8 Beautiful Dog Friendly Trails in Michigan
Michigan is home to more than 13,000 miles of state-designated trails and pathways, which makes this state one of the largest trail systems in the USA and you’ll be able to find a dog friendly trail in Michigan no matter where you live or where you are visiting in the state.
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Tips For Dog Friendly Trails
Get the right gear
Having the right gear for your dog before your hike is very important for your dog’s safety and comfort.
First things first, protect your dogs paws from hot pavement or cold snow. I suggest buying booties. We’ve had great success with these booties. Our dog is a mini golden-doodle with skinny paws and they manage to stay on really well. Warning, be prepared for anyone who passes you to exclaim, “that dog has shoes!” over and over again.
Depending on the size of your dog, getting them their own backpack is worth it so they can carry their own water, water dish, poop bags, etc. Obviously, you don’t want to weigh your dog down too much, but they are resilient, strong animals, and are capable of holding their own.
be mindful of the weather
Make sure you provide plenty of water, shade and breaks for your dog if you plan to be hiking in the heat of the summer. Also booties will help protect their paws from hot pavement and hot sand.
Don’t forget about Winter gear as well. Just because dogs have fur doesn’t mean they can’t get cold. Get them a coat and have them wear their booties in the snow. You don’t want snow to freeze to the fur between their paw pads.
keep your dog close
Make sure you abide by the trail leash rules and stay alert to your surroundings. A lot of trails are multi-use, meaning you will be sharing the trail with bikers, hikers, and even horses sometimes.
Be cautious of wild animals and make sure you have your dog under control.
Trails in Southern Michigan
Clinton river trail
The Clinton River Trail is a 16 mile stretch that runs through the cities of Pontiac, Auburn Hills, and Rochester. It also connects to the West Bloomfield trail, the Paint Creek Trail, and the Macomb Orchard Trail. It is one of our favorites of the dog friendly Michigan trails.
The CRT is part of a planned cross-state trail, the Great Lake to Lake Trail, which will extend from Port Huron to South Haven when completed.
Most of the trail is crushed limestone and unpaved. We really love this trail because it connects to the 3 other trails in the Oakland county area. It almost feels like a hub, being that it goes through downtown Rochester which is a fun dog friendly town.
There will be a lot of bikers on this trail, so be mindful of that when you take your dog with you.
paint creek trail
Seems fitting to talk about the Paint Creek Trail next. The Paint Creek Trail feels like an extension of the Clinton River Trail, just along a creek instead. It is 8.9 miles long and was actually the first Non-Motorized Rail-to-Trail in the State of Michigan.
You’ll find several pretty bridges along the way, a lot of trees providing shade and get a glimpse of beautiful houses as you make your way up to the town of Lake Orion.
border to border trail
The B2B trail is a 35-mile, 10 foot wide, ADA accessible, paved pathway consisting of 6 different trail corridors. The trail connects you to cities such as Chelsea, Dexter, Ann Arbor, and Ypsilanti.
The Hudson Mills Metro-park Corridor is a personal favorite, with river views, rolling hills and prairies. It also connects you to the metro-park.
I would recommend booties for your dog’s paws on hot sunny days since this trail is paved.
Trails in Northern Michigan / U.P
HARTWICK PINES STATE PARK
Hartwick Pines State Park has a total of 7 trails worth exploring especially in the Fall and even in the Winter.
The Au Sable River trail is a 3.90 mile loop on the bank of the Au Sable River and crosses over the river twice. The beauty of the pines on this trail will be overwhelming. When you finish the trail, make sure to check for ticks on you and your dog!
If you are looking for a paved trail, the Old Growth Forest Trail is an accessible, 1.25-mile paved trail loop that takes you through acres of towering pine trees, 360-410 years old, reaching heights of over 160 feet.
LUMBERman’S MONUMENT TRAIL
I found out about this trail from following Rachel @thewildgoldens on Instagram (highly recommend following her!). Lumberman’s Monument is a 3.8 mile trail through luscious green forests with views of the Au Sable River. If you get to the end, you can even descend down the sand dune and take a dip in the Au Sable to cool off!
BOARDMAN LAKE TRAIL OR TART TRAIL
You will find plenty of Northern Michigan dog friendly trails in the Traverse City area that your dog will enjoy like the TART trail and Boardman Lake Trail.
The Boardman Lake Trail, is a 4 mile wooded trail that takes you along the eastern and northern part of the Boardman Lake. It is a great way to spend a morning or afternoon away from the busy streets of downtown Traverse City.
The TART trail is a paved 10.5 mile trail that takes you through downtown TC and connects you to the Leelanau Trail. It is known as a “urban transport” trail, so be prepared for a lot of bike traffic. The awesome thing about the TART trail is that it’s a nice way to access the area when you have your dog with you. It has access points to restaurants and shops, other trails and parks, and the campground.
When we stayed at the state park campground with Kirby, we used the trail to get around. We even stumbled upon Red Mesa for dinner right off the trail. It turned out to be a great dog friendly Mexican restaurant.
Empire Bluff Trail or Pyramid Point Trail at Sleeping Bear Dunes
Empire Bluff Trail at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a popular out and back trail that is 1.5 miles long round trip. You’ll take a pleasant hike through a wooded area, before reaching a bluff and spectacular views of the lakeshore. One a clear day, you can even see South Manitou Island.
Pick up a brochure before you head out that has descriptions that correspond with marked points along the trail. The trail is dog friendly, but is high traffic. Pyramid Point Trail may be better suited for you, if you are looking for a more secluded trail.
Pyramid Point Trail has a few challenging areas in the 2.7 mile loop. Similar to Empire bluff, the trail has a lookout point on a bluff with an incredible view of Lake Michigan about .5 miles into the trail.
The last leg of the trail is on a main road, so be careful when you bring your dog with you!
LAKE OF THE CLOUDS TRAIL
Lake of the Clouds is located in the Porcupine Mountains State Park and is well worth a visit if you are in the UP with your dog!
Dogs are allowed on the 1.4 mile trail where you will get a spectacular view of the lake below. The walk back up from the lake can be a bit challenging, so make sure you are up for it before heading down.
This trail also connects to the Escarpment Trail which is a lot more challenging but offers some breathtaking views. Dogs are also allowed on this 8.4 mile trail.
Make sure to check out some of these dog friendly trails in Michigan on your next trip! What are some of your favorites to explore with your dog? Let me know in the comments below.