Experience Spring at Hanmer’s!
With spring, the forests around the area come alive with color. The trillium flowers blanket the forest floor, and the famous morel mushroom can be found close by.
March through May is when Steelhead can be found in the Betsie River. Fish right from the dock at Hanmer's or use waders or rent a canoe and spend a day drifting down the river in search of that trophy.
A fish cleaning station and freezers are available for you when you return with your catch. This is a quieter time of year, before the migration of summer visitors to the area and an excellent opportunity to visit numerous gift and antique shops nearby.
Climb aboard your bicycle and pedal into the past while catching a glimpse of the future. The Betsie Valley Recreational Trail, built on the bed of the former Ann Arbor Railroad corridor, traces 23 miles of transportation history as it crosses open countryside and forests, paralleling the Betsie River and skirting the shores of Crystal Lake before ending at Lake Michigan's sandy shoreline.
Preserving a sense of the past while creating a major asset for the future, the Betsie Valley Trail begins just nine miles east in the village of Thompsonville. Here's where the roar of locomotives and piercing train whistles were created, where a bustling village of 1200 people once thrived, and hotels, sawmills, saloons and even a cigar factory lined the streets.
A tall gristmill standing across from the trailhead parking lot is a hulking reminder of the days when Thompsonville's strategic location at the junction of the Pere Marquette and Ann Arbor Railroads made it a prosperous center of commerce. Over a century ago, railroads were the economic engines of Benzie County communities as railroad tracks stitched the small towns together. Eventual depletion of the surrounding forest resources, plus the rise of the automobile and interstate road system, led to the demise of the railroad industry as Betsie County's primary mode of transportation. By the mid-twentieth century, the tracks were abandoned.
In1993, the Friends of the Betsie Valley Trail, a non-profit volunteer group was formed to encourage the development of a recreational trail along the deserted rail corridor. With its wide paths and low grades, the Betsie Valley Trail offers a healthy place for recreation and providing as a catalyst for community revitalization. Like the railroad before it, the trail is again linking small towns together, recycling the picturesque countryside views, once enjoyed from a passenger train window.
Your bicycling journey begins at the Thompsonville trailhead on a surface of the compacted aggregate. Within the first two miles of the 12.3 miles stretch to Beulah, there is a spectacular overlook of the Betsie River on the old trestle bridge that spans the water.
Pedaling eastward, you'll coast over a landscape loaded with young hardwood forests, fields of ferns and wildflowers and open vistas. Near Homestead and Zimmerman Roads is the site of the former settlement of Homestead, which maintained a post office and housing quarters for railroad workers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries before evaporating into time.
Entering the village of Beulah, bicyclists are greeted by a handsome new depot building serving as the trail's welcome and information center. Completed last summer, the building is a replica of the former Ann Arbor Railroad Beulah Depot and was built by the Benzie Sunrise Rotary Club in cooperation with the Friends of the Betsie Valley Trail and the Village of Beulah.
Park your bike and stretch those cycling muscles with a walk down Beulah's main street.
Enjoy hot or frozen coffee drinks and fresh fruit smoothies at the Phoenix Cafe. Don't miss the flavorful sandwiches and unique beverages offered at the East Shore Market and the L'Chayim Deli.
There's a lot to browse through at Crystal Crate & Cargo or a number of other gift and antique shops.
If you've worked up a sweat, now's the time to take a dip at Beulah's Crystal Lake beach, prime swimming, and sunbathing beach spot. But don't dally long. Put a bookmark in Beulah and saddle up, for the best riding is yet to come!