Grand Traverse Commons
Once the campus for the Northern Michigan Asylum, a 19thcentury state mental hospital that closed in 1989, this 430-acre oasis now serves as Traverse City’s unofficial Central Park, with wooded hiking trails and sweeping hilltop views of Grand Traverse Bay, Traverse City and the gorgeous Victorian-Italianate spires of the Commons’ historic buildings. Trails range from flat to hilly. Trail maps online, THEvILLAGETc.cOM/TRAILs.HTML.
Boardman Lake Trail
Bike or stroll along the wooded eastern shore of Boardman Lake on this mostly paved, two-mile path that offers up a shaded gazebo for a picnic lunch pitstop. Don’t worry about special footwear or gear—this trail is more of a pleasant walk than a hike. Park at the Traverse Area District Library on Woodmere and find the trail along Boardman Lake behind the library.
Sand Lakes Quiet Area
With its ban on motorized vehicles, this secluded section of the Pere Marquette State Forest delivers the serenity its name suggests. Eleven miles of easy-to-moderate hiking trails, five geologically unique marl lakes (two of which are stocked with rainbow and brook trout), abundant wildlife and bird-watching. Ten miles east of Traverse City, off Broomhead Road. 231.922.5280
Tip of Old Mission Peninsula
The gentle meeting of land and inland sea at the tip of Old Mission Peninsula once led a New York Times writer to mistakenly wax poetic about Lake Michigan’s unique “tidal flats.” Of course, we don’t experience tides on the Great Lakes, but this magical area, home to a lighthouse, beach and lovely trail network, is a spot you’ll return to over and over again. At the northern terminus of M-37.
ANGELA BROWN, ANJANETTE MERRIWEATHER
Whether you’re a hardcore cyclist who’s no stranger to spandex, or someone who likes to take in the sights from the comfort of a cruiser, Traverse city’s extensive 10.5-mile, east-west bike pathway known as the TART (Traverse Area Recreation & Transportation) Trail is a relaxing way to explore the city without having to worry about traffic. The western length of the trail offers panoramic views of Grand Traverse Bay. But don’t miss out on the trail’s eastern reach, which bends inland at the eastern edge of downtown, traces through Traverse city’s majestic Washington street neighborhood and passes by the must-visit garden at Traverse Area District Library. For a full afternoon of riding, follow the trail east (a midway stop for a strawberry milkshake at Don’s Drive-In helps refuel) all the way to Acme. If you didn’t bring your own wheels, pick up a rental at McLain cycle & Fitness (McLAINcycLE.cOM) or Brick Wheels (BRIckWHEELs.cOM), both located just off the trail on 8th street. Or, if you’re on the west side, try The River (THERIvERTRAvERsEcITy.cOM) on Grandview Parkway.
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