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Lake Michigan Water Trail Phase I : Inventory and Assessment was completed in 2014 by WMSRDC. It is available for communities to seek grants to improve non-motorized paddling experiences, including access site amenities, wayfinding signage, ADA accessibility, environmental conditions and many other features for kayakers and other non-motorized paddlers. For more information about water trails on the Great Lakes, visit the Michigan Great Lakes Water Trails website.

Lake Michigan Trails Network Mission:
The Lake Michigan Trails Network facilitates communication, coordination, and synergy among engaged advocates and stakeholders seeking to develop multi-modal (water, bike, hike, and automobile) routes and trails around Lake Michigan while promoting environmental, economic, and health benefits to residents and visitors from around the country and the world.


  • Foster partnerships between planners, trail managers, landowners, tourism, and advocacy groups in all four shoreline states.
  • Provide a communication forum for circle route/trail development efforts to identify opportunities to share knowledge, successes, methods and challenges to aid those development projects.
  • Foster state, local and regional partnerships to plan and build recreation facilities supporting these routes/trails.
  • Brand the trail systems through the concept of a “One Lake, Four States, All-American” experience and encourage tourism and recreation marketing of all travel modes around Lake Michigan that recognize the existence and development of circle routes/trails.


Attention West Michigan Water Trail Communities, Tourism, Recreation and Economic Development Organizations and Trail Users,

Lake Michigan and the West Michigan Region are world-class recreational touring destinations. The four states surrounding Lake Michigan offer the only place in the world to paddle, bike, hike, camp, and sail on 1,600 miles of freshwater shoreline, with a broad diversity of people, communities, beaches, forests, bluffs and cultural attractions.

More than 22 million people live within a two-hour drive of Lake Michigan, yet we’re still working to connect and complete a full circle of trails and provide trail links and amenities for people who want to get out on and around the lake using the mode of their choice. The idea of a four-state, multi-modal trail emerged in 2012 at a conference in Saugatuck, Michigan. Conference participants envisioned expanding the original Lake Michigan Circle Tour scenic byway to include paddling, bicycling and hiking trails to encourage people to play more and stay longer on our shores.

In 2013, the Michigan Lake Michigan Water Trail Plan was completed by the West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission with support from Michigan’s Coastal Zone Management Program, Regional Planning Organizations and project partners. Local communities that implement the plan are eligible for grant funds to develop local water trail enhancements and land acquisitions, including a wide variety of related amenities and conservation practices.

In addition to completion of Michigan’s Lake Michigan Water Trail Plan, a four-state planning group was formed–The Lake Michigan Trails Network. The network provides a mechanism for coordinated planning, marketing and communication between state members. We conduct regular conference calls and an annual face-to-face meeting with the goal of implementing continuous recreational trails around Lake Michigan.

Click here for a copy of the Michigan Water Trails Manual. More information is also available here at Michigan Water Trails’ website.