Traverse City, MI

Northern Michigan’s Hippie Tree

Kyle Schepperley
Kyle Schepperley

If you’re from Northern Michigan, you may or may not have heard about the infamous hippie tree. Tucked away in the woods behind the Traverse City State Hospital, is an old willow tree with an assortment of twisted branches that have been painted in bright, vibrant colors, by the local community and visitors.

The unique name for the old willow tree is said to have come from the conjurers and visionaries (often referred to as hippies) who used to meditate below the base of the tree to gain spiritual insight. Afterwards, in a form of expression, they would paint the tree branches in all sorts of colors and patterns.
Kyle Schepperley

The hippie tree is said to be a chain for the spirits that once occupied the old state hospital nearby. There are many stories and myths about the tree’s history, most popular being that it is a “gateway to hell.” According to local legend, if you walk around the tree in a specific way, a portal to hell will open up beneath its roots. 

Despite all of the myths and stories you may hear about the hippy tree, no actual reports of mystic and spiritual tales have been found. In reality, this is a fun location for art and nature lovers to enjoy. Thousands of people, from many generations have left their mark here. It may take some time hiking around the area to find. But for some people, attempting to locate this unique tree is part of the fun. 

Disclaimer: This article is for informational and educational purposes only. 

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