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Fall biking alongside a Traverse City vineyard

Michigan

Traverse City, Michigan: Bike or Hike Tranquil Trails

By: Joel Welin

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  • States:
    Michigan

Traverse City, Michigan, offers visitors a large portion of fine dining, fine wines, culture and grand hospitality.

But it’s even better known for what it has in excess: jaw-dropping natural beauty and a multitude of outdoor recreation opportunities.

TART - An Easy Way to Connect

When you’re biking or hiking one of the many area trails, you’re certain to run across panoramas that will take your breath away and vistas that just beg for a photograph. Using the Traverse Area Recreation & Transportation (TART) trail as your jumping-off point, major paths, both east and west, will lead you to plentiful outdoor adventures.

The 17-kilometer paved TART trail through Traverse City connects with other tracks, such as the Vasa Pathway to the east and the Leelanau Trail to the west. This connecting corridor also leads to camping at the Traverse City State Park, various neighborhoods and parks, shopping, recreation areas, resorts and restaurants.

The Traverse Area Recreation & Transportation (TART) trail connects hikers and cyclists to recreational trails around the city.

The Traverse Area Recreation & Transportation (TART) trail connects hikers and cyclists to recreational trails around the city.
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VASA Pathway

Based on the 85-kilometer Swedish Vasaloppet ski race, the Vasa Pathway is a trail with a series of loops – 3k, 5k, 10k, 25k – that offers users a variety of challenges in both the winter and summer months. Hikers, runners, mountain bikers, naturalists and walkers enjoy the paths, which run into the hills of the Traverse City State Forest, with its stands of aspen, birch, hemlock, maple and pine trees.

Trails in and around Traverse City reward hikers, bikers and skiers with diverse terrain and beautiful scenery.

Trails in and around Traverse City reward hikers, bikers and skiers with diverse terrain and beautiful scenery.
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Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail

Perhaps the crown jewel of Traverse City trails, the Heritage Trail in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a 43.5-kilometer path from northern end of park to about 36.5 kilometers west of Traverse City in the village of Empire. The park is a national treasure – highlights include dense forests, wide beaches and spectacular bluffs that tower 137 meters over the Great Lake – and the trail is a perfect pathway for falling under its captivating spell.

The newest section of the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail includes 182 meters of boardwalk over wetlands and connects users to the Port Oneida Rural Historic District, a 1,214-hectare farming area that is as idyllic today as it was in the early 1900s. In autumn when the leaves turn, photographers flock to the trail to experience the contrast between the forest’s fall colors and the deep blue of Lake Michigan.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail offer stunning Lake Michigan views.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail offer stunning Lake Michigan views.
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Getting There

Traverse City's Cherry Capital Airport (TVC) is a full-service airport offering major airline service to 300 domestic and international destinations. Service is offered through three hub airport connections: Michigan’s Detroit Metro, Illinois’ Chicago O’Hare and Minnesota’s Minneapolis/St. Paul. Seasonal direct service is also available to New York City, Newark, New Jersey; Denver, Colorado; and Atlanta, Georgia.

Spring, summer and fall are all great times to explore Traverse City via hiking and biking trails.

Spring, summer and fall are all great times to explore Traverse City via hiking and biking trails.
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