Lake Michigan’s Best Road Trip: Tunnel of Trees

You might pass Bob Seger on this scenic coastal route Up North.

M-119 is made for convertibles and motorcycles. The twisty two-laner winds west of popular Petoskey on Little Traverse Bay, and the road’s center line disappears by the time it ducks into the Tunnel of Trees, where oaks, maples, birch, and cedars hug the blacktop ribbon and shroud it in forested solitude. Designated a Scenic Heritage Route, the lane dips and curls along a bluff over the lake, delivering glimpses of the lonesome shoreline and isolated homes through dense foliage.

The drive would seem like you’ve left civilization behind if it weren’t for the other cars, Traffic isn’t thick, but the Tunnel of Trees is on the way to the tourist-favorite Legs Inn (6425 N. Lake Shore Dr., 231-526-2281), a stone-covered monumental restaurant on the lake with an astounding interior of carved wood. South of the landmark, you’ll pass a patch of cars pulled over onto the shoulder in front of a few rustic buildings. This is how you know you’ve reached Good Hart. (Look closely if you see a motorcycle—Bob Seger lives here.) The unsolved murder of a vacationing family put the town on the map nearly 50 years ago. Books about the crime are sold at both the Good Hart General Store (1075 N. Lake Shore Dr., 231-526-7661) and neighboring Primitive Images (1129 N. Lake Shore Dr., 231-526-0267), an interiors shop that feels cabin-chic enough to belong in Chicago. Flip through your copy over lunch from Northern Crepes, a darling food truck fashioned from a vintage camper.

From Good Hart’s roadside “commercial district,” Lamkin Road heads to a tiny, quiet pocket beach (find the trail just before the little white church), but if you think that’s isolated, just wait ’til you drive up the coast another 30 minutes to Sturgeon Bay. Find a place to pull over, climb the dunes, and you’ll see miles of shoreline empty except for perhaps some windsurfers. It has an ends-of-the-Earth feel, as though you’re about to drift off into Lake Michigan’s blue abyss. That might appeal to you. If not, the trees will lead you back.