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Flatlanders, Yoopers, Motorcycles, and Michigan's "U.P."

Day Three

It was Sunday morning and we decided to get an early start.

We headed south on US-41, passing again through Baraga and L'Anse and had an uneventful and cool ride through a lot of forested wilderness to Ishpeming and then into Marquette.

Home of Northern Michigan University, I was surprised at how big a city Marquette is. Sprawled out along the shoreline of Lake Superior, it seemed to stretch on for a good long way with all of the modern amenities you would need. There was even a Harley dealership.

Here we were faced with a decision. What was the best way to cross the balance of the Upper Peninsula? We chose M-28.

M-28 was as straight as an arrow for 40 miles as we headed east. Near Newberry, and the Tahquamenon Falls area, we spotted a gas station and restaurant complex and since I was leading, I led us in. We went right for the Sunday buffet at the Country Kitchen and had a decent meal while reminiscing about a family trip to the area probably 25 years ago. I surprised dad with how much I could remember, including the first time I heard my mother swear.

We rode out on M-28, soon found M-123, and headed south towards I-75 and St. Ignace.

St Ignace is a town which in my opinion always plays second fiddle to Mackinaw City across the straights. I'm sure that there is plenty to do there, but we were undecided at that point as to how much more riding we would do for the day. Since it was only 3:30, the decision was made to cross the bridge, find a room in Mackinac and see what we felt like doing then.

We crossed the mighty Mackinaw Bridge last year on our trip around the state and it's a pretty big deal to us Michiganders. We're proud of the "Big Mac," one of the longest suspension bridges in the world. Last time it was a challenge, as we were forced to ride on the mile or so of grated roadway in the center two lanes. This time we could ride on the paved outer lane, but we had to deal with an extremely strong cross wind. We were prepared for it and it wasn't too unnerving and none of us got blown off into the drink several hundred feet below, I'd call it a successful crossing.

We found a motel, got some dinner, and then (what else?) we enjoyed the best pool and hot tub of the trip.

We decided that although most of the roads we had traversed that day were not as challenging or exciting as we had experienced on the previous day, the trip was about riding and enjoying riding for what it is. And that we did.

Today was all about getting home. Dad had to be back in town in time for a 3:00 meeting. Being roughly 3 hours from home, that gave us plenty of time, even with a couple of stops.

We took US-31 south to Petoskey and then set out following US-131. South of Boyne Falls, sight of the famous ski area. The temperature was taking its sweet time in climbing as we passed through the familiar little towns of Alba, Mancelona and Kalkaska. I take this route by car with my family several times a year and there is a big gas station near the town of South Boardman that is a natural stopping point. We stood around and tried to warm up with a cup of coffee before continuing on home via the freeway.

As I pulled into my driveway - I was certainly glad to be home, but I was also thrilled to have had the experience of this trip. Ever since I started riding I had dreamed of going to the U.P. We will definitely be back to the UP again in the future, maybe many times, looking for more roads and just enjoying the ride.


candy_r3dd says:

Wow, went to Mackinaw and didn't ride the tunnel of trees????
Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 11:18 AM

gunnymills says:

Next time you go to the UP make sure you take the road from newberry to paradise and Taquuamenom falls,then head to Christmas and Grand Marais. beautiful
Tue Jun 7, 2011 at 6:35 PM

GwNorm says:

I have done the circle superior trip also really a great ride, an excellent contrast in riding from the U.P. to the North Shore of Superior. 9 days from Toronto return. Would recommend this ride to anyone. Watch out for the Deer on the roads in the U.P. place is crawling with them. Gladly other drivers are aware of the hazard they pose to bikers and will give you fair warnings with their headlamps.

Spent a few hours in Mackinaw was nice to be able to leave our jackets and lids on the bikes on main street. I give the "Yoopers" two thumbs up.
Wed Feb 10, 2010 at 3:49 PM

jjwitkins says:

Thank you for the article. My father and I have done Lake Superior a couple times, so I have done the UP also. I can't believe you skipped Gay Michigan, You had your chance for the Gay Bar t-shirt. Gross bar, but a huge location for riders. It is a beautiful area. I am not sure if you have had a chance yet, but i would suggest doing the Lake Superior Circle the Lake tour. Great riding.
Tue Jan 6, 2009 at 6:17 PM

deanodemons says:

Hello. Just finished reading your article, brought back memories of my trip that I made with my brother and sister last summer. We made a lot of the same ride although we rode in from Iron River. Agree with you about Brockway Pass. Nice views though. Also stayed at the Super8 in Iron Mt. and ate at the same restaurant. I thought the trip was pretty good, app. 1000 miles for us. Miss out on the pastrys though. Thanks for bring back some good memories. P.S. We are from Wisconsin.
Thu Dec 25, 2008 at 11:30 AM

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