Walk, run, bike, or ride a horse, but make sure you get out of downtown to really see Mackinac Island. You’ll be surprised how quickly you can leave any crowds behind as you set out on the paved eight-mile path that circles the island. The trail never wanders far from the pleasant shoreline and passes many of the island’s natural features, which are well marked. Traveling clockwise, the first you’ll reach is Devil’s Kitchen; heading in the opposite direction, you’ll arrive first at Arch Rock, the most dramatic of all Mackinac limestone oddities.
About halfway around, on the island’s northwestern side lies British Landing, where British soldiers sneaked onto the island in 1812. They hiked across Mackinac’s interior, totally surprising the American garrison stationed at the fort (and apparently looking the other way), and recaptured the island.
Today, the landing is a good spot for a picnic or short break (water and restrooms available). There’s a small nature center here, staffed in summer months by a helpful naturalist. Hike the short nature trail, which has several interpretive signs as it weaves up a bluff.
British Landing is also a good spot from which to head inland and explore the island’s interior. British Landing Road bisects the island and links up with Garrison Road near Skull Cave, leading to the fort. It’s a hilly, three-mile trip from shore to shore. British Landing Road is considered a “major road” by Mackinac standards, meaning you’ll share it with carriages. On bike or foot, you’ll have endless other options—at last count, Mackinac had some 140 miles of trails and footpaths.
Pick up a free Mackinac Island Map, available all over town, and venture off. The map marks the location of old cemeteries, rock formations, and such, but it’s even more appealing to just explore the smaller trails on your own and discover pretty, peaceful Mackinac. Everything’s well marked, and you can’t really get lost anyway—you’re on a small island, after all.
by Laura Martone from Moon Michigan, 3rd Edition, © Avalon Travel