Five Ideas for Welcoming Spring in Traverse City

As any Michigander will tell you, Michigan is truly a four-season state. The water wonderland of summer, the brilliant colors of fall, and the snow sports of winter all contribute plenty of reasons to love a four-season destination like Traverse City. But it’s spring that seems to occupy a special place in the hearts of many residents of the Great Lakes State. As winter whites give way to the greens of springtime, it’s time to get outside and renew our relationship with Michigan’s many outdoor resources.

With so many options in and around Traverse City, the hard part can be deciding where to go and what to do first. Read more as our friends at Northern Swag narrow down the list for you by sharing five Traverse City favorites.

1. Hike a Trail

The Traverse City area is home to hundreds of miles of hiking trails that are perfect for taking in on a sunny spring day. The wooded Lake Michigan Trail in Leelanau State Park near Northport winds its way through wooded hills to an observation deck overlooking Lake Michigan. While you’re enjoying the natural setting and fresh air, be on the lookout for the unmistakable petals of the white trillium, which can cover entire hillsides when they bloom in early-to-mid-May.

Photo Courtesy of Northern Swag

2. Hunt for Morels

These tasty, yet elusive natural treasures can be found in wooded areas throughout the Traverse City area. Look for south-facing hillsides that soak up the sun, and if possible, wait for a warmer day (over 60 degrees) that follows several warmer evenings for the best chance at success. Locals may be hesitant to share their favorite spots, but the adventure of the hunt can be almost as rewarding as the discovery. Almost.

Photo Courtesy of Northern Swag

3. Take a Sunday Drive

In mid-May, the hills and valleys of Old Mission Peninsula come alive with color as the cherry blossoms emerge. The Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula ® host Blossom Day Saturday, May 14. This event offers participants a chance to sample award-winning wines while enjoying the incredible scenery along the way. Scenic overlooks and cherry blossoms abound, and if you make it to the town of Old Mission, be sure to enjoy the view at Haserot Beach – it’s one of our favorite stops on the peninsula.

Photo Courtesy of Northern Swag

4. Hit the Beach

The water will still be a bit too chilly for a swim, but a picnic with an afternoon walk along the beach is a splendid way to celebrate spring in northern Michigan. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore includes 35 miles of pristine Lake Michigan shoreline. The views are some of the best in the Traverse City area, and don’t forget to keep an eye open for Petoskey stones, found along the entire length of the Lakeshore.

Photo Courtesy of Northern Swag

5. Discover a New View

There’s a brief window of time between the melting of the snow and the return of summer foliage to the trees and the forest floor. With 70,000 acres to explore, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore offers numerous opportunities for discovering hidden views that aren’t as visible during the summer months. If you find yourself “up north” on a perfect spring day, an afternoon adventure amongst the rolling hills and wooded bluffs of the Sleeping Bear Dunes can lead to a pretty nice reward.

Photo Courtesy of Northern Swag

Northern Swag:

Northern Swag is a collective group of Northern Michigan creatives that is obsessed with the incredible beauty of the area. In their eyes there’s something else that evades description, a type of pervasive style that makes being here just feel awesome. It’s their goal to try and capture that unique Northern Michigan style, or swag, with photos and words.

How will you celebrate spring in Traverse City? Let us know by commenting below!

Two New Ways Boyne Mountain Offers Big Summer Adventure

Snow-capped hills have turned to lush hiking and biking trails, scenic golf views and more at Boyne Mountain Resort! Today, guest blogger Erin Ernst tells us about a few new ways to experience Boyne Mountain Resort this season.

Kayak Adventures on the Boyne River

Kayak Adventures on the Boyne River

Summertime in northern Michigan is all about the allure of natural surroundings and if you like a bit of adventure with your time in the great outdoors, then Boyne Mountain Resort is the place for you!  In addition to plentiful activities like golfing, fishing, horseback trail rides, Zipline Adventures, beach fun, chairlift rides, disc golf, hiking, and paintball, you’ll also discover two new summer excursions – Kayak Adventures and guided mountain biking trips.

The resort recently partnered with Boyne River Adventures to offer guests convenient access to the Boyne River, located just a mile from the resort.  Roundtrip transportation and kayak rental with paddles and flotation jackets make this trip as easy as the breeze on the water.  Departures are offered daily at 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. from Boyne Mountain’s Adventure Center.  Kayakers are first given an overview of the river’s landscape, and then launched for an enjoyable five-mile float on the prized river.

Guided Mountain Biking at Boyne Mountain Resort

Guided Mountain Biking at Boyne Mountain Resort

A moderate understanding of kayaking and paddling is best as some maneuvering (just enough to get your heart racing!) is necessary.  The river quickly rewards you for your efforts with a leisurely float for the second half of the trip before flowing into beautiful Lake Charlevoix.  The Boyne River is cherished for its high-quality fresh water that supports great biodiversity, and winds its way deep through the woods where the natural scenery is pristine.

At the end of the approximately two-hour trip, kayakers are picked up in Boyne City and transported back to Boyne Mountain Resort.  Each trip accommodates up to 10 guests.  Rates are $40 per person for a single kayak or $75 for a tandem kayak.

Summer visitors can now also explore Boyne Mountain Resort’s expansive network of mountain biking trails with a guide.  Based on your biking ability, a guide tours the most suitable trails during an hour and a half expedition with up to four guests.  Boyne Mountain boasts an impressive 32.5 miles of trails, including a paved loop with panoramic views of the Boyne Valley, or for more experienced riders, natural wide open two-tracks and technical single-tracks.  Bring your own bike, or rent a ride from Boyne Mountain.  Departures are available daily at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., and the cost is just $20 per person.

The Big Couloir at Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark

The Big Couloir at Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark

When you need some time away from the sun, adventure can also be found indoors at Avalanche Bay.  The mega indoor waterpark is the largest in Michigan, and its newest attraction has adventurists giddy with excitement.  Beginning in a launch capsule, The Big Couloir features a trap door that drops away and propels riders into an enclosed tunnel traveling at G-force speeds up to 38-feet per second round a 360-degree loop before finishing with a splash.  This ride is a pure adrenaline rush that will leave you wanting to ride it again and again!

So whichever adventure calls you, find it this summer at Boyne Mountain Resort.

For Kayak Adventure and guided mountain biking reservations, call 231.549.7256.  For more information on all of Boyne Mountain’s summertime fun, visit boynemountain.com.

Erin Ernst is the Director of Communications for BOYNE, owner and operator of Boyne Highlands Resort, Boyne Mountain Resort, The Inn at Bay Harbor – A Renaissance Golf Resort, Boyne Country Sports, and Boyne Realty.  She is a Michigan native who loves recreation and the outdoors, and has worked in the resort and tourism industry for over ten years.  She is also a board member with the Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau and West Michigan Tourist Association.

Discovering ‘Pure Michigan’ on North Manitou Island

Sometimes spending a few days with nature, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, is the perfect way to de-stress and unwind. Today, guest blogger 16-yr old Catherine Lilek tell us how she did just that on a memorable summer trip to North Manitou Island. 

I believe that this summer I found Michigan at it’s finest at North Manitou Island – an uninhabited island, still classified as “wilderness.” North Manitou Island is on Lake Michigan, off the shore of Leland, with an hour long ferry ride out to the Island.

Once you get to the island, there is a small village where you get off of the ferry. It has a water spigot, picnic tables, a few designated camp sites, and the ranger station. The rest of the island is just pure forests and beaches.

The hiking is not terribly difficult, although some areas on the island are harder than others. Hiking on the trails simply has a way of making all your stress and worries melt away. As you observe unique trees, wildlife, and wonderful glimpses of the lake, you may even get to come up quite close to some white tailed deer, as I was lucky enough to experience.

The beaches on the island are perfect. Normally, a trip to the beach may be crowded and loud and full of other people. Here on the North Manitou Island, you will find yourself alone. There is something peaceful and calming in that. Sitting on the big open beach, grilling burgers for dinner or watching the sunset are truly some of life’s most simple and wonderful things.

I won’t embellish and say that it’s a luxury trip. There bathrooms and showers are not plentiful and you may need to filter your own drinking water, but it is simply Pure Michigan at it’s finest. It’s relaxing; a chance to escape from technology and busy everyday life. You learn to be self reliant and as I found, you learn you are stronger and tougher than you thought. You learn willpower. You see nature in a simple, undisturbed setting. You learn to view the world in a completely different way. You find joy in laying in your tent at night and instead of falling asleep to the sound of cars going by, you fall asleep to the chorus of crickets. You wake up to the sounds of birds singing.

I would strongly recommend taking a trip to North Manitou Island. Make sure to bring plenty of bug spray, sunscreen, and of course trail mix!  You can hike and camp all around the island, or stay in the main village. No matter how you experience North Manitou, you will still find yourself amidst the solitude and beauty of this island and truly experience Pure Michigan for yourself. If you do go, be sure to get up early enough to watch the sunrise one morning. Take your sleeping bag down to the beach and enjoy it. It’s an experience you will not soon forget.

Catherine Lilek is a 16-year old student, runner and an avid writer with a true love for the outdoors.