Michigan Land Use Institute

Thriving Communities / News & Views / A Summer of Smart Commuting: Hitting the Trail

A Summer of Smart Commuting: Hitting the Trail

An exploration of the Leelanau Trail

Choices | June 19, 2013 | By Zoë McAlear

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Staying on Track

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Since MLUI released a report that described what it would take to get some kind of train running on the 11-mile stretch of railroad tracks between Traverse City and Williamsburg, I’ve presented the idea to local community groups, state transportation agencies, and to an eager audience at the Michigan Rail Conference in Metro Detroit. The more I investigate this idea, the more realistic it becomes....

I successfully made it out to Suttons Bay this past weekend, and I have some good news and some bad.

The good news is that I managed to ride both ways and feel very accomplished, but the bad news is that I don’t have an experience with BATA to share. So, I’ll save busing for a later article and rave about the TART trails for a bit.

The Leelanau Trail takes you from Traverse City to Suttons Bay by way of the trail along the bay in downtown TC. You quickly leave the city behind and are surrounded by open fields, farmlands, and forested areas. It’s a pretty impressive project to have uninterrupted trail for 17 miles and it provides such a cool opportunity for a bike trip.

There was a wide variety of people out on the trail, from experienced riders in bike jerseys and spandex shorts to families with young children. The trail is paved the entire way and is mostly flat—I realized as I coasted downhill on the way back that it must have been a gradual uphill on the way there. I was pleasantly surprised to find a couple of water stations along the trail with a picnic table, water jug, and sometimes a dog bowl. It helped make the trail feel even more comfortable and accessible.

Maybe it’s easy to forget about the trails when they’re right in your backyard, or to feel like they’re not for you, but you don’t have to ride all the way to Suttons Bay to be able to enjoy them. Even just a few miles outside of Traverse City it becomes quite the peaceful ride. They’re worth giving a try. 

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