Your Guide to Michigan’s Stunning Tunnel of Trees

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View of tunnel of trees Michigan

Because of the changing colors, fall is one of the best times to experience the stunning Tunnel of Trees in Michigan. But it’s not the only time to visit — any time you get the chance to take this spectacular drive, do it.

The lush blanket of shade overhead is just one reason this is such a memorable attraction in northern Michigan. Keep reading to find out exactly what and where it is and when and why you should visit.

Are you ready? Let’s go!

About the Tunnel of Trees in Michigan

The Tunnel of Trees is the common name for a scenic portion of the winding State Highway 119, known locally as M119. It stretches for almost 20 miles along the shore of Lake Michigan, connecting a string of small picturesque towns.

At certain times of the year, the lush canopy of foliage is so thick you could call it a leafy ceiling. The road below is a two-lane highway but narrower than a typical one and doesn’t have lines in the center.

It’s almost like a parkway, but the traffic tends to move slowly, so motorists won’t miss a moment of the incredible scenery.

View of tunnel of trees Michigan

Where Is the Tunnel of Trees in Michigan?

Many people describe the shape of the state of Michigan as a left-handed mitten. Using that comparison, the Tunnel of Trees roughly follows the curve of the outside tip of the middle finger. This is the northwestern part of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.

This 19.4-mile scenic route lies west of Interstate 75 and U.S. Route 131. From the north, it begins in Cross Village and stretches south through Conway and Harbor Springs. 

The road runs both ways, of course. You can also start on the southern end and work your way up.

To get there, take either Interstate 75 or U.S. Highway 31 to northern Michigan. Then head west along County Highway 66, also designated as C-66. This smaller highway will take you directly to Cross Village to start your drive through the Tunnel of Trees.

Your Guide to Michigan’s Stunning Tunnel of Trees

Before you start heading that way, we have a few more things you need to know. We’ll fill in a few more blanks so you can sit back and enjoy the view.

Types of Trees Along the Road 

One reason the Tunnel of Trees in Michigan is so captivating is its mix of trees.

The surrounding forest is incredibly diverse. Instead of a single specie, you’ll see many varieties of hardwoods and evergreens, including old-growth pines. 

How Long Does It Take to Go Through the Tunnel of Trees?  

With its almost constant curves, the Tunnel of Trees is a fun drive, but slow and steady is the way to go. The speed limit tops out at 45 miles per hour in some places, but the pace slows to a crawl at times, too. 

It should take you at least 40 minutes to complete the route, but that’s without any stops at all. You’ll discover so much to enjoy in the area that you could spend hours along the route.

View of tunnel of trees Michigan

Best Time to Drive Through the Tunnel of Trees

During the autumn months, you can expect a blaze of multiple colors along the Tunnel of Trees. 

For that reason, the traffic tends to pick up significantly about the time of the first chill. But remember, the canopy is thickest before the leaves start falling. 

In the spring, keep your eyes on the ground, as well, for an explosion of countless colorful wildflowers. We also love to make this drive in the summer because that’s our favorite time to enjoy the nearby beach communities.

Keep in Mind: Make an entire camping trip out of your visit to Michigan and stay at one of these Campgrounds for Fall Camping!

Things to Do Along the Tunnel of Trees in Michigan

The Tunnel of Trees is more about the drive than the destination. But we recommend these stops along the way to make the most of the experience.

Stafford’s Pier Restaurant  

This inviting waterfront restaurant has served up fresh seafood and steaks for half a century. This casually elegant, nautical-themed eatery overlooks the harbor in the quaint town of Harbor Springs. 

It’s actually built on the pier’s original pilings. Plan ahead: it’s open for lunch only on Fridays and Saturdays but serves dinner Monday through Saturday starting at 4 p.m.

Legs Inn 

If you’ve wanted to try some authentic Polish cuisine, here’s an unforgettable setting for it in Cross Village. While enjoying a breathtaking view from a bluff over Lake Michigan, sample classics like pierogi, cabbage rolls, and kielbasa. 

The menu also includes many Michigan mainstays. Though built of timber and stone, the establishment’s name comes from the distinctive roof railing made from old iron stove legs.

View of a bluff over Lake Michigan near tunnel of trees

Tom’s Mom’s Cookies

It’s hard to improve on Tom’s mom’s original cookie recipe, so they’ve churned them out consistently since 1985. It’s almost impossible to resist the aroma of these baked slabs of chunky goodness. 

Each one is four inches across, chewy and crunchy, with big, irregular chunks of chocolate. Some swear they’re the best cookies in the world, and you can find them in Harbor Springs.

Good Hart Store 

Don’t rush through the tiny town of Good Hart because you don’t want to pass up this unique little business. This old-timey general store, painted bright red, has been a popular gathering place for the locals for almost a century. 

This one-stop shop is also the town’s post office. It’s famous for its delicious pot pies and as a place to grab a snack or a souvenir.

Checking out the local art often gives us a deeper perspective on the place we visit. This gallery and studio in Cross Village, near the top of the Tunnel of Trees in Michigan, has workshop space for artists and artisans and exhibits their wares. 

Besides paintings and sculptures, the works include jewelry, woodworking, blown glass, and fiber pieces. Additionally, the inspiring gardens on the grounds remain open to the public.

Pond Hill Farm

It’s hard to pinpoint what this place is, but it seems to have something for everyone. Pond Hill is a working farm in Harbor Springs with a petting zoo.

Additionally, you can pick your own organic produce or sit down to a freshly prepared meal in the Garden Café. Or enjoy craft beers in the Biergarten, which also serves wines and hard ciders.

Keep in Mind: Can You Drive an RV Through Needles Eye Tunnel? Click the link to find out!

Wine glasses clinking at Pond Hill Farm by Michigan's tunnel of trees

Shop in Petoskey

Petoskey isn’t directly on the Tunnel of Trees in Michigan, but it’s just a few miles down the road. Once you’ve completed your drive, we recommend some downtime in the downtown area known as the Historic Gaslight District. 

Visitors often describe the experience as stepping back in time. Besides the beautifully preserved Victorian architecture, the nearly 200 shops and restaurants may grab your attention.

Don’t Miss the Tunnel of Trees on Your Next Michigan Road Trip

We know there are lots of different kinds of travelers out there. Some just want to get between points A and B. 

The Tunnel of Trees in Michigan certainly isn’t that kind of route. If you enjoy getting off the interstate to explore the back roads, you won’t want to miss this one.

The dense overhead foliage is mesmerizing. You’ll also find many interesting places to stop and stretch your legs while exploring this memorable drive.

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