Hey all, would like to get a nice discussion going about our favorite trails in Northern Michigan. Make it easy on yourself--just tell why you like the trail, share a nice trail highlight or two. Maybe include where you go afterward for a cuppa cocoa (or a stout or a chocolate-mint martini, or a ...). Upload a picture if you want to dial it up (easy, actually). If you can, include a link to a trail map (also easy--use that little sideways chain link icon at top of this box) and some basic directions. If somebody already wrote about your trail here, just add your two cents of love about it anyway.
Why? Because all trail users know that the world would be a happier, healthier place if everybody XC skied and snowshoed and hiked, right? So let's make it easy for others to find the good stuff and feel that great too.
My favorite trail: Lake Ann Pathway (about 20 minutes west of Traverse City). Why? Well, first off, it’s rolly. Lots of quick ups and downs and turns with some short connecting flats. In my mind, this is the best kind of XC terrain—always doing something. Second, Lake Ann Pathway offers some nice visual opps. Not big vistas, but more subtle things, like ponds with cattails from up high, then from up close. Nice hardwood forests, too. But everybody I know who loves the trail like I do really cherishes a short stretch along the upper reaches of the Platte River. Up this far, the river is little more than a wide creek, snowy cedars lining the bank, the quiet gurgle of water the only sound. A true Up North cathedral. Lake Ann Pathway has a few trail loops, but I like the outermost loop. It’s the longest, but still only about 3.5 miles. I like to do it twice or three times, but the terrain is so good that I don’t get bored.
Afterward, head to Giovanni’s restaurant for some classic Italian fare and a glass of red wine (good for the heart, right?). It’s on U.S. 31, just east of the stoplight at 137 (the Interlochen turn off).
Directions to the trail: On Reynolds Road (runs along west side of Lake Ann, Benzie County), about a mile south of 610.
I'll second your LA Path choice and add Ransom Lake Natural Area. Similar variety in terrain. Beautiful small lake and creek at either end. It's a shorter loop, nice for when you don't have a lot of time.
Directions: From TC, take North Long Lake Road west to 610/Almira Road. A few miles later, turn left on Bellows Lake Rd., then right at the sign for Ransom Lake Natural Area. 4x4 usually required to get to the parking area. Otherwise park on Bellows Lake Road.
Another good one is Lake Dubonnet near Interlochen. Miles of loops make for a long ski with good variety. Make sure you take a map or a GPS for that one. I can look back on it and laugh now, but getting lost there in 10-degree weather wasn't so much fun at the time.