Lake Michigan – August, 2012 & October, 2013

Northern End.

I have to say, this was probably the most scenic section I’ve cycled to date.

From about 25 miles west of St. Ignace all the way to Ludington was beautiful. The Upper Peninsula was challenging with the distance between services and accommodations, but Highway 2, although highly traveled, had a wide shoulder and smooth surface. I was a bit surprised with the amount of climbing that began just outside of Traverse City but I guess I[d better get used to it as it’s only going to get more pronounced as I head to Huron and Superior.

I really wish I had been able to continue on and complete the lake in a single expedition but life just didn’t allow it. The SS Badger carferry, however, was a great way to end the trip by crossing the lake back to Manitowoc. It’s an interesting vessel with a lot of history. Hopefully I’ll be hitching another ride next Spring as I finish up the loop.

I’m certainly looking forward to heading back up to Ludington and picking up where I left off next Spring. From what I’ve heard, the section from Ludington down to Indiana is even more scenic than the northern section. My biggest concern is the routing through or around Chicago. I’ve got some research to do over the winter.

Southern End.

Three down, two to go!  I managed to squeeze out just enough time to get up to Michigan and finish my tour around the southern half of the lake.  Picking up where I left off last August, I departed Ludington on Sunday and headed south.  Having not put in as many miles in the previous months as I would have liked, I tried to keep the mileage a bit lower (around 50 miles/day). The itinerary, just like the northern half, had me taking nine days even though the total mileage was slightly less.

The first 4 days were mostly spent on roads close to the lake. One exception was on the second day, leaving Whitehall, where I used the Fred Meijer Berry Junction Trail for about 6 miles. A very nice trail that has the added benefit of going behind the Michigan’s Adventure amusement park and giving a closeup view of the Shivering Timbers roller coaster.

The two segments of the journey that I had worried about were Gary, Indiana and Chicago.  As it turns out, both were rather easy and pleasant.  Being highly industrial, Gary, Indiana has no easy route near the lake.  There are, however, three great bike/recreational trails beginning just south of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and ending in Calumet City, Illinois.  By connecting the Prairie Duneland Trail, the Oak Savannah Trail, and the Erie Lackawanna Trail, you can bypass Gary and enjoy 30 miles of scenic trails and greenways.  From the end of the Erie Lackawanna Trail, work north back to the lake until you pick up the bike path along South Shore Drive where you’ll enjoy a continuous waterfront trail all the way around Chicago and ending just south of Loyola University.

The final three days also included quite a few bike/recreational trails, some of which were unpaved. I probably did approximately 20 miles on the Robert McClory Bike Path – most of which is crushed limestone. Although it may not be quite as fast as a paved trail, the limestone trail is surprisingly smooth and certainly more stress-free than being on the road.  The trail then becomes paved and continues in Wisconsin as the Kenosha County Bike Trail.

After cycling on the Milwaukee waterfront, another paved trail, the Ozaukee Interurban Trail, continues on and ends at Oostburg.  Back on the road, many of which having a dedicated bike lane, I continue on to Sheboygan and finish the final day with 26 miles to Manitowoc where I catch the 2PM departure on the SS Badger and arrive back in Ludington.