Read on as we seek tasty grub near Northern Michigan’s prime autumn walkabouts. We’re pairing some of the area’s best restaurants with gorgeous fall hikes.
TORCH LAKE CAFE
4990 US-31 N, Central Lake | 231.599.1111
Eastport’s landmark 19th-century church reborn as a bustling roadhouse by owners Jim Hettinger and Leanna Collins channels a retro resort vibe with nightly live music performed by Collins’ Deep Blue Boys Band and a rotating schedule of visiting folk, jazz, rock and big band acts. TLC’s menu is driven by classic roadhouse Americana with burly half-pound burgers, a crispy perch sandwich, steaks and pizzas with house-made San Marzano marinara. The bar, inset with a bathymetric relief map of Torch Lake, slings a selection of local craft beers and throwback cocktails like an ice-cream-spiked Raspberry Hummer.
» Hike: Glacial Hills Pathway and Natural Area
Burn off your TLC Burger hoofing it under blazing maple canopies on the 30-mile trail network at Glacial Hills just outside Bellaire. Traversing 12 distinct habitat zones, visitors can trek forth from three well-signed trailheads on the 765-acre property.
04069 M-75, Walloon Lake | 231.535.6000
A 180-degree eyeful of aquamarine water accents the panorama of Walloon Lake shoreline painted in red, orange and gold. Soak it up with a crispy whitefish sandwich and a cold pint of pale ale.
» Hike: Deadman’s Hill
Skitter down the gravel road connecting US-131 to the Jordan River Pathway where a 3.1-mile up-and-down day hike through dense woods rewards you with an Instagram-worthy overlook of the Jordan Valley that is perhaps the North’s best autumn vista.
339 State St., Harbor Springs | 231.242.1230
Divert to this Harbor Springs micro eatery for crisp-edged Napolitano-style pizzas piled with Mitten-raised meats and locally grown produce then slid into a wood-fired inferno.
» Hike: Offield Family Working Forest Reserve
The rolling hardwood hillsides north of Harbor Springs are a primo spot to gawk at autumn glory. The Offield Preserve’s 390 acres offer four miles of interconnected trails tracing open meadows and mixed forest.
13512 Peninsula Dr., Traverse City | 231.223.4333
Aprés-hike, you deserve to sit among tall pines and peeks of Bowers Harbor and destroy a cider-braised pork shank with cheddar grits or a crispy two-handed falafel burger. The perfect foil, of course, is a bottle-conditioned sour beer like the seasonally relevant La Roja.
» Hike: Old Mission Point Park
Strike out from Lighthouse Park on a five-mile loop that winds past orchards and through old forest, affording views of both East and West Grand Traverse Bays surrounded by miles of Lake Michigan coast lit up in fall splendor.