From the The Cherry Bend Road trailhead at Milepost 3, the Leelanau Trail heads north along the west side of Cedar Lake. The best chance to view the lake is at the DeYoung Natural Area just beyond Milepost 4. The trailhead includes a hand pump for drinking water, an edible trail garden and a trail of less than a quarter mile to a fishing pier on the lake. In another 1.5 miles is the Fouch Road Trailhead on County Road 614.
The Leelanau Trail immediately crosses CR-641, passes Milepost 6 and enters the rural heart of Leelanau County. Bikers ride past cherry orchards, apple trees and corn fields, often separated by small woodlots, enjoying the best feature of rail-trails, a lack of steep topography.
There are two noticeable changes in elevation along the trail, but both are gentle downhills while heading north. The first is near Bingham, the halfway point of the ride, where the trail utilizes a classic railroad trestle to cross Center Highway just before Milepost 10. Beyond it is a raised rail bed, with rolling orchards and pastures on each side of you, as the trail descends for a half mile into a forest of young maples and beeches.
Just beyond Milepost 11, you cross Shady Lane, where you can take a detour for a third of a mile to the east to visit the tasting room of Shady Lane Cellars, one of a half-dozen vineyards near the trail. The Leelanau Trail crosses Center Highway a second time before Milepost 13 where there again is an opportunity to depart briefly and visit up to four vineyards. The closest is L. Mawby, less than a half mile away on Elm Valley Road.
A half mile beyond Milepost 14 you cross Revold Road and begin the second descent of the day, a stretch where the pedaling is easy and the views are the most extensive of the ride. For more than 2 miles you gently coast downhill until bottoming out at CR-622. On the other side of the street is a level stretch of trail that leads into the heart of Suttons Bay. The 4th Street trailhead and Milepost 17 is reached within a third of a mile. A block beyond that, on the corner of 1st Street and Cedar Street, is the Leelanau Trail Kiosk, with information, a bench and bicycle racks.
From the kiosk, Suttons Bay’s shops, cafes, ice cream parlors and its beach on Grand Traverse Bay are a short walk away. The BATA bus stop is across the street at Leelanau Studios, 10781 E Cherry Bend Rd., or a third of a mile west of M-22.
To reach the rest of the Leelanau Trail, head west on 1st Street for a block and then north (right) on Marys Street. Within three blocks, turn east (right) on Jefferson Street and follow it to the corner of Front Street and Adams Street where the Leelanau Trail resumes by winding around the Suttons Bay Library.