As summer coasts into fall and temperatures become more moderate, cruising the bike lane is a great place to be. The spectacular natural beauty and variety of trail systems in the Petoskey Area make it a one-of-a-kind destination for cyclists of all abilities. Bike rentals are available at a number of places, so if bringing your own bike is an inconvenience, you’re covered.
Where to ride:
Little Traverse Wheelway: Connecting five distinct communities – Charlevoix, Petoskey, Bay Harbor, Bay View, and Harbor Springs - this 26-mile mostly paved trail offers incredible vistas. There are several places to access the trail and a number of places to stop for something to drink or use a restroom. East Park near Bay Harbor is a popular spot to start if you’re heading towards Charlevoix. The first hill is a doozy if you haven’t quite got your bike legs yet, but after that it’s molehills, not mountains, that you will need to conquer. If you head the other way to Petoskey, you will ride on what the locals call "the Miracle Mile." This section of the Wheelway probably has the most breathtaking views of the Little Traverse Bay on the entire trail. Allow extra time for filling your senses with the sights and sounds of this scenic escape.
If you are venturing to Harbor Springs, Bayfront Park in Petoskey offers plenty of parking. Again, this part of the trail is a feast for the eyes offering not only glimpses of sparkling Little Traverse Bay, but also a look at beautiful, historic homes. The Top of Michigan Trails Council is located on M-119 along the trail and the friendly staff there is a wealth of information. Petoskey State Park is a must stop. Bike riders are admitted to the park free of charge, so take advantage of it.
Keep in mind that part of the trail headed toward Harbor Springs runs right along the road. Not only is it not as quiet as other areas, it’s also not recommended for children who may not be steady or aware of their surroundings. If you make it all the way there, be sure to spend some time looking through the shops and enjoying a meal in one of the eateries in this delightful downtown.
North Western State Trail: Spring Lake Park is a good starting point for this 32-mile trail. Depending on when you leave or come back, grab a microbrew or a soft beverage at Petoskey Brewing Company and ask about the history of the building. The starting point on M-119 and into Alanson (7.5 miles) is paved and flat – great for those who want to ride without too much of a challenge. At Alanson, the route switches from pavement to crushed limestone and is fairly flat all the way to Mackinaw City (24.5 miles); this part of the trail requires a little bit wider tire than a street bike.
Bear River Valley Recreation Area: In the heart of Petoskey lies the Bear River Valley Recreation Area which boasts, among other things, a mile-long concrete pathway. Mildly hilly, this is perfect place to take a quick ride and bring along a picnic. There are a couple of blind curves and riders should be conscious of the large number of pedestrians.
Boyne City to Charlevoix Trail: Riders have another trail to cheer about this year with the official opening of the first phase of this trail. It ribbons from the Boyne City limits through Young State Park and a short distance beyond. As with Petoskey State Park (and any other state park in Michigan), bicyclists are welcomed free of charge into the park. Nice and wide (10-feet), this spacious trail is a welcome addition for riders in the Petoskey Area.
No matter which trail system you choose, you’re sure to want to stay another day and try one more ride. Find a place to stay at PetoskeyArea.com or call the Visitors Bureau at 800.845.2828. Start planning your trip now with your free Petoskey Area Vacation Guide.
About the author
Diane Dakins is passionate about all of the communities that comprise the Petoskey Area of Michigan: Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Bay Harbor and Boyne City. As assistant director of the Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau, she has “been there – seen that” when it comes to virtually every area attraction. She strives to create informative content that gives potential visitors the scoop on planning a northern Michigan vacation.