One of the most popular trails in all of Michigan, the 26-mile Little Traverse Wheelway takes you from Charlevoix to Harbor Springs with stunning views of Little Traverse Bay all along the way. Stop at some of the many scenic overlooks to shoot a few photos and savor the glorious views.
The Wheelway's history dates back to the late 1800s when locals used it as a bicycling and walking path. The Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad and the Chicago and West Michigan Railway eventually developed tracks along the route. The Wheel way was reclaimed as a bicycling and walking path in the 1990s after the railroad was abandoned.
The paved asphalt trail travels over a mostly flat, occasionally hilly terrain running parallel to the bay. Resort Bluff, west of Petoskey, offers some of the most spectacular scenery on the trail. It runs between the trail's mid point at Magnus Park in Petoskey to East Park. Other trail highlights include a long boardwalk through a wetlands area east of Charlevoix and the roadside park at Nine Mile Point where you can relax, picnic and explore the rocky beach along Little Traverse Bay. You'll pass through a tunnel near Bay Shore, an exclusive, upscale resort on a hilly section of the trail. East of Petoskey, you can check out Bay View's historic Victorian cottages and the sandy beach and dunes of Petoskey State Park.
At Tannery Creek Trailhead you'll see a huge painted mural depicting the modes of transportation on the Wheelway corridor throughout its history. The mural is located on the north side of the supermarket facing the trailhead parking area.
The Little Traverse Wheelway is easy to access with many parks and staging areas along its course. From downtown Charlevoix, you can reach the west end of the trail by following a marked bike route on McSauba Road and Waller Road, passing through Shanahan Park.
Bear River Trail
As you travel through Petoskey, look for the Bear River Trail when you cross the Bear River bridge. This short, enjoyable l.J-mile paved trail runs south through a steep ravine and natural area along the Bear River rapids. The rapids plunges 75 feet through the ravine and was modified with large boulders to create a thrilling whitewater experience for paddlesports. The Bear River Trail begins at Mineral Well Park on Lake Street (where the Little Traverse Wheelway crosses the Bear River) and ends at the Sheridan Street Trailhead.