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  • Writer's picturecindybabington

Three Great Lakes in One Great Trip

Mary Oliver's "Instructions for Living a Life:

  • Pay attention

  • Be astonished

  • Tell about it"

We spent nearly a month exploring Wisconsin and Michigan along the shores of Lakes Michigan, Superior and Huron. The scenery and the biking were both spectacular. We were a little early for the best leaf peeping, but caught the very beginning of color at the end of our time on the road.

Cliffside is a county campground and it was pretty great. The sites were large and shaded. We were in Site #2. I love unfussy campgrounds. You pay in advance for the site you want and when you arrive you go right to your site. There's a number to call if you have a problem.

The campground was not crowded when were there, but it was mid-week and after Labor Day. I imagine weekends in the fall are busier. There is a short walk to the cliff which presents a magnificent view of Lake Michigan. The campground is located between Racine and Milwaukee and convenient to many bike trails, restaurants, breweries, and grocery stores.

Glacial Drumlin Trail - aka Route of the Badger

The Glacial Drummin Trail runs 52 miles between Waukesha and Cottage Grove Wisconsin. Most of the trail is gravel, but about 13 miles on the east end of the trail is paved. We started our 38 mile roundtrip ride at Sunset Park in Waukesha and headed west. The first 11 miles was paved, the rest of the ride was on crushed gravel and packed dirt. It was very easy to ride on with our gravel bikes. We rode through several small towns with many restaurants and coffee shops. There is a nice bike shop in Dousman called The Bicycle Doctor where we bought a Wisconsin DNR trail pass and a jacket for Pat. Despite the cloudy weather, we had a wonderful ride!

Oak Leaf Trail

This is a lovely paved trail traversing through woods with regular views of Lake Michigan and the Milwaukee skyline. We started our ride in Grant Park and rode about 20 miles roundtrip. The trail apparently meanders in and around Milwaukee for 125 miles on city streets and parkways. The section we rode was very scenic.

This campground was okay. Our site wasn't huge, but we didn't have campers on either side of us until the end of the week. The campground itself is fairly large and the sites are shaded.

They advertised WIFI on their website but they don't have it or at least it wasn't accessible from the campsites.

The campground is about one mile north of Egg Harbor - convenient to most everything Door County has to offer.

Door County Century Ride

We found out a few months before we were headed out on the road that there was a century ride in Door County the day after we were scheduled to arrive. We had never biked 100 miles in one day but we thought we would give it a try. It was so fun! They day started out cloudy and it began to rain about 10 miles into the ride so we had a moment of indecision as to whether we should complete the whole 100 or turn back on one of the shorter routes. We decided to stick it out. The weather never got nice, but it did quit raining and it was a huge bonus that it wasn't in the least bit windy. There were six rest stops - all with food and drink. We stopped at every single one. Our actual riding time was 7 hours but it took us 8 1/2 hours to complete with rests. I'm ready for the next one!

Washington Island

Washington Island is off the tip of Door County and is accessible by ferry. The Island is bike friendly and we toured the Island on our bikes traveling about 19 miles. The roads were in good shape and there was very little traffic. We rode to Schoolhouse Beach, one of five beaches in the world with perfectly smooth stones. Beautiful! We had lunch at the Jackson Harbor Soup Cafe. Very popular place - the line was through the restaurant and out the back door. However it was definitely worth the wait. Food was fantastic especially the soup. I had potato and Pat had beer cheese. We also toured the maritime museum and the Trinity Lutheran Stavkirke. Do not skip a trip to Washington Island if you are visiting Door County.

Biking on Door County Peninsula

We rode our bikes at Peninsula State Park where there was a dedicated bike trail and also very accessible roads on which to ride. It was a little bit hilly, but so scenic!

We also rode about 39 miles on the road one day. We had a really nice ride and there was very little traffic. My guess is that on a weekend or earlier in the summer traffic could be an issue, but when we were there the roads were not busy at all. Lastly we took a ride on the Ahnapee Trail from Sturgeon Bay to Algoma. It was an okay trail, not particularly scenic except for a short section that ran alongside the river. We rode 34 miles roundtrip.

Worth a Visit in Door County

Cave County Park - Very nice park. One of the trails ran along Lake Michigan down to a beach.

Door County Brewery - the brewery is located in Bailey's Harbor and had good beer and good sandwiches. Very cool little place.

Peninsula State Park - not only a great place to ride bikes, but also to hike. The Eagle Trail starts at the Eagle Tower which has amazing views of Lake Michigan.

Wild Tomato - Excellent pizza and salad.

We stayed here before and liked it so much we decided to return! The campground is very well managed and the staff are very friendly. There is a great old logging road to run on across the street from the campground and the bike trails are nearby.

The campground itself is right in the middle of some very good mountain biking. There is music Thursdays through Sundays at their pizza/bar area. It is a lovely campground and the full hook-ups are a definite bonus.

Biking in Marquette - Iron Ore Heritage Trail

The biking in Marquette is excellent. The Iron Ore Heritage Trail runs along the lake shore from Presque Isle Park and also goes west towards Ispheming. We rode about 15 miles along the lake shore before the trail turned to sand. Excellent ride! We also rode on the Trail from Marquette to past Ispheming. They have upgraded and lengthened the trail since the last time we were here. We were able to ride about 34 miles roundtrip. Beautiful scenery, beautiful day.

Other Things to Do in Marquette

Sugar Loaf Mountain hiking - The first night we were in the campground we went to listen to music at the campground bar and met a local couple who regularly comes to the campground to listen to the music. They told us to visit Sugar Loaf Mountain and take a hike to the top for the views. I'm so glad we took their advice. Really nice hike and the views were spectacular.

Black Rocks Brewery - We missed this brewery on our first visit to Marquette, but made up for it by visiting on two different days! The beer was good and they regularly have food trucks in their parking lot. The second night we were there they had entertainment. The singer was excellent and we met quite a few people - all lovely.

Steinhaus Restaurant - wonderful German food. They don't have a ton of options but the sauerbrauten and jagerschnitzel were both excellent!

Paradise Point Campground, DeTour Village, MI

Paradise Point is a really nice campground right on the shores of the St. Mary's River. The sites were spacious and all had lake views. The campground has a dock, swimming area, swings, chairs and all sites are full hook-ups. We had fun watching the ships navigate the channel and seeing the sun set from our campsite.

Things to do in and near Paradise Point Campground

Taquemenon Falls State Park - The park wasn't super close to our campground, but well worth the visit. The Upper Falls are one of the largest waterfalls in the United States east of the Mississippi River - nearly 200 feet across and 50 feet high. The nickname for the falls is "Root Beer Falls" because of the brown, rusty coloring and white foam. The color comes from the cedar and hemlock swamps upriver. There is a wonderful hiking trail that goes from the Lower Falls to the Upper Falls. The trail was 5 miles one way. We took the possible the shuttle back down to the Lower Falls parking lot.

Big D's Diner - Located in Pickford. We had breakfast her on our way to the state park. Really great food!

Bush Bay Hiking Trail, (aka Narnia Trail) - The trail is at the tip of Lake Huron and goes along the lake shore. Round trip is about 4-miles. It is nicknamed the Narnia Trail because of the moss covered boulders and trees that are prevalent in the forest section of the trail.

The best thing about this campground is its location! It is near all of the many wonders of the Leelanau Peninsula. The full hook-up sites are spacious and very nicely maintained. There isn't any shade to speak of, but it wasn't hot when we were visiting. There is no WIFI and the AT&T cell signal was pretty poor, but the location was great and the campground itself was very peaceful.

Bike Trails

The Leelanau Peninsula is home to two of my favorite bike trails. The Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation (TART) trail runs from Sutton's Bay to Traverse City (about 30 miles roundtrip) and the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail which goes from an access parking lot at South Bohemian Road on Lake Michigan to Empire (about 45 miles roundtrip).

The TART trail passes through farmland, orchards, residential areas, and woods. The scenery is ever changing and lovely. Be sure to stop at Hop Lot in Sutton's Bay for some post-biking fuel. Great beer and food!

The Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail is so scenic, winding through forests, small towns, and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park. Be aware that there are some sections where you are riding on county roads or on roads in the national park and there are some pretty big hills on the route. The highlight of the trail is the Dune Climb, rising 260 feet high and providing an amazing view of Glen Lake below.



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