Kalkaska’s Shoe Tree, Michigan

Kalkaska's Shoe Tree

photography by: Gunner's Pixs/ Flickr

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Tucked away in the northern fringes of Michigan, the low-key village of Kalkaska is best known for its national trout festival, surrounding lakes and apparently, also a quirky shoe-bearing tree that baffled motorists for years on end now.

Whoever drives along the US-131 highway north of Kalkaska will come across a rather bizarre sight. Standing a couple of feet tall, a roadside maple tree is conspicuous by its unusual yield. Instead of pears, apples or cherries, this tree boasts over a hundred pairs of shoes hanging from its branches, ranging from neon running sneakers to long boots, and even high heels.


There are many theories as to how this tree first got its footwear, but the leading one is that a group of students from a nearby high-school threw these shoes as part of their graduation traditions. Whatever its origins are, this tree witnessed a sharp rise in popularity over the years, so much so, that at one point, dedicated fans even opened a Facebook page, dedicated entirely to this arboreal oddity.


Sometimes dubbed as “The Great Leetsville Shoe Tree”, this maple is apparently only one of copious shoe trees throughout Michigan and the US, with this ever-growing trend becoming a symbol of American quirkiness.