The Leelanau Trail dates back to 1903 when the Traverse City, Leelanau & Manistique Railroad completed the line to Northport as part of a new car ferry service across Lake Michigan to the Upper Peninsula. The Leelanau Scenic Railway was the last to use the rails. After the service ceased operations in the early 1990s, the Leelanau Trail Association (LTA) was formed in 1994 to purchase 15 miles of rail corridor from Traverse City to Suttons Bay. Almost immediately there was heated opposition by property owners leading to numerous court cases over the proposed trail.
But LTA volunteers forged ahead and by 1997 had paved more than four miles of the trail at its north and south ends and established a large trailhead on Cherry Bend Road. The following year, TART Trails, Inc. was formed and took over the administration of several regional trails, including the Leelanau.
In 2004, the Leelanau Trail was connected to the TART Trail that extends 11 miles to the east through the heart of Traverse City. By 2014, when the Leelanau Trail had become a fully paved, off-road connection between Traverse City and Suttons Bay, winding past picturesque farms and vineyards, forests, lakes and ponds, there was no denying its overwhelming popularity.
The Leelanau Trail officially extends from Carter Road in the Greilickville area of Traverse City to Dumas Road on the north side of Suttons Bay. For many, the trail is a 14-mile ride from the Cherry Bend Trailhead to the trailhead at First and Cedar Streets in Suttons Bay, where riders can park their bikes and walk to almost a dozen restaurants and cafes. After refueling and reviving, it’s a ride of less than a half mile to the BATA stop for the bus back to Traverse City.
|Difficulty - Moderate|
|Groomed Classic Skiing|
|Groomed Skate Skiing|