Burt Lake Trail

Gentile hills and views of simmering water provide the background for the Burt Lake Trail. This trail provides a safer recreation and transportation route to bike, walk, and enjoy the gorgeous scenery around the north end of Burt Lake. With both paved and limestone surfaces, places to view the lake, connections to trails for hiking, and linking the North Western sate Trail and the North Central State Trail, the Burt Lake Trail has it all!

Phase one of the Burt Lake Trail was completed in the fall of 2013. Five miles of trail consisting of separated crushed limestone and paved shoulders runs from Maple Bay Road on Brutus Road to Hogsback Road on West Burt Lake Road. Funding for the trail came from grants through MDOT Transportation Enhancement Funds, the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF), and a local match of $140,000 which was raised from a large number of residents of Burt Township, as well as residents and visitors from Cheboygan and Emmet County. Groups including The Burt Lake Preservation Association (BLPA), The Tri-County Bicycle Association DALMAC Fund, Hospitalists of Northern Michigan, Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Foundation, Straits Area Community Foundation, Citizens National Bank, Xcel Physical Therapy, Indian River and the Indian River Kayak/Bike Biathlon also contributed to the construction of the trail.

Trail Highlights

Distance: 18 Miles

Surface: Mixed, including – crushed limestone, pavement, road shoulder

Usage: Non-morotized

Segments described from west to east:

Brutus to Maple Bay and Chaboiganing Preserve & Indian Point Memorial Forest – 4 miles

Brutus Trailhead: TBD with upcoming trail development

From Brutus to Maple Bay Rd is a future phase of the Burt Lake that that will be 5-6′ road shoulders, taking you from the North Western State Trail to Maple Bay Road. At Maple bay Rd the trail becomes separated and paved to Chaboiganing Preserve. Maple Bay Road Provides access to the Burt Lake Maple Bay Boat Ramp and the Maple Bay State Forest Campground (0.4 miles). The Cheboiganing Preserve is adjacent to the Indian Point Memorial Forest, home to the Colonial Point Memorial Forest, one of the few old growth forest left in the state with 200 year old red oak trees. Combined, these two preserves offer 2.5 miles of hiking trails.

Cheboiganing Preserve to the University of Michigan Biological Station – The Gorge Hiking Trails – 5.3 Miles

Cheboiganing Preserve Trailhead – Parking

This section of trail mostly follows West Burt Lake Road, east of the road, past homes and cottages with views of the lake. Trail surface is both paved and crushed limestone, with sections upgraded as funding becomes available.

University of Michigan Biological Station – The Gorge Hiking Trails to Topinabee – 5.4 Miles completed, 3.1 Future

Trailhead: Parking is available at The Gorge Hiking Trails

After exploring the Gorge, the next section of separated trail is paved until it reaches just past Birchwood Road, where it becomes 5-foot paved shoulders until Topinabee Mail Route Road. From Topinabee Mail Route Road to Topinabee will consist of 5 food paved road shoulders.


Trailhead: Parking available at the Topinabee Public Library.
Other Amenities Available: Restrooms, Picnic Area, Water, Beach, Playground, Food, Historic Site

Trail Status

The first five miles of trail have been continually improved by paving short sections subject to erosion and maintenance provided by the Burt Lake Trail maintenance committee who keeps the trail in great condition.

Donations can be accepted now for the next phase of the Burt Lake Trail by sending contributions to the Top of Michigan Trails Council. Designate that your funds are to be directed to the Burt Lake Trail!

Future Plans for Burt Lake Trail
When completed the Burt Lake Trail will connect the North Central State Trail to the North Western State Trail creating a 67 mile looped trail. The Burt Lake Trail will also connect to the state endorsed Iron-Belle Trail, a planned bike route from Belle Isle in southern Michigan to Iron Mountain in the Upper Peninsula, utilizing part of the North Central State Trail.  Future segments of the Burt Lake Trail will include widened shoulders along present roads and separated pathways when possible.

The Burt Lake Trail is a great example of how collaborative efforts can achieve so much. The trail could not have happened without the support of many individuals, organizations, and government agencies. We look forward to the continued support and involvement of our many trail partners.

What you can do to help:

  1. Become a member of the Top of Michigan Trails Council and encourage your friends and family to do the same.
  2. Donate to the BURT LAKE TRAIL by sending your contribution to the Top of Michigan Trails Council. TOMTC is a 501c.3 organization. You’ll find it very easy to donate HERE. Online donations should email Becca (btn@trailscouncil.org) in order to designate your donation to the Burt Lake Trail.
  3. Ride, walk, and enjoy the wonderful Northern Michigan Trails.

View Handbook here.

Thank you to the Cheboygan Community Foundation for their support in producing the printed brochure available for this map.