A Traveler’s Guide to the Tunnel of Trees in Michigan
Named among the state’s most iconic attractions, the Historic tunnel of trees in Michigan is a 20-mile drive located on the M-119 highway along the shore of Lake Michigan. The scenic route is especially picturesque in spring tours when the blooming trillium wildflowers carpet the forest. In the autumn, the hardwoods are aflame in beautiful reds and golds. However, it is also worth traveling during the winter and summer months. If you are looking to drive to this magical route during the fall, read on as we explore more on it.
What Is The M-119 Tunnel of Trees?
According to my Michigan Beach, it is one of Michigan’s not such well-kept secrets. It is a beautiful scenic heritage drive north of Harbor springs. This iconic attraction begins at Cross Village, through Good hart, to Harbor Springs. The Ottawa Indians once inhabited the area. The roadway is referred to as the tunnel of trees as it is a narrow road with trees on either side whose dense foliage meets high over the middle of the road to form a canopy. The route meanders through oaks, cedars, birch, and maples, thus offering you forest views, and occasionally, you can catch a spectacular view of Lake Michigan through the openings in the trees. It takes about thirty minutes to travel through the tunnel of trees one way without stopping. However, it is advisable to plan for a 3-hour drive as there are many more modern-day exciting places you can stop by the roadway.
Places to Visit along the Iconic M-119’s Tunnel of Trees
The beautiful canopy of the M-119’s tunnel of trees is far from the only thing the roadway has to offer. Whether you start your drive from the north (Cross Village) or the south (Harbor Springs), you are not short of options on places to stop along the route. Below are some of the areas that are not to be missed.
Places You Should Stop by in Cross Village
The Cross Village is a quiet town that overlooks Lake Michigan. It is located at the northern point of the tunnel trees and is known for its scenery and the giant white cross open over Lake Michigan. According to Awesome Mitten, the town was initially inhabited by the Ottawa Indians and the Ojibwa native Americans until the late 17th century when the Jesuit priests arrived and established a mission there. One of these missionaries, Jacques Marquette, planted the cross before dying. In 1918 unfortunately, there was a devastating fire, but the residents reconstructed the town into the stunning destination it is today. Let’s explore the various places you can check out in Cross Village.
Museum of L’Arbre Croche History
The museum was founded in 1995 by the former pastor of the Holy Cross Church, Rev. Albert Langheim OFM. It has a main hall and four rooms of displays that weave together the history of Cross Village. According to Petos Key News, the rooms include the Odawa Room, The Weikamp Room, the L’Arbre Croche Room, The Pioneer Room, and The Research Library. Each of these rooms has a story that tells more about the area’s history.
Legs Inn Cross Village
The rustic stone architecture is one of the things that will catch your eye once you arrive at this historic landmark and dining destination. The restaurant was named the second in the state searching for “Michigan’s Most Iconic Restaurant” by MLIVE. It serves authentic delicacies in a scenic spacious outdoor garden. Additionally, it is one of Michigan’s unique live music venues, and they also have lakeside rental cottages.
Cross Village Beach
From the breathtaking view of Lake Michigan to the boat launches, Cross Village Beach is a great destination for you. It is not far from Legs Inn restaurant. There are many hardwood trees, meadows, clear beach water, beautiful sunsets, and open spaces along the water’s edge.
Three Pines Studio
Located along with Levering Rd Cross Village, Three Pines Studio is a unique art gallery full of art media by more than 40 artists from Northern Michigan. They also have a beautiful sculpture, an outdoor garden, and an active website to advertise their products.
The Old Council Tree – Tunnel of Trees Marker
The tunnel tree marker is a large tree beneath which the tribal chief of the Menominee, Ojibwa, and Odawa held many councils in the late 1700s. The tree was also used as a navigational tool during seasonal migrations. This area is a great stop if you happen to be a history lover.
Places to Visit in Good Hart, Michigan
Originally known as L’Arbe Croche, Good Hart is a township located halfway between Cross Village and Harbor Springs on the M-119 Tunnel of Trees route. Good Hart is an unincorporated community with rich Native American history. Technically, the Good Hart community relies on tourism and has various attractions that we will discuss below.
1. Readmond Township Beach Reserve
If you are driving through the M-119 on Lamokin Drive, you should stop by and enjoy a few hours at the Readmond Township Beach Reserve. This is unless it is between dusk and dawn and when the beach is normally closed. Carry-in boat access, a picnic area, and restroom facilities are available; however, pets and fires are not permitted.
2. St. Ignatius Mission Church and Middle Village Park
Located along with Lamokin Drive Good Hart, St. Ignatius Mission was built in memorial of St. Ignatius of Lyola. The first thing you notice about the church is the steep white steeple peering above the tree line. Next to the church are a Native American cemetery and a pathway with an observation deck that leads to Middle Village Park. The park is located on the water behind the church, which is great for swimming. Additionally, there’s packing, good restrooms, and boat access at the park.
3. A Studio Shop
It is a seasonal boutique with quaint accessories and Michigan-themed gifts. The shop is always from Memorial Day to October. Make sure to pass by the shop when you drive along the M-119 during the summer or early autumn months!
4. Primitive Images
It is a unique antique furniture store that is just 100 feet. It is a one-of-a-kind shop where they sell creative goods such as jewelry, handcrafted bears, rugs, among others. The Good Hart & Soul Tea Room offers fresh-brewed loose-leaf teas, coffee, and baked goods daily.
5. Good Hart General Store
When traveling along Lake Shore Drive on the M-119, you cannot help but notice the Good Hart General Store. It is an in-store red shop right next to Primitive Images. It’s the area’s bakery, grocery, and mailroom where you get to enjoy homemade baked goods, freshly made jams, preserves, and sweets. Additionally, the store offers Good Hart-themed clothes and gifts which you can take back home with you as souvenirs.
6. Good Hart Glassworks
If you have been looking for the coveted blown glasses, you should stop by the Good Hart Glassworks. It is a glass blowing shop located 2 miles away from the Good Hart General Store. It also offers educational demonstrations and glass blowing glasses. What is more relaxing and aesthetic than watching a glassblower at work?
7. Devil’s Elbow
Several legends explain this place and why it was given the name. The Odawa who once inhabited the land believed that an evil spirit once inhabited the ravine and tormented the locality during the hours of darkness. It is said that the locals could hear strange voices and sounds during the night.
Harbor Springs City along M-119’s Tunnel of Trees roadway
Harbor Springs has been a destination for many travelers for decades. It is located at the southern end of this scenic route. Here are a few places you can stop by in Harbor Springs.
Pond Hill Farm
Situated 5 miles north of Harbor Springs city, Pond Hill is one of the major attractions along the M-119. The farm has been there for over 20 years, ensuring visitors a good time. There is something for everyone. While adults get to enjoy the Vineyards, Winery, and the Tunnel Vision Brewery, children will be fascinated by the working farm, ice cream parlor, and petting the animals. Both will enjoy walking across the fields and all the way through the woods or snowshoeing and skiing during the winter. The farm also has exciting activities such as The Gnome Scavenger Hunt which runs throughout the year and a Garden Cafe that serves delightful dishes. In addition, there is also a market where you can purchase quality homemade goods and fresh produce.
Thorne Swift Nature Preserve
The reserve is located about 2 miles from Pond Hill Farm; it is spread across 30 acres with 950 feet of Lake Michigan shoreline as a public beach. It is a mix of upland dunes and lowland cedar swamps. They have 1.5 miles of trails, observation platforms for dunes and ponds, a gazebo, and an amphitheater. Additionally, you get to go into the Elizabeth Kennedy Nature Centre, where you can learn a lot about the animals and plants in the preserve. The reserve is open daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day, from 10 am till sunset.
Harbor Springs Lyric Theatre
The Harbor Springs Lyric Theatre is a charitable non-profit movie theatre that entertains all year on Main Street in Harbor Springs. It consists of three theatres, each unique theme, making your experience very memorable. They also offer a classic concession, a selection of beer and wine, and many other special events.
Stafford’s Pier Restaurant
If you’re looking for one of the best places to dine along the iconic Tunnel of Trees, Stafford’s Pier Restaurant is among the best eating places in Harbor Springs, with more than five decades of premier dining. It is a seafood spot with 3 unique indoor spaces & an outdoor deck. There are indoor and outdoor dining areas, and the lunch and dinner menu contains a blend of options. The restaurant’s main dining room has a view of the extraordinary yacht basin and serves seafood at its best, steaks, and traditional Northern cuisines.
Stafford’s Pointer Boat Tour
According to Pointer Boat, the area now referred to as The Pointer Room at Stafford’s Pier Restaurant is on the water.” The Pointer Boat allowed the passage of residents from Harbor Point to Harbor Springs. This is as no cars were allowed from 1930 to 1962. In 1990, the last of the three yachts was restored and displayed outside Stafford’s Pier Restaurant as homage. Now they have a yacht-like boat that can only accommodate 12 passengers at a time, where you get to enjoy a fun and aesthetic tour. The tour runs for one hour and fifteen minutes from May through September. Make sure to drop by during your drive through the M-119 and have an experience of a lifetime.
According to Spoon, the founders of the shop started by opening a storefront kitchen in 1982, where they began manufacturing preserves. To date, their well-trained crew still prepares the fruits by hand and cooks them carefully in small-batch copper kettles. They work with a group of hardworking Michigan farmers and foragers who produce and gather the unique fruit varieties they love and have been prized for their unparalleled flavor and character to date. The business collects and preserves flavors that you can’t find anywhere else. Drop by during your trip and get yourself or your friend these incomparable preserves.
Want To Explore the Tunnel of Trees This Fall?
Now that you have read all these iconic attractions, let alone the tunnel of trees itself, why not plan that trip and experience it first hand? Be sure to travel to the iconic M-119 during the weekdays for a better experience. However, beware of slow drivers and cyclists. Allocate about 4 to 5 hours for your drive to allow you to get out of your car and enjoy.