The 17-mile Leelanau Trail provides a paved off-road connection between Traverse City and Suttons Bay. Running through the last of Leelanau County’s former railroad corridors, the Leelanau Trail features picturesque forests, farms, vineyards, lakes and ponds.
In the winter, the Leelanau Trail is groomed by TART Trails volunteers as conditions permit and includes conditions well-suited for classic and skate skiing, fatbiking and snowshoeing. The trail is groomed from the DeYoung Natural Area to the 4th Street trailhead.
The Leelanau Trail bisects the land of DeYoung Natural Area (191 acres) for .75 of a mile. From the Cherry Bend parking lot, a Universal Access trail (0.2 miles) leads to a lakeside fishing and viewing platform, where you can see the protected shoreline of Cedar Lake (4500 feet). After your stop at the fishing pier, you can continue onto The Cedar Forest Trail (0.5 miles) which will take you through an enchanting hardwood conifer swamp with open views of an old field meadow.
- There are three trailheads for parking along the trail at Cherry Bend Rd, Fouch Rd, and 4th St in Suttons Bay. There is also parking available at the Leelanau Studios parking lot, just 1/3 mile east of the Cherry Bend Rd trailhead.
- Keswick Methodist Church, on Center Hwy between Fort and Revold Rd, welcomes trail users to use their lot.
- Drivers: For improved intersection visibility, please do not park vehicles within 100 feet of the trail.
During the summer months, there are a portalets located along the trail at the Cherry Bend trailhead, the DeYoung Natural Area about one mile north of the Cherry Bend Rd trailhead, and near the water treatment plans between Richter and Eckerle Rd in Suttons Bay. Public restrooms are available seasonally at the village marina. Trail users may use the restrooms at Inland Seas Education Association located across M-22 next to Boone’s restaurant. ISEA is open Monday through Friday from 9:00-5:00 pm with plenty of bike parking available at the lower level entrance.
PDF of the Leelanau Trail Map here.
Bike-N-Ride: Bike there. Bus back. TART is proud to collaborate with BATA on their Bike-n-Ride transportation program. Click Here to learn more about how you can explore Traverse City and Suttons Bay in comfort and convenience.
Edible Trail: Grand Traverse Edible Trails created two food forests along the trail. The food forests are about 2 miles northwest of Traverse City, the Cedar Creek Food Forest is across from the Orchard Creek apartments next to Realeyes Homestead, and the DeYoung Forest Garden is at the Leelanau Conservancy’s DeYoung Farm and Natural Area. For more information on edible trails click here.
Leo Creek Preserve: This seven acre preserve, funded and operated by former TART Trails Board Member Kate Thornhill, is open to the public. It showcases a permaculture landscape adjacent to a cedar stand where the coldwater stream, Leo Creek, flows through on its way to Suttons Bay. The gardens, art and natural features are a joy to behold any time of year! The preserve plays host to school groups, artists, elder care groups and folks who simply take advantage of a special trailside resting place. It is yet another example of how trails can foster a sense of community and bring people together. A special thank you to Kate and her crew of volunteers for providing such a special space for everyone to enjoy. And if you haven’t yet been, put Leo Creek on your list of places to visit your next time out on the Leelanau Trail.
The Leelanau Trail is owned and maintained by TART Trails. Please help support the Leelanau Trail by feeding the pipe or donating online.