Great Lakes Relaxed

Trip Dates:
Sep 12, 2015 -- Sep 19, 2015
Mackinaw City, MI
Booking Status:

We’ve incorporated the quiet roads and pleasurable riding of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (U.P.) into our popular relaxed tour format. We’ve coupled the route’s gentle terrain and moderate daily distances with convenient luggage transport and scrumptious catering to offer a superb choice for the first-time bicycle tourist as well as the seasoned bike traveler who seeks a more laid-back cycling experience.

Starting at the top of the Lower Peninsula, we’ll shuttle across the Mackinac Bridge and begin pedaling north from the bottom of the U.P. We’ll explore numerous state parks replete with thick forests, wondrous waterfalls, and lakeshore views, as well as Whitefish Bay, site of the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, and Sault Ste. Marie, home of the Soo Locks. We’ll catch a ferry to Mackinac Island and explore this special place where automobiles are noticeably absent.

The car may be king in nearby Detroit, but in the U.P., the bicycle reigns supreme. Great Lakes, great parks, and great bicycle touring — they all add up to one great trip.

Start Date: Sep 12, 2015 End Date: Sep 19, 2015
Start Location: Mackinaw City, MI End Location: Mackinaw City, MI
Total Days: 8 Riding Days: 6
Rest Days: 2 Miles: 247
Average Daily Mileage: 41.2 Surface: Paved
Riders: 65 Airport: Cherry Capital Airport (Traverse City, MI)
Tour Leader: Sue Davendonis Meals: Catered meals
Accommodations: Camping, Motel Options Type: Supported
Physical Difficulty: Beginner Level of Support: Fully Supported
Cost: $1,159.00

Day 1

Mackinaw City. We'll gather at our campground in the late afternoon for our orientation session. Early arrivers might take some time to explore the local surroundings, which boast an ecological mosaic of wetlands, forested-dune complexes, and sand-and-cobble beaches.

Day 2

Mackinaw City to Trout Lake, 40 miles. Utilizing the Mackinac Bridge Authority’s shuttle service, we’ll be motored across the famous bridge to the Upper Peninsula. The entire structure is five miles long, making it the longest suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere, and gateway to a land of quiet roads and gentle riding.

Day 3

Trout Lake to Tahquamenon Falls State Park, 45 miles. It’s bike touring at its finest today as we navigate a series of good roads with light traffic. We’ll pass through open meadows, dense forests, and over some gradual rolling hills. Our ultimate destination is one of the gems of the U.P., Tahquamenon Falls State Park, where Longfellow’s Hiawatha built his canoe “by the rushing Tahquamenaw.” Once there, we’ll set up camp for two nights at the River Mouth Campground.

Day 4

Layover Day, Tahquamenon Falls State Park. You'll have the option of hopping on your touring bike and riding to the Lower Falls and the grand Upper Falls, one of the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi. Or, ride in the opposite direction to Whitefish Point to visit the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, which memorializes, among others, the Edmund Fitzgerald and its crew of 29 lost souls. If you prefer to stay off your bike, you can take advantage of the trails leading into the forest or to the shores of Lake Superior.

Day 5

Tahquamenon Falls State Park to Brimley State Park, 55 miles. Leaving the state park, we’ll spin along the shore of Whitefish Bay, then glide back into the timber cover of white birch, pine, and spruce in the Hiawatha National Forest. We’ll visit one of the highlights of the trip at the Point Iroquois Lighthouse, which was built in 1855 and guards the point where Lake Superior begins its dangerous-to-navigate rush into the St. Marys River.

Day 6

Brimley State Park to Cedarville, 56 miles. Today we'll visit Sault Ste. Marie and the unforgettable Soo Locks, one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Wolverine State. The locks make it possible for large ships to travel between Lake Superior and the other Great Lakes to the south as Superior's water level is about 20 feet higher than that of Lake Huron. We'll spend the night on the shores of Huron in Cedarville.

Day 7

Cedarville to St. Ignace, 35 miles. Continuing along the northwestern reaches of Lake Huron, we’ll loop around St. Martin Bay and visit St. Ignace, where the French explorer and priest Jacques Marquette founded a mission in 1671. The town is considered the third oldest, continuously inhabited settlement in the United States. Our overnight destination, Straits State Park, offers spectacular nighttime views of boats passing beneath the awe-inspiring bridge that wears the nickname “Mighty Mac.”

Day 8

St. Ignace to Mackinaw City, via Mackinac Island, 16+ miles. Saving some of the best for last, we’ll take a ferry to Mackinac Island, where transportation is limited to foot, horse and buggy, and luckily, bicycle. It’s a beautiful spot filled with Victorian charm, where only about 500 residents live year-round. There’s an 11-mile route encircling the island, which runs right along the beach. Several other side trips are also available on roads cutting inland to battlefields, old cemeteries, and the impressive limestone formation known as Arch Rock. At the end of our stay, we’ll board a different ferry bound for the Lower Peninsula for a brief ride back to our starting point in Mackinaw City.

"I've realized how important physical activity is, and I have more time now that my children are grown. I have rekindled an old love with bicycling. Now in my late 50s, I'm trying to be a bicyclist. The relaxed tour of the UP gave me excellent motivation to train in July, August, and September. I did many 20 and 30 mile days with a 40 day or two before the trip. Coming into camp on the 60 mile day of the tour brought tears of joy to my eyes. 60 miles! I can hardly believe it!"

2011 Tour Participant

"The leaders were great! I was amazed at the support provided for the participants. The food was fantastic, campgrounds were good and I appreciated the hot showers!"

2012 Tour Participant

"The food was great, the trip well managed and ride members were all nice folks."

2013 Tour Participant

"Staff was exceptional, very professional and added to a positive experience."

2011 Tour Participant

Photo by Rachel Stevens

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