This route begins and ends a few miles west of Maple City in Miles Kimmerly Park off County Road 616. It weaves through the central heart of Leelanau County and nudges into two major lakes at each extreme, Big Glen Lake and Lake Leelanau. It also passes through the village of Cedar about halfway through.
The landscape is a combination of rolling hills, wide open fields, historic farmsteads, woodlands, tight weaving shady lanes, and long stretches of rolling roadway. This is Leelanau at its best, but that can be said about everywhere else in the county, so enjoy. Many of the roads have moderate levels of traffic, and often less than moderate. This offers plenty of opportunity to sight see as you ride.
As on any loop, it can be ridden either direction with the benefit of fresh perspectives. The route is laid out counter-clockwise, but try it the other way on another day and it’ll be a whole new ride.
Be aware, this is a very hilly ride. I’d suggest that you be in good shape for this and have a few hilly miles already under your belt before tackling it. It goes through glacial terrain that offers no respite if your legs give out and you still have a ten or fifteen mile return to the park.
There are also some alternative detours along the way.
At mile 3.3 there’s an option to turn right on County Road 675 and take a short jaunt down to the Old Settlers Park (0.3 miles) on Big Glen Lake. It’s a nice little park, with restrooms and picnic tables and the views over the lake are great.
At mile 3.7, instead of turning left onto Bow Road, stay on Macfarlane Road headed south and climb to Inspiration Point 1.8 miles away. Be aware that it is a hearty climb. The views from the Point are gorgeous. On a clear day you can see over Big Glen, Little Glen, and on to Sleeping Bear Dunes to the west.
This is more a shortcut than a detour. At mile 18.1 at Schomberg Road and Lake Shore Drive, continue north on Shomberg rather than turning right onto Lake Shore. You won’t see Lake Leelanau with this option, but you will avoid some long, sometimes rather steep climbs. The shortcut is 1.8 miles long and takes you directly to the old settlement of Isadore. It is uphill part way, but not as challenging as Rosinski Road on the full route. It will cut the total route distance by 2.5 miles.
If you continue on Lake Shore Drive there will be a long gradual uphill to a high point that overlooks Lake Leelanau, then a sweeping downhill that rounds to a left turn onto Rosinski Road at mile 19.9. Rosinski Road is a hill climber’s paradise and a flatlander’s hell. Keep that in mind. It is one long, sometimes very steep climb.
The village of Cedar is a treat. There are a couple of well-stocked grocery stores, each with its own unique character, Buntings Cedar Market IGA and Cedar City Market. There’s the renowned Pleva’s Meats next to Cedar City. There’s the Blue Moon Ice Cream Shop in the middle of things. There’s a small park, Cedar Park, at the north edge of town where you can have a picnic from the bounty you just bought at the markets, and there is a port-a-potty in the warm months.
Beyond Cedar, at mile 22.2, is the old Polish village of Isadore. It’s now basically a church, the Holy Rosary (built in 1922), some boarded up buildings, a cemetery, and farmland that stretches around the crossroad. If you’re looking for a post office, you’re over a century late. It closed in 1912 after twenty years of operation. Isadore sits on a high point and the views, particularly to the east and south, are majestic. With farmland as the major driver of the economy here, it’s fitting that Saint Isadore is the patron saint of farmers.
This is not directly on the route, but it’s only a short way off. It has a small grocery store if you need to replenish supplies before continuing on to the park. Interesting that there are two villages so close to one another named after trees. Cedar is in a low area. Cedar trees love marshy soils. Maple City was once called Peg Town because it was home to a shoe peg factory. Maple is a good hardwood, apparently necessary for shoe pegs. What is a shoe peg you ask? It was once used alone or along with stitching and nailing to attach the soles and heels to the upper part of the shoe. That’s the fullest extent of my knowledge on the subject.
This is a large and popular recreation area in the region. There are picnic shelters and tables, water, and port-a-potties available. If you just want to run around the various ball fields there are those as well.