Author Topic: Advice for a short wisconsin/michigan bike tour  (Read 1074 times)

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Offline xenomera

Advice for a short wisconsin/michigan bike tour
« on: March 31, 2014, 04:37:42 pm »
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. We're giving ourselves 2 weeks.

So, we're thinking of starting in Milwaukee and going north by something like the following:
1) Start in Milwaukee.
2) Ride north by some route to Door county. We don't know whether staying close to the lake is best, or going inland a bit.
3) Ride back to Manitowoc and then take the ferry to Ludington MI.
4) Ride by some route south to Muskegon. 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?

Offline Kazzy

Re: Advice for a short wisconsin/michigan bike tour
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2014, 12:51:49 pm »
Your route seems great! I lead a bicycle tour every summer around Lake Michigan and can say first hand that staying next to the lake is an awesome experience.

Where in Milwaukee do you plan on beginning?
Door County is a beautiful place. If you like ice cream, make sure you stop at Wilson's in Ephraim.
Instead of riding back down to Manitowoc, I would suggest taking a ferry charted by Shoreline Charters across to Fayette, MI. The Upper Peninsula is a fantastic place for peaceful riding, one of my favorite places. If this isn't feasible, then the Ludington ferry would be your best option.

As for routes, going north from Milwaukee you should take Lakeshore Drive to Lakeshore Road. They offer pretty great views of the lake with a pretty light amount of traffic.

The Wisconsin Bike Fed also offers tons of resources and suggestions, so make sure to check them out!


Offline xenomera

Re: Advice for a short wisconsin/michigan bike tour
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2014, 08:00:29 pm »
Your route seems great! I lead a bicycle tour every summer around Lake Michigan and can say first hand that staying next to the lake is an awesome experience.

Where in Milwaukee do you plan on beginning?
Door County is a beautiful place. If you like ice cream, make sure you stop at Wilson's in Ephraim.
Instead of riding back down to Manitowoc, I would suggest taking a ferry charted by Shoreline Charters across to Fayette, MI. The Upper Peninsula is a fantastic place for peaceful riding, one of my favorite places. If this isn't feasible, then the Ludington ferry would be your best option.

As for routes, going north from Milwaukee you should take Lakeshore Drive to Lakeshore Road. They offer pretty great views of the lake with a pretty light amount of traffic.

The Wisconsin Bike Fed also offers tons of resources and suggestions, so make sure to check them out!

Thanks, Kazzy. I'm not sure where in Milwaukee we are leaving from, as my cousin is moving out and hasn't yet gotten his new pad, so we'll figure it out when the time comes close. I looked at Shoreline Charters, but they don't seem to do regular routes to Michigan, as far as I could tell. Were you able to take one?

Any particularly nice camping spots in Door county we should look for? Or nice B&B type places?

Offline Kazzy

Re: Advice for a short wisconsin/michigan bike tour
« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2014, 10:54:14 am »
I believe shoreline lets you take a private charter across, but you have to contact them. Otherwise there's the Island Clipper out of Gill's Rock that goes quite often.

Peninsula State Park is where I've camped in the past, and quite honestly don't remember it too well. However if I recall correctly, there are no shortages of B&B's up there. A simple google search should illuminate the good ones!

Offline madsen89

Re: Advice for a short wisconsin/michigan bike tour
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2014, 09:33:47 am »
I just finished a tour of southern Wisconsin last week. Some pointers/suggestions that I have:
- Milwaukee has lots of bike lanes, trails, etc. so getting around and through won't be a problem. I recommend riding along the shoreline if you get a chance.
- While using roads close to the lake are a great option, there is also a trail network that takes you from Milwaukee all the way to Sheboygan. The Interurban Trail is the primary one which runs the entire length of Ozaukee County.
- The ride from Sheboygan to Manitowoc is quite peaceful and Manitowoc/Two Rivers has a very nice trail along the water.
- After that you don't have a lot of options if you want to stay as far east as possible. Hwy 42 is about it. It's a busy road, though not as busy as others in the area, but it's quite workable.
- Once you get to Door County you have lots and lots of options. It is a major tourist destination for Chicago and almost all of the services will be along the water. (That doesn't mean that you ever far from any since the peninsula is not that wide.) Note that Labor Day weekend will probably be very crowded (with correspondingly heavy traffic) throughout the peninsula since it is the last holiday weekend of the season.
- There are plenty of B&B type places along with small motels. However, keep in mind that the later end of your time frame is encroaching on the "color season" and many places are probably already booked for that time. That said, you will have much better chances of finding a place mid-week. As far as camping goes, there are two main state parks on the peninsula: Peninsula and Potawatomi. There are a few private campgrounds but I'm not sure where they are. I would double-check, but I believe Wisconsin has a "guaranteed accommodation" policy for people arriving by bike/foot/canoe.
- For things to do, the Door County Bakery outside Sister Bay is worthy of a side trip. Some of the wineries in the area have free tastings. You can take a ferry from Gills Rock to Washington Island for a nice day-trip. I really enjoy pedaling around Peninsula State Park. It is Wisconsin's premier park. You might be there during apple season so you'll have no problem finding apple treats along with lots of cherry treats. (Door County is known for its cherries.) The entire summer had a very late start, so it's hard to judge when crops will be harvested. The list goes on and on...
- You really can't go much further north and keep your trip at 500 miles and experience Michigan. You'd need to take a ferry across somewhere.

I don't know much about Michigan other than it also being a great place to tour.

Hope this helps.