Mackinac Island is a small island that lies in Lake Huron, between Michigan's Upper and Lower Peninsulas. The island, which is about four square miles in area and easily reached by frequent ferries from Mackinaw City or St. Ignace, bans motorized vehicles. All transport is by foot, bicycle or horse-drawn cart. As a result, outdoor sports are encouraged, and opportunities abound to enjoy the island's natural beauty.
Hiking is a popular activity on Mackinac and many miles of trails cross the island, allowing access for visitors of all ages and abilities. One of the most popular routes is the Manitou Trail, which hugs the coastline until it reaches Arch Rock, a spectacular natural arch overlooking the water.
More ambitious hikers can take the Tranquil Bluff trail from Arch Rock around the island to British Landing and from there, various trails lead back into the center of town.
Because of the lack of motor vehicles, Mackinac Island is a cyclist's paradise. Mountain biking trails thread through the forests, allowing a relatively gentle path through the hills. For an excellent forest ride, try the North Bicycle Trail, which starts near Fort Mackinac.
Families and casual riders will enjoy circumnavigating the island on Lake Shore Road, which is flat and easy to navigate. Rent bicycles in town from a number of vendors, and be sure to watch for the horse-drawn carts carrying tourists and supplies.
Mackinac Island offers a long stretch of coastline and a wide expanse of open water to navigate by canoe or kayak. You can put in at the island's marina and paddle around the island for excellent shore and lake views.
If you plan to bring your own kayak or canoe, you can transport it on the ferry or paddle across from St. Ignace. The weather on the Great Lakes can change unexpectedly, so use caution when paddling in the open water between the Upper or Lower Peninsulas, where strong currents can pose a danger to paddlers.
During the winter months, Mackinac Island sees few tourists, making it an ideal time to explore by snowshoe or cross-country skis on the hiking and biking trails. The trails are groomed regularly by a local ski club, and you're likely to meet locals out on the trails. You can bring your own equipment across on the ferry or rent at the Village Inn on the island. When planning a winter trip, be sure to note the limited winter schedules. Arnold Line ferries, for example, run only six times per day after Oct. 5.