bikes and a 96” all-sport trail with lots of good climbing hills. The Little O Trail. It provides 41 miles of 50” wide single track for bikes and ORVs with plenty of tight turns.