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  1. #1
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    Advice for a short wisconsin/michigan bike tour

    My wife and I are thinking about a 400 mile or so self supported bike tour in late August/early September. We're from California, but for some reason I got a bee in my bonnet to tour a bit in the upper midwest, and this area looks appealing to me because it's near water, and there can be boat trips involved! We'll be both camping and staying in motels. We're in our 60s, so we don't move very fast either (30-50 miles/day). We're giving ourselves 2 weeks so we can enjoy the route and take time to hang out here and there.

    So, we're thinking of starting in Milwaukee and going north by something like the following:
    1) Start in Milwaukee (we have family there, so it's a good start/end spot for us).
    2) Ride north by some route to Door county. We don't know whether staying close to Lake Michigan is best to get up to Door, or whether going inland to Lake Winnebago is better.
    3) Ride back to Manitowoc and then take the ferry to Ludington MI.
    4) Ride by some route south to Muskegon MI. Again, should we stay nearer the lake or go inland?
    5) Ferry back to Milwaukee.

    So, for you Wisconsin and Michigan road riders out there, what do you think? Any particular routes we should take to make this as enjoyable as possible? Any specific places we should not miss?

  2. #2
    Senior Member BR46's Avatar
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    Hi
    I would take the Ozaukee Interurban trail from Milwaukee to Oostburg. From Sheboygan take county road LS along the lake front to Manitowoc.
    Just north of Oostburg theres camping at Kohler-Andrae State Park or 2 mi. west of the park is a hotel. There all so Blue Harbor in Sheboygan.
    Ozaukee County, Wisconsin - Interurban Trail - Past News!
    Kohler-Andrae State Park - Wisconsin DNR
    Sheboygan WI Hotels -- Sleep Inn And Suites Pet-friendly Hotel Near Lake Michigan
    Sheboygan Hotels | Blue Harbor Resort & Spa | Wisconsin

    If you have questions of things to do along the lake front send me a pm.

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    I'm in Michigan and have been to Dore county. Seems two weeks isn't a lot of time-losing a day each way on the ferry. Dore county alone from Milwaukee may offer enough. But if you do come to Michigan I'd think about somehow coming across on the the ferry to Ludington and heading north. It doesn't get any prettier than that little part of Michigan sticking out starting at Frankfort, up thru Empire, Glen Arbor, Northport, back down thru Suttons Bay and into Traverse City. Also, especially if you go south check out the map from Michigan Trails and Greenways-show the system of rail trails in Michigan. Lastly I'd come after Labor Day-schools start that week and the last week of August all the campgrounds and hotels are pretty crowded.

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    That Michigan route might be an interesting alternative. Are there enough hotels/campgrounds/groceries/restaurants in that section of Michigan to make it relatively easy to do a bike tour?

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    Have you looked at this?:

    North Lakes | Adventure Cycling Route Network | Adventure Cycling Association

    Their Lake Erie Connector might also be of interest.
    "I've wanted you to succeed, but watching you find excuse after excuse after excuse and then laugh it off as the loveable, quirky, chubby guy is getting old."--Ill.Clyde

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
    Have you looked at this?:

    North Lakes | Adventure Cycling Route Network | Adventure Cycling Association

    Their Lake Erie Connector might also be of interest.
    I have used their maps a number of times before, and they are very useful. Thanks for reminding me that they have a route around this portion of the country. I just now ordered the Michigan map in case I take the northwest Michigan option suggested above. Have you taken this route?

  7. #7
    Senior Member MRT2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BR46 View Post
    Hi
    I would take the Ozaukee Interurban trail from Milwaukee to Oostburg. From Sheboygan take county road LS along the lake front to Manitowoc.
    Just north of Oostburg theres camping at Kohler-Andrae State Park or 2 mi. west of the park is a hotel. There all so Blue Harbor in Sheboygan.
    Ozaukee County, Wisconsin - Interurban Trail - Past News!
    Kohler-Andrae State Park - Wisconsin DNR
    Sheboygan WI Hotels -- Sleep Inn And Suites Pet-friendly Hotel Near Lake Michigan
    Sheboygan Hotels | Blue Harbor Resort & Spa | Wisconsin

    If you have questions of things to do along the lake front send me a pm.
    Last couple of years, I rode the inter urban all the time, but it doesn't go all the way to Milwaukee. You could take the Oak Leaf Trail north through Brown Deer Park, where you can pick up the interurban. Or you can stick closer to the lakeshore via lake drive all the way into Port Washington, then head north out of Port Washington on the Interurban Trail

    The only caveat is, if you go the Oak Leaf Trail route out of Milwaukee, the area around Estabrook Park into Brown Deer Park is in a poor state of disrepair. I rode that section just once and swore I wouldn't do it again and instead chose either to ride east along Lake Drive or ride north through River Hills, then taking Range Line Road north through Brown Deer into Mequon, then either picking up the Interurban a mile or so West on Mequon Road, or navigate a residential neighborhood between Mequon Road and Highland Road (the route is circuitous, but safe residential, and you will get through if you head north on Oriole Lane from Mequon Road), heading east on Highland Road across the overpass and turning left on N. Lakeshore Drive by Concordia University. Then following the Lake all the way into Port Washington.

    Here is a website that explains it. I rode these routes extensively last year as far north as Belgium. It was pretty much my regular route. Just a few climbs, none especially long or steep.

    Bike Milwaukee to Door County
    Last edited by MRT2; 04-02-14 at 10:47 AM.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by xenomera View Post
    Have you taken this route?

    No. I did the entire Northern Tier many years ago. Our only experience with WI was one day near Osceola. I have also done a portion of the Trans Am, a portion of the Great Parks North and the entirety of the Great Parks South. Heading to Missoula in June for another ride around SW MT.
    "I've wanted you to succeed, but watching you find excuse after excuse after excuse and then laugh it off as the loveable, quirky, chubby guy is getting old."--Ill.Clyde

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pete712 View Post
    I'm in Michigan and have been to Dore county. Seems two weeks isn't a lot of time-losing a day each way on the ferry. Dore county alone from Milwaukee may offer enough. But if you do come to Michigan I'd think about somehow coming across on the the ferry to Ludington and heading north. It doesn't get any prettier than that little part of Michigan sticking out starting at Frankfort, up thru Empire, Glen Arbor, Northport, back down thru Suttons Bay and into Traverse City. Also, especially if you go south check out the map from Michigan Trails and Greenways-show the system of rail trails in Michigan. Lastly I'd come after Labor Day-schools start that week and the last week of August all the campgrounds and hotels are pretty crowded.
    I'm more and more tempted by this Michigan route. Apparently, there is a Michigander bike route this year through those areas, and although I won't be there at that time of year, I can get the maps for the route.

    So, since you've done both, given a choice for someone from out of the area, would you do a tour up to Dore county or spend time in the northwest part of lower Michigan?

  10. #10
    Senior Member no motor?'s Avatar
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    I've rode both sides of Lake Michigan on a motorcycle, and spent most of the time in Door County at my ex-wifes parent's cabin. Personally, I think the roads on the Michigan side of Lake Michigan are prettier and should be more "tourist friendly". But you've got 2 good choices, why limit yourself to one?

  11. #11
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    Hey,

    I’ve done some research on trips similar to those you’re considering. My sons and I are trying to piece together a trip for this summer. Our trip would be shorter than those you’re considering. We only have a week (not two). That means we’ll cover around 250 miles (not 400). Like you we max out at about 50 miles per day. Also, like you, we camp and will stay in a hotel when we have to. Here are the basics on two itineraries:

    Milwaukee to Door County
    Day 1: Milwaukee to Kohler Andrae State Park 50 miles
    Day 2: Kohler Andrae to Point Beach State Forest 50 miles
    Day 3: Point Beach to Cedar Valley Campground (private) 35 miles
    Day 4: Cedar Valley to Potawatomi State Park 41 miles
    Day 5: Potawotomi to Penninsula State Park 41 miles
    Day 6: Penninsula to Newport State Park 35 miles

    With this trip, you’re camping in five of Wisconsin’s best state parks and forests.

    Milwaukee to Michigan Ferries Loop
    Day 1: Milwaukee to Kohler Andrae State Park 50 miles
    Day 2: Kohler Andrae to Ferry in Manitowac 36 miles
    Ferry departs 2:00 PM. Arrives Ludington 7:00 PM.
    6.5 miles to Ludington Beach State Park, MI
    Day 3: Ludington Beach to Leverentz State Forest Camp. 48 miles
    Day 4: Leverentz to Mecosta Pines Camp. (private) 47 miles
    Day 5: Mecosta Pines to Comfort Suites, Grand Rapids 35 miles
    Day 6: Comfort Suites to Muskegon Ferry 46 miles
    Ferry departs 4:45 PM. Arrives Milwaukee 6:15 PM.

    You should know we use trails at every opportunity. When we’re not on trails, we’re on lighty used backroads. Taking more direct routes can shorten many of the days’ mileages. We like the safety and tranquility of the trails.

    Of course there are plenty of hotels and B n’ Bs along the way.

  12. #12
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    The first "Over the Top" tour is this June. They take the ferry from Luddington, MI and ride north (over the top) around lake Michigan. West Michigan Trails Annual Event There's camping/hotel availability at each of their stops. I'm sure you could use the same pass-through towns for your self-supported tour. Enjoy! It's a beautiful time of year to cycle in Michigan.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by CampDaley View Post

    Milwaukee to Michigan Ferries Loop
    Day 1: Milwaukee to Kohler Andrae State Park 50 miles
    Day 2: Kohler Andrae to Ferry in Manitowac 36 miles
    Ferry departs 2:00 PM. Arrives Ludington 7:00 PM.
    6.5 miles to Ludington Beach State Park, MI
    Day 3: Ludington Beach to Leverentz State Forest Camp. 48 miles
    Day 4: Leverentz to Mecosta Pines Camp. (private) 47 miles
    Day 5: Mecosta Pines to Comfort Suites, Grand Rapids 35 miles
    Day 6: Comfort Suites to Muskegon Ferry 46 miles
    Ferry departs 4:45 PM. Arrives Milwaukee 6:15 PM.

    You should know we use trails at every opportunity. When we’re not on trails, we’re on lighty used backroads. Taking more direct routes can shorten many of the days’ mileages. We like the safety and tranquility of the trails.

    Of course there are plenty of hotels and B n’ Bs along the way.
    This looks like a fantastic trip, one I wouldn't mind doing! I have been begging the wife to take the ferry across the lake, she balks at the price. I just think it would be fun!
    "It doesn't get easier, you just go faster."

  14. #14
    Senior Member BR46's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CampDaley View Post

    Milwaukee to Michigan Ferries Loop
    Day 1: Milwaukee to Kohler Andrae State Park 50 miles
    Day 2: Kohler Andrae to Ferry in Manitowac 36 miles
    Ferry departs 2:00 PM. Arrives Ludington 7:00 PM.
    6.5 miles to Ludington Beach State Park, MI
    Day 3: Ludington Beach to Leverentz State Forest Camp. 48 miles
    Day 4: Leverentz to Mecosta Pines Camp. (private) 47 miles
    Day 5: Mecosta Pines to Comfort Suites, Grand Rapids 35 miles
    Day 6: Comfort Suites to Muskegon Ferry 46 miles
    Ferry departs 4:45 PM. Arrives Milwaukee 6:15 PM.

    My wife and I are planning on doing a trip like this some time this summer.
    Last summer we took the Lake Express ferry to Muskegon with no plans and we manage to put on 130 miles in three days.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by LansingWes View Post
    The first "Over the Top" tour is this June. They take the ferry from Luddington, MI and ride north (over the top) around lake Michigan. West Michigan Trails Annual Event There's camping/hotel availability at each of their stops. I'm sure you could use the same pass-through towns for your self-supported tour. Enjoy! It's a beautiful time of year to cycle in Michigan.
    I'll be there. It's a bit pricier than I'm used to but I've never taken either ferry or pedaled around the lake. The west side of lower Michigan is indeed very scenic. I've done the League of Michigan Bicyclists' Shoreline West tour three times. It never disappoints. And the second half of Over-the-Top is basically the same route.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by LansingWes View Post
    The first "Over the Top" tour is this June. They take the ferry from Luddington, MI and ride north (over the top) around lake Michigan. West Michigan Trails Annual Event There's camping/hotel availability at each of their stops. I'm sure you could use the same pass-through towns for your self-supported tour. Enjoy! It's a beautiful time of year to cycle in Michigan.
    Thanks for the link. Looks great.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by MRT2 View Post

    The only caveat is, if you go the Oak Leaf Trail route out of Milwaukee, the area around Estabrook Park into Brown Deer Park is in a poor state of disrepair. I rode that section just once and swore I wouldn't do it again and instead chose either to ride east along Lake Drive or ride north through River Hills, then taking Range Line Road north through Brown Deer into Mequon, then either picking up the Interurban a mile or so West on Mequon Road, or navigate a residential neighborhood between Mequon Road and Highland Road (the route is circuitous, but safe residential, and you will get through if you head north on Oriole Lane from Mequon Road), heading east on Highland Road across the overpass and turning left on N. Lakeshore Drive by Concordia University. Then following the Lake all the way into Port Washington.
    Bike Milwaukee to Door County
    The Oak Leaf has a new off road extension that stays off road and connects to the Interurban. It can be picked up on Mill Rd at Sidney Pl just west of Kletsch Park.
    Phases 1,2,&3 are complete.
    http://theactivepursuit.com/county-s...ern-expansion/
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  18. #18
    Senior Member Ridefreemc's Avatar
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    Been through that whole area on a motorcycle so not much help (as the distances are way different), but the trip across the lake to Manitowoc was great! I have also ridden the Michigander when it went from Cadillac to Mackinaw. That was an awesome ride and great camping, but some of that would not be usable by you as they made special arrangements with Schools etc. However, the towns we went to were perfect. You may want to check to see where they have gone from year to year to get ideas.
    On the move!
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    I know this is farther West than you are looking at, but the bluffs of Southwest WI are breathtaking and you can ride 101 miles on trails alone on the 400 trail. Sparta, WI is the bicycle capital of America, and the tunnels on the Elroy Sparta Trail are amazing. One is 3/4 mile of total darkness! And it happens to be the first of the Rails to Trails.

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