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Riverside Resort & Livery
Benzonia, Michigan
Leaving Beulah's Village Park, the
trail has a crushed limestone
surface for 3.2 miles as it fringes
the south shore of Crystal Lake
between cottages and the water.
Homes disappear as you pedal
west toward Railroad Point Natural
Area, a solitary stretch of
lakeshore with over 61 acres of
forested bluffs and one-third mile
of pristine Crystal Lake shoreline. Here, the trail runs adjacent to a
piece of Benzie County history. A concrete embankment not visible
from the trail marks the site where, in 1872, a canal was dug with the
intent of connecting Crystal Lake to Lake Michigan. That effort
prompted the water levels of Crystal Lake to immediately drop by ten
feet - but the village of Beulah owes its existence to this error,
standing today on what was formerly swamp land.

After crossing Mollineaux Road, the trail is paved and cuts a swath through forested hills and
wetlands. From here to Cannon Park in Frankfort, these 6.7 miles of pavement is ideal for road
bikes, roller blades, strollers and wheelchairs. Hardwoods provide awnings of shade as you
pedal high above the banks of the Betsie River, catching occasional glimpses of the river on
your left as it meanders below. On your right, wetlands and small swamps team with turtles
who often bask in the sunlight on platforms of fallen logs. It's an easy 2.8 miles to Elberta from
here, including a stop at the David Harrison Memorial Lookout, a bird watching platform
adjacent to the Betsie River bridge. It's a great vantage point for checking out waterfowl,
cranes, and a variety of shore birds that frequent the Betsie River delta and marsh area.

Arriving at the Elberta trail head, cross M-22 to merge with the Beach-to-Beach trail connecting
the beaches of Elberta and Frankfort. Here you can either turn left toward Elberta or turn right
to head into Frankfort. A left turn will put you right in the palm of the Elberta Farmer's Market,
open every Thursday from 7:30am-noon from May until October (after Labor Day, it's
9:00am-noon). Pick up some fresh local farm produce - or go the restaurant route with
breakfast or lunch at the Elberta Beach Diner on M-22. The village of Elberta, on the cusp of a
complete revival, boasts a lovely waterfront park along the south shore of Betsie Lake. Here
you'll find the historic Lifesaving Station of pre-Coast Guard days. En route to the park, you'll
coast along Ferry Street where you can stop by the Mayfair for lunch, the Cabbage Shed for
dinner, or the Trick Dog for a coffee break and eclectic art experience.

If you were to take the trail to the right at the Elberta trail head, you'll cross the bridge that
spans the marshy end of the Betsie River as its waters are swallowed by Betsie Lake. The trail
follows the curve of the lake's eastern shoreline before emerging into the open space on the
waterfront in downtown Frankfort.

Entering Frankfort, cyclists have a front-row view of Betsie Lake, a deepwater Comerica port
and former home to the Ann Arbor Railroad car
ferry fleet. The ferry once provided a critical
commercial link between Michigan & Wisconsin
before the railroad line was abandoned in the
1980s. For over a century, trains and ships i
ntroduced passengers to the scenic portside
towns of Elberta and Frankfort, establishing a
heritage of hospitality that continues today.
You'll sail along the trail on Waterfront Drive
between the storefronts of Frankfort's Main
Street and Betsie Lake, ending your cycling
journey at Connon Park, across from the Lake
Michigan beach. Feast your eyes on the sand
and wide blue inland sea before turning back to
Main Street, where you'll enjoy a broad array of restaurants and snacking spots. New this
summer is the Blue Door Gourmet, featuring domestic and foreign wines and beers, along with
wonderful soups and sandwiches. The historic Betsie Bay Inn, formerly the Hotel Frankfort, has
been beautifully restored and offers lunch and dinner fare. There's also Asian food at Fusion,
lunch or dinner at Dinghy's or the Coho Cafe, world class bread and pastries at the Crescent
Bakery, a must-stop coffee shop at Marlin's, and ice cream at Kilwin's...you could eat your way
down Main Street! That ought to provide plenty of fuel for the 23-mile return to Thompsonville.
Spring time at Hanmer's Riverside Resort
Betsie Valley Trail Article: By Nancy Story