Covered bridges are most commonly associated with New England and Pennsylvania and were built to shelter wooden bridges from weather that may cause the timbers to decay. But while covered bridges in Michigan aren’t abundant, they have rustic charm and nostalgia.
Some bridges in Michigan are relics of a bygone era. Others are newer interpretations of the originals. However, all of them are worth taking a road trip to visit.
You can drive your vehicle over a few covered bridges to admire the beautiful lines, or park and photograph their picturesque locations. Meanwhile, you’ll be crisscrossing The Mitten to visit them and getting to know some of Michigan’s quaint villages and towns.
Ackley Covered Bridge | Greenfield Village
Henry Ford was the original preservationist. In 1937, when the Ackley Covered Bridge was scheduled to be torn down, he rescued it and had it moved to Greenfield Village. Twice a year, you can cross the bridge in a model T car with a ticket!
The charming 80-foot long wooden bridge was constructed in 1832 by Joshua Ackley and Daniel Clouse in West Finley, which is in Southwest Pennsylvania. It originally crossed Wheeling Creek but was acquired by Ford from Ackley’s granddaughter.
The multiple king post trusses in a variation of the Burr design were taken down, and the bridge was carefully transported 300 miles. Now, it spans a man-made lake in Greenfield Village in Dearborn Michigan. Pennsylvania’s loss is Michigan’s gain!
Ada Covered Bridge | Kent County
The Ada Covered Bridge was constructed by William Holmes in 1913 for $3,000. It was built in the Brown truss design patented by Josiah Brown Jr. in 1867. Modifications have been made to the bridge over the years.
In 1930, the trusses were repaired, and the abutments were converted from wood to concrete. A new bridge over the Thornapple was built and the road moved so that this bridge is for pedestrians-only use. The 125-foot Ada Covered Bridge over the Thornapple River became a popular place to walk.
The bridge was repaired again in 1941 with a new roof and support beams. Trying to keep it as historic as possible, wood from a local barn was used in the repair.
The Ada Covered Bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970. It received its own historic marker from the State of Michigan in 1974. During winter 1979, heavy snowfall collapsed the roof, and later that year the bridge was destroyed by fire. It was rebuilt stronger and better.
Ada Bridge Events
Beer at the Bridge takes place in August at Leonard Field adjacent to the Ada Covered Bridge. It features food, music, and craft beer. This family-friendly event is free to attend and is a great way to celebrate summer in Ada.
The first Friday in December, head to the Ada Covered Bridge for Tinsel Treats and Trolleys. Start at the bridge for the lighting ceremony and carols, then take the trolley to downtown stops where shops are open for holiday shopping.
Augusta Covered Bridge | Kalamazoo County
Augusta Covered Bridge is a small, 32-foot newer bridge constructed in 1973 with queen-post trusses near the entrance to W.K. Kellogg Forest. The forest is an experimental project belonging to Michigan State University, and parts of it are off-limits to visitors.
Signs will tell you where you can’t park or visit. The covered bridge is on the North Country Trail and is for pedestrians only. While the bridge is small, it’s attractive and offers great views from the shuttered side openings.
Fallasburg Covered Bridge | Lowell
The Fallasburg Covered Bridge has a picturesque location over the Flat River, connecting Fallasburg Park and historic Fallasburg Village. It was constructed in 1871 from pine timber and uses the Brown truss style.
The 100-foot span was built by Jared Bressee for $1,500. It’s one of just a handful of covered bridges in Michigan that you can still drive your automobile over, albeit very slowly!! The bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.
Langley Covered Bridge | Three Rivers
Langley Covered Bridge was named for a local resident — Thomas W. Langley, whose pioneer family helped found the village of Centerville. It was built by Pierce Bodner in 1887 with the Howe truss design.
In Michigan, no remaining covered bridge is longer than the Langley Covered Bridge. It has three, 94-foot spans for a total length of 282 feet. It crosses the St. Joseph River and is open to automobile traffic.
Additionally, the Langley Covered Bridge became a designated Michigan historic site in 1965 and has its own marker. Painted bright red, it’s hard to miss and exciting to cross at 16 feet tall and 19 feet wide.
Donald F. Nichols Covered Bridge | Kal-Haven Trail
The Donald F. Nichols Covered Bridge is a popular attraction along the 33.5-mile Kal-Haven Trail. The trail runs from Kalamazoo to South Haven along the abandoned rail bed of the Kalamazoo & South Haven Railroad. Now a multiuse trail, it’s popular with pedestrians, cyclists, and snowmobilers.
The covered bridge was converted from an old railroad trestle bridge in 1988 and is 108 feet long. It’s located 1 mile east of the South Haven Trailhead.
Pierce Stocking Covered Bridge | Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
In the heart of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, the Pierce Stocking Covered Bridge adorns the 7.4-mile Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. Added in the 1960s, the Stringer truss bridge is one of the scenic drive’s most attractive elements.
Porcupines ate the sides of the original bridge, tending to prefer man-made structures over the forest’s native timber. In 1986, the bridge had to be rebuilt, and the current bridge features a taller top to allow for vehicle traffic clearance of 13 feet and 6 inches.
A pull-off is designed to allow you to take a break and admire or photograph the bridge. Along the scenic drive and through the bridge, visitors can drive, stroll, or ride their bikes.
Whites Bridge | Ionia County
Whites Bridge was built in 1867 in the through-truss style with a gabled roof to cross the Flat River. Designed by Jared N. Brazee and J.N. Walker, it was named for the White family who were pioneers in the area.
The 1867 bridge was destroyed by an arson fire in 2013. Thanks to a successful fundraising campaign, the bridge was rebuilt and can now take vehicle and pedestrian traffic. It’s the fourth bridge at this location, and it looks very similar to the Ada and the Fallasburg covered bridges.
White Pine Trail Covered Bridge | Reed City
The White Pine Trail Covered Bridge is commonly known as the Reed City Covered Bridge. Originally built in 1880 and rebuilt in 2000, the 151-foot covered bridge over the Hersey River is a railroad trestle and a vestige of the Grand Rapids and Indiana Railway of the late 1800s.
A “Reed City” nameplate on the north end informs travelers of their location, and there are excellent views of the Hersey River as it runs beneath the bridge.
White Pine Trail
The White Pine Trail crosses the Hersey River on this covered bridge in Michigan. In the winter, the trail is available to pedestrians, cyclists, and even snowmobiles.
The White Pine Trail is 92 miles long, stretching from just north of Grand Rapids to Cadillac. The stretch between Big Rapids and Reed City is one of the longest paved stretches, so it gets a lot of traffic.
Zehnder’s Holz Brucke | Frankenmuth
The sheer size of Zehnder’s Holz Brucke is overwhelming and quite breathtaking. This isn’t a historic covered bridge. It’s less than 50 years old, but it’s a stunning addition to the little piece of Bavaria that is Frankenmuth.
The Frankenmuth covered bridge was a dream that the Zehnder brothers had, and with the assistance of covered bridge builder Milton Graton, it became a reality. Dedicated in September 1980, it crosses the Cass River and connects the Main Street of Frankenmuth with the other side of the river, which is now home to the Bavarian Inn Lodge and Heritage Park.
Constructed in the Town lattice truss design, the bridge is almost entirely built of Douglas fir clad in cedar shingles. It has two traffic lanes with two covered sidewalks, and the three spans equal 239 feet long.
If you’re only going to visit one of these covered bridges in Michigan, this one is a standout. The word postcard-perfect comes to mind when describing this stunning bridge. It’s impressive for all the right reasons!
Frequently Asked Questions About Covered Bridges in Michigan
Where is Michigan’s longest covered bridge?
Langley Covered Bridge is located in Three Rivers Michigan, about 4 miles north of Centreville. It has three 94 foot spans, making it 282 feet long.
Why did they cover covered bridges?
Wooden bridges exposed to the elements have a very limited life span. By covering the bridges with a roof, the structures are protected and last a lot longer.
Also, back when horse-drawn carriages were the most common form of transportation, covering the bridges calmed skittish horses that didn’t like crossing water.
How many bridges are in Michigan?
That we know of, this list includes all 10 covered bridges in Michigan. However, the state has more than 11,000 bridges, including metal and wooden bridges. While some are state bridges, others are local bridges.
How many covered bridges are in the United States?
In their heyday, there may have been as many as 12,000 covered bridges in the United States. Today, it’s estimated that only between 500 and 600 have survived.
Explore More During Your Michigan Covered Bridges Tour
Covered bridges are remnants of a bygone era and provide a glimpse into the past. Just the fact that most are single lanes means that life slows down when you visit them.
Plan a trip to visit one or more of these historic or not-so-historic bridges to enjoy the nostalgia. You can even combine your visit with a local attraction, a wine tasting, pick-your-own fruit, or state park adventure. No matter the season, these historical beauties have an unwavering appeal.
Don’t forget to bring your camera because you’ll want to take pictures!