Located on the famous AuSable River, the historic city of Grayling is known for its multitude of outdoor recreation opportunities. With state parks, numerous hiking trails, a reputable animal hospital, and several dog-friendly restaurants and hotels, this is a pawtastic city to explore with your pooch.
Grayling boasts some of the best hiking trails in Northern Michigan, with both paved and unpaved trails to choose from. The Grayling Bicycle Turnpike is one of the paved ones, with 11 miles of hiking and biking pathways, although dogs do need to be kept on a lead. The two mile Rayburn Property Trail is another popular walk, crossing the AuSable River via a charming wooden bridge.
In addition to all of the outdoor activities in Grayling, there is also plenty of fun to be had in the urban parts of the city as well. Treat your pooch to a meal at one of the city's dog-friendly restaurants, such as the Gates Au Sable Lodge, which serves up breakfast, lunch and dinner, or the fifties-themed Dawson and Stevens Classic Diner.
If you need somewhere to spend the night, there are a variety of options available to you, including the Super 8 Grayling and the Woodland Motor Lodge.
With the perfect mix of both urban and rural adventures to be had, Grayling is a city that really appeals to both dogs and their owners.
The Grayling City Center neighborhood provides access to the Hartwick Pines State Park, which is famous for being home to the state's last remaining stand of old growth white pine. There are 9672 acres for you and your pup to explore here, making this park the fifth largest in all of Michigan. As you would imagine, there are plenty of hiking trails here that make for pawsome dog walks, from the Old Growth Forest Trail to the Au Sable River Trail, but you will need to keep your pooch on a lead. For a tasty treat afterwards, head to the dog-friendly Paddle Hard Brewing for an artisan pizza and one of their 20 beers on tap.
The E M 72 Hwy/ Industrial Dr neighborhood is where you will find the Hanson Hills Recreation Area, which consists of 1500 acres of rolling green hills. There are around 23 miles of trails to choose from here, each one varying in difficulty. For somewhere to stay nearby, the Ramada Grayling Conference Center is dog-friendly, allowing two pets of any size per guest room. If your pooch would prefer to stay closer to nature, the River Park Campground, which is surrounded by thousands of acres of greenery, also allows dogs to stay, so long as they are kept on a lead when around the campground.
Just a 20 minute drive from Grayling is this neighborhood of Gaylord, where you will find the Otsego Lake State Park. This 62 acre park is filled with majestic oak, maple and pine trees, and although there are no established hiking trails within the park, there are still plenty of paths that you and Fido can walk along. Keep an eye out for blueberry bushes, as well as the rare wild orchid. For pups who love the beach, there is a half mile stretch of sandy shoreline here, offering up gorgeous views over Otsego Lake. Don't forget to bring a lead, doggie bags and drinking water with you.
Less than ten minutes away from the center of Grayling is Roscommon's Pere Cheney/ Skyline Village neighborhood, which provides access to North Higgins Lake State Park. This area was once the largest seedling nursery in the world, but today is home to 429 acres of greenery, complete with campgrounds, hiking trails, picnic areas and more. There are three main hiking trails for you and your pooch to choose from, including the 6.5 mile North Higgins Beaver Creek Trail and the 3.8 mile North Higgins-Bosom Pines Trail. There is also a small beach in the park that you and your pup can explore, but keep in mind that dogs are not allowed near any of the swimming areas.
The Roscommon Village Center is located about 15 miles from Grayling, and is home to the Marguerite Gahagan Nature Preserve. This public wildlife sanctuary stretches out for around 60 acres, and features 2.5 miles of walking trails that you and Fido can make the most of, exploring the park's various habitats. Since this area is home to so many animals, you will need to keep your dog on a lead, and bring along your own doggie bags and water too. For a bite to eat afterwards, the AuSable Baking Company and Creamery is dog-friendly, and specialize in home made ice cream and delicious light lunches.