If you want to bike in Traverse City, the TART trail is likely in your wheeling, rolling, riding plans. Explore the east and west routes of the trail or opt for a full-day trip if you choose. Dive in and get ready to head out on a beautiful ride!
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The 10.5-mile-long TART trail is a paved path that runs from its eastern point at M-72/Bates Road in Acme Township to its western end at Carter Road in Traverse City. TART (Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation Trails, Inc.) is a non-profit that connects riders, dog walkers, strollers, rollerbladers and more to many of Traverse City’s shops, restaurants, beaches and neighborhoods via trails.
There are many trails that TART builds and maintains, but the in-town, 8-foot-wide paved TART trail is the original. It runs next to two shops that can set you up with bike rentals: Brick Wheels and McLain Cycle & Fitness, both on Eighth Street in Traverse City. Need a little boost? Electric bike rentals are available at Pedego on Garfield Avenue, along with McLain and Brick Wheels.
Did you know? Traverse City’s TART Trails are open year-round. View this article to learn how to walk, bike and ski These TART Trails in Traverse City Region.
Heading East on the TART Trail
From the bike shops, you can ride the TART east or west. If you head east, you will find yourself riding along slow-moving sections of the railroad tracks. About twice a week, Great Lakes Central Railroad trains pass by (often hauling lumber)—and blow their train whistles at the kids waving from the trail. Bike up to the cool boardwalks that are scattered along the trail behind Traverse City State Park. Ride as far as Acme and you’ll find several food spots along the way like Bayview Inn Bar & Grill, which offers outdoor dining on a huge deck, a view of the bay (of course!) and free popcorn while you wait for their specialty pizza.
Head West on the TART Trail
If you head west from the bike rental shops, you’ll find yourself crossing the Boardman River over a striking pedestrian bridge and heading into downtown Traverse City. From there, you’ll get to Grand Traverse Bay, including Clinch Park Beach. Stop for ice cream at the pavilion and a cool-off at the splash pad.
Once you’re back at the bike shop with your rental, you’re a stone’s throw away from the Traverse Area District Library (with a children’s garden!) and The Filling Station Microbrewery offering flatbread pizzas and salads paired with house-brewed beers at the vintage train depot.
Spend a Full Day on the TART Trail
For a longer day trip, the west end of the TART connects to the 17-mile, paved Leelanau Trail that takes you all the way to Suttons Bay. This lazy, lovely ride through orchards is a perfect day trip to get lunch in Suttons Bay before heading back.
Visit traversetrails.org for more on area trails and parking trailheads.
Find this article and more in the 2021 issue of the Traverse Magazine Vacation Guide. If you’re not subscribed to Traverse Magazine, you can download the Vacation Guide for free.