The Lake Michigan Coast from Grand Traverse Bay to Mackinaw City is considered one of the most scenic locations in the midwest, with giant rolling sand dunes, colorful cherry orchards, and shady hardwood forests bordering endless vistas of the Great Lakes. While none of the cities in this part of Michigan’s peninsula are very large, they are some of the top tourist destinations in the state, from Traverse City, to Mackinaw City, to the idyllic Mackinac Island. Our guide to running in Traverse City and vicinity is laid out a bit by geography, with several routes concentrated in and around Traverse City and then some of the best spots along the Lake Michigan coast, and then north toward Mackinaw City and Mackinack Island.
Running in this park of Michigan’s lower peninsula is offers a great variety. An enormous network of multi-use paths (mostly part of the TART) flows through towns, state forests, and even parts of the National Lakeshore, attracting runners of all stripes and abilities. Casual trail runners will delight in the paths around Lake Ann, Vasa, Sleeping Bear Dunes, Arcadia Dunes, and the Village at Grand Traverse Commons, while road runners will love exploring Old Mission Peninsula and Front Street in downtown Traverse City. For a special destination run, complete the 8 mile (car free!) loop around beautiful Mackinac Island.
If you plan on traveling the whole of the north lower peninsula, a car is needed. For those sticking close to Traverse City, the BATA Bus System is cheap and efficient. Note that a ferry is required to get to Mackinack Island.