Just down the road from the motel, the Rogers preserve has 1.5 miles of trails surrounded by open fields and farmland on one side, and skirting the banks of the Jordan river on the other. The main stretch is a very flat and easy stroll, and there is a small loop that heads closer to the river on the south end of the park. Be warned, this loop is often very muddy, but its one of the best birding spots in town.
5 miles north on M66 from East Jordan, look for the wooden sign that says "Sleepy Hollow Lane" and the parking area is just down a short dirt road. Sleepy Hollow is a 55 acre preserve with 1.2 miles of trails the run through the woods and along Sear Creek. This is a great place to stretch your legs in the spring and summer, or for snowshoeing in the winter.
Connected to the Whiting Park campground and beach area, the trails pass through a hilly forest across the street from Lake Charlevoix. The "Red" trail has some steep climbs, but you are rewarded with a great view of the lake at the top. In winter, this is one of the best places around to snowshoe. It is located in the town of Advance, 10 minutes from EJ and just north of Boyne City.
Located adjacent to the Raven Hill Discovery Center. Continue past the Raven Hill entrance and take a left at the end of the dirt road to reach the parking area. Be sure to trek to the "Eagles Nest" (which is point #10 on the map) for a great scenic vista, best viewed when fall colors are peaking. (Note: The dirt road leading to the trails has a steep hill, and the road beyond Raven Hill is not maintained in the winter)
Part of the Jordan Valley trail system, located off M32 between EJ and Elmira. To complete the 4 mile loop, travel markers #17 to #15 to #16 then back to #17. At marker #15, before you continue to #16, take a right for a short walk to see O'briens pond and the valley, but do not attempt to cross the boardwalk as it will sink into the water. The first mile of the trail from #15 to #16 is VERY wet and muddy. Many people just turn back to the parking lot at #15 unless the ground is frozen. The trails are often groomed in the winter for easier walking and skiing.
South of Elmira off 131 is this scenic 3.8 mile loop. Starting at marker #1 head down hill to #2 (Note: It is a long descent to the valley, and a long way back up) then go left towards #3. At #3 you will take another left back uphill to #14, but first, you should continue towards #4 for about a half mile and turn right when you see a sign for the scenic lookout. It will take you to a boardwalk with a vast open view from the valley floor. When you reach #14 turn left and the trail will return to the parking lot, passing Deadman's Hill, the most popular fall color viewing spot in the area. (Note: While this is a great place to snowshoe in winter, the road and parking lot are NOT plowed and you will need a 4X4 to access.)
It's 462 steps to the top of Avalanche Preserve, but it is worth it for the best view in all of Boyne City. Continue from the top on the 3 mile trail which winds its way through the woods and eventually back down to the parking lot. There are many intersecting mountain bike trails and separate trails for the Disc Golf course, so be sure to stay on the main trail to avoid getting lost. The trail is also groomed in winter for easier hiking.
Another great hiking area in Boyne City, and while yes, there are some hills, it is less strenuous than Avalanche. With several intersecting loops, its easy to make a hike as long or short as you desire. In winter this is a great snowshoe spot, and they even groom tracks for skiing. If you have furry friends with you, be sure to also check out the nearby Ridge Run Dog Park.
Over 2 miles of wooded trails on the Lake Michigan coastline. At the south end of the park, Antrim Creek empties into the big lake. The beach at north end of the park is a great place to find Petoskey stones. Often secluded, this is a great sandy beach where you can avoid the crowds in the summer. (Note: The park entrance is typically not accessible in the winter)
In Charlevoix, a bit north of the pier, these trails run through forests and dunes on the Lake Michigan coast. Climb to the top of Mt. McSauba for an incredible view of the city and the lake. Sections of these trails are lighted at night and groomed in the winter. In the summer, there is plenty of space on the sandy beach to relax and take a swim after climbing a sand dune.
Just north of Charlevoix off of 31. This trail features woods, meadows, swamps and in parts follows Susan Creek, with bridges and boardwalks along the way. Be sure to wear boots and it can be a bit muddy in spots. Easily accessible in winter for skiing and snowshoeing.
About 20 miles south of EJ are these 7 miles of trails, including a great mile long boardwalk running through sedge meadow and along the Grass River. This is an incredible spot for birding and seeing wildflowers in the summer. The other trails run through the surrounding forests and wetlands. (Note: Dogs are NOT allowed most of the trails)
This short loop close to downtown Petoskey follows along the rushing white water rapids of the Bear River. For a longer walk, start at Riverbend Park. The trail follows the river north to the recreation area. Continue to follow the river and you will reach a dam and a bit futher to Bayfront Park, where the bear River empties into Lake Michigan.