Relish in the sun-soaked days of late summer and clear your mind on a road bike along Northern Michigan’s Little Traverse Wheelway.
Spanning 26 scenic miles—many along the Lake Michigan coastline—from Harbor Springs to Charlevoix, the paved Little Traverse Wheelway is ideal for early-morning rides. (Embark at daybreak to get a jump on August’s sweltering afternoons, and enjoy the ultimate reward of peddling at sunrise.)
Strap on your bikes and drive to Petoskey’s East Park on Quarry Drive just off US 31. Pick up the trail here and head east for a relaxing pedal toward downtown Petoskey. Totaling just over 2.5 miles, this section of the trail meanders along the shore of Little Traverse Bay and over the Bear River as it spills into the bay. Adhere to some urban detours (read: obey traffic laws and watch for vehicles) and make a midmorning pit stop at Roast & Toast. Open every day from 7 a.m.–7 p.m. and parked on the main drag (E. Lake Street), this vibrant cafe is a terrific locale for an Americano and a chocolate chip muffin—don’t miss the back deck.
Goodies now consumed, saddle up and backtrack to East Park. Load up the bikes once more and drive westward to Villa Road, also just off US 31. Park the car, unload and lock in for a pleasant 7-mile (each way) out-n-back. Just before Villa Road, there’s a small roadside park with two picnic tables and bay views for a quick breather.
Want to tack on a few more miles? Continue west from Villa Road for approximately 2.5 miles to end up at Lake Michigan Shores Roadside Park. The park is an ideal spot for lunch and has restrooms and a fountain to refill water bottles. The site also serves as a memorial to a B-52 belonging to the 99th Bombardment Wing and its crew that was lost on January 7, 1971, during a training mission.
Having caught your breath, turn back east for the final jaunt to the car (9.4 miles from the roadside park to East Bay Park).
Andrew VanDrie writes from Traverse City.
While any bike will do, the ease and efficiency of a road bike for distance riding does wonders for your stamina. For those without a cycle, look into renting fromLatitude 45 located at 476 W. Mitchell St. in Petoskey. Offering daily, overnight and weekend rates, the shop and its helpful staff will have you on the Wheelway pronto.