Enjoy incredible scenery and some of the best riding you can imagine on this inn-to-inn adventure. You’ll enjoy great riding with minimal gear and 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 folk singer Gordon Lightfoot, “she’d put 15 more miles behind her.” We’ll put many more miles behind us each day on this stellar early summer ride.
“The most fun I’ve had in my adult life!”
Day 1. Petoskey, Michigan, 0 miles
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, 52 miles
We’ll remain on the Lower Peninsula today as we ride rolling backroads 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 retro 1960's motel fronts Big Trout Lake.
Day 4. Trout Lake to Paradise, 33 miles
It’s bike touring at its finest today as we navigate a series of good roads with light traffic. Emerging from forested roads high above Lake Superior, we'll be treated to our first views of the largest of the Great Lakes and the world's largest freshwater lake (by surface area). We will cross the mouth of the Tahquamenon River, 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 in Paradise, 0 miles
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 29 men aboard. The Whitefish Bay Lighthouse and an Audubon Society designated “Important Bird Area” are also located nearby. Another options is a ride to the 50,000-acre Tahquamenon Falls State Park. The park's centerpiece is the Tahquamenon River and its waterfalls, which are viewable from multiple accessible overlooks. The Upper Falls is one of the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi River and has a drop of nearly 50 feet, a width of 200 feet and a maximum flow of 50,000 gallons of water per second.
Day 6. Paradise to Sault Ste. Marie, 59 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. Our evening will be spent in the "Soo," Sault Sainte Marie, with the famous Soo Locks on the St. Marys River between Lake Superior and Lake Huron. The locks bypass the rapids of the river, where water drops 21 feet. The locks pass an average of 10,000 ships per year, despite being closed during the winter, when ice shuts down shipping on the Great Lakes.
Day 7. Sault Ste. Marie to Cedarville, 40 miles
Today we'll visit Sault Ste. Marie — the U.S. version of it anyway, as America’s Sault Ste. Marie has a doppelgänger 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. Watch and listen for sandhill cranes, whose rattling bugle calls can be heard as we head south through forest and farmland. We’ll overnight in Cedarville on the shores of Huron, the third of the five Great Lakes encountered on our adventure. Cedarville overlooks the Les Cheneaux ("the channel") Islands, a grouping of 36 islands where boating and kayaking are popular.
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 Cedarville for a second overnight.
Day 9. Cedarville to Mackinac Island, 31 miles plus a ferry ride
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 is a quick ferry ride across the Straits of Mackinac to Mackinac Island, where we’ll spend the night anxiously awaiting our exploration of the island the next morning.
Day 10. Mackinac Island to Mackinaw City, 8 miles plus a ferry ride
A special treat is in store today as we wake up on 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 8-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, 38 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.