Letters

Letters 04-14-14

Benishek Inching

Regarding “Benishek No Environmentalist” I agree with Mr. Powell’s letter to the editor/ opinion of Congressman Dan Benishek’s poor environmental record and his penchant for putting corporate interests ahead of his constituents’...

Climate Change Warning

Currently there are three assaults on climate change. The first is on the integrity of the scientists who support human activity in climate change. Second is that humans are not capable of affecting the climate...

Fed Up About Roads

It has gotten to the point where I cringe when I have to drive around this area. There are areas in Traverse City that look like a war zone. When you have to spend more time viewing potholes instead on concentrating on the road, accidents are bound to happen...

Don’t Blame the IRS

I have not heard much about the reason for the IRS getting itself entangled with the scrutiny of certain conservative 501(c) groups (not for profit) seeking tax exemption. Groups seeking tax relief must be organizations that are operated “primarily for the purpose of bringing about civic betterment and social improvements.”


Home · Articles · News · Features · Betsie Valley Trail
. . . .

Betsie Valley Trail

Mike Terrell - June 14th, 2010
Betsie Valley TrailScenic ride captures the essence of Northern Michigan
By Mike Terrell
The Valley Trail, which meanders for 23-miles through Benzie
County from Thompsonville to Frankfort, could be called the “gem” of
Northern Michigan’s rail/trail conversions. Connecting several rural
communities, it also passes through Beulah, Elberta and even a ghost
town.
The trail, which follows the old Ann Arbor Railroad line, was first
opened in its entirety about five years ago. The paved portion of the
trail from Frankfort to Mollineaux Road just outside Beulah was
completed a few years earlier. Having ridden it both ways on my
mountain bike, from Frankfort to Thompsonville and vice-versa, I
prefer riding from inland to the coast. While the trail is essentially
flat either way, it does offer a slight downhill run to the water.
I enjoy the change of scenery from hardwood and pine forests, tall
ranging hills and stream crossings, down to riding along the shore of
Crystal Lake and on over to Lake Michigan along the Betsie River. It’s
a scenic ride.  Spur trails in both Frankfort and Elberta lead you to
their beautiful Lake Michigan beaches. It really captures the essence
of Northern Michigan in one ride.

WILDLY POPULAR
“Since the Betsie Valley Trail opened a few years ago, it has proven a
real boon to our communities,” said Joanne Bartley, a spokesperson at
the Frankfort-Elberta Area Chamber of Commerce. “It’s one of our most
requested brochures.  People frequently ask about it.  They want to
know about the trail. It really brings many people into our area as
well as getting a lot of local use.”
Leaving the village of Thompsonville you pass over the Betsie River –
which you won’t see again for another 16 miles – at the site of an
antique railroad bridge that has been restored. For the next seven
miles you travel through the Pere Marquette State Forest passing over
Dair Creek and an extensive beaver dam area. At one point, twin steps
lead down both sides of the high dirt overpass to the creek.
You pass the site of a ghost town, formerly called Homestead, as you
approach Aylsworth and Zimmerman Roads.  Railroad maintenance workers
lived here in boarding houses at the turn of the 19th century. The
trail turns west at this point and cruises through a valley called
“The Cut,” which was named by the railroad. Tall hills line both sides
of the valley.  As you cross Homestead and Case Roads, look carefully
and you can spot the remains of an old lumber mill.

BEULAH REFRESHMENTS
You drop quickly out of the forest and down to Crystal Lake as you
approach the village of Beulah. There are several choices for
refreshments, and the Beulah Trailhead & Visitor’s Center, a replica
of the former railroad station, has public restrooms, a water
fountain, picnic pavilion and bike racks. There’s also a public park
down on the lakeshore. You are about halfway to Frankfort at this
point.
The next three miles glide along the lakeshore and by the many old,
well-preserved cottages that line much of the Crystal Lake shoreline.
This has been a popular summertime destination since the
turn-of-the-last-century for many Chicagoans. Many of the cottages are
at least a half-century old, and some more than that. The last mile
you ride along Crystal Lake, the cottages disappear and the trail hugs
the lakeshore offering unparalleled views. The waves almost lap at
your feet.
The last eight miles are paved, which you pick up at Mollineaux Road
as you leave Crystal Lake. The six-mile section over to Elberta is a
peaceful, easy ride with some beautiful overlooks of the Betsie River,
which you can once again see. You also start to see more trail users
at this point. The eight-mile paved section of trail gets a lot more
use from both cyclists and rollerbladers.
Up to this point, most of your ride is away from busily traveled
roads. You will see few vehicles between Thompsonville and Beulah, nor
along the Crystal Lake section. That’s a nice feature of this
rail-to-trail that you don’t find along many such pathways; solitude
and peace. A lot of rail/trail conversions seem to follow along busy
routes.

BRING YOUR MOUNTAIN BIKE
The trail has three different surfaces; the paved portion from
Frankfort to Mollineaux Road, a crushed limestone surface along
Crystal Lake, and a hard aggregate surface from Beulah to
Thompsonville. While cross bikes will work fairly well, especially on
the paved and aggregate surfaces, a mountain bike works best for the
entire trail.  Skinny-tired road bikes would have problems on
non-paved portions of the trail.
A nice option for trail riders is that Benzie County Bus service –
231-325-3000 – will take you and your bike to any road crossing along
the trail.  Just spot your car. The busses have bike racks, and the
fee is $3 per person, $1.50 per person for seniors (55+). While a
24-hour reservation is preferred, sometimes reservations may be made
on shorter notice. More information is available at
www.benziebus.com.  It’s a nice plus, because you don’t have to do an
out-and-back ride.

 
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