Great Lakes – Inn to Inn

Trip Dates:
Jun 14, 2014 -- Jun 24, 2014
Petoskey, MI
Booking Status:

Enjoy incredible scenery and experience some of the best riding you can imagine on this inn-to-inn adventure, which was featured as one of National Geographic Traveler’s 2013 “Trips of a Lifetime.” You’ll enjoy the same great riding without the additional weight of camping and cooking gear, and with the added luxury of a roof over your head and a warm bed each night. Coupled with the route’s moderate terrain and manageable daily distances, this trip makes an excellent choice for beginners or for those wishing to enjoy more time out of the saddle during their vacation.

After pedaling from Petoskey to the top of the Lower Peninsula, the Mackinac Bridge Authority’s shuttle service will take us to the other side of the world-famous bridge. Then, we’ll proceed north toward the shore of Whitefish Bay, where the Edmund Fitzgerald would have landed if, in the immortal words of Canadian folksinger Gordon Lightfoot, “she’d put 15 more miles behind her.” We’ll put many more miles behind us each day on this stellar summer ride.

Start Date: Jun 14, 2014 End Date: Jun 24, 2014
Start Location: Petoskey, MI End Location: Petoskey, MI
Total Days: 11 Riding Days: 9
Rest Days: 2 Miles: 356
Average Daily Mileage: 39.6 Surface: Paved
Riders: 13 Airport: Cherry Capital Airport (Traverse City, MI)
Meals: Indoor Dining Accommodations: Indoor
Type: Self Contained Physical Difficulty: Beginner+
Level of Support: Inn to Inn Cost: $2,149.00

Day 1

Petoskey. We’ll gather mid-afternoon in the waterfront resort community of Petoskey, situated at the northwest tip of the Lower Peninsula on Lake Michigan’s Little Traverse Bay. You may elect to explore Petoskey’s historic downtown which boasts excellent restaurants and shops, or kick back with some Hemingway — the author spent his childhood summers nearby.

Day 2

Petoskey to Mackinaw City, 50 miles. We’ll remain on the Lower Peninsula today as we ride rolling back roads that make up part of Adventure Cycling’s North Lakes route. Harbor Springs, the first town through which we’ll ride, contains a wealth of attractive old homes. Tonight we’ll stay in magnificent Mackinaw City, one of the premier tourist destinations in the Wolverine State.

Day 3

Mackinaw City to Trout Lake, 45 miles. Utilizing the Mackinac Bridge Authority’s shuttle service, we’ll be motored over to the Upper Peninsula across the third-longest suspension bridge in the world, and the longest in the Western Hemisphere. This engineering marvel boasts a total suspension of 8,614 feet, while the length of the entire bridge is five miles. Tonight we’ll stay at the Trout Lake Resort, where the cabins front Big Trout Lake. Despite the lake’s name, you have the option of spending the waning hours of daylight fishing for perch, walleye, pike, and bass — which you can cook up for breakfast the following morning on your cabin’s outdoor grill.

Day 4

Trout Lake to Paradise, 30 miles. It’s bike touring at its finest today as we navigate a series of good roads with light traffic. We’ll visit one of the gems of the U.P., Tahquamenon Falls State Park, where Longfellow’s Hiawatha built his canoe “by the rushing Tahquamenaw.” From there we’ll continue on for a few miles to the aptly named town of Paradise on the shores of Whitefish Bay.

Day 5

Layover Day, Paradise. Lounge around or hop aboard your bicycle and ride to Whitefish Point, where you can visit the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum. The museum memorializes the many shipwrecks that have occurred off Whitefish Point — more than at any other location in Lake Superior — including that of the Edmund Fitzgerald, which on November 10, 1975, was lost not far from here with her entire crew of twenty-nine men aboard. The Whitefish Bay Lighthouse and an Audubon Society designated “Important Bird Area” are also located nearby.

Day 6

Paradise to Brimley, 40 miles. On this fine day we’ll spin along Whitefish Bay before diving back into the Hiawatha National Forest and its timber cover of white birch, pine, and spruce. A highlight is the Point Iroquois Lighthouse, built in 1855 at the point where Lake Superior begins its dangerous-to-navigate rush into the St. Marys River. We’ll spend the night in Brimley, on Whitefish Bay, in the vicinity of Les Cheneaux (“the channel”) Islands, a grouping of 36 islands where boating and kayaking are popular.

Day 7

Brimley to Cedarville, 55 miles. Today we'll visit Sault Ste. Marie — the U.S. version of it anyway, as America’s Sault Ste. Marie has a larger twin sister of the same name across the international border in Ontario. We'll visit the unforgettable Soo Locks, one of the most-visited sites in Michigan. The locks make it possible for large ships to travel between Lake Superior and the other Great Lakes below. We'll overnight in Cedarville on the shores of Huron, the third of the five Great Lakes encountered on our adventure.

Day 8

Cedarville to DeTour Village and back, 50 miles. Today we’ll do an out-and-back ride, spinning past an ever-changing array of photo opportunities. DeTour Village sits at the extreme eastern edge of the U.P. mainland, although Drummond Island is farther east and still part of Michigan. From DeTour Village we have the option of ferrying to Drummond Island and tacking on as many as 30 additional miles to our day’s ride. We’ll then return to Brimley for a second overnight.

Day 9

Cedarville to St. Ignace, 35 miles. Continuing along the northwestern reaches of Lake Huron, we’ll loop around St. Martin Bay and continue on to St. Ignace, one of the oldest communities in Michigan. Here the French explorer and priest Jacques Marquette founded a mission in 1671. Our overnight destination offers spectacular nighttime views of boats passing beneath the awe-inspiring bridge that wears the nickname “Mighty Mac.”

Day 10

St. Ignace to Mackinaw City via Mackinac Island, 20 miles. A special treat is in store today, as we board the ferry to Mackinac Island, where transportation is limited to foot, bicycle, and horse and buggy. No cars! It’s a beautiful spot filled with Victorian charm, where only around 500 residents live year-round. An 11-mile route encircling the island goes right along the beach, and several side trips are also available on roads cutting inland to battlefields, an old cemetery, the impressive limestone formation known as Arch Rock, and other attractions. At the end of our stay on the island, we’ll ferry back to the Lower Peninsula and Mackinaw City.

Day 11

Mackinaw City to Petoskey, 20 miles. Back on the Lower Peninsula, we’ll return to our beginning point and, all too soon, the tour’s end. To get there we’ll follow an inland route markedly different from the coastal route on which we started. This route boasts rolling farmlands and some respectable hills to surmount. Great Lakes, great parks, and great bicycle touring — they all add up to one great trip.

"The Great Lakes Inn to Inn was a wonderful experience! The places we stayed were wonderful as they gave us a feel for the local area."

2011 Tour Participant

"Great, friendly tour leader. Excellent site tour opportunities."

2013 Tour Participant

"It was exactly what I needed for a vacation."

2011 Tour Participant

"There were wonderful people and a great leader-I especially enjoyed kayaking."

2013 Tour Participant

Photo by Susan H. Grant

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