Where to Find Overland Trails in Michigan
One of the most common questions on the internet is “where can I find overland trails” or “where can I go overland camping”. It can be a bit overwhelming, no one wants to get lost or go somewhere possibly illegal. The best way to approach this is really through self research and self education. We will share some great links that will provide lots of information.
We must first go over Tread Lightly and Leave No Trace. Remember that any state trail or road needs to be treated with respect. These trails are not mud bogs or places to do donuts and tear up the adjoining property. There are places for that but VERY rarely is it legal to do that on state or federal property. This can lead to tickets, fines, and trail closures. Be respectful and good stewards of the sport.
When you do find a campsite be sure to carry adequate trash bags and storage to take care of your mess. Leave these areas better than you found them. Just think how long it will take for a piece of trash to decompose or be removed from a forest if you left it at your campsite. Check out some great information in the links below.
Let’s Get Started
Before you get off the beaten path on a trail, secondary road, fire access road etc. it is important to have your ORV and Trail Stickers sorted out, there are plenty of places you can travel to legally without either but it is always best to buy them or brush up on your legalities to make positive you won’t run into any issues. Here are some links to the State of Michigan DNR and Federal Forest Departments.
There are plenty of trail and road map solutions that can help you be cognizant of what trail you are on. Some great solutions for GPS are GAIA GPS, Garmin, Polaris Ride Command, ON X Off-road, or even non electronic solutions like a Atlas Gazetteer map book. There are some maps available online on the DNR and Federal websites but they can be a bit limited vs. the GPS options. If you do choose a GPS App many are available on a tablet or phone. A tablet can make viewing intricate maps much easier. Expedition Vehicle Outfitters has solutions for tablet mounts and much more for the inside of your vehicle.
The biggest thing to remember when first starting off road is to share the trails with our fellow adventure lovers, be it atv, sxs, motorcycles, mountain bikers, hikers etc. Always be respectful of each other by giving proper spacing, not dusting anyone, cleaning up trash etc.
What Trails Michigan Has To Offer
Now that we’ve gone over some standard etiquette, guidelines, and even trail map solutions lets address the task at hand. Finding overland vehicle trails in Michigan. There will be two main areas to focus your research, State of Michigan owned land and Federal Land. Each carries its own set of similar rules which can be found in the links provided above. Let’s focus on State of Michigan land overland vehicle trails first.
This is a screenshot from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources interactive State Forest Road Map available on their website, link below. In that same link there are interactive maps for ORV Trails, Off Road Parks, Silver Lake Sand Dunes, etc. These maps can be downloaded in PDF format onto a device or even printed off. They work as great guidelines but we find a GPS device is a bit more precise in most cases. These maps can be a great solution for trip planning and finding new destinations.
Now that we have found the State of Michigan maps and State Forest Roads lets check out the Federal Lands. The Federal Forests in Michigan are made up of the Ottawa and Hiawatha National Forests in the Upper Peninsula as well as the Huron-Manistee National Forest in the Northern Lower Peninsula.
Here is the link to the USDA Forest Service website dedicated to those areas. This link has interactive maps which you will be able to see Federal Forest Fire Roads nationwide. When looking at the maps be sure to click “Highway Legal” or OHV over 50”(this means the trails will be designed for over 50” wide vehicle, be warned these trails can get narrow in certain spots) There will be locations of hiking trails, campgrounds, fishing etc. These can be great sources for planning a trip or finding new destinations.
Above is the interactive map that will appear when you click “Interactive Maps” in the link above. Through these websites you can find interesting trails and roads nationwide.
Planning Your Trips
Half the fun of going on a trip is in the preparation, be it working with Expedition Vehicle Outfitters to equip and prepare your vehicle for an adventure or searching over maps to plan that next trip. The more time you spend familiarizing yourself with these maps will substantially lesson your chance of getting lost, going somewhere you shouldn’t have, or running into trouble with the law. These skill building is critical for overland vehicle adventures and very practical for being prepared during daily life. A trick we’ve found to make it more enjoyable is to treat preparation as part of the trip, in essence you’ve already started on a trip that may be weeks or months away. This adds an extra day to your weekend trip, if it is nothing but a mental getaway, which we all need.
We hope that this helps you adventure confidently and don’t forget that Expedition Vehicle Outfitters is here for all you overland vehicle needs from suspensions and bumpers to racks and electrical upgrades Expedition has your back. Now start planning that adventure!!!!