Cadillac Heritage Trail is a 3.5-mile nature trail managed by Mitchell State Park. It can be accessed from the Carl T. Johnson Hunting and Fishing Center.
The benefits of hiking are well documented, showing that seniors who hike regularly experience:
- Improved circulation
- Improved cardiovascular health
- Reduced arthritis, joint and knee pain
- A boost in bone density which can improve bone health and reduce the risk of osteoporosis
- Lower levels of depression and feelings of isolation
- Improved muscle strength when hiking on a slight incline
The trail is intended to be used for walking and hiking and in the winter cross country skiing and snowshoeing is permitted.
Parking for the Cadillac Heritage Trail is connected to the Carl T. Johnson Hunting and Fishing Center. The lot has 60+ spaces and 3 handicapped spots and is concrete.
The lot does require a recreation passport that can be purchased at Mitchell State Park for $16, or for $11 if purchased when renewing your license. The passport grants you access to more than 100 state parks and recreation areas and various other boating launches, campgrounds and trails.
Money used to purchase recreation passports funds state parks and recreation areas, state forest campgrounds, trails, and boat launches, historic sites, and within our own community was used to build the Cadillac Lakeside Playscape on Lake Cadillac. Passports can also be purchased at the lot and money is collected in a dropbox on-site, or right across the street at the Mitchell State Park.
The trailhead is connected directly to the parking lot. Visitors will need to turn off of M-115 just 100 feet north of the canal that connects Lake Cadillac and Lake Mitchell, right by the Mitchell State Park.
On a nice warm summer day stop into Cadillac Ice Cream Co. and grab Northern Michigan’s largest cone after your hike. In the winter grab a hot chocolate or coffee from Java Too and warm back up after a cross country skiing adventure. Both establishments are located on Cadillac’s West Side, just ½ mile south of Cadillac Heritage Trail.
The Cadillac Heritage Trail is connected to the Lake Cadillac Foot and Bike Path, so you can also access the trail through that without having to drive there. There is a bike rack for visitors to park their bike, and then they can head inside the Carl T. Johnson and check it out before heading out for a nice stroll.
Once You’re There
Now that you have arrived what’s to expect? The path varies from dirt to hardpacked gravel and is around 4 feet wide. Tree roots occasionally pop up on the track, but it mostly smooth sailing. Strollers are often used on the trail. It is mostly flat with very little elevation change.
The path is a 2.6-mile loop, with about 0.45-mile path from the Carl T. Johnson to the loop, equating to 3.5 miles in total. Along the way, interpretive panels provide facts about plants, animals and other natural features of the trail. Boardwalks are used to overcome wetlands and some extend more than a couple of hundred feet. Spaces between boards are not too wide, but the bridge itself is not always too flat.
Benches are spaced out every so often with the longest gap being ¾ miles between two benches.
Along the trail, there is an observation platform, fishing pier, viewing shelter, and even an osprey platform. Looking over the marsh it’s possible to see small flocks of ducks, an osprey’s nest, great blue herons or a beaver slapping its tail as it swims past an observation deck. Hikers have the opportunity to spot mallards, wood ducks, black ducks, and Canada geese during spring and fall migration, plus herons, bitterns, shorebirds, and other wetland-related bird species. Songbirds that nest in the wetland and adjacent habitats include the redwing blackbird, common yellowthroat, yellow warblers, and goldfinches while barred owls, red-tailed hawks, and occasionally osprey and bald eagles are observed here. Deer, beavers, muskrats, raccoons, and turtles are also common throughout the area.
Pets are welcome on the trail but must be on a leash of 6 feet or shorter. Get out and enjoy one of Cadillac’s finest trails!