Lake Erie Connector

Lake Erie Connector Wolf Lake, MI to Fort Erie, ON 1 Map Set GPX Data | Overview | Buy | Mobile App
1. Wolf Lake, MI to Fort Erie, ON Detail

Connecting the North Lakes and Northern Tier routes.

The Lake Erie Connector is intended primarily as a shortcut that saves about 250 miles between the North Lakes Route near Wolf Lake, Michigan, and the Northern Tier Route at Fort Erie, Ontario. It also connects to the Northern Tier Route across the western end of Lake Erie at Sandusky, Ohio, and enables a variety of loop rides in the lower Great Lakes region.

The route begins near Wolf Lake, Michigan. It passes through the sparsely populated rural landscape of rolling fields and forests of west-central Michigan to Clare. From here, the route follows 30 miles of the paved Pere Marquette Rail-Trail to Midland. The rail-trail ends in a park at the confluence of the Tittabawassee and Chippewa rivers, spanned by the “Tridge,” a unique three-legged bridge spanning the confluence. The route passes through pleasant residential neighborhoods in Midland to begin its traverse of the “thumb” of Michigan. From Bay City, the route stair-steps across and down the “thumb” to the city of St. Clair and then along the St. Clair River to Marine City. The “thumb” is a nearly treeless area of intensively cultivated farmland and is almost flat. At Marine City, the route uses a ferry to cross the St. Clair River to Sombra in Ontario, Canada. There is a short and pleasant ride along the St. Clair River, and then the route turns inland to the city of Wallaceburg. Here the route splits, with the main route continuing to Fort Erie, Ontario, and the Ferry Alternate going southward for ferry connections to Sandusky, Ohio and the Northern Tier Route. The area surrounding Leamington is the tomato-farming region of Canada, and Leamington is a major tomato-processing center. Those riding through the area at harvest will see mechanical tomato harvesters in fields and trucks with huge loads of tomatoes.

The ferry connecting Ontario and Ohio stops at Pelee Island, itself an interesting destination. The main route continues east from Eatonville, closely following the Lake Erie shore. High sand bluffs drop down to the lake, and south breezes cool the cyclist. The only hills encountered along the lakeshore are where the route dips down to the rivers and the small towns nestled there. As the route proceeds east from the tomato region, it enters Canada’s tobacco belt. During harvest, cyclists will see tractors pulling long steel trailers that look like double coatracks hauling loads of tobacco leaves and small barns without windows used for drying the tobacco. The towns along the lake are small. Those with “port” in their names are the significant towns. Port Stanley is a trendy town with an arts community. Port Dunnville and Port Colborne are the largest. Port Colborne is significant as the Lake Erie entrance to the Welland Canal, the marine link between Lakes Erie and Ontario. Take some time in Port Colborne to explore the Welland Canal, and watch the freighters negotiate the Niagara Escarpment. East of Port Colborne, the area becomes increasingly residential as it approaches Fort Erie.

This route is basically flat with several gently rolling sections.

Lake Erie Connector - Main Route
Section Distance Elevation Total Climb Avg. Climb/Mile
Total 506.7 miles Minimum: 565 ft.
Maximum:1,365 ft.
9,655 ft. east bound
9,945 ft. west bound
19 ft. per mi. east bound
20 ft. per mi. west bound
Lake Erie Connector Alternates
Name Section Distance Total Climb Avg. Climb/Mile
Ferry Alternate A 1 46.2 miles 320 ft. south bound
300 ft. north bound
7 ft. per mi. south bound
6 ft. per mi. north bound
Ferry Alternate B 1 40 miles 955 ft. south bound
1025 ft. north bound
24 ft. per mi. south bound
26 ft. per mi. north bound
Ferry Alternate C 1 29.3 miles 545 ft. south bound
525 ft. north bound
19 ft. per mi. south bound
18 ft. per mi. north bound

Services are plentiful and evenly spaced throughout Michigan. Bike shops are located in several of the larger towns. Note that there are few grocery stores on route along the Lake Erie shore in Canada. Cyclists need to carefully plan in anticipation of where they will spend the night. Campgrounds and B&Bs are plentiful along the lake; with few exceptions there are motels. The lakeshore is a popular vacation destination, and reservations are advised at the B&Bs and campgrounds.

Some campgrounds will charge a cyclist traveling alone less if they have hiker/biker sites, but often they will charge the price of a regular tent or RV site, and that can easily be $10-$30/night. If you’re friendly and ask around, you can often get yourself invited to camp in a yard. Our routes sometimes go through national forests (moreso in the west) and you are allowed to camp anywhere on national forest land as long as you “pack it in, pack it out.” Many city parks are free to camp in.

You may also wish to sign up with Warmshowers, a reciprocal hospitality site for bicycle travelers, for other overnight options.

Note that most of the rural roads in Michigan and Ontario are dirt — very dusty when dry and very muddy when wet. What may look like a tempting shortcut down a paved road may become a miserable ride on a dirt road. This route has been carefully researched to avoid such roads, so cyclists are advised to stay on route. Even though the route in Canada at times is on main arterials, the speed limit is low (80 kph/50 mph), and motorists obey the speed limit. Canada is on the metric system and all road distances shown on signs are in kilometers. This route can be ridden from early spring to late fall (typically April to October). Summers can be hot and humid, so be prepared. During the summer months, winds are predominantly from the southwest. While prevailing winds are generally light, Lake Erie’s shore frequently develops a localized wind pattern that may extend inland for only a few miles.


Route Highlights

Lake Erie Connector Highlights

  • Bay City, Michigan
  • Frankenmuth, Michigan
  • Pelee Island, Ferry Alternate
  • Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site, Ontario
  • Welland Canal, Ontario
  • Niagara Falls, Ontario
  • Historic Fort Erie, Ontario

More Route Resources



In Michigan please note that while we refer to state highways as “SR”, they are signed on the roadways as “M”, along with the highway number. Many of the rural roads in Michigan and Ontario change from paved to gravel – they can be dusty when dry and very muddy when wet. The route has been carefully researched to avoid those roads. What may look like a tempting shortcut down a paved road may become a miserable ride on a gravel road. Cyclists are advised to stay on the route.

U.S. Bicycle Route (USBR) 20 is signed throughout Michigan. Our routing is not always concurrent with USBRs. For more information and maps see Be aware that signs can be damaged, stolen, or otherwise missing so you can never rely totally on following signs.

The route begins on two-lane county roads traversing the rural landscape of rolling fields and forests of west central Michigan. From Clare, the route follows the paved Pere Marquette Rail Trail eastward to Midland. If you prefer riding rail trails, in LeRoy the paved White Pine Trail heading south will connect you in 13 mi. to the Pere Marquette Rail Trail in Reed City (west of the route) where you can ride 35 mi. to Farwell and reconnect with the route. Trail information maybe found at and The route passes through pleasant residential neighborhoods in Midland to begin its traverse of the “thumb” of Michigan. You will ride on several short sections of other rail trails.

Crossing the U.S.-Canada border at Marine City to Sombra is on the Bluewater Ferry. Schedule information is found at: In the event this ferry is closed, a second option is the Walpole Algonac Ferry south of Marine City. Schedule information is found here: A route between Marine City, MI and Wallaceburg, ON may be found here:

The main route in Canada follows very flat and unforested farmland to the Lake Erie shoreline. Many of these roads have little to no shoulder but also light traffic with the exception of CR 3 which carries higher traffic volumes. In Wallaceburg, use extreme caution crossing the drawbridge (the bridge deck is grated) over the Sydenham River. You can also cross on the sidewalk and make the left turn onto the Margaret St. immediately beyond the drawbridge.

Once along the shore of Lake Erie, the route travels on Lakeshore Line/Rd., a main arterial at times, but the speed limit is low (80 kph/50 mph) and motorists obey the speed limit.

There are many campgrounds and B&B’s along the Lake Erie shoreline, but very few motels and grocery stores. The stores only appear in the small towns along the way. The lakeshore is a popular vacation destination and reservations are strongly advised during summer months at both the B&B’s and campgrounds.

In Port Colborne, use the sidewalk when crossing the Welland Canal. East of Ridgeway, the route uses the paved Friendship Trail and then a scenic bikeway along the shoreline to Fort Erie. Bicycling maps for this region can be found at:

Ferry options cross Lake Erie to Sandusky, Ohio. Both Alternates A and B join Alternate C at Wheatley. The alternates use rural two-lane roads. Between Kingsville, Leamington and Tilbury, there are a couple of crushed limestone trails available as an option also. See a full map of these trails at: Whether you depart from Leamington or Kingsville depends on what time of the year it is. Exact dates vary from year to year. For schedules call 519-326-2154 (Leamington) or 519-733-4474 (Kingsville). For reservations call 800-661-2220 or 519-724-2154. Schedules and reservations are also available at The ferry stops at Pelee Island in Canada. Island information and a map of Pelee Island can be found at


During the summer months winds are predominantly from the southwest. While prevailing winds are generally light, Lake Erie’s shore area frequently develops a localized wind pattern which may extend inland for only a few miles, this is known as the lake breeze. Summer precipitation falls primarily in the form of showers or thunderstorms.

Updated: Nov 12, 2019

Updates to Recently Released Maps

If you are planning a bike tour, be sure to get the most recent map updates and corrections for your route by selecting the route, and the appropriate section(s), from the drop-down menu below.

Over time maps become less useful because things change. Every year Adventure Cycling’s Routes and Mapping Department create map updates and corrections for every map in the Adventure Cycling Route Network, which now totals 52,047 miles. With the help of touring cyclists like you, we receive updates on routing, services, camping, and contact information. Until we can reprint the map with the new information, we verify the suggested changes and publish corrections and updates here on our website.

PLEASE NOTE: Covid has been particularly hard on the small businesses along our routes. While we do our best to keep the maps and these online updates current, you may encounter more closed businesses and longer stretches with limited or no services.

Refer to these updates for the most current information we have and submit reports of changes to the Route Feedback Form for the cyclists coming after you.

NOTE: Map updates and corrections only pertain to long term changes and updates. For short term road closures, please see the Adventure Cycling’s Routes Temporary Road Closures discussion in our Forums.