Shore-to-Shore Trail (Michigan)

DISTANCE (round-trip)

220 mi (354 km)

DIFFICULTY

TIME

11-22 days

ALTERNATIVE TO

North Country Trail

SOLITUDE

Hike like a fur trader!

The northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan is rich in history, lakes, and sand. You'll hike from some of the most beautiful sand dunes on Lake Michigan all the way to stunning views of Lake Huron. What could be better?

At just over 200 miles this trail could take a fast hiker as little as two weeks. Most will accomplish the trail in approximately 3 weeks. 

So how busy is the trail? Despite originating and traveling through countryside known as some of the most beautiful vacation land in the United States, the trail is nearly abandoned. 

This trail is open to both equestrian and hiking pursuits. It does see the majority of its traffic from horse travel. Only certain sections are heavily trafficked where the trail passes through or near popular destinations.

You'll feel like an explorer when you hike this trail as you'll be traveling over some of the richest fur trading history of the United States and Canada. 

When to go

Bugs in Michigan can be awful so attempting the trail during black fly season or prime mosquito season would be hazardous to your mental health.

Hike from April - May or September - October. Fall colors in the hardwood forests can be optimal around mid-October.

Getting there



Flying in to state is best done into Detroit as airfare to smaller airports can be devastating. Unfortunately this results in a long drive to the trailhead.

The trail can be hiked equally from the Empire side (Lake Michigan, West) or the Oscoda side (Lake Huron, East). Plan based on where you'd like to be dropped off or picked up.

There is a Greyhound bus line available from Oscoda.​

Know before you go

  • While the trail passes many lakes and follows several rivers, sections can be quite dry in August.
  • This trail is little-known and can be difficult to find. Don't expect directions to the trail head - you'll have to fend for yourself.
  • Michigan is known for spectacular fall colors in October.

Gear Recommendations for this trail:

Pack-rafts may be used on your trip.

If hiking East, you can paddle 120 miles of the beautiful Au Sable river which parallels the trail the remaining way.

If hiking West you can paddle the Manistee River which follows the trail to Empire.​

For more information:

  • Finding the right information or trail maps is almost impossible. Your best source of information is the trail maintenance organization which can be found here.
  • Your best bet is to gather as much information as possible before the hike. Then, simply head to either Empire or Oscoda and sniff out the beginning of the trail. You'll find it, just keep lookin'!
About the author

Casey Fiedler

Professional ski instructor and backpacking guide, Casey Fiedler went to school with CWC and NOLS for Outdoor Education and Leadership. Want to read more about what it takes to lead great adventure trips? Casey writes about outdoor education at caseyfiedler.wordpress.com