Here’s a cool tour provided by Traverse City Tourism and featuring some awesome photos by Ken Scott. It’s important to note that while you can see some of these on the roads below, for others you have to veer off down side roads. Have some tips for Leelanau newbies of your favorite color tour drives in Leelanau? Share them in the comments below!
Length: 75 miles (105 miles with optional loop)
It’s hard to find another place in all Michigan where so much beautiful scenery, so many lovely villages and so much fascinating history are packed into such a small area. This tour will take you to the very tip of this scenic peninsula through the villages of Suttons Bay, Northport and Leland. And if that’s not enough, we’ve added an optional visit to Glen Arbor and the magnificent Sleeping Bear Dunes.
Take M-22 north from Traverse City along the shore of West Bay to Cherry Bend Road, where a left turn will take you to the foot of the TimberLee Hills; turn right here and head north on County Road 633, a lovely rural road that leads through beautiful upland country to the village of Suttons Bay.
Here you’ll rejoin M-22 and continue north along the shore through the villages of Peshawbestown (home to the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians) Omena and Northport. From Northport, continue north to the tip of the peninsula and visit Leelanau State Park and the Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum.
Returning to Northport, take M-22 west to the charming fishing port of Leland. Beyond Leland, you’ll skirt the western shore of Lake Leelanau for a mile or so and turn left onto County Road 204 which leads to the inland village of Lake Leelanau.
Turn right here, just before the bridge, onto County Road 643 which follows a very scenic route along the lake and eventually takes you to the picturesque Polish-American town of Cedar. Continue south from Cedar on County Road 651 to M-72, turn left, and follow the highway back for a spectacular return to Traverse City.
Optional Sleeping Bear Dunes & South Leelanau Loop
After leaving Leland, continue south on M-22 along the Lake Michigan shoreline and through the eastern section of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore to the village of Glen Arbor. Continue through the village on what is now called M-109, past the ghost port of Glen Haven and the famous Dune Climb and take the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive (permit required) which offers splendid views of the surrounding lake and dune country.
Turn right when leaving the scenic drive and go for about a mile to County Road 616, where you make a left turn and head along the southern shore of the two Glen Lakes. Just past the lakes the road climbs steeply; at its top is an excellent viewpoint called Inspiration Point. Continue eastward through the villages of Maple City and Cedar. In Cedar, take a right turn onto County Road 651 and follow it south to M-72, where a left turn will bring you back to Traverse City.