Take a Scenic Fall Drive Through Michigan’s Tunnel of Trees
Alyssa has been writing about exciting travel topics for Trips to Discover since 2013. After living the big city life in Chicago, Washington, DC, and Atlanta, Alyssa sold the bulk of her possessions and became a digital nomad, living full-time in her camper and working from wherever she could find an outlet and an internet connection for her laptop.
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When the fall season rolls around, there are lots of scenic drives worth taking in the United States. One of the most popular routes in Michigan is the Tunnel of Trees along Michigan M-119. This is a northern Michigan route that is just north of Harbor Springs and a real showcase of colorful foliage. Here’s what you need to know about the Tunnel of Trees and some fun stops to make along the way.
The Tunnel of Trees travels along M-119, starting at Harbor Springs, and goes for about 20 miles along a narrow road. Many people start their scenic drive at Petoskey and follow US-31 to reach M-119. In this area, you can stop at the Bear River Valley Recreation Area for hiking and whitewater rafting. There are beaches in this part of Michigan too, which are nice to take a walk along for a change of scenery even in the fall.
As you travel along the route, some recommended places to grab a bite to eat are Crooked Tree Breadworks and Turkey’s Café and Pizzeria. Tunnel Vision Brewery and the Harbor Springs Vineyards & Winery are also in the area if you want to check out the local craft beverage scene.
In Harbor Springs, make sure to stop by Pond Hill Farm for food, drinks, and even some gnomes just for fun. Good Hart Glassworks is a local business that you might be interested in visiting, as well as the Good Hart General Store and an art gallery called Three Pines Studio in Cross Village.
Plan to drive the Tunnel of Trees on a weekday so you can enjoy the scenery with less traffic. It’s also possible to hike or bike along this stretch of road as you marvel at the colors and get some exercise. Consider pedaling along this route to really immerse yourself in the sights, smells, and sounds of fall in Michigan.
The Crooked River is close to the Tunnel of Trees and a great place for kayaking, canoeing, and viewing wildlife. You can also get out on the water at the Lake Michigan Water Trail Northwest because this water trail covers around 300 miles and goes along the Tunnel of Trees. A recommended place to end your drive along the Tunnel of Trees is Legs Inn, which offers Polish and American cuisine with live music and drinks.
You can drive the Tunnel of Trees in about 40 minutes, but it’s best to allow at least three or four hours for the experience if you want to get out and explore a few of these local attractions. You can even head a bit further north after driving through the Tunnel of Trees to Sturgeon Bay, which has sand dunes and lots to do. There are plenty of other highways in Michigan that have their own “tunnel of trees” routes too that will help you really get in the spirit of the season.
But no matter how or when you do this route, you’ll definitely love all the quaint shops and art studios along the way. Although the Tunnel of Trees is epic to see in the fall, it’s also a nice drive to take during the winter, spring, or summer for a different perspective of this iconic roadway.
Tunnel of Trees Information: South End: US-31 near Bay View and C-77 in Harbor Springs North End C-66 and C-77 in Cross Village Maintained by the Michigan Department of Transportation