Harbor Springs is full of artesian wells, sidewalk streets and plenty of pristine lake vistas. When you are done hiking and biking, slow down the pace strolling through manicured, waterfront lawns. Take in all of the natural beauty and charm of this sleepy harbor town.
Boyne is synonymous with adventure. We have enjoyed skiing at Boyne Highlands and Nubs Nob since we were kids. Adding to summer excitement, Boyne now has zip lines, horse trail rides at the equestrian center and the permanent See North owl and bird exhibit. The lodging is great, with several pools and hot tubs. Premier golfing is on site in addition to plenty of downhill and mountain biking trails.
Even if you are not staying at Boyne Highlands, you are welcome to take your bike up to the resort and pedal anywhere you please. Our favorite spot is a well traveled single track a couple miles from the main Highlands lodge. There is the most incredible ravine section with smooth banking turns that will have you grinning from ear to ear and shouting out loud! The greatest part of biking here, is that the beginning is all uphill which means the end is a thrilling downhill ride!
The terrain is mostly hard packed top soil but beware of the sand and tree roots. It is a good place to start for beginner off road bikers. If you are accident prone and trip often at the grocery store, then you might want to just pedal around Harbor's downtown neighborhoods.
The trailhead address is 522 Heather Dr, Harbor Springs MI. You will park in a completely residential neighborhood that is nestled between the golf course and the ski resort. Park next to trail head right in front of the sandy dirt road.
You will be biking on the Orange and Blue trails between the Highlands ski resort and golf course. Trails are marked by small circular colored discs on the trees that can be tricky to see. Keep a cell phone on you although reception at the highlands is spotty. Verizon's network is pretty strong but AT&T has been known to have large "no bar" spots. Garmin could not get enough satellites for triangulating the geocache position.
Most logs are cut and removed but trees fall everyday. Anytime you get lost, ride downhill until you reach a street or golf course and ask a friendly Harbor resident for help getting to Heather Drive. If you do get turned around, watch for signs coming back downhill that say Back To Main lodge, which refers to the Highlands ski area. Dogs, bikers and hikers share this trail system.
There are no public restrooms or drinking fountains on this stretch of trail so bring water.
2013 UPDATE: Unfortunately Cornichons closed their doors this winter.
We love the atmosphere of small owner-operated restaurants. Across from Juilleret's and Bar Harbor you will find a welcoming yellow striped canvas awning protecting Cornichon's Cafe.
Patio seating is available on nice days or head inside where you will find white tablecloths and Michael, your server, maitre d' and cashier. Breakfast and lunch menus include eggs, sandwiches and salads with flair. The Red, White and Blue pancakes, in honor of our independence, are packed with fresh blueberries, strawberries and bananas.
A large chalkboard menu is behind the cashier with numbered salads and sandwiches like #23, the Tuna Nicose Salad and #12, the French Kiss sando. Great sit down spot half a block from the water.
According to Diana Throckmorton, the owner, her restaurant name is pronounced koor-nish-owns, which are little French pickles! Diana also owns L'esprit which is located a block up the street.
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Thorne Swift Nature Preserve was donated by Elizabeth Kennedy, who lived just up the road. Elizabeth bought the land from a developer who was going to build condos on Lake Michigan. She invested an additional $200,000 to build the lakeside preserve, which is funded today by the Little Traverse Bay Conservancy. You will no doubt run into John, the manager of the preserve and nature center. He is very friendly, knowledgable and charges $3 for parking. Ask him about his off-road unicycle!
The preserve is rich with Petoskey stones which must be left behind for the next explorers to enjoy! Thorne Swift is great for kids, bathrooms are rustic and dogs are not invited for this part of the adventure. We can hear the rolling thunder of Lake Michigan from the parking lot, elevated boardwalks or cedar chip paths.
This adventure takes you through The Tunnel of Trees on M-119, which starts at Breck-n-Ridge Farm's striking horse stables and ends at Legs Inn looking out over a Lake Michigan bay in Cross Village.
On top of it all, relaxing on a bench smelling that fresh balsam fir with warm sunlight and a strong breeze makes for the sweetest northern air you have ever had the privilege to breathe!
Thorn Swift Nature Preserve is open daily from 10am to a half hour after sunset.
6696 Lower Shore Drive
Harbor Springs, MI 49740
Call John at (231) 526-6401
There is something special about seeing dock sections stacked up just before they are dropped in the water. If you get outside this week you will still see a few docks patiently waiting to dip their toes into our refreshing northern lakes!
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