Emmet County’s The Headlands
Home to the International Dark Sky Park
Size: 600 acres
Frontage: 2 1/2 miles along the Straits of Mackinac
Land Description: The largest and least disturbed forest tract in the Mackinaw City vicinity.
Trails & Facilities: A paved road takes you to the dark sky viewing and the trailhead. Nearly 4½ miles of trails for cross-country skiing, hiking, birdwatching, mountain biking, stargazing, and picnicking are all available at the Headlands. The property also includes a guest house for public rental. Contact Emmet County at 231.347.6536 for details or visit www.emmetcounty.org.
History: In 1996, the Conservancy assisted Emmet County in acquiring the Headlands with a grant from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund and with LTC holding a conservation easement on the property. The land is an important resting stop and staging area for raptors and neotropical birds migrating across the Straits. It is also home to the endangered Dwarf Lake Iris and possibly for the threatened Lake Huron Tansy and Pitcher’s Thistle. Flanked by the Straits of Mackinac, the Headlands was designated an international Dark Sky Park in 2011. New facilities were completed for the park in 2017 and regular programs are held there: www.midarkskypark.org.
Directions: From Mackinaw City, take Central Avenue west for 2 miles to its end. Turn south (left) and go 1/3 mile to the entrance road on the right.