By Christy Walcott
There’s no question about it…Northern Michigan summers are sheer bliss. If you haven’t experienced one yet, it’s high time to head to Gaylord, Michigan to see what all the fuss is about! So what does the “Alpine Village” have in store for you?
Gaylord is quickly becoming recognized as a top biking destination! The scene here is diverse, from picturesque paved routes to undulating single tracks at Aspen Park, Shingle Mill Pathway and Pine Baron Pathway to the crown jewel of all trails – the North Central State Trail. Newly expanded and now running 73 miles from Waters all the way to Mackinaw City, this former railroad line is covered with a crushed limestone surface. Perfect for families out for an afternoon ride or experienced cyclists looking for a challenge, the North Central State Trail meanders through some of the loveliest countrysides in Northern Michigan. If you’re more of an adrenaline junkie, then you won’t want to miss the 82-mile High Country Pathway. Located in the heart of the Pigeon River Country State Forest, this extensive and rustic trail was recognized as having “Epic” status by the International Mountain Bike Association in 2019.
If you lack pedal power but still want to hit the trails, hiking is the way to go! Spend a leisurely afternoon weaving through the trails at the Groen Nature Preserve. With rolling hills, open fields, plentiful wildlife and a pristine lake, you can lose track of time on this former logging property. Those looking for an all day excursion or even a weekend of backpacking can head for the Jordan Valley Pathway, an 18.8 mile loop with a rustic campground at the halfway point. Be ready for stunning vistas, high ridges and skirting along the banks of the striking Jordan River. If you’re limited on time, venture out on the Deadman’s Hill Loop for a 3-mile taste of this exceptional trail.
Ready to visit? Request your free Visitor’s Guide here!
While you’re out enjoying Gaylord’s plentiful trail systems, keep your eyes peeled to catch a glimpse of one of the largest free roaming elk herds east of the Mississippi. The Pigeon River Country State Forest is home to a herd of over 1,000 of these magnificent animals, and while they are always on the go, there are several popular viewing areas they frequent. Exploring Pigeon River country is a great escape, but your schedule may not allow you to spend a day searching for elk. For a guaranteed sighting, head to the City Elk Park, just a few blocks from the downtown district. The City of Gaylord maintains this herd of over 70 animals and they are known for greeting visitors right at the fence.
Lakes & Rivers
If being on the water is more your style, you’ll be happy to know that Otsego County is home to over 90 inland lakes and the headwaters of 5 major rivers. And just what does this mean for your summer getaway? How about countless places to launch your kayak, reel in your catch of the day or simply soak up some rays on a strip of white sand? From Otsego Lake, the largest in our area stretching over 5 miles, to Opal Lake, with its clear turquoise waters, there’s plenty of water to never feel crowded. Fishermen will relish the chance to catch numerous panfish, walleye, trout and even the elusive sturgeon.
Ready to get out on the water? Check out our convenient Recreation Rentals!
While Gaylord is a haven for outdoor lovers, sometimes you need a little slice of civilization to recharge. With a recently remodeled streetscape, trendy new eateries and unique stores with up north charm, there’s definitely a new vibe in town! Stroll the streets in search of one-of-a-kind gifts or follow part of our “Beer Trail” to sample exclusive craft brews. Don’t forget to take a break from your active routine long enough to let your inner “foodie” shine! Get a real taste of what the Alpine Village has to offer by sampling delicacies from our vibrant and growing culinary scene.
Nightlife & Entertainment
Of course, the fun doesn’t stop when the sun goes down! An ever-emerging community, Gaylord’s nightlife scene is thriving. With live music available from stylish downtown venues to performers at lavish resorts to summer concerts along the shores of Dixon Lake, there’s always music in the air. Share a laugh with a friend at a local comedy show or sing to your heart’s delight at karaoke. Looking for something after hours but a little low-key? Join your posse for a paint n’ sip or trivia night. There’s no reason to go to bed early during your Gaylord getaway.
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Festivals & Events
It wouldn’t be a summer road trip without a festival! Schedule your plans around one of our premiere events – Wings Over Northern Michigan, Big Ticket Festival or Alpenfest. Each crowd-pleaser offers a unique experience that’s sure to create those memories you’ll be talking about for years. Seeking the ultimate adrenaline rush? Wings Over Northern Michigan is known for jaw-dropping aerial performances and eyes-to-the-sky attractions. Big Ticket Festival brings in a stellar lineup of over 60 Christian rock entertainers and will even host an American Ninja Warrior event this year! Our signature festival, Alpenfest, has been bringing families, friends and neighbors together for 55 years. Don your dirndl and lederhosen and head downtown for contests, concerts, parades and events for all ages.
It’s undeniable that Gaylord is an All Outdoors paradise and your new favorite summer destination! For all things Gaylord, visit www.gaylordmichigan.net. Share your memories on social media with #GaylordMichigan.