Experiencing Fall Color Along Michigan's Tunnel of Trees

Fall color offers the very best time of the year for a visit to our famed Tunnel of Trees.   Wine tasting, live music, authentic Polish cuisine, and unparalleled views of the big lake they call Michigan are all part of the fun.  Plan your visit to one of America's most celebrated scenic highways this fall and go like a pro with our expert tips on traversing our favorite 20 mile journey along the Lake Michigan coastline.

Plan Ahead

Not too much research is needed when planning your trip, but we do advise all visitors to look into hours of operation for attractions of interest (you know, like us - 10-5 daily), as well as sunset times (7:13pm as of 10/5).  Anticipate an hour of actual drive time from Harbor Springs to Cross Village during the busy fall color season.

Research Activities

Nature preserves, wine tasting, shopping, live music, and dining opportunities await you along the 20 mile Tunnel of Trees.  Be sure to reseach your pick for stops along the way.

Travel South to North (And Travel Inland Back To Your Point of Origin)

Begin in Harbor Springs by either originating there, or by accessing that area via inland roads (State Road or US 31), and then heading north to Cross Village.  Traveling north will allow the driver a first rate view of Lake Michigan without struggling to peek over others in the vehicle. 

We also encourage visitors to take inland roads for the reverse of their trip as to experience the rural beauty of Emmet County's countryside.

Pull Over for Tailgaters

Regardless of the abcense of a center line or shoulder, M-119 is in fact a state highway with a speed limit of 45 MPH.  Should you experience anyone seeking to pass, we encourage you to kindly pull over and allow them on their way.  Take your time.  Smell the flowers.  Marvel at the views.  And let those in a hurry rush by, knowing that they're missing some of the memories.

Watch for Cyclists and Motorcycles

At only 18 feet wide, M-119 is the only state highway in the country without a marked centerline.  The road is narrow and can pose a hazard for both cyclists and motorcylists.  Please be curtious to our friends traveling with two wheels.  As a state highway, we most defintely do not recommend traveling M-119 by foot as a pedestrian since there is no shoulder and no sidewalk.

Stop Often

Take your time.  Enjoy the scenery and by all means, stop where appropriate.  A few favorite photo worthy turn outs are noted on the official commemorative map compiled by Tunnel of Trees businesses.  These include an area near the enrance to Birchwood Farms, and a spot just north of Stutsmanville Road.  Take photos.  Enjoy yout trip.  And please be mindful of the beauty surrounding our highway.

Take Note of Historic Markers

Original historical markers of a time gone by were removed many decades ago however new markers installed within the last 10 years now offer travelers a peak into Michigan's past.  Take note of the following markers while driving the Tunnel of Trees.

  • Devil's Elbow (south of Good Hart)
  • Middle Village (south of Good Hart)
  • Old Area of the Council Tree (north of Good Hart)
  • L'Arbre Croche (south of Cross Village).

Experience Side Trips

Hang a left coming from Harbor Springs and take a short side trip down Lower Shore Drive near Birchwood Farms.  There you'll find one of the area's most spectacular nature centers.  Thorne Swift Nature Preserve offers access to Lake Michigan, trails, and educations resources for children and families.  Stretch your legs with a visit to this scenic outpost along the water.

Stay the Night

Graham Real Estate Good Hart is proud to be the area's largest sales and rental office, boasting over 40 years experience throughout Good Hart and Sturgen Bay in Cross Village.  Visit grahamgoodhart.com to browse available vacation rental properties and take advantage of special fall color short term rentals (three night minimums).

Return to Maggie's Blog home page...