Text: Greg Johnson
Golf as well as hiking, biking, mushroom hunting, bird watching, and wildflower viewing are just some of the things to explore in Benzie County—and it’s never too early to begin spring plans for a visit to the region.
First, for the exploring golfers there are five scenic golf courses to play: Champion Hill Golf Course, Crystal Lake Golf Club, and Pinecroft Golf Course near Beulah; and the dynamic duo of Mountain Ridge and Betsie Valley at Crystal Mountain Resort in Thompsonville, Michigan.
Crystal Mountain leads the way with golf events, such as the popular four-person scramble Crystal Classic in April, the Ryder Cup-style event for amateurs known as the Crystal Cup Tournament in May, and the fun fundraiser Michigan Legacy Art Park Classic in June. It is then topped off by the annual Michigan Women’s Pro-Am for everybody; followed by the Michigan PGA Women’s Open Championship featuring the state’s top amateur and professional golfers as well as international young tour golfers in competition. It makes for a great end of June and first day of July.
Of course, golf doesn’t have to be part of an event. All five Benzie courses offer various price points and golf experiences to fit families and the skill level and needs of all golfers.
Crystal Mountain, a destination for skiing in the winter, celebrates the end of the snow season with spring break. They present lodging packages and youth activities into early April.
It is that same fourth month that biking and hiking begin to pick up in Benzie County on more than 100 miles of trails. While out, discover more than 100 species of birds that migrate in the spring to and through Benzie County, and keep an eye out for woodland wildflowers in bloom.
The beauty of Lake Michigan’s shoreline allows explorers to spy sunsets in Elberta and Frankfort. For art lovers, the must see is the Michigan Legacy Art Park, a 30-acre beautiful preserve art park within the grounds of Crystal Mountain. It features more than 50 sculptures, poetry stones, natural woods, and spectacular views.
Bikers can also venture out to The Betsie Valley Trail, which has paved and hard aggregate surfaces. The trail runs along an old railway route for 22 miles from Frankfort to Thompsonville with restaurants in Beulah and more along the way. Another trail to explore is The Betsie River Pathway, which winds through the Pere Marquette National Forest. There is also the Lake Ann Pathway, which is a six-mile trip through forest trail with view of lakes, bogs, and the Platte River.
Mushroom hunting for morels comes alive from late-April through May. Check out Make It Benzie’s morel mushroom hunting guide for tips on how to hunt and find mushrooms.
By the end of May, other outdoor events start cooking and include the Michigan Beer & Brat Festival; the North Mitten Half Marathon, 10k, and 5k; the Bike Benzie UP North Road Tour & Gravel Race; the Frankfort Elberta Restaurant Week; Frankford 48 Film Competition; and Frankford Craft Fair and Vintage Car Show, to name a few.
Throughout the year the villages of Beulah, Benzonia, Elberta, Frankfort, Honor, Lake Ann, and Thompsonville simply offer friendly places to visit and dine in affordable fashion.
For a full list of lodging properties and to learn more about seasonal activities, events, and nearby award-winning wineries, distilleries, breweries, and unique restaurants in the area, contact Make It Benzie at 1-800-882-5801 or go online to visitbenzie.com.