best trails in Jackson MI
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10 Best Trails in Jackson MI for Walking, Hiking, & Biking

Whether you want to take a walk, go hiking, or ride your bike, there are plenty of places to do it in Jackson Michigan. The City of Jackson and Jackson County, Michigan, have dozens of trails for walking, hiking, and biking, so you’re bound to find one that will scratch your itch for outdoor fun. While you can certainly visit all of them, here’s a look at the best trails in Jackson MI.

Falling Waters Trail

Falling Waters Trail for Walking & Biking

On the western side of Jackson County, Falling Waters Trail starts an important community connection from the Village of Concord to the City of Jackson. The 10.6-mile path is part of the larger Great Lake-to-Lake Trail, which extends from Lake Michigan to Lake Huron. Additionally, that trail is part of the massive Iron Belle Trail, which stretches across the state.

Since the Falling Waters Trail was opened in 2007, its rich history and wonderful scenery have made it popular among locals. The paved walking trail follows the old Michigan Central Railroad route and can be used for in-line skating and cycling. It traverses through lush woodlands and rural countryside with plenty of birds and other wildlife. Along the way, it passes through Lime Lake where many people stop to fish.

Bike or Walk the Martin Luther King Equality Trail

The Falling Waters Trail turns into the Martin Luther King Equality Trail at Weatherwax Drive. Previously called the Inter-City Bike Trail, it passes New Leaf Park where parking and a lending library box are available. The 3.4-mile stretch continues to follow the old rail bed through southwest Jackson, providing a nonmotorized path for anyone to walk, bike, or in-line skate from one place to another.

This trail includes a series of paved paths and boardwalks that circle a wetlands area at Sparks Foundation County Park, aka Cascades Park. There’s also a new 2.5-mile route that treks through Ella Sharp Park, which has nine trails of its own for about 11.5 miles total.

Grand River ArtsWalk Urban Trail

If you continue on the Martin Luther King Equality Trail, you’ll come across some connecting walkways through downtown Jackson that lead to the Grand River ArtsWalk. This 1.5-mile trail is paved and traverses a growing entertainment and arts district.

It passes through Armory Art Village, which used to be the state prison, and follows the Grand River, which offers beautiful scenery. The Grand River ArtsWalk ends at Monroe Street, and the Department of Natural Resources is working to connect it to Lakelands Trail State Park.

Meridian-Baseline Trail

Biking and Walking at Mike Levine Lakelands Trail State Park

The most western section of Lakelands Trail State Park starts where Hawkins Road and Jordan Road meet on Jackson’s northeast corner. From Jackson to Pinckney, the trail has a limestone surface except for a small portion of paved trail about midway through in Stockbridge. The rest of the trail west to Hamburg is mostly paved. The more than 25-mile trail is open for cycling, in-line skating, walking, horseback riding, and mountain biking.

Nature and Hiking Trails at The Dahlem Center

In the southern part of Jackson Michigan, The Dahlem Center has six walking and hiking trails spanning 5+ miles through oak-hickory woods and grasslands, over streams, and by ponds and fens.

The “Nature for All Trail” is less than half a mile long and is designed so that visitors with limited mobility can access the outdoor experience, and the “Butterfly Trail” is a dog-friendly loop around meadows and fields of flowers, and you can see honey bees and monarch butterflies working hard to pollinate them.

The trails are open daily from dawn to dusk at no charge. A donation box is available at the front entrance near the big trail map.

Kate Palmer Wildlife Sanctuary Nature Trails

West of downtown Jackson in Spring Arbor Michigan, Kate Palmer Wildlife Sanctuary consists of 53 acres of various ecosystems. Regarded as the richest public woods for wildflowers in the county, the sanctuary grounds are covered in flowers from late April. More than 100 species of birds call it home too. Two existing loops create half a mile of walking trails near the creek. The sanctuary plans to add three more trails in the future.

Dahlem Nature Center hiking trails

Walking Path at Meridian-Baseline State Park

Just northeast of Jackson in Pleasant Lake, you can enjoy a 1.4-mile walking path at Meridian-Baseline State Park. The park’s historic value is the spot where all range, section, and township measurements start for the state. The trail is marked with monuments and features a river. It’s a great spot for watching birds and spending time in nature. Dogs are allowed on the trail as long as they stay on leashes.

Waterloo Recreation Area Hiking Trails

For some of the best trails near Jackson MI and Jackson County, visit Waterloo Recreation Area in Chelsea. As the largest state park in the Lower Peninsula, it’s home to a host of activities, including six hiking and mountain biking trails.

The DTE Energy Foundation Trail is 10 miles and most popular for mountain biking, while the Pinckney Trail is 33.9 miles and optimal for backpacking. The other four trails provide a combined more than 30 miles of opportunities for viewing wildlife, fishing, hunting, and more.

Lefglen Nature Sanctuary Nature Trails

Located to the east of Jackson in Grass Lake Charter Township, Lefglen Nature Sanctuary spans 208 acres and is managed by the Michigan Nature Association. The sanctuary has two 1.5-2 mile-long nature trails with the trailheads being located on Wolf Lake Rd, just south of Rexford Rd. There are hundreds of native plants and birds on the property for viewing.

Best Trails in Jackson Michigan

Running and Walking Trails at MacCready Nature Reserve

To the south of Jackson, the MacCready Nature Reserve features rolling terrain with hilly trails that are great for a challenging walk, hike, run, or bike ride. There are 6.5 miles of trails across the 408-acre park, and dogs are welcome. The Blue, Red, and Yellow Loop is a 2.8-mile trail that gets a moderate amount of traffic and offers the opportunity to see many bird species and colorful wildflowers.

More to Experience Than the Best Trails in Jackson MI

While there are so many hiking and walking trails to keep you busy in Jackson, there are a lot of other things to do too. If you want a relaxing experience, visit one of the area’s vineyards and wineries. For something that’s more exciting with entertainment, check out some of the city’s events and festivals.

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