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Best time for visiting/biking Michigan's LP/UP?

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Best time for visiting/biking Michigan's LP/UP?

Old 09-19-18, 04:44 AM
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Best time for visiting/biking Michigan's LP/UP?

Next year my wife and I are thinking about a driving vacation (with bikes) to the Michigan LP/UP. She recently retired from teaching, so we are no longer limited to vacations in June/July/August.

What time of year do Michigan cyclists think is the best time to visit and bike?

Living in the Washington DC area, when asked this question my answer is April or October - beat the heat and cold, usually the least rainy months around here.

Thanks, John P.
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Old 09-20-18, 05:54 AM
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I live in he U.P. , and personally I find that August and September are two of my favorite months to be outside. Most of the mosquitoes and flies are gone, and the weather is often still warm enough to be pleasant.

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Old 09-20-18, 06:18 AM
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Thanks - I learned the hard way about insect avoidance biking and hiking on Cape Cod! Good tip.
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Old 09-20-18, 02:21 PM
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September.

Warm days, cool nights, black flies are gone, as are the tourists. September has some beautiful days. I love Michigan biking in the fall (well, I bike all 4 seasons, but fall is the best).
August is nice too as there tends to be few big weather changes (although anything is possible) and less wind/rain. Spring is too hit/miss with the winds and wet weather (i.e. anything before July).

If you don't mind cold weather cycling, the fall colors can be nice (October). Gets pretty cool/damp by that time of year, but cool can be nice for biking if your not the fair weather type).

January can be nice too, but that is a fat bike thing (personally I would rather be on skis).
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Old 09-24-18, 03:55 PM
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My exwifes parents have a place in Door County and we used to like going up there shortly after Labor Day. We didn't bicycle there, but the weather was still nice, it cooled off at night and the crowds were a lot thinner than during the summer. Most of the stores/shops were still open too, and they were glad to see company that wasn't the mob scenes of the summer.
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Old 09-25-18, 09:14 AM
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Right NOW, and through the next six or so weeks. Temps are moderate/cool, fall colors beginning above M-46 in the next few days.. Latter half of the month down here.

Little drippy for the next few days, latter half of next week should be very, very pleasant weather.
Planning to do a little riding north of Grand Rapids next weekend day wife and I are off together.

UP should be a little further progressed color wise, even more so toward the west end, Ontonagon, Copper Harbor areas..

Tons of trails around.. KRVT and Kal-Haven offer a 100 mile round trip, from east of Kalamazoo to South Haven
White Pine Trail starts on the north end of Grand Rapids, ends just south of Cadillac..
There's an east-west trail (can't remember the name off the top of my head) that runs Lake Michigan to Lake Huron..

Last 15 years or so, there has been an explosion of rails-to-trails routes, MDOT has done a passable job of shared roads in high tourist areas (Petoskey/Harbor Springs, Traverse City, Mackinaw City) and Mackinac Island is famously horse, bike and foot traffic ONLY, with ferries running year-round.

Let us know when you're coming!

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Old 09-26-18, 04:23 AM
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Best time for visiting/biking Michigan's LP/UP?
Originally Posted by jpescatore View Post
Next year my wife and I are thinking about a driving vacation (with bikes) to the Michigan LP/UP. She recently retired from teaching, so we are no longer limited to vacations in June/July/August.

What time of year do Michigan cyclists think is the best time to visit and bike?

Living in the Washington DC area
Originally Posted by JLDickmon View Post
Right NOW, and through the next six or so weeks. Temps are moderate/cool, fall colors beginning above M-46 in the next few days.. Latter half of the month down here...
Nice catalog of rides, @JLDickmon. I previously posted a generic description of Michigan cycle touring:
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
…FWIW, after decades I still have fond memories of my earliest cycle touring in my home state of Michigan. Tourism is, I believe Michigan’s second largest industry, and it’s largely a rural / forested state with a lengthy shoreline, an extensive road system, and numerous towns and facilities, including campgrounds, spaced at convenient cycling distances.

IMO, an excellent, though perhaps mundane getaway. Just sayin’…FWIW (even as a cross-country cyclist. A lot of my early touring was in the Metro Detroit / Ann Arbor area, still rural enough, on summer weekends (back in the 1970's).
To the OP, perhaps you are a “city-slicker” like myself, and enjoy urban cycling, and big-city amenities after a day’s cycling. So FYA, besides the UP and LP, Michigan has a informal third sector, namely Southeastern Michigan, i.e Metro Detroit, to include Ann Arbor and environs to the West, and maybe Port Huron to the North, Monroe to the South, and Ontario Canada to the North and East.

Just this past week I stayed in the picturesque Oakland County suburb of Rochester Hills with an extensive system of Bike trails.
In January of this year was an extensive thread on the Great Lakes Regional Discussion Forum, “Riding through Detroit,” about cycling in the City Proper. For example, this list:
Originally Posted by oddjob2 View Post
I have lived in southeastern Michigan since 1982, 30 years in Ann Arbor, and 5 in Grosse Pointe. I have been sailing with Bayview Yacht Club, at the foot of Conner, since 1987.

Never did I think I would ride a bike or have any interest in downtown Detroit until about 2011. Now I ride through Jefferson Chalmers to Bayview without a thought.

Since living in GP, I have Slow Rolled, visited Belle Isle, River Walk, Comerica Park on opening day, Mexican Town, Midtown, Indian Village, Corktown, Eastern Market, and New Center, via bike.

During daylight hours, I would say there are NO concerns of riding west to east between Mexican Town all the way to Grosse Pointe. I would avoid being on the road before 9:00 am or 4:00-5:30 pm to avoid commuters.

There are a lot of cool Airbnb places to stay... and a meandering ride through the Grosse Pointes…
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
I have had seemingly similar living / cycling experiences. For a few years I lived in the Cass Corridor, and cycled down around there. I used to consider the Grosse Pointes as a public cycling park. We go visit Michigan about twice a year, and I bring my bike
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Old 09-27-18, 09:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
Best time for visiting/biking Michigan's LP/UP?Nice catalog of rides, @JLDickmon. I previously posted a generic description of Michigan cycle touring: To the OP, perhaps you are a “city-slicker” like myself, and enjoy urban cycling, and big-city amenities after a day’s cycling. So FYA, besides the UP and LP, Michigan has a informal third sector, namely Southeastern Michigan, i.e Metro Detroit, to include Ann Arbor and environs to the West, and maybe Port Huron to the North, Monroe to the South, and Ontario Canada to the North and East.

Just this past week I stayed in the picturesque Oakland County suburb of Rochester Hills with an extensive system of Bike trails.
In January of this year was an extensive thread on the Great Lakes Regional Discussion Forum, “Riding through Detroit,” about cycling in the City Proper. For example, this list:
I did a Google search yesterday and I think it's time to compile a collection of links to Michigan bike trails and share roads..
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Old 09-27-18, 09:45 AM
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Originally Posted by JLDickmon View Post
I did a Google search yesterday and I think it's time to compile a collection of links to Michigan bike trails and share roads..
MMBA maintains a list of mountain-bike trail systems: https://www.mmba.org/trails/
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Old 09-27-18, 08:36 PM
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Just got back this afternoon from a week visiting Grand Rapids and Leelanau Peninsula, aka Michigan's wine country. Outstanding weather and sunshine. Fall color will begin in a few days. Beautiful to ride the TART rail trails and the M22 route around Leelanau Peninsula. If you need airbnb recommendations, pm me.

https://traversetrails.org/trails/
https://mynorth.com/2010/04/biking-t...to-charlevoix/

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Old 09-27-18, 09:23 PM
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I rode Minneapolis to Saginaw via the UP in 1975. One week, starting early October, maybe 10/3. Beautiful weather all the way across Wisconsin on Rt 8 and along the southern shore of the UP. Cloudy and rain the final day down to Saginaw.

Most of Wisconsin the weather was perfect riding. I recall riding the UP.looking at beach like Cape Cod to my right, the colors of Vermont to my left (and bright sunshine). Only weather related wake-up call: the first might. I had a new,minimalist sleeping bag and not much of a tent. Slept in pines. A cold night. Woke up to no sign of frost and thought "Oh ****, this could be bad!. Went to make morning tea. WB was frozen. "Oh yeah! I'm in pines so I see no frost! Wore everything I brought the next night and was fine from then on.

Ben
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Old 09-28-18, 05:02 AM
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Originally Posted by JonathanGennick View Post
MMBA maintains a list of mountain-bike trail systems: https://www.mmba.org/trails/
there's the MMBA list,
the M-DOT list
the Dept Natl Resources list
the Rails-To-Trails Conservancy list
the Dept of Commerce list
heck.. you need a list of the lists!
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Old 09-28-18, 06:17 AM
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Originally Posted by jpescatore View Post
Next year my wife and I are thinking about a driving vacation (with bikes) to the Michigan LP/UP. She recently retired from teaching, so we are no longer limited to vacations in June/July/August.

What time of year do Michigan cyclists think is the best time to visit and bike ?
Originally Posted by JonathanGennick View Post
I live in he U.P. , and personally I find that August and September are two of my favorite months to be outside...
Originally Posted by chas58 View Post
September.

Warm days, cool nights, black flies are gone, as are the tourists. September has some beautiful days. I love Michigan biking in the fall (well, I bike all 4 seasons, but fall is the best)...
Originally Posted by JLDickmon View Post
Right NOW, and through the next six or so weeks. Temps are moderate/cool, fall colors beginning above M-46 in the next few days..
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
So FYA, besides the UP and LP, Michigan has a informal third sector, namely Southeastern Michigan, i.e Metro Detroit…
Originally Posted by oddjob2 View Post
Just got back this afternoon from a week visiting Grand Rapids and Leelanau Peninsula, aka Michigan's wine country.

Outstanding weather and sunshine. Fall color will begin in a few days.
A note to the OP, @jpescatore :
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
BTW, over the years I [and a few to many other subscribers] have responded to several of these threads with open-ended requests for travel destinations.

One thing they have in common is that the OP never informs us of the final destination, much less how was the trip, even when requested to do so.

Last edited by Jim from Boston; 09-28-18 at 06:36 AM. Reason: added additional quotes
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Old 09-28-18, 07:10 AM
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I think I'm the OP, so:
  1. Based on the very helpful inputs here, we are going to plan for mid to late September, maybe early October. There are a lot of group rides in this area I like to do in September, first week of October may win out because of that.
  2. I like country road riding, but my wife doesn't do as much cycling as I do so when we do this kind of thing I tend to emphasize rail trails as part of the mix - and usually I get to through in a few solo rides.
  3. We are planning a bike-intensive but not all biking vacation.
  4. Based on Oddjob2 comment, that Leelanau Penninsula/Charlevoix area looks like right up our alley.
  5. Then maybe from there up to the UP for non cycling bit.
  6. When we nail it down, will definitely post here, I usually post journals on CycleBlaze.
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Old 09-28-18, 07:42 AM
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We rode around during Grand Rapids Art Prize.


Rode distance equal to my age, 62km, via the TART rail trail. Below photos are Cathead Bay near Northport, not from a bike ride, but from a friend's Lake Michigan home.

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Old 09-28-18, 07:01 PM
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There is a really nice trail between Charlevoix and Petoskey. My wife and I rode it last year. We ride mostly trails and that one is probably our favorite so far. But, we’ve not ridden a high percentage of the Michigan trails. The trail follows Lake Michigan much of the time and is beautiful. Worth the ride, if it fits your schedule.
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Old 09-29-18, 01:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
A note to the OP, @jpescatore :
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
BTW, over the years I have responded to several of these threads with open-ended requests for travel destinations. One thing they have in common is that the OP never informs us of the final destination, much less how was the trip, even when requested to do so.
Originally Posted by jpescatore View Post
I think I'm the OP, so:…

When we nail it down, will definitely post here, I usually post journals on CycleBlaze.
Thanks for the reply. Whenever I add my suggestions to requests for a cycling venue, I tweak the OP with my post above, as an observation. Yours was the first reply, though in the future tense.

Best wishes for your trip.
Originally Posted by jpescatore View Post
...Living in the Washington DC area, when asked this question my answer is April or October - beat the heat and cold, usually the least rainy months around here.
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
To the OP, perhaps you are a “city-slicker” like myself, and enjoy urban cycling, and big-city amenities after a day’s cycling [or business meeting]...
BTW I attended a meeting at the National Harbor last year in October and had a nice ride in Alexandria, VA. Next week I might be in Baltimore, again for a meeting, but likely will bring a bike. I have done some previous urban cycling there too.
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Old 09-29-18, 07:47 AM
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My wife and I just returned from two weeks in the western U.P. We have gone there every year for the past 15+ years. We NEVER went in June, black flies!!
Over the years we've progressively moved our vacation there later in the year. We think the best time is mid-September through mid-October. Love the colors and beginning in early October, light, overnight snow is not out of the question. Trails are being developed but I ridden the roads around Bergland and Lake Gogebic for those 15 years or so. Of note to tourers there are only two main, east-west roads on the U.P., M-28 and US-2. Both have wide shoulders but you may have share them with tandem log hauling trucks.
Side note, September 6 is considered a holiday in the U.P. 9/6, or 906 is the area code for the entire Upper Peninsula.
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Old 10-21-18, 06:48 PM
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I bet it would be fantastic to be up there now, if it wasnt too cold to ride, just for the colors alone
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Old 10-29-18, 04:19 AM
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Draft plan for 2019 visit to LP/UP

Thanks to everyone for the suggestions, here's the draft plan for our trip next year, probably about the 3rd week in September:

Day 1 - Drive from Baltimore MD to Columbus OH, stay with friends.
Day 2 - Drive from CMH to Glen Arbor area
Day 3 - Biking Leelanau area - Leelanau Trail
Day 4 - Biking Leelanau area, Sleeping Bear Heritage trail area, maybe drive/ferry to Mackinac that day
Day 5 - Mackinac Island Day with bikes.
Day 6 - Ferry/drive to UP, do something somewhere UP
Day 7 - Long Drive home or Drive 1/2 way back, stay somewhere. Could do some GAP cycling if want to extend near PGH.
Day 8 - Remaining drive day

From the suggestions, we zeroed in on the Leelanau peninsula for the biking days. Mackinan Island is on my wife's bucket list. The short amount of time in the UP will probably be a hiking or rent a kayak day.

Any critiques or suggestions appreciated.
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Old 10-29-18, 06:47 AM
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Originally Posted by jpescatore View Post
Day 4 - Biking Leelanau area, Sleeping Bear Heritage trail area, maybe drive/ferry to Mackinac that day
Day 5 - Mackinac Island Day with bikes.
Day 6 - Ferry/drive to UP, do something somewhere UP
There's a long trail that ends in Mackinac City at a parking lot near Mackinac Crossings:

North Central State Trail - Gaylord to Mackinaw City

The trail follows M-23 for a while going south, so any hotel along 23 is likely to be just across the highway. I was passing through Mackinac earlier thus summer, stopped for lunch, and snuck in a 30-minute ride on the trail just because it was so convenient and I happened to have the bike along. The trail takes you right past Mill Creek Discovery Park, so you can combine a visit to a rebuilt, historic sawmill with a short bike ride.

I'm honestly not sure what to suggest on the UP side as far as bikes go. Are you spending the entire day? Visiting the Sault Locks would be in range. I'm not offhand aware of any bike trails in the Eastern UP.
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Old 10-29-18, 07:16 PM
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Originally Posted by jpescatore View Post
Thanks to everyone for the suggestions, here's the draft plan for our trip next year, probably about the 3rd week in September:

Day 1 - Drive from Baltimore MD to Columbus OH, stay with friends.
Day 2 - Drive from CMH to Glen Arbor area
Day 3 - Biking Leelanau area - Leelanau Trail
Day 4 - Biking Leelanau area, Sleeping Bear Heritage trail area, maybe drive/ferry to Mackinac that day
Day 5 - Mackinac Island Day with bikes.
Day 6 - Ferry/drive to UP, do something somewhere UP
Day 7 - Long Drive home or Drive 1/2 way back, stay somewhere. Could do some GAP cycling if want to extend near PGH.
Day 8 - Remaining drive day

From the suggestions, we zeroed in on the Leelanau peninsula for the biking days. Mackinan Island is on my wife's bucket list. The short amount of time in the UP will probably be a hiking or rent a kayak day.

Any critiques or suggestions appreciated.
The bike ride around Mackinac Island is a pretty easy eight miles or so. Some trails cross over mid-island for some climbing. During the summer, the ride can be crowded with both inexperienced and rude riders. Should be much better for you given the time of year you plan going there.
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Old 10-30-18, 04:20 AM
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Thanks for all the comments - the UP time will probably be hiking first, then biking as time allows, as the bikes we are bringing will be road bikes.

My wife started calling around to make reservations in the various cities - amazing how booked up things are already for 11 months away!
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Old 10-30-18, 05:44 AM
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Originally Posted by jpescatore View Post
My wife started calling around to make reservations in the various cities - amazing how booked up things are already for 11 months away!
Tourism traffic has ramped up considerably these past few years. Might be from the Pure Michigan advertising campaign.
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Old 12-10-18, 10:44 PM
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Wow, I am very impressed with these cars, so nice, the design is very nice.
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