Monday, August 06, 2007

The Leelanau Trail

One of the great things about northern Michigan is the natural, scenic beauty every where you go. Going to the store? Grand Traverse Bay just happens to be on the way. Going to the beach? Look at that, a bunch of sail boats and a beautiful sunset. I love being in the Traverse area during summer and fall. Winter and spring on the other hand? No thanks. I hate the snow - especially piles of it - and dripping, melting slush in the spring. I still prefer to visit the area rather than live there. But it is a terrific place to visit as a "fudgie".

I spent the last week at my folks place on a lake in Traverse City. The kids and I went swimming three different times in West Bay. Surprisingly, it was warm on 2 of the 3 trips. We did some boating, golfing, water skiing, and went down to the Traverse City Film Festival (more on this in a later post). It was a good week all in all except the wife had to stay back home and work during the week. That was a bummer.

I knew it would be a challenge to keep my running schedule this week but, somehow, I managed. I'm surprised really. There were so many more appealing attractions. I'm giving myself a pat on the back for keeping to my weekly goals. Of course, both weekends, my wife gave me a big assist. Never more so than this past Sunday.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I planned to hit 16 laps around the Civic Center track. I've done 20 laps before (each lap is almost exactly 1 mile) so I figured 16 would be no problem. So, on July 29th I dutifully started running circles. About 6 miles in, wanderlust struck and I started feeling trapped in a cage. Why am I running laps? There is so much to see just outside the gates. So, I veered right instead of left off the track and out the gates. I ran past 2 of my previous childhood homes. I ran for awhile on the Bayshore marathon course along the bay. I circled back and finished my last few miles on the track again to bookend the experience. Being that my Garmin quit on me again, I had to guess I went roughly 16.5 miles @ 7:18 pace.

Yesterday, my planned 17 miler, I decided not even to attempt the track again. Traverse City has a variety of running/biking trails. Why not try one of those? Sure enough, there's a 17 mile trail from the (former) Clinch Park Zoo on West Bay to downtown Suttons Bay. It's called The Leelanau Trail . This is where the wife came in. She needed to drive me downtown after getting up at 7 AM - on a Sunday, sleep in day - and then drive out to Suttons Bay just over 2 hours later to pick me back up. What a game wifey I have!

Start: West Bay in Traverse City

The Leelanau Trail: Off Road

Finish: Suttons Bay

This is a beautiful, serene stretch to run. Quiet countryside. Only a few road crossings. I was amused by the number of "tractor crossing" signs posted along the route. Much of the trail cut through farmers' fields. I kept my eye out for a John Deere haulin' a** across the trail.

The first 8 miles are paved, then 6 miles off road, and then 3 more paved miles into downtown Suttons Bay and the sweetness of an ice cream shop. Except none of them were open yet. Bummer. I recommend it as a nice run/bike if you are in the area. Bring water, however, as there are no water stations past mile 3. I took it a bit easier on this trail as I've been going hard - too hard - lately. I wanted this just to be a pleasant run through the countryside. And it was. (17 miles / 7:32 pace).

Happy trails.


L*I*S*A said...

WOW...isn't it nice to get off-road once in a while?

I'm glad that you decided on this, rather than the track again.

Russ said...

i've been contemplating a trip up to my old stomping grounds (munising) and this post pushed me over the edge. nothing like a long run along lake superior to get the karma straight - other than perhaps a long run along the TC-Sutton's Bay route... and yes I have signed up for Detroit - my goal - to get to the start line healthy - not concerned about time (though I'm sure that my competitive nature will come through when it gets closer)

Mike said...

Beauty, my grandmothers condo is real close to the trail, so i have been on a small part of it.

i remeber taking the little tourist ride when it was a railroad.

Missy said...

Sounds like you had a great time on our trail! Thanks for sharing your experience.

Missy Luyk
TART Trails, Inc.