The Best Day Hike You Can Take With Your Dog In Michigan

Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Trails
Huron-Manistee National Forests • Manistee

The Nordhouse Dunes is the only federally designated wilderness area in Michigan’s lower peninsula. Despite the name, the trail system here is easily accessed from the paved road into the Lake Michigan Recreation Area.

The protected area is a patchwork quilt of windblown dunes (some as high as 140 feet tall), conifer forests of juniper and jack pine, and a slice of the largest area of freshwater interdunal ponds in the world. Nordhouse Dunes is relatively small but like any true wilderness it is minimally signed. There are about ten miles of trails, including logging cuts and jeep roads that are indistinguishable from footpaths so come armed with a trail map.

One tail-wagging route to try with Seaman is to Nordhouse Lake where the shallow waters will tempt even water-averse dogs in for a swim. Regardless of where you choose to explore in the wilderness area you will close your canine hiking loop with a trot down one of the prettiest stretches of pristine beach in the Great Lakes region.

The undeveloped dunesland alternates between low, rolling sand piles covered in grasses and the rare Pitcher’s Thistle to large wind-sculpted dunes. The beach trail shifts from narrow to wide as Seaman races along, the blue waters of Lake Michigan to one side and the deep green curtain of the national forest to the other.

HIKING TIME: 3-4 hours

(from the book 300 Day Hikes To Take With Your Dog Before He Tires You Out: Trails where you won’t be able to wipe the wag off your dog’s tail)


National Parks with Hiking

Isle Royale National Park
Dogs are not allowed in the park

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Dogs are allowed on the trails in this park

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Dogs are allowed on the trails in this park

State Parks With Hiking

Michigan State Parks
Dogs are not permitted in buildings or in swimming areas.

Algonac State Park
Bald Mountain Recreation Area
Baraga State Park 
Bay City State Recreation Area
Bewabic State Park 
Brighton Recreation Area 
Brimley State Park
Burt Lake State Park 
Cheboygan State Park 
Clear Lake State Park
Coldwater Lake State Park 
Craig Lake State Park 
Dodge #4 State Park  
Duck Lake State Park
Father Marquette Memorial Scenic Site
Fayette State Historic Park
Fisherman's Island State Park 
Fort Custer Recreation Area
Fort Wilkins State Historic Park 
Grand Mere State Park
Harrisville State Park
Hart-Montague Trail State Park 
Hartwick Pines State Park 
Highland Recreation Area
Holly Recreation Area
Indian Lake State Park 
Interlochen State Park 
Ionia Recreation Area 
Island Lake Recreation Area 
J.W. Wells State Park
Kal Haven Taril State Park 
Lake Gogebec State Park 
Lakeland Trails State Park
Leelanau State Park 
Ludington State Park 
Maybury State Park 
McLain State Park 
Mears State Park 
Metamora-Hadley Recreation Area 
Muskallonge Lake State Park 
Muskegon State Park 
Negwegon State Park 
Newaygo State Park 
North Higgins Lake State Park 
Onaway State Park 
Orchard Beach State Park 
Ortonville Recreation Area
P.H. Hoeft State Park  
Petoskey State Park 
Pinckney Recreation Area
Pontiac Lake Recreation Area 
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park 
Port Crescent State Park
Proud Lake Recreation Area
Rifle River Recreation Area
Sanilac Petroglyphs Historic Site 
Saugatuck Dunes State Park 
Seven Lakes State Park
Silver Lake State Park Sleeper State Park
Sleepy Hollow State Park
South Higgins Lake State Park
Sterling State Park 
Straits Park State Park 
Tahquamenon Falls State Park
Tawas Point State Park 
Thompson's Harbor State Park 
Twin Lakes State Park 
Van Buren Trail State Park
Van Riper State Park
Warren Dunes State Park
Warren Woods State Park
Waterloo Recreation Area 
Wetzel State Recreation Area
White Pine Trail
Wilderness State Park 
Wilson State Park 
Yankee Springs Recreation Area 
Young State Park 

Hiking With Your Dog Michigan