December 3, 2022

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Little Traverse Wheelway: Take this bayfront bike trail into Petoskey State Park

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PETOSKEY, MI – There are some Michigan bike trails that surprise you with their raw beauty – and then there are the ones you fall a little more in love with each time you pedal your favorite stretches. The Little Traverse Wheelway is among the latter for a lot of biking enthusiasts.

Our Lovable Michigan video above shows off one of the Wheelway’s sweetest pieces – a segment from downtown Petoskey with a woodsy offshoot into the popular Petoskey State Park. Once you roll into the park, you can cruise its forested campsites and then spin your wheels all the way to the beach. Do a little off-bike stretch, stroll the shoreline for the famous Petoskey stones, or make it a full beach stop with some sand-and-sun time.

In the lyrics of “Queen,” our best advice for exploring Petoskey’s trails always starts with “Get on your bikes and ride!” but here are a few specifics for first-timers on the Little Traverse Wheelway:

Where does this trail go? The Wheelway is a lovely 26 miles long, connecting Charlevoix to Harbor Springs, with the Petoskey section sitting gorgeously in the middle. Riders go through forested areas, through part of town, swing past neighborhoods and gated communities. The best parts are the miles that hug Little Traverse Bay. These waterfront views never disappoint. The bayfront section also takes riders past the tidy marina, a museum, a stairway connected to downtown shops – even an observation deck and a little Instagram-worthy waterfall tucked into a park.

You’ll notice some cool trail signs through this section, too. The folks at Top of Michigan Trails Council describe it really well on their website’s Wheelway page:

“The part between Petoskey’s Bayfront Park to Petoskey State Park follows closely the path of the original Little Traverse Wheelway that stretched from Petoskey to Harbor Springs in the 1880s and ‘90s. A gate over the trail at the east end of Bayfront Park proclaims “No Teaming or Driving,” and replicates the original gate that stood at nearly the same spot. This gate is a reminder of a time when people were prohibited from riding horses or horse-drawn carriages on the trail. Two other identical gates have been built to the west on Petoskey’s portion of the trail.”

Bike trails in Northern Michigan

A shaded stop along a Northern Michigan bike trail. Photo by Tanda Gmiter| MLive.

**To note: There is a section of trail between Petoskey and Bay Harbor currently closed because of erosion issues.

Pro Trail Tips:

  • Whether you’re walking or pedaling, use the Wheelway as a corridor to explore Petoskey’s pretty bayside area. You can always lock your bike and take the stairway up into the downtown business district for a snack, a good meal, or some shopping. Don’t skip The Back Lot.
  • The marina and surrounding trail areas are great spots to catch a sunset.
  • The ride just south of Petoskey’s downtown is a nice, shaded stretch. If you make it all the way to Bay Harbor, stop in at Knot Just a Bar for a snack or well-earned beverage.
  • Riding near Petoskey State Park? Don’t forget to check out Petoskey Brewing, just across M-119 from the park. Find a comfy seat inside or keep the outdoor vibe going by settling onto their patio in the back.

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