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Name a place where all streets are also Michigan bike trails
Meanwhile, consider a bike trails + bed + breakfast getaway for the perfect combination of healthy activity, social distancing, and super-clean, comfortable accommodations. And did we mention the mouthwatering breakfasts that B&B innkeepers take pride in serving? Follow MBBA’s Facebook page, where we often feature their tasty breakfast creations.
Michigan is loaded with easy-riding bike trails, such as the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail shown above.
Of course, the state also has its share of challenging mountain bike trails for the advanced user — such as the Copper Harbor Trails in the UP, where the Flow, for example, offers a steep downhill thrill ride for about three miles.
If that’s your scene, this article is not your speed.
This is for all those people who fondly remember the expression, “It’s just like riding a bike,” only they haven’t had much time — until having to stay indoors made the Great Outdoors more tempting.
Lower Michigan is rich with bike trails that are flat or relatively flat. Many Michigan bike trails are built on former railroad beds and take you gently through rural areas and small towns. Other routes have been designated by cities keen to increase the options for non-motorized transportation and recreation.
If the last time you rode a bike, your rear end went numb, soon followed by your hands and lower arms, take it from a former sufferer and get a new bike as soon as bike shops, hard hit by supply chain shortages in 2020-21, are able to replenish their supply.
The options today are many in the category of “comfortable bike.” The list includes: hybrid bikes; cruisers, and step-through or EZ boarding bikes, two versions of a design that negates the need to hoist a leg over the bike. You also see a lot of recumbent bikes and adult tricycles out on the trails.
Electric bikes are becoming popular and will burn calories if you keep pedaling and don’t ride them as if they’re motorbikes. Some communities have tried to prohibit them on their trails, but such regulations are falling by the wayside as the number of bikes increases. Visit a locally owned bike store, where someone knowledgeable will help you find the type of bike that fits your planned uses.
Buy a rack for your vehicle, and head out to one or more of these Michigan bike trails.
Before you go, book a stay at one of the bed and breakfasts listed below. Click the links to learn more about them. A B&B innkeeper offers your best chance for a clean, comfortable stay and for local knowledge and for assistance with logistics. Just ask.
Bay City area trails
You’ll have your choice of trails in this town on the shore of Saginaw Bay. A highly rated 9.7-mile paved loop circumnavigates downtown Bay City and some neighborhoods and runs along the Saginaw River. Another rail-trail section, consisting of asphalt, concrete and boardwalk, takes you northwest from downtown toward Bay City State Recreation Area, where Tobico Marsh is ideal for birdwatching.
The newest addition to Bay County trails is the very scenic BayZil Trail, which heads out of town on a former railbed along the Saginaw River. This trail is a section of the Iron Belle Trail; see below.
Book at least two or three nights at the Historic Webster House B&B in Bay City. Consider one of the three rooms with jetted tubs. Your bike-saddle-sore self will thank you.
Dequindre Cut & Belle Isle State Park
In 2009, two miles of a former Grand Trunk Railroad line opened to the public as the Dequindre Cut, primarily below-grade greenway, 20 feet wide, with separate lanes for walkers and riders. The combination of stunning urban art and graffiti against a backdrop of concrete, brick and landscaping makes it a memorable ride. The cut starts at the north edge of Eastern Market, a .9-mile pedal from Cochrane House Luxury Historic Inn, neighboring B&Bs in the Brush Park neighborhood of downtown Detroit.
For a longer ride, head to nearby Belle Isle State Park and its 5.4-mile loop trail, and for lodging, check out the elegant lodging at the Frederick K Stearns House, located in the trendy West Village neighborhood close by.
Iron Belle Trail
Don’t try to do this one in a day. That’s a joke. The Iron Belle Trail extends more than 2,000 miles, from Ironwood in the far western Upper Peninsula to Belle Isle in Detroit, and takes two divergent routes through 48 Michigan counties. (The route heading west out of Detroit is focused on hiking, although some sections are suitable for bikes.) Here’s an interactive map. showing the network of trails.
If you’re starting or ending your trek in Detroit, stay at Cochrane House Luxury Historic Inn.
And then, continuing north on the Iron Belle Trail…
Paint Creek Trail
Michigan’s oldest non-motorized trail follows a wooded 8.9-mile route between Lake Orion and Rochester, two upscale Metro Detroit suburbs. Lattes, beer, art galleries, bike shops and more are available at both ends of the trail. You’ll cross trout-filled Paint Creek a dozen times. The Rochester Cider Mill makes a good stop in season. The trail connects to both the Polly Ann Trail and the 16-mile Clinton River Trail.
For biking enthusiasts, this makes three great reasons to stay at either Maple Cove B&B in Leonard or Stag’s Leap Farm in Oxford. Innkeepers at both of these five-star inns keep chickens, so breakfast is sure to be fresh and scratch-made.
Flint River Trail
A paved section of the Iron Belle Trail, the Flint River Trail runs for 17 miles northeast from near the University of Michigan Flint campus in downtown Flint. It heads north along both sides of the Flint River to Bluebell Beach on one side and up into Genesee Township on the other. A highlight in Flint is Stepping Stones Falls, a scenic man-made waterfall. Stay at Knob Hill B&B in Flint.
Tawas Bay Pedestrian and Bike Path
Ride from the comfort of your room at Always a Holiday! B&B in East Tawas to see the lighthouse at Tawas Point State Park. The entire 13.9-mile trail is surfaced with asphalt and concrete and you’ll love the views and breezes of Tawas Bay. This trail is also a section of the Iron Belle Trail.
Grayling Bicycle Turnpike
After a hearty breakfast at Hanson House, a former lumber baron’s home in Grayling, pedal north to Hartwick Pines State Park on this 6.5-mile trail, mostly asphalt with some gravel. It also serves as a section of the Iron Belle Trail. You’ll cross over I-75 on a bridge for non-motorized users. Hanson House is only a short walk to the AuSauble River, famous for fly fishing and silent water sports.
The southern end of this 22.5-mile paved trail in NW Michigan is only a few blocks from Lewis House B&B in Whitehall, an elegant B&B which overlooks White Lake.
Fred Meijer Berry Junction Trail
A couple blocks from the Lewis House B&B, mentioned above, you can hop on this paved, 11.5-mile trail, built on an abandoned C&O Railroad line, and head south to the northern outskirts of Muskegon. You’ll pass by Michigan’s Adventure, the state’s largest amusement park. If you transfer to the the Laketon Trail and then to the Musketawa Trail, it will take you into Grand Rapids, which has other quality-assured #MichBnB inns.
Polly Ann Trail
In North Oakland County and into Lapeer County, this trail follows the corridor of the former Pontiac, Oxford & Northern Railroad.
The Oakland County portion — 14.2 miles of crushed, hard-packed stone with occasional asphalt sections — is close to both Maple Cove B&B, Leonard, and its three deluxe suites, and Stag’s Leap Farm, Oxford, which also has three suites.
Stay at least two days at either place, so you can ride the lovely Paint Creek Trail, mentioned above as a section of the Iron Belle Trail.
Kalamazoo River Valley Trail
When you stay downtown at the Kalamazoo House B&B, you can go in multiple directions on paved bike trails. You can head east toward Galesburg or north toward the Kalamazoo Nature Center, with multiple attractions along the way. The innkeepers might be able to store your bikes at night while you enjoy local breweries, dining, and theater within walking distance.
For a longer ride, consider the 34.5-mile Kal-Haven Trail linking Kalamazoo with South Haven, Some reviewers say this rail trail is better suited for mountain bikes because of its crushed-stone surface.
Van Buren Trail Spur
For a short ride on a paved trail, Jim Martin of Victoria Resort B&B & Cottages recommends this 4.5-mile connecting spur from South Haven south to Van Buren Trail State Park. There, Jim says, the trail become more of an intermediate biking experience. Overall this 14-mile, linear park trail can take you from South Haven to Hartford past blueberry farms, brush, and woods.
Betsie Valley Trail
After a 30-minute drive north from Canfield House B&B in Onekama, pick up this 22-mile trail at the shore in Frankfort. It’s constructed on the trackbed of a former Ann Arbor Railroad line. The first six miles are paved. Then, as you head southeast into a rural and wooded landscape, the trail’s surface becomes becomes crushed limestone. You’ll see a ghost town, skirt Crystal Lake, and go through the Pere Marquette State Forest en route to the terminus in Thompsonville, a one-time logging town.
Lanes along quiet, paved rural and neighborhood streets are a favorite way for bicyclists, walkers and joggers to make this 12-mile trip, running north-south close to Lake Michigan and then connecting to in-town trails.
Two great B&Bs are near the trailhead in Saugatuck: the deluxe, eight-room Judson Heath Colonial Inn, where, as the innkeepers are fond of saying, hip meets historic, OR at the equally fine Hotel Saugatuck, whose jetted tubs and spacious rain showers with body sprays will work magic on any muscles feeling strained after a long bike ride.
At the Holland end of The Beeline, an extension from the route runs right past the Inn at Old Orchard Road, whose large back yard has an inviting gazebo and water feature. Close by is Dutch Colonial Inn, whose innkeepers extend traditional Dutch hospitality.
Holland-Grand Haven Lakeshore Trail
You can watch boats, visit lighthouses, and sunbathe on two of Lake Michigan’s best beaches when you take this 23-mile paved trail connecting Holland and Grand Haven. Part of the trail takes you alongside a road, with a berm to protect you from traffic.
In Grand Haven, stay at Looking Glass Beachfront Inn or Washington Street Inn. In Holland, choose Dutch Colonial Inn or the Inn at Old Orchard Road.
If you didn’t guess upon seeing the photo, this popular tourist destination is the place where every street is also a Michigan bike trail. No cars. We recommend that you stay at Bay View Bed and Breakfast, with its commanding views of the historic fort and of the Straits of Mackinac.
This 17-mile paved rail-trail from Traverse City to Suttons Bay passes orchards, forests, farms, marshes and lakes. See video linked above.
In Traverse City, you can walk to dining and shops on Front Street if you stay at Antiquities’ Wellington Inn.
Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail
You can ride the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail, most of it paved, for about 20 miles to or from the headquarters of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in the village of Empire. You’ll skirt the west end of Glen Lake and ride through Sleeping Bear Dunes National Seashore, including some sections where you’ll gain and lose elevation. The village of Glen Arbor is a good place to stop for lunch or a coffee. East of Glen Arbor, the scenic trail is a combination of asphalt, crushed stone, and raised boardwalks through terrain that includes marshes, hardwood forests and fallow fields. A highlight is the rural historic district of Port Oneida. Stay at Glen Arbor Bed and Breakfast and Cottages in Glen Arbor or at the Cottonwood Inn B&B in Empire.
Pere Marquette Rail Trail
A major reason this trail is so popular is that the entire 30-mile length from Midland to Clare is paved. Also, it’s four feet wider than most trails, allowing for side-by-side enjoyment. In addition, along the way, small towns, bridges, parks and forests provide diversions and historical sites.
Stay at Ginkgo Tree Inn B&B in Mount Pleasant, a 15-minute drive north to the trailhead in Clare.
Fred Meijer Heartland Trail
This 42-mile paved rail-trail starts in Alma. The trail heads southwest to Greenville and features bridges, a state game area and a ghost town.
Other mid-Michigan bed and breakfasts are fairly close to the trailhead in Alma:
- Ginkgo Tree Inn B&B in Mount Pleasant, 20 minutes north by car
- The Nordic Pineapple B&B, St. Johns, 30 minutes south
Fred Meijer CIS Trail
Book one of the seven comfortable rooms at The Nordic Pineapple B&B in St. Johns, and you can pedal the few blocks from there to the town’s railroad station museum. It a collection of vintage rail cars sit alongside the 41.3-mile Fred Meijer Clinton Ionia Shiawassee Trail. The surface of the 12-foot-wide non-motorized, non-equestrian trail is packed crushed limestone.
Three trails in Grand Rapids
Michigan’s second-largest city is doing a great job of providing for non-motorized transportation, including for commuting and recreation. See if the innkeepers will stow your bikes when not needed while you’re staying at Prairieside Suites Luxury B&B in Grandville or at Leonard at Logan House or The Parsonage Inn, both located in the Heritage Hill residential area.
Three popular trails among many:
- There’s a bit of a break in the 5.4-mile, paved Grand River Edges Trail in downtown Grand Rapids, but you’ll be able to figure it out if you stay as close as possible to the Grand River. The northern terminus of the Grand River Edges trail takes you onto the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail, which at nearly 93 miles long, is the state’s second longest trail.
- Kent Trails take you south and west from a starting point at the John Ball Zoo, unless you’re hopping on the trail in Grandville near Prairieside Suites. The trail branches in a couple places, so watch the signage. The 22.2 miles of trails are flat and paved.
- To get out and smell the open, country air, try the Musketawa Trail, 25 paved miles from the outskirts of Grand Rapids to the outskirts of Muskegon. The trail follows a corridor established for the Muskegon, Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad. Its name is a mashup of Muskegon and Ottawa, the two counties it passes through. If you’re really ambitious, you can bike, with a couple gaps, all the way northwest to Whitehall. (See Fred Meijer Berry Junction Trail above.)
The Great Lake to Lake Trails Route #1
On the inaugural August 2019 ride of this 275-mile route between South Haven and Port Huron participants dipped their tires in both Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. Sixteen individual trails make up this cross-Michigan route, envisioned as one of five non-motorized routes that will cross the state.
With gaps in the trail still being worked on, as well as signage and other trail amenities, check here for the latest information on Route #1. MBBA has quality-assured member inns in several of the cities along the route.
MBBA tries to keep this popular post updated, but Michigan trails are always expanding, improving, and making more connections with other trails. And that’s a good thing. If you spot any outdated information, please email the author. Your fellow biking enthusiasts will appreciate it.
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