Happy Trails – 5 Favorite Michigan Excursions

happy trails top of Saugatuck dune walking excursion

Tip-top of the dune!

At Sanford Behavioral Health, excursions are opportunities for our clients to experience real life in the safety of treatment. Excursions provide authentic opportunities to unpack feelings and triggers. They also rekindle or develop new interests that help make long-term recovery manageable and fun.

Happy Trails

We recommend walking excursions while in treatment and long-term recovery. With 101 Michigan state parks covering 360,000 acres, there is a lot to explore. Indeed, the benefits abound, and Michigan is beautiful any time of year!

Benefits of Walking Excursions:

  • Hiking decreases depression and feelings of hopelessness. It also allows us to connect with nature and ourselves, bringing a sense of well-being.
  • Walking improves sleep quality. A bracing walk in the fresh air makes you tired and enhances REM sleep.
  • Hiking improves cardio-respiratory fitness. And the farther you get from the madding crowd, the cleaner the oxygen.
  • Without putting too much stress on your joints, the muscles in your legs, glutes, and core will develop and strengthen on the trail.
  • Getting out of doors for the joy of movement and not for the calorie burn or competition frees the mind and opens the eyes to the splendor all around!
  • Spend time out of doors, and your attention span and brain power increase – creative juices flow more freely when you are active than when sitting.
  • Walking increases bone density, especially if you walk with a backpack.
  • Being in nature improves connections to the people you are with, and when alone, it recharges you to the core.
  • Winding your way on a rugged trail and taking responsibility for your actions improves emotional and physical stability.
  • The sounds, smells, and sights in the majesty of nature have a calming effect on the mind.
  • Uneven terrain improves balancing skills, automatically adjusting to ground-level changes.
  • Walking, even a few minutes a day, increases longevity.


Muskegon path in woods

The happy trails of P.J. Hoffmaster State Park, Muskegon, Michigan


5 Favorite Michigan Excursions

1. Wilderness State Park, Mackinaw City, Michigan

Remarkable sunsets and a designated dark sky park are just two reasons to stop at Wilderness State Park on your way across the Mackinaw Bridge! Practice your awe walks and mindfulness exercises on the shores of Lake Michigan.


Awe Walks for Mental Health

wilderness state park sunset 2022 edited

It’s even BETTER in real life!


2. Rosy Mound Natural Area, Grand Haven, Michigan

One of our favorite outings is the trail at Rosy Mound Recreation Area. Rosy Mound is a dune with about a “7” degree of difficulty but with benches along the way, a manicured path, and solitary spots to meditate.


Rosy Mound Nature Therapy

Rosy Mound happy trails rest area

High above Lake Michigan


3. Early Morning Reeds Lake, East Grand Rapids, Michigan

Whether watching the sunrise, migrating Canadian geese, or ice fishermen, early morning at John A. Collins Park is hopping! We love this resource in the heart of East Grand Rapids (early rising is good for mental health).


Early Birds and Mental Health

Reeds lake summer 3

On the Reeds Lake trail.


4. Saugatuck Dunes State Park, Saugatuck, Michigan

The park is home to 2.5 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, coastal dunes, forests, and 13 miles of trails for all fitness levels (from a mile beach trail to more rigorous dune climbs). If you are feeling adventurous, book a ride in a dune buggy!


Hiking and Recovery – Nature’s Dynamic Duo

Saugatuck 1

Follow the Saugatuck Dunes State Park rules, please.


5. Blandford Nature Center, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Another gem in the heart of Grand Rapids is Blandford Nature Center. 125 acres of grass and woodlands, trails, ponds, herds of deer, and over 40 rehabilitated animals to view up close and personal.


Exercise for Stress – 5 Days 30 Minutes

Walking excursions deer and fauns

Fauns in the spring!


Excursions in Real-Life Recovery

Walking in nature’s splendor brings good old-fashioned joy. And in addiction recovery, it is important to take advantage of moments of joy instead of ignoring them. Walking can also reset feelings of anxiety, anger, or hopelessness. The ability to evaluate and reset how you are feeling is quite a gift. And these moments on the trail can serve as a reminder to get out of your head and invite in the good. Happy trails to you!



Sanford Behavioral Health is licensed and accredited as an addiction, eating disorder, and co-occurring mental health treatment facility, serving all of Michigan and beyond. Each of Sanford’s facilities in Greater Grand Rapids is carefully and diligently crafted to create a welcoming and comforting environment. Sanford is led by a psychiatrist-led team of medical, clinical, and support personnel providing medication-assisted, evidenced-based treatment to residential, outpatient, and telehealth patients. For more information, visit www.sanfordbehavioralhealth.com.