My all time favorite run in Traverse City is without a doubt McKinley Loop. The six mile loop starts at Traverse City Central High School and heads east down Eastern Ave. Then heads north (left) on Birchwood (also known as East Shore Rd.) and goes all the way out to McKinley Rd. When you hit McKinley you’re at about 2.5 miles. Turn left at McKinley and enjoy the climb to the top of the Old Mission Peninsula. Descend on the west side of the peninsula, turning left when you hit West Bay (Peninsula Dr.) Follow Peninsula Dr. about two miles back to Eastern Ave. and turn left once again to head back to the high school.
This run was a staple during my high school cross country and track days at TC Central, and I’d often run it when I was home on breaks In college.
It’s a perfect blend of terrain and scenery. The first two miles are completely flat along a winding road with gorgeous views of East Bay. Then McKinley hill adds some challenge to the middle of the run, but offers more great views of both East and West Bays at the top. Finally, Peninsula Dr. is roughly two miles of more flat, winding road with a view of West Bay and plenty of shoulder room to run on.
I haven’t run the loop much since I moved to the downtown TC area after graduate school. It’s about three miles to the high school from my house: too close to drive to, but would make for a 12-mile run if I ran from home. I’ll run that big loop occasionally, but the six mile distance of the loop itself is just about perfect.