As snow laden trees give way to tiny buds and temperatures begin their ascent, the woods and trails of northern Michigan come alive with color and sounds. Spring is a beautiful and peaceful time to visit the Petoskey Area.

Bring your hiking boots to head out on numerous pathways where you can reconnect with nature. Revel in some quiet moments alone or bring a buddy to share in your exploration. Trails are dotted throughout the whole Petoskey Area and vary in difficulty of walking/riding. Many are designated for only hiking, while others like the Tanton Family Working Forest Reserve in Petoskey, invite mountain bikers to use the trail system as well – though please – stay off super wet and muddy trails so not to damage them.

While fauna will wake up a bit sooner, wild leeks, sometimes called ramps, will come out once the snow has all melted. These are a wonderful addition to soups and stir-frys and many other recipes. They’re low in calories and high in vitamins and minerals, plus most of the plant is edible. You may think you’re seeing several plants, but the leeks grow in clumps that start from one point. Just take a few from each plant so they’ll multiply the next year. You may notice leeks in the area nearly to Memorial Day.

Another thing to watch for in early to mid-May is morel mushrooms. The delicious fungi are found in the woods – they crop up near trees like ash, oak and elms, and in old apple orchards. A super snowy winter or rainy spring along with warm (but not too warm) nights is a good indicator that morels will pop up. Gray, black, yellow – the colors vary but the taste is the same in all of them. We’re excited to have Boyne City’s Morel Mushroom Festival and their chamber’s Wine & Dine dinner where the main course is – you guessed it – morels! Be sure to check it out! And get some great tips about hunting for these tasty delicacies from Outdoor Life.

If leeks and morels have made an appearance, you will probably see trillium in the forests along the way, too. These beautiful wildflowers will show up here and there in some areas, and in others they can be so dense that they seemingly carpet the forest. The flowers are white when blooming and turn to pink as they begin to wither.

While you are welcome to pick morels and leeks, it’s illegal to pick the protected trillium anywhere, not just in Michigan. Be wise too – if you’re going to harvest the leeks and morels that you find, study up! There are poisonous imposters of both and you don’t want to turn a good experience into a nasty one. Also, you’re not allowed to pick these treats on protected conservancy lands, but it’s fine to do on state public lands.

When you want to get out and about, keep the Petoskey Area in mind this spring. Bring your hiking boots and wander through the wonder that is northern Michigan. You’ll find a variety of lodging options to make your stay comfortable and relaxing.

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About the author

Diane Dakins is passionate about all the lakeside communities that comprise the Petoskey Area of northern Michigan: Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Bay Harbor and Boyne City. As assistant director of the Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau, she has “been there – seen that” when it comes to virtually every area attraction. Her blogs give potential visitors the scoop on planning a northern Michigan vacation.