Route 119- Tunnel of Trees
We were going to be driving through the tunnel of love on our way to Mackinac Island MI. Actually we were driving through the Tunnel of Trees on 119, a scenic byway along Lake Michigan. We were excited to see the canopy of colorful leaves over the miles of winding road.
Petoskey Stones and a Plan
My friend Angie and I had spent a couple of days searching for Petoskey stones and visiting with our dear friend Helga, who lives in the area. We were now heading up to Mackinac Island for the day and to Headlands International Dark Sky Park later to spend some time stargazing.
A Surprise on the Road
It was September 2019 and it was raining as we headed north on 119. The trees surrounding us were very green and we enjoyed the lake views. Although the drive was beautiful, we had hoped for more fall colors in the tunnel. About 50 minutes north of Charlevoix, we rounded a bend in the road and came across two upside down trees on the side of the road, roots extending towards the sky. A sign was draped across the middle, “Pond Hill Farm.“
Another nearby sign stated that Pond Hill Farm was a brewery and a winery.
“Ooooh brewery!” I pointed towards the sign and shouted.
“Ooooh winery!” Angie flipped on the turn signal and we pulled between the trees and into the lot.
Pit Stop at Pond Hill Farm Brewery
The road wound through a flowery field, rows of hops became visible ahead of us. As we approached, stacks of pumpkins lined the road.
We parked and made our way towards the grey building. There were piles of firewood stacked high in the front of the structure.
“Check it out,” I motioned towards the field. “It looks like they grow their own grapes and hops. How great is that?”
“And they have animals too.” Angie pointed towards a nearby barn.
Near the entrance were huge crates containing every size of pumpkin, gourd and squash.
“Now this place looks like fall.” Angie picked up a small pumpkin and smiled approvingly.
Inside Pond Hill Farm’s Market
There was an upper outdoor Biergarten but we headed instead into the warmth of the small country market.
The little store was lined with shelves of jars filled with homemade jams, sauces, salsas and bourbon cherries. There was fresh locally grown produce, t-shirts and warm cider and coffee. Pond Hill Farms also sold their own beer, wine and hard cider at the shop.
We headed up the stairs and at the top was a surprisingly large wood beamed restaurant area. The menu featured farm to table selections and a good amount of vegetarian options. A long bar extended the length of the room and small pumpkins were placed on every table and lined the tops of the hanging light fixtures.
A Little Taste from the Farm
Through a doorway was a small tasting room area. We had a seat at the bar and checked out the menu. They had 10 beers on tap to choose from and 11 wine varieties plus cider to sample.
I ordered the ‘Big Medicine Lil’ Coffee Stout’ and Angie opted for a Sweet Wine flight. As I sipped the nice stout, I gazed out the window overlooking a hill and the vineyard. Inside, mini pumpkins were strung on wires and hung from the ceiling.
“Hey, this makes brewery number 314 for me.” I sipped and smiled.
“Sooo…how does it rate?” Angie inquired, swirling her ‘Northern Lights Peach Sparkler’ around the little glass. “I like it.”
“Me too.” I looked around. “It’s got a good stout, there’s nice mojo in here and an impressive selection of beers. The lighting is perfect and it scores bonus points for being unique. A pumpkin farm and a brewery is really cool. I would rate it at least in the top 15.”
So Much to do at Pond Hill Farm
After finishing our drinks, we headed back outside where we visited the animals at the livestock barn. There were friendly pigs, a turkey, chickens, ducks, goats and Speckles the sheep.
“Speckles.” We called out, clicking and holding our hands out towards the big sheep. A few curious goats and then Speckles himself ventured closer to us by the gate. We patted a few fuzzy heads and then went back out by the pumpkins.
A wooden booth sold tickets. I read the sign that gave the prices to participate in pumpkin bowling, apple baseball or golf, pumpkin skee ball, pumpkin smashing or the giant slingshot to fling squash and fruit out into the field. A few people were carrying hot cider or waiting for a hayride. A number of leashed dogs were happily enjoying the event with their families.
We had hoped to hike on the gnome trail or through the vineyard to the trout pond, but a fine mist was still coming down and we were getting chilly.
Heading out of Harbor Springs
“Alright, we’ve got places to go still.” Angie fished out the keys.
“Well, that was a super nice surprise stop and a bonus brewery.”
We continued on our little adventure for the day.
In October when the trees were decorated by mother nature in their peak fall colors, we made another trip north to see the full fall foliage tree tunnel, visit Harbor Springs’ Pond Hill Farm….and enjoy another nice stout.
What is your favorite brewery? Comment below…
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