Three Lakes Loop
23.5 mile loop
This is the heart of the heart of Leelanau County. It includes a couple of challenging climbs, but mostly it’s over gently rolling hills and it passes by three inland lakes, Big Glen, Lime, and Little Traverse. It also passes right near downtown Maple City, and a beautiful, simple white church on a quiet inland road.
Inland Leelanau County is about as perfect for riding as it gets. The roads, on the whole, don’t have a lot of traffic. Cars prefer M-22. Robert Frost uses the sea as metaphor, but I think he was driving M-22 when he wrote Neither Out Far Nor In Deep:
They turn their back on the land.
They look at the sea all day.
. . . . . .
The land may vary more;
But wherever the truth may be—
The water comes ashore,
And the people look at the sea.
Lake Michigan is one of my favorite bodies of water in the world. It creates an amazing microclimate which adds a unique character to the land, and that character rolls inland with the hills, farms and forests. While the majority of visitors are looking out to the sea, head inland and explore a quieter side of the county that’s just as beautiful. Then go take a swim in the big lake when you’re done.
St. Joseph’s Catholic Church on CR 669 was built in 1884 by Bohemian immigrants. It sits like a simple white dove alongside Bohemian Road.
On this ride your only challenges inland may be the steepness of some of the hills and the chip-and-seal method of road maintenance used by the county. Chip-and-seal is not easy to ride over immediately after its application. It can take up to two weeks or more, depending on the amount of traffic that will pack it in before it gets relatively smooth. Eventually, though, it’ll get packed in and the road will be wonderful once more.
I’d highly recommend that you have alternate route options in mind before you head out. The pedalgood route might include one of these maintenance projects and you’ll want to be aware of all detours available.
The most challenging climbs are on Trumbull Road (short) and on Hlavka Road (long). As in most climbs in this county, they’re a bit strenuous and worth it, but just be aware that they’re part of this ride.
The views over Big Glen Lake from Old Settlers Park, where this ride begins and ends, are wonderful. Big Glen is one of those multi-hued lakes in the region due to its sandy bottom and varied depths. There are also picnic tables if you want to make a day of it.