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PLEASE NOTE: Due to repeated problems, law enforcement patrols will increase at Maple Bay Natural Area. Please keep the following rules in mind:

  • Dogs MUST be on a leash
  • Fires are NOT allowed
  • Camping is NOT allowed
  • Leave NO trace (pack out what you pack in)

Thank you for keeping this special place safe, clean and enjoyable for all who visit!

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Protected by the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy and owned by Grand Traverse County. Managed by GTRLC and Grand Traverse County.

Maple Bay Natural Area straddles both sides of North U.S. 31 between Traverse City and Elk Rapids. This popular property has many recreation opportunities and is conspicuously demarcated by beautiful sunflowers planted on both sides of the highway in the summer months (this varies from year to year).

To access the trails and incredible beach, visitors turn down a gravel drive on the west side of U.S. 31, pass Maple Bay Farm and arrive at to a parking area on top of a bluff where agricultural fields meet forests. The trail descends the bluff to its foot where many dune zones, including dune swale complexes, can be seen. These areas are sensitive and home to several endangered plant species. The trail system includes approximately 2 miles of trail and can be extended with a walk on the beach. Please note the trail to the beach is somewhat steep and is about one third of a mile.

Read the Maple Bay chapter in our 25th anniversary publication.


Hunting is allowed. For up-to-date hunting rules and regulations regarding this specific property, contact the Grand Traverse County Parks Department at (231) 922-4818.

Dogs are welcome, but they must be leashed at all times! Click here to find out why.


Maple Bay Natural Area Trails

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