Treasures Along the Little Traverse Wheelway

On a girls-only trip to Petoskey, Hannah Agran, Midwest Living®assistant travel editor, and her mom rent bicycles to explore a portion of the Little Traverse Wheelway.

While on vacation, my mom and I prefer to explore on foot or bicycle (and let the car take a break), so staying at the century-old Stafford’s Perry Hotel in downtown Petoskey’s historic Gaslight District was perfect for us. We could walk out the door to shopping, dining and spectacular sunset views of Lake Michigan.  

Less than two blocks from the hotel, we discover North Country Cycle Sport, a bike shop that also rents gear (bicycles, helmets and locks). We pedal a few blocks west to the Little Traverse History Museum and pick up the Little Traverse Wheelway, a 26-mile paved trail running along Lake Michigan’s shore from Charlevoix through Petoskey to Harbor Springs.

On a spectacular warm weekday, we encounter only a couple of other people on the flat trail as we head south. Magnus Park beach is empty except for a couple hunting for speckled Petoskey stones. It’s not a destination beach, so it’s relatively unknown to tourists. Cutting through woods and residential areas, riders know they’re still on the well-maintained path because of the large signs. Dedicated overlooks invite pulling off for photos, and the occasional stairway makes it easy to dip your toes in the lake. (Don’t forget to secure your bike with a lock!)

North of Petoskey, the trail reminds us of Chicago’s Lakeshore Path, with sailboats, lots of green space, benches, a marina and a concession stand. The Waterfall Area is a gem, and a few families enjoy a picnic lunch as we ride by. The large falls flow into a pretty creek. Warning: Past the falls, the trail runs parallel to the highway. We thought it would be great to ride to Petoskey State Park area, but traffic noise and cars entering the highway made for a less scenic ride. Still, we savored our hard-earned picnic on Petoskey State Park’s wide sand beach.

The Little Traverse Wheelway is a fabulous opportunity to take in what makes Michigan beautiful—the lake, the parks and the wonderful people you enjoy it with.

Hannah Agran has worked at Midwest Living since 2006, traveling to spots around Michigan. She visited the Petoskey area on a girls’ getaway with her mom, and a year later, they’re both still talking about it!

6 thoughts on “Treasures Along the Little Traverse Wheelway

  1. This should be on everyone’s bucket list. Petoskey is one of the most beautiful places — not just in Michigan, but in the whole US!! When you finish riding the Wheelway, you can try whitewater rafting, ziplining or just taking it easy on the beach.

  2. Kelly, it’s on my bucket list too.  I’m trying to get a group of us together to travel the Little Traverse Wheelway in June.  I plan to ride at least one Michigan Rails to Trails site each month this spring, summer, and fall.  The first will be from Columbiaville to Millington this month.

  3. There are lots of gems in the northern area of Michigan’s lower peninsula, Petoskey is just one of them. Harbor Springs is another. Would love to see an article, that includes photos showing scenes of the trail along the water and wide angle lens shots so people can see more than just a shot of the front of a shop nearby.

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