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.
The Leelanau Trail is the only trail within the TART Trails network entirely owned and operated by TART Trails, Inc. It was born from a passionate community that continues to support it today. Throughout the spring, summer, and fall, the all-volunteer Leelanau Trail Maintenance Crew works on continual improvements to provide a world-class trail experience for trail users.
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 3/4 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 (1/2 mile) which will take you through an enchanting hardwood conifer swamp with open views of an old field meadow.
- There are four trailheads for parking along the trail at Cherry Bend Rd, Fouch Rd, Shady Lane and 4th St in Suttons Bay.
- Additional parking is available at the Leelanau Studios parking lot, just 1/3 mile east of the Cherry Bend Rd trailhead.
- 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.
Mileage chart 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.
Leo Creek Preserve: This seven acre preserve, cared for 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 Preserve on your list of places to visit your next time out on the Leelanau Trail.
Historic Potato Barn: Along the Leelanau Trail, tucked between Shady Lane and Whittaker Road, you’ll see the remains of this often talked about fieldstone potato barn. Learn more about its history here.
Hunting is not permitted on the Leelanau Trail but is allowed on adjacent private properties. Use caution and wear blaze orange or bright colors during hunting seasons.
Leelanau Trail Updates
Check our Active Projects section for what’s coming up for 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.