Escape to Traverse City’s Arbutus Lakes

If you’re looking for something more secluded than the beach scene of Grand Traverse Bay, head south on Garfield Road to where the city’s imprint disappears and rolling hills of towering oaks and pines take its place – the same hills that shelter the beautiful gems of Arbutus Lakes.

Drive the dozen miles to Mayfield, where you can find what you’ll need for your Arbutus Lake escape at the Mayfield Store (4044 S. Garfield R., 231-263-5685). Beach day today? Load up on ready-made sandwiches, sodas from the cooler, baked goods and scoops of hard-packed ice cream. Fishing excursion? You’re in luck – Mayfield, the birthplace of the legendary Adams dry fly, offers angling supplies aplenty. Find fishing licenses, hooks, bait and other gear at the Mayfield store, then hit the road and head north again on Garfield.

You’ll hang a right at Potter Road (look for the blinking caution light) and follow the brown boat-launch signs all the way to North Arbutus Lake Road. A few miles up you’ll find the launch, with plenty of parking and a restroom nearby. Arbutus Lake is actually a string of five smallish lakes, connected and identified by number. Set sail from this launch into Lake No. 4, where bluegill and largemouth bass are common catches. It’s generally peaceful here, but a no-wake regulation on Lake No. 1 and No. 5 ensures even more tranquil angling.

Prefer your lake with a side of sand? Head by car to East Arbutus Lake Road where East Bay Township Park No. 5 provides a beach, wooded picnic area and dock from which you can splash around. If you get too tuckered out to make the trek home, cruise back to North Arbutus Lake Road and Arbutus No. 4 State Forest Campground (231-922-5280), where you can spend the night snuggled in a tent pitched at one of 30 rustic campsites.

Emily Bingham is assistant editor at Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine.[email protected]

Note: This article was first published in April 2007 and was updated for the web February 2008.

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