Kodak moments? You bet. But a leisurely two-wheeled cruise along TART Trail provides more than just scenic photo ops. Be sure to check out the great eats, shops and boats moored at the Clinch Park marina along the way.
The TART (Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation) Trail winds past giant maple trees, wooden bridges, trout streams, the airport, railroad tracks, city neighborhoods, a marina and the beach, and you can get on or off anywhere along this east-west trail and find food, shopping and other urban adventures.
Start on the east end, off Bunker Hill Road, where you can park, and roll behind the hotels that line U.S. 31. Stop and grab a thick milkshake at Don’s Drive-In (2030 U.S.-31 North, 231-938-1860). At Mitchell Creek, find a wooden bridge over a trout stream and watch the fish dart below. Several adjacent local and state parks and the Reffitt Nature Preserve (off Aero Park Drive) are yours to explore. Further west, in the historic mahogany-clad train station, sip a cappuccino at the Station Espresso Bar.
In Traverse City’s downtown, find shops and eateries galore, then spin down to Grandview Parkway and the big water of Grand Traverse Bay. Put your feet in the blue at the white-sand beach, mellow out watching the sailboats on the azure horizon and contemplate the ride back to your car. Find out more about the TART and other area trails at traversetrails.org.
Patty Lanoue Stearns is a freelancer based in Traverse City, MI.
Note: This article was first published in April 2006, and was updated for the web February 2008.