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Photo by Todd and Brad Reed Photography

M-119 Tunnel of Trees from Harbor Springs to Cross Village

The “Tunnel of Trees,” the M-119 Heritage Route traveling from Harbor Springs to Cross Village, is a stunning display of northern hardwoods located very close to the roadway, creating the feeling of traveling through a tunnel. The route is a favorite of Northern Michigan visitors because of its rolling terrain, stunning vistas, and dramatic turns and curves.

Although not officially part of the Lake Michigan Circle Tour which takes travelers along US-31 from Petoskey to Mackinaw City, M-119 is a more scenic alternate route along the Lake Michigan shoreline.

Designated a state Scenic Heritage Route, the views along this 27.5 mile drive are among the most stunning outlooks of Lake Michigan in the state. While this drive is spectacular all year ’round, the fall colors along the route bring people back year after year to experience the glorious foliage.

Tunnel of Trees along M-119 in the fall. | Todd & Brad Reed Photography

Some Scenic Spots to Check Out

Angell Farm

The panoramic views from a 900-foot elevation provide some of the most spectacular views of Lake Michigan and the Beaver Island archipelago available from M-119.

Five Mile Creek Schoolhouse

According to local residents, the Five Mile Schoolhouse was owned by the local school district from 1880-1960. By the 1950s, the school was no longer utilized for classes and the local community formed the Five Mile Creek Community Association to promote its upkeep.

Seven Mile Point

The area below the bluff from Rolling Ridge Farm is known as Seven Mile Point. Native Americans and other explorers used this location as a destination and starting point to traverse the Bay to and from Charlevoix’s Nine Mile Point. A Native American village, She-na-bah-ma-kong, may also have been located in the vicinity.

Devil's Elbow and Horseshoe Curve

Intermittent, short views of Lake Michigan can be seen here. The forested area here is typical of the canopied “tunnel” the road is known for.

Middle Village

Located at the intersection of M-119 and Middle Village Road, this spot provides an excellent view of the St. Ignatius Church below the bluff in Middle Village an old settlement dating back hundreds of years. The St. Ignatius church steeple is visible from the roadway and frames the view. The church serves as a gathering place and is a community cultural asset as well as a historic feature.

Good Hart Village

Here you’ll find a general store/post office, an antique shop, furnishings store that also serves tea, and a number of homes and cottages.

Council Tree

The Council Tree is a mature white pine located in close proximity to the road in Readmond Township. Local Native American tribes used this tree as a site to hold council. Although its precise history is unknown, historic references indicate that a large group of Native Americans gathered at this location in 1787.

Cross Village

The tunnel of trees ends in Cross Village, the historic community located high atop a Lake Michigan bluff. From here, head north along the shoreline to Mackinaw City or return to Harbor Springs via State Road.

Fall Foliage Color Tours on M-119 are Spectacular!

The tunnel of trees is like Carmel (California)  in Michigan. Michigan’s #1 scenic drive. It’s M-119, the Tunnel of Trees scenic drive from Harbor Springs to Cross Village. And THE color tour drive to take in the fall.

Often written about, this nearly 20+ mile drive is not to be missed any season of the year. In the spring, you’ll pass miles and miles of trillium that form a carpet of white in the forest. Winter brings vistas of the frozen water. Summer offers spectacular views of Lake Michigan and Beaver Island.

But fall, well, this is the season when this drive truly shows off its colors. The changing hues of the hardwoods are a brilliant canopy. The winding road often has you looking into a vivid stand of trees and the leaves gently fall as you pass by. There is nothing quite like this route anywhere.

Begin your fall foliage color tour of M-119 in downtown Harbor Springs. Have a bite to eat or wander through the shops before heading north to Cross Village. First, you’ll pass along bluff view houses and then admire the golfing skills of those chasing the white ball at the Harbor Point Golf Course.

Soon you’ll approach the turn off to Lower Shore Drive. Just a mile or so down this road is Thorne Swift Nature Preserve, a spectacular piece of property complete with trails and a pristine beach. If you continue down Lower Shore, you’ll pass by houses and beautiful stretches of beach before exiting back out onto M-119 at the bottom of Angel grade.

If you’ve stayed on M-119 instead of looping through Lower Shore Drive, you’ll see the Birchwood Inn and then the properties of Birchwood Country Club. Birchwood is the last “civilization” you’ll encounter until you come to Good Hart, about seven miles away. The road curves ahead of you making turn after turn–with some hairpin turns destined to make you drive skillfully!

Good Hart is a small community of just a few buildings. It’s a good stopping point for travelers and bicyclists and the Good Hart General Store is fun to explore. From Good Hart to Cross Village, the road is narrow and winding and truly deserving of its name, “The Tunnel of Trees.” The blazing colors of the trees above you cover the road with random streaks of sunlight rapidly shooting through like laser beams.

Once you’ve reached Cross Village, you have several tour choices. Turn around and head back on M-119 and you’ll be surprised at what you missed along the way. Head south on State Road and take the “over land” route back to Harbor Springs across rolling farm lands filled with fall color. Or continue north to Mackinaw City and pass by Sturgeon Bay, a stunning beach area complete with dunes, Wilderness State Park and McGulpin Point Lighthouse.

 

Fall is not complete in Northern Michigan without a trip along M-119. Take this road north through the trees and you'll know why this route is often named the best drive in Michigan!

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