Hiking Mackinac Island Michigan and A Pseudo Rant About Tourist Traps

British Landing beach Mackinac Island Michigan

Another Fiesta Friday draws near, so I’m sharing more about hiking in Michigan.

Makinac Island is just north of the fingertips of the Michigan mitten. Long ago, carriage drivers got together and lobbied to ban cars on the island. You can reach the island by plane or by ferry. Once arriving you’ll have to get around on foot, on a bicycle, on horse, or in a carriage. You can rent tandem and single bikes, rent a carriage and drive it yourself, or take a carriage tour. Ferries to Mackinac Island depart from St. Ignace or Mackinaw city. By the way, Mackinac and Mackinaw are pronounced the same way (mak-in-aw).

If you arrive by ferry you’ll be dropped off on the main drag tourist trap area on the south tip of the island. Here you’ll find crowds of confused and irritated people, restaurants, t-shirt shops and too many fudge shops to count. This part of the island is preposterous! Why spend a beautiful day with a plethora of rude grouchy tourists browsing through 300 t-shirt shops when there are pleasant memories to be made elsewhere? I never could understand the tourist shops that pop up in beautiful places. Seriously – there is way more to life than shopping!

Luckily, 80% of the island is covered by Mackinac Island State park and it is easy to seek out peace and quiet on the trail. Our hike started by heading to Fort Mackinaw. There is a foot path that leads up the hill from the ferry landing area. The fort looked interesting, and tours are available for a fee if you have the time and gumption.

Mackinac Island Michigan

Leaving Town


We elected to move on to Arch rock. Smaller crowds of bikers and passengers on carriage tours gather here to view the rock, but it is nowhere near as crowded as in town. Things were looking better. There were still crowds of people but at least no tourist clap trap shops. Lots of horse doo but no clap trap. I think the doo is the lesser of two evils. 🙂

Arch Rock Mackinac Island Michigan

Arch Rock

We continued on to follow the Tranquil Bluffs trail route described in detail in Hiking Michigan by  Roger E. Storm and Susan M. Wedzel. The eastern part of the trail has steep climbs and descents and tracks close to some steep cliffs. The trail is 3.2 miles long point to point and we saw maybe six people along the whole hike. Peace and quiet indeed! There were a few nice peeks of the water from the bluff trail.

Tranquil Bluffs Trail Mackinac Island Michigan

The view from tranquil bluffs trail

The tranquil bluffs trail runs into the British Landing nature trail, which leads shortly to British Landing. Again small crowds of people congregated here for the food stand situated across a busy biking corridor from the beach *.

We ventured onto the beach to take in the views before walking back to the ferry pick up point via a less traveled biking corridor that cuts through the center of the island.

British Landing Mackinca Island Michigan

British Landing Beach

We stopped in Doud’s Market, America’s oldest family owned grocery store to pick up some lunch items which we ate on the lawn in front of the fort before catching a ferry back to the Lower Peninsula. We departed quite satisfied with our day of hard hiking. We got some good photos and great memories.

Much better than a stupid t-shirt. 😀

How do you collect moments and not things? What are your tips for avoiding tourist traps?

If you are planning a visit to northern Michigan also check out the U. P. We loved Pictured Rocks National Lake Shore.

*If you live in Michigan you’ll recognize the Mackinac Bridge in the photo above, which spans 5 miles over the Straights of Mackinac. Will you be walking the bridge on Labor Day?



11 thoughts on “Hiking Mackinac Island Michigan and A Pseudo Rant About Tourist Traps

  1. Pingback: Bruschetta or Crostini ?| Fiesta Friday #31 | The Novice Gardener

  2. Your hike sounds fabulous. I think the best way to discourage those shops is to do exactly what you did – avoid them. Nice to hear the touristy part is limited to just a small area.

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