Affordable North: Hike Cathead Bay, Head to the New Bluebird Deck in Leland

We heard that the legendary Bluebird Restaurant is opening a new deck that will seat 52, right on Leland’s sleepy, summery, cooling river. Here’s our suggestion for working up an appetite then heading over to check it out.

The action: Drive up north of Northport to the Cathead Bay hike that starts behind Woolsey Airport. This is one of the North’s most wonderful, secret little hikes. There are a few loops, but the most direct trail to the beach is only about ¾ of a mile, and it travels through a really lovely forested valley. The drama happens when you exit the forest through what feels like a little portal of tree and dune that opens onto a glorious beach. Never crowded because, let’s face it, most people won’t walk ¾ of a mile to get to a beach. Be sure to pay the self-register park pass because rangers patrol the lot often and you’ll almost certainly get a ticket (remember, this is an Affordable North day, so keep the price down).

The deck: Hang out at the beach for as long as you like then head back to your car, and take that twisty, curvey M-22 south to Leland and the Bluebird’s new deck. Owner Skip Telgard assures us the view is sublime looking down the river. For now he’s keeping it casual, serving pizza, Detroit coney dogs, sandwiches, salads and such.

Now that’s a good summer day.

The Bluebird, 231-256-9081, www.leelanau.com/bluebird/

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