An hour north of Traverse City, Michigan, there’s a place where people go to enjoy long summer days on some of the clearest lakes in the country. The lakes of Bellaire, Michigan have been a destination for at least a half-century. But, in addition to Shorts Brewing Company, there’s a new reason to visit Bellaire. It’s the Glacial Hills Pathway and Natural Area a property owned and managed by the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy (GTRLC).
In partnership with the Northern Michigan Mountain Biking Association, GTRLC is in the process of developing a stacked loop trail system with about 22-miles of planned trail. The township has already constructed a trailhead, complete with picnic tables, and has plans to build a second. There are currently 3.5 miles of trail on the ground, consisting of three small loops and another loop that will be completed with one more trail day.
Though small, Bellaire has a large tourist base because of its lakes. There’s a good coffee shop, the local brewery (Shorts), good restaurants, hotels/motels, and incredible scenery. Shanty Mountain is the local ski resort and has a ski lift, views of the lakes, 2,600 beds, and other recreation facilities.
We presented Better Living Through Trails to highlight the benefit of trails as an addition to the existing recreation infrastructure. The town really got behind the project at Glacial Hills after our presentation and we built good momentum for future investment in trails. In short, Bellaire has top-notch infrastructure already in place. With the trails at Glacial Hills, and some future investment in lift-served terrain off Shanty and a bike park, Bellaire has the potential to be a great mountain biking destination.
On your next trip to Bellaire for the Short’s and the lakes, don’t forget to bring your bike!