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Northern Michigan Vacations: Circle Torch Lake and pedal between the lakeside towns of Charlevoix and Petoskey by bike or go hiking (even multiple day backpacking) through forested, marsh-laden natural areas teeming with wildlife. Luckily there are plenty of inland lakes, and of course Big Blue, for cooling off after a summer day on the trail.
For serious road warriors, your ticket to one of the best rides in the region is simply to follow the eastern shore of beautiful Torch Lake, which, at 19 miles, ranks as Michigan’s longest inland lake. The tree-lined route along East Torch Lake Drive offers relatively flat terrain and intermittent views of Torch’s tropical-blue waters. The shoulder is less than generous at times, but assertive riders shouldn’t have any problem with traffic, even during peak tourist season. Our suggestion: Start your ride in the village of Alden on the southeast end of Torch, and bike 17 miles to Eastport at the top of the lake, where the beach at Barnes Park is a great place to spend the afternoon before heading back south.
With nearly 26 miles of trails—almost all of them paved—the Little Traverse Wheelway (trailscouncil.org) makes exploring the region as easy as riding a bike. Not only does the trail allow you to pedal all the way from Charlevoix through Petoskey and onward to Harbor Springs, but most of the journey will put you within sight of the beautiful Lake Michigan coastline. On your trip you’ll find more than a half-dozen roadside parks to take in a picnic lunch, and numerous beaches with direct access to the water. Make Petoskey your midway point and you’ll have access to some of the region’s best restaurants and shopping. Find the Charlevoix trailhead, plus parking and restrooms, at Charlevoix Township Hall, 12491 Waller Road. For bike rentals nearby, try Revolution Bike & Boards. 102 MASON ST., CHARLEVOIX, 231.237.0900, REVOLUTIONBANDB.WEBS.COM.