Bob South, owner of an outfitter and retail shop called No Boundaries, has lived and played in northern Michigan for over 10 years, meaning he’ll whop your butt on a bike, boat, or board anywhere near Boyne. “My wife and I moved here from Indiana specifically for its outdoor opportunities,” says the avid cyclist, who can be found exploring the area with his three kids and two dogs. “We just love the woods and water in our little slice of paradise. Northern Michigan provides year-round fun and adventure.”
Here are a few of his favorite things about Boyne:
Aspect of the region in the off-season: There really isn’t one. If you like to play outdoors, there’s always an activity to keep you happy. The area has some of the best riding opportunities in the Midwest for both mountain biking and road, with miles and miles of sweet singletrack and great road riding with terrific views, not much traffic, and plenty of climbs. There’s also great sea kayaking, canoeing, and standup paddleboarding on our beautiful lakes.
Place to mountain bike: Two of the best locations are Boyne Mountain Resort and Boyen Highlands Resort. Both have well-marked trails for everyone from novices to experts. Bring your climbing legs, as there are also some fantastic uphill challenges. A bunch of sections of the North Country Trail are great also. We’re close to several trailheads that will lead you to miles and miles of pristine singletrack. Your best bet: Find a local to take you on their favorite section. Everyone has one, and our friendly, local cycling community loves to share.
Place to road ride: It’s hard to pick just one ride, but don’t miss the Tunnel of Trees route that starts in nearby Harbor Springs and ends near Cross Village and the Sturgeon Bay areas of Wilderness State Park. The road is smooth, scenery amazing, and traffic minimal (and what traffic there is moves slow enough to take in the views as well).
Place to ride with the family: Hands-down, the Little Traverse Wheelway, which extends from Charlevoix to Harbor Springs. With several stops along the way for a rest, photo, or trailside lunch, this improved-surface bike and walking path is perfect for the whole family.
Place to paddle (flatwater): For a great flatwater paddle, it’s hard to beat Lake Charlevoix. Start in the town of Boyne City and put in at any of the municipal beaches. A paddle to Whiting Park or Young State Park is a ton of fun.
Place to paddle (whitewater): The upper section of the Sturgeon River offers up some awesome paddling. So does the Bear River Park in Petoskey.
Place to paddle with the family: The connected inland lakes toward the central part of the Lower Peninsula are really fun. Also try Crooked Lake to Burt Lake and the Indiana River.
Place to refuel: Boyne City hosts a number of great restaurants and places to hang out after a long day outside. Boyne Mountain Resort also has some terrific restaurants. One of my favorites is Short’s Brewpub in Bellaire. It’s extremely popular and known for its award-winning selection of craft beers; it offers over 20 beers on-tap, all brewed on-site. The food is also great–lots of pizzas, delicious appetizers, and big, hearty sandwiches.
Place for a beer afterwards: That’s easy…around the campfire in my back yard. The beer is always cold, the stories are bold, and my kids and dogs will entertain you into the night.
Photos courtesy Boyne, South