Bike & Hike
Benzie County has many miles of hiking paths or biking trails and roads sure to please everyone, from the beginner to the expert.
Trails are full of nature, scenery, and even art. We are proud to be the home of Betsie Valley Trail and Michigan Legacy Art Park, not to mention the many miles of trails in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and with wonderful trails in Benzie County within the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy
If you’re looking for a good hike, or bicycle ride surrounded by the great outdoors, Stay in Benzie, you won’t be disappointed with the abundance of choices here.
CLICK HERE to check out the latest Travel Specials!
1100 Main St
Frankfort, MI 49635
603 Frankfort Hwy
Elberta, MI 49628
312 Main St
Frankfort, MI 49635
12500 Crystal Mountain Dr.
Thompsonville, MI 49683
8294 Deadstream Rd.
Honor, MI 49640
Betsie Valley Trail
Betsie Valley Trail is owned by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and operated & maintained by Benzie County. Its scenic 22 miles extends from Frankfort, through Elberta and Beulah to Thompsonville. The entire trail is excellent for bicycles and pedestrians. Part of the trail from Beulah to Thompsonville is open to snowmobiles from December through March.
- Pavement/Hard Pack Surface
- Benches along the route
- Non-Motorized only
- Restrooms at some trailheads
The Betsie Valley Trail is ideal for the first time hiker & biker because of its fairly flat terrain and access to communities along a 10+ mile paved trail network. This is perfect for an afternoon walk or bike ride with the entire family (small kids included)! The 6 miles from Frankfort to Mollineaux Rd. is asphalt and is good for roller blading. From Beulah to Thompsonville (13 miles) the compacted aggregate trail is open to snowmobiles from December through March. Pets are permitted on most parts of the Trail as long as they are on a leash and under control (see Section 4.02 of the Trail Ordinance). Pets (except leader dogs) are not permitted on the portion of the Trail between Mollineaux Road and Beulah (see Section 7.02 of the Trail Ordinance). Some of the trail amenities include pavement/hard surfaces, beaches along the route, restrooms at the trail heads, and allow only non-motorized transportation.
A great way to enjoy the entire trail in one day is to make arrangements with the Benzie Bus to be picked up at one location and transported to another, with your bicycles. Reservations are required and be sure to let them know you’ll need a bus with a bike rack.
Other trails in Benzie County include the Betsie River Pathway in the Pere Marquette State Forest and the Lake Ann Pathway, plus several great trails with The Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy. More information and maps can be obtained from their website links.
The benevolent “Friends of the Betsie Valley Trail” is a non-profit corporation formed in 1993 “to advocate, promote and encourage the development and successful operation of a recreational trail on the former Ann Arbor Railroad corridor in Benzie County.” It is supportive in the efforts of the Michigan DNR and Benzie County in the maintenance and enjoyment of the trail.
For more trail information, maps and how to become a ‘Friend of the Betsie Valley Trail’ please visit the Betsie Valley Trail website.
Betsie River Pathway
Betsie River Pathway is also owned by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and maintained by Benzie County. It has two loops, a 2.8 mile and a 6.6 mile loop located in the Pere Marquette National Forest. The shorter loop climbs wooded, hilly terrain and descends to the Betsie River. The longer loop has hardwood forest and meadow.
- Connects to Crystal Mountain’s Aspen Trail
- Fee for parking
The difficulty of the trail is easy to moderate, great for first time hikers and bikers. For anyone looking and are comfortable hiking and biking in the woods, this is a great trail for beginners that has logged some hours hiking and biking. The trail has some moderate incline in spots and can be tight in some locations. We recommend novices sticking to the smaller loop and venturing into the larger loop once they feel comfortable. The average time to complete the trail is under 2 hours. The trail also connects to the Crystal Mountain’s Aspen Trail and has a parking fee at the trail head.
Lake Ann Pathway
In the Pere Marquette State Forest and is known primarily as an excellent Nordic ski trail, featuring many loops and a rolling terrain. What started out as an interpretive trail in the late 1970’s is now a popular multi-use trail with mountain bikers and hikers enjoying what skiers love; the scenic overlooks from the trail and the quiet nature of the area. In less than 4 miles, you view 4 lakes, skirt three bogs, and follow a stretch of the Platte River. From swamps and lakes to a trout stream, few trails in southern Michigan display so much water in such a short distance. It’s adjacent to Lake Ann State Forest Campground and requires a vehicle entry permit or state park pass.
- Vehicle entry permit or state park pass required
- Adjacent to Lake Ann State Forest Campground
In less than 4 miles, you view 4 lakes, skirt three bogs, and follow a stretch of the Platte River. From swamps and lakes to a trout stream, few trails in southern Michigan display so much water in such a short distance. Even though it is moderate in difficulty, the short distance makes it great for the first timer that has limited time.
Platte Plains Trail
The Platte Plains Trail is easy in overall difficulty and mostly flat, therefore, it is ideal for those looking to enjoy beautiful overlooks out on the Lake Michigan Shoreline. With a total of 14+ miles of loops, we recommend taking the Lasso Loop, which totals 6.6 miles. This can be completed at right about two hours and offers the best views of Lake Michigan. You can also park at the White Pine Backcountry Campground and hike along Lake Michigan and back if time is an issue.
- Camping at designated campsites
- Scenic Views of Lake Michigan
- 3 Loops
- Information stations/trail markers
The trail is mostly flat with some short, steep hills. Primarily pine, oak, and aspen forest and open meadows with some views of Lake Michigan. A national park pass is required for parking. There are 3.5 – 14.7 miles of easy to moderate trails. The Bass Lake Loop is 3.5 miles, the Otter Creek Loop is 4.6 miles, and the Lasso Loop is 6.3 miles. Amenities include camping at designated campsites, scenic views of Lake Michigan, three loops, and information stations/trail markers.
Arcadia Dunes Baldy Trail, Dry Hill, and St. Pierre Trails
The Baldy, Dry Hill, and St. Pierre Trail systems are great for beginner backpackers looking to train on flat terrain to build up their endurance while not sacrificing the view and vistas. These trails are beautiful during the spring months as this area has an abundance of wildflowers that make this one of Pure Michigan’s best biking trails. The Loops are fairly flat and cater to the novice/intermediate mountain bikers.
- ADA walking trail (Baldy Trail Segment only)
- Natural Trail Surface
- Parking Area
- Information Station
- Scenic Lake Michigan Lookout (Baldy Trail Segment only)
- Benches along the trail
At just over 18 miles of trails this trail system within the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy is a favorite for locals and visitors alike. The St. Pierre and Dry Hill trails will be frequented by bikers throughout the seasons and the Baldy Trail is typically reserved for hikers with some bikers during the non-peak summer season. The trails are all fairly flat and ideal for bikers and hikers looking to customize a loop system with an hour to all day. Easy difficulty.
Amenities include ADA walking trail (Baldy Trail Segment only), natural trail surface, Scenic Lake Michigan Lookout (Baldy Trail Segment only), Parking Area, Information Station, and benches along the trail.
North Manitou Island Trails
There are 23 miles of trails on North Manitou Island. The trails go through wooded areas, fields and along bluffs that overlook Lake Michigan. The majority of the trail is easy hiking with the northwest corner elevations of 1,000 feet. While its somewhat of a grueling hike, the bluffs over Lake Michigan are worth it.
South Manitou Island Trails
Leisurely walk through an historic village, climb the lighthouse stairs for magnificent views, visit a one room schoolhouse and hike to a small lake on the island. For longer hikes, visit a shipwreck off the shore and stand among giant cedar trees. A more enduring hike would take you atop the bluffs where you can see Lake Michigan in all directions. Another longer hike would be the 10 miles of shoreline around the island.
M-22 Scenic Highway
This 116 mile road is one of the most famous in the country, and was voted #1 in the USA by USA Today for “Best Scenic Autumn Drive.” This road is frequented by road bikers from across the country. Most making it a 2-3 day journey because there is plenty to do along the way with wineries, coastal communities, scenic overlooks and great food and shopping. If you have limited time to get on the roads along M22. A great southern portion is from the Arcadia Overlook to Frankfort. The terrain is tough, but the views are stunning. For those who are looking to venture more north, we recommend getting into the city of Glen Arbor and the Sleeping Bear Dunes area.
Beginning in southern Manistee County, M-22 is 116 miles of scenic highway winding through the countryside of Benzie, Manistee, and Leelanau Counties. Highlights along the way include, Portage Lake and the Artesian Wells in Onekama, one of the top golf courses in the country in the Arcadia Bluffs golf club, Inspiration Point in Arcadia, the Elberta Bluffs, Frankfort Harbor, Point Betsie Lighthouse, Platte River Point and just to the north is Empire Bluffs.
The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore encompasses nearly a third of the scenic drive. Communities like Glen Arbor, and Leland “Fishtown USA,” Northport and Suttons Bay and the Traverse City Area’s West bay cap off this beautiful drive. M-22 is a hilly winding road that makes for a great ride surrounded in beautiful scenery and nature. Difficulty is Beginner to Moderate, with amenities like many hotels along the route, shopping and dining establishments, and many points of interest.
In winter, enjoy the beauty of northern Michigan on two wheels. Rent a Fat tire snow bike and cruise on the winter bike trails. Fat tires help make snow maneuverable! The total Fat tire bike trail is nearly 6 miles in distance and may take riders between 30-45 minutes to complete. Bikes rentals are available at the Park at Water’s Edge, which is where the bike trail begins and ends.
Trails are groomed as the Cross-Country trails are groomed. The best conditions for Fat tire snow biking are hard packed trails with a 4″ inch base. Guests are welcome to bring their personal Fat tire snow bikes, but must purchase a multi-use trail pass to utilize Crystal Mountain trails. Season passes are also available.Visit Crystal Mountain’s website for additional information on trails and rentals. Difficulty is beginner, with amenities of groomed trails (XC skiing and Winter Fat Tire), mountain biking trails, tours, lessons and training, and equipment rental.
CLICK HERE for important information on the Recreation Passport which is required for vehicle entry into state parks, recreation areas, state boat launches, state forest campgrounds and state trail parking lots. This does not include local, county, municipal, or metropolitan parks or recreation areas.
For more info on Michigan DNR trails CLICK HERE
Buy ORV and Snowmobile permits HERE