Traverse City’s Best-Kept Secret: Maple Bay Park & Beach
Maple Bay Natural Area covers 400 acres and includes a historic farmhouse, cedar woods, and a beautiful half-mile beach along East Grand Traverse Bay.
It’s a hidden gem in Grand Traverse County, prized for its shoreline and sandbar.
Find it about 30 minutes east of downtown Traverse City, MI.
A Closer Look at Maple Bay Natural Area
The Beach and Sandbar
Rivaling Torch Lake, the crystal clear waters, sandbar and endless beach here (2,500 feet of shoreline along East Grand Traverse Bay) are magnets for locals and those lucky enough to know about this secret beach.
The water in Traverse City Area is always so blue and clear. At Maple Bay Natural Area, the water here is no exception.
Boaters pull right up to the beach, or anchor a little way out on the sand bar and swim to shore.
Kick off your shoes and take a stroll along the beach where the water meets the sand.
To start your adventure at Maple Bay Natural Area, turn into the gravel drive on the west side of US-31. The white farmhouse lets you know you’re in the right place.
Pass Maple Bay Farm and continue on the gravel road to the parking lot.
The wooded trail system starts here with a hard-packed trail that turns sandy as it enters the woods.
Choose to explore 1.75 miles of trails or head to the incredible beach.
The hike to the beach is just a short walk but be prepared for a somewhat steep, sandy trail, about one-third of a mile.
Waterfront Hammock Spot
Make it an extra relaxing time and bring a hammock. Hang the hammock overlooking the water, relax with a book, or take a nap to recharge.
Sunflowers bloom at Maple Bay Natural Area from late July- early August. The exact location of the flowers varies, as the crop is rotated each year.
It’s likely that, if you time your drive right, you’ll find bright yellow fields of sunflowers stretching into the distance on both sides both sides of the North US-31 highway.
At Maple Bay Natural Area, you’ll also find Maple Bay Farm.
The restored farmhouse has a root cellar, a sugar shack, garden, and a pole barn building. It’s just off of the highway.
The sugar shack is occasionally open for maple syrup-making demonstrations in the springtime. The community garden is tended by volunteers growing produce for the local food pantry.
The old farmhouse is owned by the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy (GTRLC) and serves as a hub for demonstrations, community gardening, volunteer training events, and remote office space.
Where is Maple Bay Natural Area Located?
Maple Bay Natural Area is just 30 minutes north of Traverse City off North U.S. 31 between Traverse City and Elk Rapids, MI.
Maple Bay Natural Area Address:
10849 US-31, Williamsburg, MI 49690