Biking Traverse City | Michigan

Traverse City offers endless opportunities for activity. Whether visiting or residing in the area, you can easily find ways to play, exercise, or just actively enjoy the beautiful outdoors. One of our favorites is biking the TART Trails. According to their website there are “more than 60 miles of regional trails” so we have just scratched the surface on The Leelanau and The Sleeping Bear Heritage Trails.

The Leelanau Trail is an easy, paved, off-road ride between Traverse City and Suttons Bay. We can pick up this trail right from home, but often we drive to the parking lot by the barn at the DeYoung Natural Area and pick up the trail from there towards Suttons Bay.

Traverse City Michigan Photographer/Cathy Fitz

This is a beautiful ride through tunnels of trees,

Traverse City Michigan Photographer/Cathy Fitz

over wooden bridges,

Traverse City Michigan Photographer/Cathy Fitz

Past picturesque farms and fields and vineyards,

Traverse City Michigan Photographer/Cathy Fitz

fields of hops,

Traverse City Michigan Photography/Cathy Fitz

and cherry orchards.

Traverse City Michigan Photographer/Cathy Fitz

It’s not uncommon to see a deer or two.

Traverse City Michigan Photographer/Cathy Fitz

Besides the wildlife and scenery, you’ll see serious bikers, people who look like it might be their first time on a bike, families, pets, roller blades, recumbent bikes, and bicycles built for two (or even three). One thing they all seem in common is a smile and a friendly hello. It really is a happy place to be.

Traverse city Michigan Photographer/Cathy Fitz

We tend to be lollygaggers, stopping to enjoy the nice benches along the way.

At one time or another we have ridden all 17 miles, but I’ve never ridden the entire trail all at one time. That’s on the radar in the near future. Our plan is to ride to Sutton’s Bay from Traverse City, have dinner, and catch the Bike-N-Ride transportation back home. It’s a great option to go for a ride, and take the bus back home. You can check out their schedule here.

Last Saturday, while sitting on this bench, we could hear a harmonica and singing from across the field. We followed the sound to the crossroad of Shady Lane and arrived at the beautiful Shady Lane Cellars.

Traverse City Photographer/Cathy Fitz

It was almost closing time so we didn’t get a chance to try the wine at this lovely location, but we were able to catch the last bit of the live music by George Heritier

traverse City Michigan Photographer/Cathy Fitz

The other trail we enjoy biking is Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail. This ride through Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park is too beautiful for words.

Traverse City Michigan Photographer/Cathy Fitz

We also ride trail in sections, sometimes starting at Empire to the dune climb near Glenn Haven.

Michigan Photographer/Cathy Fitz

More recently we’ve been starting in the Glen Arbor area and riding the new section of the trail toward Port Oneida.

Traverse City Michigan Photographer/Cathy Fitz

While there, it’s a nice chance to take a break and dip your feet into the incredibly clear water of the Crystal River.

Traverse City Michigan Photographer/Cathy Fitz

Traverse city Photographer/Cathy Fitz

Cathy Fitz

The ride toward Port Oneida passes some really cool old barns and farms.

Traverse City Photographer/Cathy Fitz

Traverse City Photographer/Cathy Fitz

The Charles Olsen Farm

The 27-mile trail is a work in progress, and you will eventually come to a portion that is unpaved.

Cathy Fitz

But no worries, even without pavement, it’s a nice smooth trail.

Cathy Fitz

We drove our car across much worse in Costa Rica 🙂

Travel PHotography/Cathy fitz

The trail currently ends at Port Oneida Road.

Cathy Fitz

Sometimes we just park here and take the road toward Port Oneida. It is a lovely ride with very little traffic through the Port Oneida Rural Historic District.

Traverse City Photographer/Cathy Fitz

Traverse City Photographer/Cathy Fitz

Keep an eye out for wildlife, like this Sandhill Crane we spotted on one beautiful ride.

Traverse City Photographer/Cathy Fitz

Take time to explore the side roads taking you to amazing vistas of Lake Michigan – the perfect place to string a hammock, and soak in the view.

Traverse City Michigan Photographer/Cathy Fitz

Or take the stairs down to walk along the beach.

Cathy Fitz

Michigan Photographer/Cathy Fitz

There are great online resources for all of these trails and areas to see along the way, including some detail maps. Also be sure to read the rules and regulations for entering the park and get a parking pass for your car.

When biking, I love to use Map Your Ride on my phone. It’s a great way to track your distance, map it, and add pictures along the way.

This really just scratches the surface for biking options in the Traverse City area. What’s your favorite ride?

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