North Country Trail Association

Trail Town: Mackinaw City

The Village of Mackinaw City is a resort community located on the shores of the Straits of Mackinac at the tip of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. It serves as a gateway community for recreation lovers traveling north and south, and provides plenty of amenities to make it a prime vacation destination.

The North Country Trail enters town on the southern border. Its entire length inside the village, about a mile, coincides with a paved, DNR Rails-to-Trails project named the North Western State Trail. The Trail passes through scenic, wooded countryside offering commuters and visitors an alternate way to get around town. As you approach downtown, you are greeted by a trailhead and parking area with bike racks, bathrooms, picnic area and shelter, and it is less than a block from Central Avenue, the main retail district. A connector route to downtown is mowed and available for easy access. From the trailhead there is also access to the DNR’s North Central State Trail, which will take you south to Gaylord. Maps of the city’s Trail segment and other recreation opportunities can be found on the village website, where you can also find listings for campgrounds, cabins, B&B’s and hotels, as well as many restaurants and places to resupply.

For those wanting to continue north on the North Country Trail, follow the route west to Wilderness State Park or plan your trip north via the Mackinac Bridge. The Bridge Authority provides a shuttle across the bridge to the Trail’s Upper Peninsula connector. That shuttle is arranged by phone from the booth created for this purpose across the street from Audie’s Restaurant on North Nicolet Street, three blocks from the trailhead. There is only one day that you can walk this five-mile section of the North Country Trail: the Annual Labor Day Bridge Walk. Please research transportation options if you plan to participate: As of 2018, options have changed. Be sure to join the Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore Chapter for their own Bring on the Bridge event: Combine the Bridge Walk with a weekend of camping, food and friends.

Mackinaw City has plenty of historic and scenic attractions that will keep you engaged during your visit. The scenery is spectacular. Spend time at one of the many waterfront parks to view a stream of varied boats passing before your eyes. For those interested in history there is no better place to visit than Mackinaw City, with the Mackinac State Historic Parks featuring the fort and old mill, the WWII Icebreaker Mackinaw, two lighthouses, and an engaging Heritage Village offering a glimpse of what life was like in the mid-1800’s.

The Harbor Springs Chapter is responsible for the North Country Trail section through Mackinaw City.