Couple Hiking Along Path By River

A Guide to Hiking in Michigan

All 2019, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is celebrating 100 years of Michigan’s state parks. Residents are encouraged to explore the local landscape of colorful forests, gorgeous lakes and unique wildlife. Many can experience these wonders first-hand by hiking their local trails.

Nature is beautiful but it’s also unpredictable. Before embarking on any journey, you must be prepared. “You better have a good pair of shoes,” warned Dan Muncey, onsite well-being coordinator at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. “That’s key. Make sure you take care of your feet and your socks.”

While hiking, you’re guaranteed to work up a sweat. So, always have a bottle of water nearby. Staying hydrated, especially in the heat, can reduce muscle cramping and fatigue. Also, protect your skin against the sun’s harmful rays by wearing sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher) and a hat. Minimize insect bites by using bug spray that targets mosquitoes, ticks, biting flies, etc.

On the latest episode of the A Healthier Michigan Podcast, hosted by Chuck Gaidica, he, Muncey and Paul Yauk, a trail coordinator for the state of Michigan discuss tips on how to make the most of your trek.

With so many destinations to choose from, where should you start? “Our state dedicated system is … 12,600 miles of trails,” explained Yauk. “And that’s the network. You have the county parks and the regional parks and the city parks. So, everything kind of weaves together.” From Jackson to Kalamazoo and Ann Arbor there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Hiking is one of the least-expensive ways to embrace nature and enjoy the parks. It requires minimum equipment and nearly no set-up time. But hiking isn’t your only option. A bike ride can be just as fun and convenient. “You can rent,” he declared. “You go to Traverse City and there you can rent thousands of bikes. Take the TART Trail and the Leelanau Trail … a lot of communities are doing that.”

Whatever activity you choose, plan accordingly. Don’t overestimate your time or underestimate the environment. “I think that’s very important,” said Muncey. “I think that we can see a trail and think that it’s paved and it’s going to be fine, but once it starts getting windy and you’re going up and down hills it can be challenging.” Always allow room for error to make necessary adjustments. Remember, in nature, anything can happen.

For more information on Michigan trails and the Centennial celebration, visit the DNR’s official website.

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Photo credit: monkeybusinessimages

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