The wonderful corridor starts near the shores of Lake Michigan in downtown Frankfort, crosses the Betsie River where it empties into Lake Betsie (which in turn empties into Lake Michigan), passes by the former Ann Arbor Railroad ferry docks in Elberta, and then meanders east and northeast to the south shore of beautiful and aptly named Crystal Lake and the trailhead in Beulah, Michigan. The trail continues southeast to Thompsonville, but we did not ride this portion.
Of the 10 mile route, a little over six miles is paved, while the rest is crushed limestone. The right-of-way in some areas near Crystal Lake is very narrow and maintenance through here could have been better, particularly where sand has washed/blown over the trail. Despite that one down point, the trail is spectacular as you pass through an amazing variety of ecosystems. Given the timeframe, we were serenaded by a chorus of spring migrants. Birdwatchers were quite pleased with the range of species seen that day.
Personally, I noted an American Redstart, Yellow Warbler, Eastern Kingbird, Common Loon, Cedar Waxwing, Eastern Wood Pewee, Blue Jay, Black-Capped Chickadee, Northern Cardinal, Tree Swallow, American Robin, Mourning Dove, Canada Goose, Common Grackle, Mute Swan, Mallard, American Crow, Eastern Bluebird, American Goldfinch, Red-winged Blackbird, and the always present European Starling and House Sparrow.
We were also treated with a dazzling display of trillium along and near the trail – at times it felt like we were seeing a trillion trillium.
The trail was quite active with cyclists, walkers, joggers, hikers, strollers,birdwatchers, etc. Meanwhile kayakers were enjoying the Betsie River. Upon our return, we enjoyed cool and yummy servings of ice cream and then wandered out to see Frankfort’s impressive lighthouse. All in all, it was a great bicycling adverture. Cheers!