This Michigan bucket list item is brought to you by Cadillac Area Visitors Bureau.
Lake Cadillac offers wonderful opportunities to explore the water in Cadillac, MI. With the even larger Lake Mitchell connected via a canal, you can have great outdoor experiences time and time again. However, you don’t have to be on or in the water to get closer to nature this summer. Instead, you can walk the Keith McKellop Walkway and explore downtown while uncovering unique features throughout the city.
The Keith McKellop Walkway
Around the northeast curve of Lake Cadillac, the Keith McKellop Walkway is about 1.5 miles long. The main trailhead is on the easternmost side near the Rotary Performing Arts Pavilion. It leads west around the lake, ending with a small loop located behind Northern Lights Irish Dance and Ballet Academy.
The path is made of concrete and is 4 feet wide, so it’s ideal for in-line skating and jogging as well. Along the path, you’ll walk by informational signs, playgrounds, parks, gardens, sculptures, and more. There are plenty of restaurants and shops nearby too.
Access to the Trail
Several parking lots offer access to the walkway. In fact, you could begin the trail at three different points. You can see these parking spots and trailheads on the map at the bottom of this page. All of the lots are managed by the city and free to use.
On the east side, you can park in Lot C at the Cadillac Commons across the street. On the other hand, you could park in Lot D on the same side of the street as the eastern trailhead. It’s located just southeast of the pavilion.
If you want to shorten your walk, you could park at Lot B at the center of the path. It’s directly across from the Chris Blackburn Skate Park. To start on the west side of the trail, park in Lot A right across from Veterans Memorial Stadium, which is the high school football field.
Condition & Amenities
The Keith McKellop Walkway is an easy path that’s suitable for everyone to use. The fully paved trail is smooth, but there are a few bumpy spots where tree roots and other natural impacts have raised the concrete.
The walkway has no inclines except for a small boardwalk bridge that you use to cross over the Clam River, which flows into Lake Cadillac. Even then, the incline is only slight, and the bridge and sidewalk have minimal gaps. As a result, it’s easy for wheelchair tires to roll across. You can pause on the bridge for a photo opportunity at the mouth of the river.
As for amenities, restrooms are close to the easternmost trailhead, just southeast of the pavilion. Public park and picnic facilities are available as well.
Activities & Things to See
No bicycles or motorized vehicles are permitted on the Keith McKellop Walkway. Welcomed activities include jogging, in-line skating, and walking. You’re also welcome to let your dog get some exercise on the path as long as you keep it on a leash and clean up after it.
Next to the path are a few historic markers that highlight the history of Cadillac, starting from when it was founded as the Village of Clam Lake. The markers tell you about what once stood at the sites and provide historic photos.
If you chose to park in Lot C, you should check out the Cadillac Commons before or after your walk. The City Park here has a beautiful memorial water fountain, an outdoor fireplace, a splash pad, and the historic Shay Locomotive. The commons hosts The Market at Cadillac Commons in June with a variety of product vendors, food trucks, live music, and other experiences. The Rotary Performing Arts Pavilion is part of that area too.
About a quarter of the way northwest on the Keith McKellop Walkway, you’ll come across the Cadillac Lakeside Playscape. This handicap-accessible playground features monkey bars, slides, swings, and more. The handicap feature is a handicap swing with a ramp and a lockable door. You can rest on the benches here while your kids play or while you just enjoy the scenery. Two restrooms are available here as well. Nearby is a Diversity sculpture made completely out of recycled materials.
About midway through the walkway is the trailhead for the Clam River Greenway, which features beautiful gardens. One of these gardens is the Cadillac Sound Garden, a unique fixture with rustic musical art sculptures, a ground sundial, hundreds of perennials, and more.
Holding significance to the community is the Veterans Monument on the western half of the trail. It’s dedicated to the men and women who have and continue to serve in the U.S. Armed Services. Alongside a monument wall, there’s a canon to honor veterans of foreign conflicts. Continuing west toward the looping end of the walkway is the Butterfly Wings Mural next to the parking lot for the dance academy. It’s a fun spot to take photos!
More Walking Tours & Trails Nearby
If you fancy a walk around downtown Cadillac, follow the Old Cadillac Architectural Self-Guided Tour. It features 16 historic sites within 2 miles of each other. It only takes about two hours to walk the whole tour if you don’t stop to explore shops and museums along the way. It starts to the east of the Keith McKellop Walkway and leads you through the city streets. Here’s a tour brochure with a map and details about each historic site and information about the sculptures around the Keith McKellop Walkway.
Are you looking for a longer trail to hike or bike? The White Pine Trail Head starts in downtown just southeast of the Rotary Performing Arts Pavilion next to the public restrooms and Parking Lot D. It stretches for about 50 miles, connecting Cadillac with Grand Rapids. However, you can go as far as you want and then backtrack to downtown Cadillac.
Best Restaurants for Delicious Food
There are a few top-notch places for dining in downtown Cadillac. After 26 Depot & Cafe — across from the Keith McKellop Walkway’s easternmost trailhead — serves an amazing breakfast and has a yummy lunch menu. It’s located in the historic Ann Arbor Railroad Depot that was built around 1915. The After 26 Project restored the building to its former glory with patio seating that overlooks Lake Cadillac.
Unique to the After 26 Cafe are its employees. It supports disabled adults ages 26 and older who have aged out of the system, giving them jobs so that they can be active and meaningful participants in the community.
A less than five-minute walk away is The Sweet Shop. At this local staple, you can purchase handmade chocolates, caramel corn, kettle corn, ice cream, and a lot of candy. Its Snow Birds chocolates are famous in the area.
Another short walk away is Blue Heron Cafe & Bakery. It creates great-tasting food with fresh and high-quality produce and meats, often sourced in Michigan. The bakery specializes in making homemade breads, doughnuts, and muffins.
Unique Places for Shopping
In addition to the one-of-a-kind discoveries that you’ll make on the Keith McKellop Walkway, downtown Cadillac is full of interesting shopping opportunities. Horizon Books is an independently owned bookstore with a coffee bar, fireplace, and live events. Aside from books, you’ll find games, puzzles, magazines, stationery, and more.
Mäkse Boutique is an eclectic boutique clothing store owned by two best friends. It offers an array of fine clothing, accessories, and shoes for women. Another fashion boutique, Serendipity focuses on personal details in the collections of clothing, accessories, and shoes that it sells. You can further upgrade your wardrobe at Blossoms Boutique, which has everything from jewelry to jeans to boots.
As a magazine turned store, Charming North is a lifestyle shop that offers curated collections of handcrafted, new, and used furnishings, home decor, gifts, and more. You’ll see pieces made by local artisans and artists here. For home decor with a country twist, you can’t go wrong at Country Cottage Decor. It has folk art, pottery, rugs, kitchen linens, pillows, lamps, and the list goes on.
Lodging Options Near the Keith McKellop Walkway
Since there’s so much to do in Cadillac, you might want to stay here for a few days to experience it all. Take a look at these hotels, campgrounds, and resorts.