Explore Traverse City by Bike

The Best of Michigan party approaches. And since it’s in Traverse City, I’m definitely extending my stay to enjoy the area. I’ve read for years about the region’s wineries, and I’ve always wanted to take a tour. And because we’ll be there in May, I’m planning to do so by bike. There are few things more enjoyable to me than a relaxed bike ride through a beautiful landscape.

In fact, the Traverse City area is something of a bicyclist’s dream. And you don’t have to be the hard-core type: Just rent a cruiser and check out some of these trails.

The 10.5-mile Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation (TART) Trail is a paved “linear park.” It passes through downtown Traverse City and city neighborhoods, along the West Bay waterfront and past restaurants and shops. The TART connects with parks, beaches and preserves, along with several other trails, including the three-mile, heavily wooded Boardman Trail, along the shores of Boardman Lake. TART also crosses the 17-mile Leelanau Trail, which connects Traverse City with the village of Suttons Bay, following a former railroad corridor through a landscape of forests, farms, vineyards, lakes and ponds.

Just as scenic is the new Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail, a paved 27-mile trail that runs most of the length of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, connecting major park attractions and the communities of Empire and Glen Arbor.

More experienced cyclists might want to hit the region’s numerous rural back roads, especially those of the Old Mission and Leelanau peninsulas and the drumlin country of western Antrim County. (If you need some guidance on routes, check out the Cherry Capital Cycling Club). 

Mountain biking fans can explore the Vasa Pathway, located east of Traverse City in the Pere Marquette State Forest (and home to the annual North American Vasa ski race.) Or check out the 140-acre Grand Traverse Commons Nature Area, whose steep terrain is home to an extensive network of freeride mountain biking trails. The Sand Lakes Quiet Area offers 12 miles of trails, ranging from beginner to expert, starting at the same trailhead and circling around several picturesque forest lakes. And the area’s latest addition for mountain bikers is the 814-acre Glacial Hills Pathway and Natural Area near Bellaire, with 31.5 miles of dramatically steep and winding trails. (When you’re ready for a break, head to Short’s Brewing Co. in downtown Bellaire.)

See you on the trails! 

Historic river city and its many legends are ready to host and entertain.


Nature, golf, skiing, rails-to-trails, location and more combine to make this Alpine Village an up north gem.