Wind your way by bicycle along The Bestie Valley Trail, a gorgeous trip that runs waterside, through wetlands and hardwood forest. Twenty-two miles total, ten miles are paved from Frankfort to Crystal Lake. The 12 miles between Beulah and Thompsonville are gravel and open to snowmobiles between December and March. This is a no-motor meander anyone can do and here’s some suggestions for making the most of your trip.

PLAY

Along the river, through the woods, from lakeside hamlet to Lake Michigan coast you go: in less than 10 miles of easy biking between Beulah and Frankfort, the Betsie Valley Trail slips through forest, farm, meadow and wetland, packing in ogle-worthy autumn scenery along its way. Count on stubborn sailboats on Crystal Lake, crimson leaves drifting from branches to Betsie River riffles, the Frankfort light framed by a big water sunset. The trail’s paving and packed gravel makes it easy to roll; gift shops and boutiques in the wee village towns along the way make it easier to detour and dawdle and turn this little ride into a leisurely two-day round trip.

STAY

If you begin in Beulah, you’ll finish in Frankfort. Cozy up there in the Sleeping Bear Inn—a historic downtown Victorian steeped in Scottish charm—or a room, suite or condo at the beachside Harbor Lights Resort . If you start in Frankfort, bunk up in Beulah’s on-the-water Crystal Lake Resort.

EAT

At Elberta’s Conundrum Café  whose sandwiches honor area icons, honor your belly and the region’s last car ferry with The Viking—Bavarian ham, Genoa salami, provolone and cherry mustard grilled panini style—and a scoop of Conundrum ice cream—homemade vanilla bean with caramel swirl and Twix. In Frankfort, Coho Cafe’s crab cakes are killer, or check out Stormcloud Brewing Company, offering Belgian inspired ales, flatbread pizzas and meat/chees/pickle boards. The organic coffee and from-scratch scones at Beulah’s Phoenix Café are worth rising for again and again.

INSIDER TIP

If you’re biking in the fall, Frankfort is home to Ed Moody, a pumpkin-carving master who once carved a replica of Cinderella’s carriage. Check them out at pumpkined.com. See Moody’s elaborate carvings, play pumpkin hillbilly golf and compete in a pumpkin chuckin’ contest at Frankfort’s FallFest on October 10-11. Beulah/Benzonia’s annual Fall Fest—soup contest, farm market, cider press, petting zoo, pumpkin carving and more—happens October 3-4 (800-882-5801).

More Great Biking Ideas

Quick Links to More Fun in Benzie County and Northern Michigan’s West Shore

  • The Benzie & West Shore Vacation Directory: Listings to lodging, galleries, restaurants and more along with an interactive map.
  •  Benzie & West Shore Digital Vacation Guide: Browse the pages of the complete Guide and click to hundreds of websites.
  • The Complete Restaurant Guide for Benzie and the West Shore: Just type in any Benzie County town or town on Northern Michigan’s West Shore and browse the array of restaurant options.
  • Video: Discover Pt. Betsie Lighthouse
  • Check out all the music, festivals, arts and events of all kinds happening in Benzie and the West Shore: Just pop the name of the Benzie County town you’d like to play in, or one along the West Shore of Northern Michigan, and choose amongst hundreds of things to do!
  • Plot your day in Benzie, Manistee, Ludington and more using this Interactive Map: Choose an activity in “I’d like to find” and choose a Benzie, Manistee or West Shore town for “in a town near.” Then click away!
  • Rent a cottage in Benzie and the West Shore: There hundreds of cottages to rent in Northern Michigan. Type the town you’re interested in into the Search box and plan your getaway Up North!
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