Name a place where all streets are also Michigan bike trails
Meanwhile, make good on that promise you made to get out and get more exercise. We have the perfect combination: By day, roll down one or more Michigan bike trails, such as the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail shown above. At night, enjoy a pampered existence as a guest at a quality-assured and inspected bed and breakfast.
Now, Michigan has its share of 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 the time lately. 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.
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. 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 these bed and breakfasts. A B&B innkeeper offers your best chance for local knowledge and for assistance with logistics. Just ask.
9 Michigan bike trails you’ll love
Pere Marquette Rail Trail
Reasons this trail is so popular:
- the entire 30-mile length from Midland to Clare is paved
- it’s four feet wider than most trails, allowing for side-by-side enjoyment
- 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.
This work in progress, with several miles of paved asphalt and others of crushed stone, the B2B Trail, as locals call it, crosses Washtenaw County from Dexter, through Ann Arbor, to Ypsilanti. Most of it closely follows the Huron River. Lots of parks and woods. Stay at the Stone Chalet Bed and Breakfast Inn and Event Center, in a lovely neighborhood near the University of Michigan campus.
Book yourselves into Hart House Bed and Breakfast in Hart, three blocks from the northern end of this 22.5-mile paved trail in NW Michigan. Not only have innkeepers Patrice and Allan put a lot of thought into the needs and wants of travelers but they also bestow special attention on travelers with bicycles. For example, they offer indoor bike storage, a bike repair stand and emergency repair supplies.
A few blocks from the southern end of the trail, near White Lake and Lake Michigan, take your pick of three charming B&Bs on the same street in Whitehall, sister city to Montague. In alphabetical order: Cocoa Cottage B&B, Lewis House B&B, and White Swan Inn.
Fred Meijer Berry Junction Trail
A couple blocks from the three Whitehall bed and breakfasts just mentioned — Cocoa Cottage B&B, Lewis House B&B, and White Swan Inn — you can hop on this paved, 11-mile trail, expanded in 2018, and head south to the northern outskirts of Muskegon. You’ll pass by Michigan’s Adventure, the state’s largest amusement park.
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 Maple Cove B&B, Leonard, and its three deluxe suites. Stay at least two days, so you can ride the next trail in this list.
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 Maple Cove B&B in Leonard.
Kalamazoo River Valley Trail
When you stay downtown at the Kalamazoo House B&B, you can go in multiple directions on paved bike trails. Innkeepers Steve and Stephanie will share their favorite highlights along each trail if you head east toward Galesburg or north toward the Kalamazoo Nature Center. Walk to breweries, dining and theater at night. The innkeepers will store your bikes.
For a longer ride, consider the 34.5-mile Kal-Haven Trail, which some reviewers say is better suited for mountain bikes because of its crushed-stone surface. At the South Haven end, choose Seymour House, which offers a quiet rural setting.
Betsie Valley Trail
After a 20-minute drive north from Arcadia House B&B in Arcadia or 30 minutes from Bear Lake B&B in Bear Lake, pick up this 22-mile trail at the shore in Frankfort. 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. Close by is Dutch Colonial Inn, whose innkeepers extend traditional Dutch hospitality.
Indiana-Michigan Valley Trail
Guests love to explore The Morris Estate’s 500 wooded and tranquil acres on foot or on two wheels, including on bikes available if you’re staying in one of the River House’s six rooms. Five minutes east of The Morris Estate in downtown Niles, take a spin on the paved Indiana-Michigan Valley Trail, which aspires to grow beyond its present 2.2 miles. You’ll pedal along the east side of the St. Joseph River on a former New York Central rail corridor and be glad you’re living in a time when cities are reclaiming their riverfronts for the enjoyment of citizens and visitors.
Grand Haven Waterfront Trail
This all-too-short trail — 2.5 paved miles — is a great way to see boats coming and going from Lake Michigan, two lighthouses, an outstanding beach, downtown shops and eateries — and don’t forget the sunsets. Part of the trail takes you alongside the road, with a berm to protect you from traffic. In Grand Haven, stay at Looking Glass B&B or Washington Street Inn.
Jerry Russell / Baw Beese Trail
For hiking and biking around Hillsdale County, where Munro House B&B in Jonesville is the best place to stay, the Jerry Russell Trail is the Jonesville section of the Baw Beese Trail. Both are part of the North Country National Scenic Trail under development between eastern New York and central North Dakota. The Baw Beese Trail, named in honor of a local Potawatomi chief, runs through several parks and along Baw Beese Lake in Hillsdale. That is the best segment, according to innkeeper Mike Venturini of Munro House.
Falling Waters Trail
“A 15-minute drive north of Munro House, the Falling Waters Trail is pretty magnificent,” says innkeeper Mike Venturini. “It’s the longest and most scenic trail in the area.” This 10.4-mile paved trail, running east from Concord to Jackson, is well cared-for, with benches and birdhouses. It’s smooth enough for rollerblading.
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.
In Traverse City, you can walk to dining and shops on Front Street if you stay at Antiquities’ Wellington Inn.
At about the halfway point between the two ends of the trail, Innisfaire B&B offers sunrise views of Grand Traverse Bay.
Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail
Seventeen miles of a 27-mile non-motorized trail under development through the lakeshore in the Glen Arbor-Empire area are available to enjoy. Yes, the trail includes the Dunes. Stay at Glen Arbor Bed and Breakfast and Cottages in Glen Arbor or at the Cottonwood Inn B&B in Empire.
Fred Meijer Heartland Trail
When you stay at Ginkgo Tree Inn B&B in Mount Pleasant, you’re just 20 minutes north of the eastern terminus in Alma of this 42-mile paved rail-trail, which takes you southwest to Greenville. The Nordic Pineapple B&B, St. Johns, and Oak Creek Lodge, Bannister, are only a 30-minute drive to the trailhead in Alma. The trail features bridges, a state game area, and a ghost town.
Saginaw Valley Rail Trail
Bring your bikes when you stay at Oak Creek Lodge in Bannister so you can try this 11-mile, paved trail in southern Saginaw Country. The trail goes from St. Charles, a one-time coal mining town, to the outskirts of southwest Saginaw. An intact tree canopy along much of the trail makes you feel as if you’re in a forest.
Fred Meijer Clinton-Ionia-Shiawassee Trail
With St. Johns located at a midpoint of this 41.4-mile, crushed-stone trail, one of the five large rooms at Nordic Pineapple B&B right there in town is an ideal place to stay. If you’re staying at Oak Creek Lodge in Bannister, you can drive 15 minutes south to Ovid and hop on the trail, which follows the route of the former Central Michigan Railroad. In Clinton, near the western end of the trail, visit the Clinton Northern Railway Museum, housed in a restored 1920 station.
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.
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