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, 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, but you burn fewer calories and some communities don’t permit them on their 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 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 south out of town on a former railbed along the Saginaw River.
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.
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.
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 work in progress, with 40 miles of paved or crushed stone and 70 miles planned, 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.
The B2B Trail is part of Michigan’s Iron Belle Trail. Don’t try to do this one in a day. This network of trails runs about 2,000 miles from Detroit to Ironwood in the western Upper Peninsula.
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. Inn owners Patrice and Allan Martin put a lot of thought into the needs and wants of travelers and gave special attention to the needs of travelers with bicycles. For example, the B&B offers 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, 11.5-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 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.
Grayling Bicycle Turnpike
This trail, paved except for about 50 feet, takes you from downtown Grayling on a northeast course to Hartwick Pines State Park. You’ll cross over I-75 on a bridge for non-motorized users. In Grayling, Hansen House, the former home of a lumber baron, is the place to stay. Innkeepers Heather and Paul Crandall will send you off with a great breakfast. This B&B is a short walk to the AuSauble River, famous for fly fishing and silent water sports.
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. Ask the innkeepers about storing 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, but Jim Martin, owner of Victoria Resort and Bed and Breakfast in South Haven, considers it an easy ride. Victoria Resort and B&B offers guests their choice of 30 complimentary bicycles. The trailhead is only eight blocks from the inn.
Van Buren Trail Spur
For a short ride on a paved trail, Jim Martin of Victoria Resort and Bed and Breakfast 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 20-minute drive north from Arcadia House B&B in Arcadia, 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.
Or in quaint and quiet Douglas, less than a mile south, choose Sherwood Forest B&B, which has a swimming pool.
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.
Indiana-Michigan River Valley Trail
The dream of a dedicated group of trail enthusiasts led to the dedication in November 2019 of a 17-mile trail linking Niles, MI with Roseland, South Bend, and Mishawak, IN. Pick up the paved trail five minutes east of The Morris Estate in downtown Niles. 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.
One of the most beautiful and most recent additions to the trail is a one-mile horseshoe-shaped loop though Brandywine Creek Nature Park south of Niles. Its completion in 2019 filled in a gap in the trail and helps users avoid traffic on busy Third Street. A nine-mile extension of the trail from Niles to Berrien Springs is in the works.
You can also do some biking on the 500 acres of The Morris Estate, where you’ll stay in one of the spacious guest rooms of its River House.
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.
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
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.
Fred Meijer Heartland Trail
This 42-mile paved rail-trail starts in Alma, making Saravilla B&B in Alma an ideal place to stay. 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
- Oak Creek Lodge, Bannister, a 30-minute drive from the southeast
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. Eight bridges will take you over numerous rivers and creeks.
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. 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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