Rediscover that old timey swimming-hole feel at pint-sized Dollar Lake, about 20 minutes southeast of Traverse City. The walk is just a quarter mile or so to this 37-acre lake outfitted with a sandy bottom and surrounded by the great Northwoods. A swim here is a favorite of John Heiam, president of the Grand Traverse Hiking Club. From the corner of Williamsburg and Supply Roads, go west on Supply a couple of hundred yards. Park in the lot. For a longer hike, follow the trail to Muncie Lakes trails.
Find a captivating mix of forest trail and beach just west of tiny Atwood on the Lake Michigan shore. Park at the southern lot and hike northward on the Trillium Ridge trail. When you reach the dirt road a half-mile later, turn left and follow it to the beach — a few hundred yards. Wander the beach back to the creek, take time to swim, then follow the creek trail back to your car. Antrim Creek is a secluded, lovely treasure of the North. From U.S. 31 at Atwood take Rex Beach Road west to Old Dixie Highway. Turn left to the southern entry, about a half mile.
You'll need two cars or an arranged ride for this one, but the effort's worth it. Leave one car at the beach in Empire then drive north 6 miles to Glen Haven, where your hike begins at the old Cannery. Wander the Lake Michigan shore south to your Empire-parked car. Take the day, go slow, swim often.
Thanks to John Heiam for the hike and swim idea.
Jeff Smith is editor of Traverse, Northern Michigan's Magazine.
Note: This article was first published in August 2006 and was updated for the web February 2008.