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ENJOY AUTUMN IN NORTHWEST MICHIGAN
Color drive tours in and around Petoskey, Harbor Springs,
Charlevoix and Boyne City
CIRCLE LAKE CHARLEVOIX
Depart Boyne City north on Lake Street passing Young State Park and on to Horton Bay (population 49 and former haunt of young Ernest Hemingway). Continue straight on C-56 to the stop at US 31. Take a left for about one mile and then right on Mercer Boulevard, just before the golf course, and continue down to the last street. Take a left to the end and then take another left. You will pass, on the right, the turn into Mount McSauba Park (sand dunes, hiking trails and beach). Continue on to McSauba Road at the ski area, and take a right to the stop sign and then right again to US 31. Continue straight over the "singing bridge" into town. depart Charlevoix on US 31 South to the blinking light junction of M-66. Take a left to Ironton. Turn left and board the ferry ($2.50). Continue straight along Ferry Road back to Boyne City. 35 miles and approximately 50 minutes drive time plus possible waits for the bridge and ferry.
Depart Petoskey east on Mitchell Street (C-58) along hilly, winding countryside, passing Wildwood Road (turn for hiking and cross country ski trails), to Wolverine. Take a right at the stop onto Straits Highway, following the Sturgeon River seven miles to Thumb Lake Road (C-48) and take a right. Continue on to US 131, take a left to Boyne Falls and turn west on M-75 to Boyne City. Stay on M-75 (East Street to State Street) turning north through Walloon Lake Village to stop at US 131. Turn left and return to Petoskey. Be sure to a take a moment and enjoy the view cresting the hill entering town. 62 miles and approximately 1 1/4 hours drive time.
TUNNEL OF TREES
The absence of road shoulders and center line combined with some of the most spectacular scenery anywhere make alert driving a must on these two tours.
Depart Harbor Springs north along M-119, (perhaps investigating the Thorn Swift Nature Preserve on lower Shore Drive) to Cross Village (home of the Legs Inn, a historical and architectural marvel). Continue straight several miles to the stop sign and take a left to follow Lake Shore Drive to Lakeview Road at Sturgeon Bay (sand dunes and beach area). Continue straight on Lakeview, which becomes Gill Road.
From here, choose either Tour A (a shorter route back to Harbor Springs) or Tour B through Mackinaw City and along inland lakes.
TOUR A - On Gill Road continue 3 miles toward Bliss and the junction with Pleasantville Road (C-81). Continue on Pleasant view Road back to M-119 where a right will return you to Harbor Springs.50 miles and approximately 1 1/4 hours.
TOUR B - On Gill Road continue about 5 miles to Cecil Bay Road. Take a left to the end of the road, and then right at the stop on Wilderness Park Drive (a left will take you into Wilderness State Park). Continue on this route jogging north, finally passing Colonial Fort Michilimackinac in Mackinaw City. Cross under I-75 at the base of the world's longest suspension bridge and begin the Cheboyan County Scenic Route on US-23. (Treat yourself to one or more of the enticements along the Scenic Route from the Maritime Museum to Old Mill Creek.) Continue south along US-23 into Cheboygan and take a right at the M-27 junction. Continue straight along M-27 passing Mullett and Burt Lakes, through Indian River, past the world's largest crucifix to the junction of M-68. Turn right to Alanson, turning left on US 31 to return to the outskirts of Petoskey. Turn north on M-119 and return to Harbor Springs. 110 miles and approximately 2.5 hours drive time.
- JORDAN RIVER VALLEY TOUR
Depart Boyne Falls west along M-75 one mile to Deer Lake Road (C-48) where you will bear left and continue past Deer Lake and Boyne Mountain's golf course to the stop sign. Stay left on C-48 into East Jordan, over the Jordan River bridge at the south arm of Lake Charlevoix, keeping right at the blinking yellow light and then left at the red light (M-66). (You may wish to explore several turnoffs as well as a canoe livery and trout farm along the way) Passing the Bellaire turn, continue almost to the top of the next hill and take a left on Alba Road. One scenic overlook along this route may be of interest (narrow two-track road, not suggested for new cars.) Take a left at the junction of US 131, passing Kitchen Farms and over the 45th Parallel. Continue 5 miles to the Dead Man's Hill turnoff and take a left. The two mile drive over a bumpy dirt road will be richly rewarded with a spectacular view of the Jordan River Valley (the left fork at the overlook takes you closest to the top). Backtracking to US 131, turn left and return to Boyne Falls. 50 miles and approximately one hour drive time.
- SURF AND TURF
Rolling hills, picturesque Michigan family farms and the south arm of Lake Charlevoix dominate this tour
Depart Charlevoix along US 31 South to the Ellsworth turn (C-48) in Atwood. Turn left. Continue 5 miles to the stop sign in Ellsworth and turn left on Church and then left again at the next stop, staying on C-48. At the red light in East Jordan turn left on M-66 following the lakeshore, passing the Ironton Ferry (immortalized in Ripley's Believe It or Not as having travelled the most nautical miles without going anywhere-650 feet), and continuing back to US 31. A right takes you back into Charlevoix. 35 miles and approximately 45 minutes drive time.
The Petoskey, Charlevoix, Harbor Springs and Boyne City region is easy to reach, thanks to a network of all-weather highways. Once there, you'll enjoy the hilly, forested countryside and the charming resort towns nestled along the sparkling blue waters of Lake Michigan, Lake Charlevoix and other inland lakes. A northwest Michigan autumn is filled with breathtaking views, fresh air, colorful wildlife and Victorian architecture. Plus a relaxed pace and genuine hospitality that will make you glad you went. Visit this Fall. It's the best time of the year!