Five Ideas for Welcoming Spring in Traverse City

As any Michigander will tell you, Michigan is truly a four-season state. The water wonderland of summer, the brilliant colors of fall, and the snow sports of winter all contribute plenty of reasons to love a four-season destination like Traverse City. But it’s spring that seems to occupy a special place in the hearts of many residents of the Great Lakes State. As winter whites give way to the greens of springtime, it’s time to get outside and renew our relationship with Michigan’s many outdoor resources.

With so many options in and around Traverse City, the hard part can be deciding where to go and what to do first. Read more as our friends at Northern Swag narrow down the list for you by sharing five Traverse City favorites.

1. Hike a Trail

The Traverse City area is home to hundreds of miles of hiking trails that are perfect for taking in on a sunny spring day. The wooded Lake Michigan Trail in Leelanau State Park near Northport winds its way through wooded hills to an observation deck overlooking Lake Michigan. While you’re enjoying the natural setting and fresh air, be on the lookout for the unmistakable petals of the white trillium, which can cover entire hillsides when they bloom in early-to-mid-May.

Photo Courtesy of Northern Swag

2. Hunt for Morels

These tasty, yet elusive natural treasures can be found in wooded areas throughout the Traverse City area. Look for south-facing hillsides that soak up the sun, and if possible, wait for a warmer day (over 60 degrees) that follows several warmer evenings for the best chance at success. Locals may be hesitant to share their favorite spots, but the adventure of the hunt can be almost as rewarding as the discovery. Almost.

Photo Courtesy of Northern Swag

3. Take a Sunday Drive

In mid-May, the hills and valleys of Old Mission Peninsula come alive with color as the cherry blossoms emerge. The Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula ® host Blossom Day Saturday, May 14. This event offers participants a chance to sample award-winning wines while enjoying the incredible scenery along the way. Scenic overlooks and cherry blossoms abound, and if you make it to the town of Old Mission, be sure to enjoy the view at Haserot Beach – it’s one of our favorite stops on the peninsula.

Photo Courtesy of Northern Swag

4. Hit the Beach

The water will still be a bit too chilly for a swim, but a picnic with an afternoon walk along the beach is a splendid way to celebrate spring in northern Michigan. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore includes 35 miles of pristine Lake Michigan shoreline. The views are some of the best in the Traverse City area, and don’t forget to keep an eye open for Petoskey stones, found along the entire length of the Lakeshore.

Photo Courtesy of Northern Swag

5. Discover a New View

There’s a brief window of time between the melting of the snow and the return of summer foliage to the trees and the forest floor. With 70,000 acres to explore, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore offers numerous opportunities for discovering hidden views that aren’t as visible during the summer months. If you find yourself “up north” on a perfect spring day, an afternoon adventure amongst the rolling hills and wooded bluffs of the Sleeping Bear Dunes can lead to a pretty nice reward.

Photo Courtesy of Northern Swag

Northern Swag:

Northern Swag is a collective group of Northern Michigan creatives that is obsessed with the incredible beauty of the area. In their eyes there’s something else that evades description, a type of pervasive style that makes being here just feel awesome. It’s their goal to try and capture that unique Northern Michigan style, or swag, with photos and words.

How will you celebrate spring in Traverse City? Let us know by commenting below!

Six Ways to Get Fit and Enjoy Michigan’s Outdoors in 2016

Happy Holidays! As we look forward to an eventful and adventure-filled New Year, guest blogger Shalee Blackmer from The Awesome Mitten shares some Pure Michigan ways to get active while enjoying the incredible scenery and outdoors the Great Lakes state has to offer.

New Year, new beginnings. By now, we know the beauty that Michigan offers, and with that beauty comes hard work. Sometimes in order to get the benefit of the stunning Michigan shorelines, high cliffs, and spectacular sunsets, we must work for it. We summit, hike, and climb to the destination, and we are rewarded with pure simplicity. A far away land miles from the nearest freeway, cubicle, or stop light.

Photo Courtesy of Shalee Blackmer

The start of 2016 is the best time to commit to becoming a healthier you. Fortunately, we’re able to go beyond the gym to gain the benefits. There are hiking routes that span the entire state, rock walls that are begging to be climbed, and hidden lighthouses that are patiently awaiting our arrival.

For some starter inspiration, I’ve combined some of my favorite Michigan outdoor activities that are fun, healthy, and always involve a little adventure.

Snowshoe

Right now is the perfect time to invest in a pair of snowshoes and prepare for when temperatures drop and snow begins to fall. Snowshoeing is more of a work out than most people believe, but is easy enough to do with a group of friends. One of the best times to go snowshoeing is in the woods right after a winter storm. A winter wonderland surrounds you, but not a sound can be heard.

Photo Courtesy of Shalee Blackmer

Kayak

Kayaking weekly will build arm muscles and allow you to enjoy the surrounding beauty in one. Michigan has hundreds of prime kayaking locations. Everything from the three-mile journey to Turnip Rock, to an afternoon down the Muskegon River, or a casual paddle around Presque Isle Park. Viewing some of Michigan’s most beautiful areas from the water offers a whole new perspective, and you’re guaranteed to feel the soreness at the end of the day.

Photo Courtesy of Shalee Blackmer

Ice climb/ Rock climb

If you’re ready to build that arm and finger strength, this one is for you. Both activities involve considerable workouts, and have different difficulty levels from beginner to expert. Places like Planet Rock, an indoor rock climbing facility, will train and teach you everything you need to know before you start. Eventually you can take those skills to the real outdoors, and climb everything from rocks to frozen waterfalls.

Photo Courtesy of Shalee Blackmer

Go backpacking

Nearly everyone is fit enough to backpack, even if it is just for a day. Finding routes that have more elevation changes (sand dunes, Porcupine Mountains) will allow for a more strenuous workout. Beginners can start on shorter and flatter hikes and then can set a year end goal of a week-long backpacking trip on Isle Royale or through the Huron-Manistee National Forests.

Ski/Snowboard

One of the most common winter activities in Michigan is skiing and snowboarding, which also happens to be one of the best winter workouts. No matter how many years someone has hit the slopes, they will be sore at the end of a long day filled with snow and friends. Lucky for us, there are dozens of ski areas around the state, and you can always find one within a few hours drive. Those who are beginners will soon learn why it is such a common activity in Michigan, and will want to do it over and over.

Surf or body board

Michigan waves are some of the most powerful waves in the world. When the waters are choppy, those who take on the Great Lakes power will endure a non-stop workout in attempt to catch the perfect wave. Those who are interested can visit Third Coast Surf Shops in New Buffalo or St. Joseph to rent surfboards, wet suits, and even get lessons from experienced freshwater surfers.

Photo Courtesy of Shalee Blackmer

 

What is your favorite Michigan outdoor activity?Shalee

About the author: Shalee Blackmer is a 21 year old college student who grew up in the small town of Mecosta. She currently attends Michigan State University as an advertising student and spends her time exploring the outdoors. Her hobbies include running her own travel blog, which aims to inspire college-age students to see explore on a budget and taking photos to share her story. She enjoys camping, road trips, hiking and cliff jumping and enjoying Pure Michigan beauty.

States Parks to Visit This Season to see Breathtaking Fall Foliage

Autumn colors are now in their peak and provide awe-inspiring views all around the Great Lakes state. Whether you’re planning a fall color drive or want to explore the breathtaking views on foot, there is still plenty of time to enjoy the beauty of the season. We put together a list of a few state parks to enjoy the breathtaking views.

Hartwick Pines State Park
Hartwick Pines is one of the largest state parks in Michigan’s lower peninsula. You can climb the rolling hills to overlook the AuSable River and explore the forest of Old Growth Pines. Also, make sure to make a pit stop at the Hartwick Pines Logging Museum, which is about a 1/4 mile walk from the visitor center. The unique history is worth the extra steps!

Tahquamenon Falls State Park
Tahquamenon Falls State Park stretches over 13 miles and offers amazing sights all year long, but is especially magnificent in the fall. Most famous are the Upper Tahquamenon Falls, one of the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi. The Upper Falls have a drop of nearly 50 feet and is more than 200 feet across. Four miles downstream are the Lower Falls, a series of five smaller falls cascading around an island.  There are more than 40 miles of hiking trails, 13 inland lakes, 24 miles of the Tahquamenon River and approximately 20,000 acres of natural area, which provides plenty of space to explore.

Tahquamenon Falls - Photo courtesy of @visitthesault

Tahquamenon Falls – Photo courtesy of Instagrammer @visitthesault

Silver Lake Sand Dunes State Park 
Embark almost 3,000-acres along the Lake Michigan shoreline. This area includes both dune country and acres of mature forest. One of the park’s biggest draws is the 450-acre off-road vehicle area, so hop on and start exploring the orange, yellow and red stunning leaves.

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park
This Upper Peninsula gem provides towering timbers, secluded lakes and miles of wild rivers and streams covering 60,000 acres. Explore 90 miles of foot trails and camp on the shore of Lake Superior to enjoy sunsets from your site. The North Country Trail includes 23 miles within the state park and rugged trails to conquer on a mountain bike. Take in the scenic vistas, waterfalls and old growth forest. It is designated as an official Michigan Wildlife Viewing Area for its various wildlife and can’t miss views.

Porcupine Mountains - Photo courtesy of @ryandjohnson

Porcupine Mountains – Photo courtesy of Instagrammer @ryandjohnson

Seven Lakes State Park
Located in Southeast Michigan, Seven Lakes State Park offers an endless variety of topography and ecosystems form the area called Seven Lakes. Its land has a combination of farmland, rolling hills and forests. About 230 acres of water with several miles of shoreline await the park user.

Isle Royale National Park 
Isle Royale is truly unique as it can only be accessed by boat or float plane. The combination of its protected isolation, wilderness value and natural beauty provides an ideal habitat for an assortment of wildlife. You can explore a rugged, isolated island, far from the sights and sounds of civilization. Surrounded by Lake Superior, Isle Royale offers unparalleled solitude and adventures for backpackers, hikers, boaters, kayakers, canoeists and scuba divers. Here, amid stunning scenic beauty, you’ll find opportunities for reflection and discovery, and make memories that last a lifetime.

Isle Royale - Photo courtesy of @adventureguyphoto

Isle Royale – Photo courtesy of Instagrammer @adventureguyphoto

Which of these state parks have you visited?