Leelanau County cycling is a magical mix of hills, shoreline and lovely flats near Traverse City and the Sleeping Bear Dunes in Northern Michigan.
We've mapped out 10 outstanding bicycle routes in one of America's most lovely cycling locales, Leelanau County. Click links below to maps of rides that correspond to routes discussed in "Leelanau's Cycling Valhalla," September 2012 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan's Magazine (Key off the word Agenda below.) We've added several more here as bonus routes. Enjoy your two-wheeler time in Leelanau!
Around North Lake Leelanau (Agenda: Friday Afternoon)
A flat 16-miler with shady stretches and some nice views of Lake Leelanau. Very little traffic on east side of Lake Leelanau, and wide shoulders along M-22 and M-204 make traffic okay even on busy summer weekends. Stop into Leland and its Fishtown for shopping, eats. In Lake Leelanau Village, hit Pedaling Beans, a coffee shop devoted to cyclists. This route has you starting from the Fountain Point Resort, but if you aren't staying there, just start from the village of Lake Leelanau. Go go map.
Lake Leelanau Village to Northport and Leland (Agenda: Saturday)
This 31-miler rolls over the captivating and hilly interior of Leelanau County (orchards, vineyards, watery vistas) in the first half (several decent climbs) and then traces a generally smoother, easier route home through Leland. Interior roads are quiet, M-22 and M-204 get bit of traffic at peak tourist times, but the wide shoulder keeps it good. To keep your day leisurely, nice stops in Northport and Leland for eats or roaming boutiques. Add the route below -- from Northport to Grand Traverse Lighthouse at Leelanau Peninsula's tip -- to make it a 50-miler. Go to map.
Northport to the Grand Traverse Lighthouse (Agenda: Saturday)
A beautiful, flat 17-mile round trip (mostly retrace route back). Stop for snack at the lighthouse. Upon return to Northport, swim at park, grab a bite to eat at the Garage (on-site smokehouse!). Go to map.
Lake Leelanau Village to Cedar (Agenda: Sunday Morning)
Enchanting 27-mile route that serves up nice mix of Leelanau County terrain. Flat run along west side of Lake Leelanau, hilly (actually, pretty darn hilly) on way back north along Schomberg and Dufek. Grab a fresh smoked Polish dog at Buntings Market or Pleva's Meats, downtown Cedar at the mid-point and snack by the river. Go to map.
This sweet 18-miler serves up a nice mix of few good hills, beautiful water views, dune scenes in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and a cute resort town -- Glen Arbor -- to boot. A Michigan classic ride. Go to map.
A 16-mile paved trail (no cars!) from Traverse City to Suttons Bay. Flat, often shady. Outstanding restaurant choices in Suttons Bay and Traverse City. Nice! Go to map.
For those looking for a solid day of riding, this 74-miler will satisfy. Start in Cedar and wend your way north through Leelanau's rumpled interior (hills!) all the way to the lighthouse at the peninsula's tip. The route back is significantly flatter, but no less lovely. Many possibilities for village stops in Cedar, Lake Leelanau, Northport and Leland. Go to map.
This 32-mile out-and-back in Benzie County (which adjoins Leelanau to the south) connects two of Northern Michigan's most beautiful spots, Point Betsie and Otter Creek, with a mostly flat (couple hills between shore and M-22 is it), lovely route. M-22 here has wide shoulder and is smooth, but can get trafficky on tourist days. Ride early or during week to minimize. Afterward, swing into Frankfort, a few miles south of Point Betsie, for eats. Go to map.
Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail
This trail is so new that the MapMyRide website doesn't have a map for it yet, but you won't need one for this lovely and simple 4-mile bike trail (8 miles roundtrip). The Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail just opened this spring and runs from the tiny resort burg of Glen Arbor to the popular Dune Climb in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Note to hard core riders, dial down your mileage and speed goals, and pedal this twisty beautiful stretch of asphalt in the spirit of simple two-wheeler joy--take it slow, leisurely, peacefully. The super bonus note is this trail will eventually run 27 miles (54 miles roundtrip!) and is sure to be one of America's standout stretches of car-free cycling.
A not-too-hilly 40-miler that takes in some of Northern Michigan's classic towns. Stop for breakfast in Suttons Bay, pedal the car-free Leelanau Trail to Traverse City. Venture into T.C. to shop or grab a snack. Then shoot on back to Lake Leelanau. Though is 40 miles, the lack of big hills (okay, is one big one on Grandview) makes it doable for wide range of cyclists. (Note: to avoid the big hill, just retrace the Leelanau Trail to where it meets up with S. Lake Leelanau Drive and hop onto the road there.) Go to map.