In the loop! Take a cool spin around Traverse City’s Boardman Lake this summer for a lollygagging good time. Here’s the intel + where to stop for sips and bites along the way.

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Last summer it finally happened: the long-awaited four-mile Boardman Lake Loop Trail just south of downtown Traverse City opened. It now wraps around Boardman Lake, offering bikers, hikers, walkers and stroller-pushing parents the perfect in-town place to recreate. Give the new-and-improved trail a loop-de-loop by bike, following my (leisurely) lead.

Photo by Prein&Newhof

+ Rally at Hull Park behind the Traverse Area District Library; there’s typically plenty of parking. Set out heading west (counter-clockwise) around the lake. This section of the trail has been there for years and winds past the boat launch, where there’s often a group of youthful sailors taking to Boardman Lake.

+ Cross the big, old wood and steel bridge over the Boardman River. This is a cool and somewhat eerie place to stop and look over the edge. There are old pilings and the train bridge running parallel.

+ Around the bend to the left, maybe a half-mile, hit up the new “Grand Traverse Fitness Court” tucked in just north of the trail, by Oryana Community Co-op. This is an outdoor wellness center with blocks to jump and bars to wrangle. (I am nowhere close to pulling off a public pull-up, but it was fun to play around on it.)

Photo by Prein&Newhof

Photo by Prein&Newhof

+ Make your way to 14th Street and Right Brain Brewery. You may or may not have bevvie stops on the agenda, but it’s a refreshing foil to a solid workout.

+ Now, enter the new part of the trail! This stretch is awesome—you are literally riding high above the lake, making it look like a painted picture below. Then, behind the University Center, there’s a long downhill stretch that offers surprising speed. (This was made evident when I almost branded a squirrel with my front tire.)

+ At last—the coolest part of the trail—the Boardman Lake Bridge that takes you across the south end of the lake to Medalie Park. This stretch is full of lily pads and would be impassable if not for the cool new bridge. There’s a sweeping curved lookout, and I suggest you take a photo here. It’s gorgeous boardwalk, gorgeous lake and gorgeous sky. (Hunger games: You can also stop into the nearby plaza and get gorgeous Brooklyn’s Pepperoni Rolls and Chicago Style Pizza.)

Photo by Prein&Newhof

+ From there, slip into the woods on the east side of the lake. This is the oldest part of the trail and truly serene. You feel like you are away from it all and thoughts of the city disappear. It’s shaded and you can see the lake every inch of the way. Watch for swans and those sailboats I told you about, plus golden retrievers out walking their owners.

+ Finally, four miles in, you’re back to Hull Park, refreshed and happy.

For more info on the loop, head to

Photo by Prein&Newhof

Where to Stop for Trail Snacks

From north to south end, here are three of our favorite spots to stop for a bite or sip off the Boardman Lake Loop Trail:

West Side | Right Brain Brewery or Traverse City Whiskey Co.
North End | The Filling Station Microbrewery
South End | Brooklyn’s Pepperoni Rolls & Chicago Style Pizza

Photo by Taylor Brown

Photo(s) by Prein&Newhof