In a stroke of tourism genius, Michigan started establishing Great Lakes Circle Toursin the 1980s. Basically, the states and local jurisdictions that border the Great Lakes identified roads with special signage to help travelers maintain a scenic route close to the shoreline. According to the official website, “four of the five Great Lakes feature “Circle Tour” routes, as well as the Great Lakes Seaway Trail in New York State and Pennsylvania.” I had traveled along the Seaway Trail in New York, so I was excited to pick up some of the other Circle Tours during this leg of my journey.
From Indiana Dunes, I followed the Lake Michigan Circle Tour route by picking up US-12 out of New Buffalo. From there, it was pretty much US-31 all the way to the city of Honor and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park, even though it didn’t actually run along the shoreline and other roads did. Throughout the Leelanau Peninsula, a combination of M-22 and M-109 hug the coast and take you through several quaint little towns like Glen Arbor, Leeland, Northport, and Suttons Bay, as well as the Leelanau State Park, the Grand Traverse Lighthouse, beautiful cherry orchards, farmers stands, beaches, and stunning coastline views.
The next day, I picked up Traverse City, continuing to hug the Lake Michigan shoreline, and rode north on US-31. I picked up M-119 to Harbor Springs and rode north on what’s known as the Tunnel of Trees.
Just as I popped out the northern end of the Tunnel of Trees and spotted the legendary Legs Inn, I could feel the rain clouds about to open up, so I quickly found a seat at the bar (table wait times were 1.5 hours!) and ordered a smoked white fish salad. The food was good, but the back patio was the real treat once the rain let up.
From Cross Creek, I wanted to continue to follow the coast eastward to Mackinaw City, but a local dissuaded me, citing horrible road conditions. So, I heeded her advice and took a more direct highway route, which ended up being under construction almost the whole way. Construction was so bad that in several sections, the concrete was torn up and unpaved sections just left as open gravel pits. My riding and towing abilities are certainly being tested this trip! But, like the t-shirt slogan says: “But, did you die?!” No, I didn’t die, and I’ve lived to tell the tale and dive headlong into the next challenge… the Mighty Mac!