Five Helpful Tips for a Late Season Ride on the Upper Peninsula Adventure Trail

Today, guest blogger and off-road vehicle enthusiast Bryan Much shares his top tips for enjoying a late season motorcycle or ORV ride along the Upper Peninsula Adventure Trail. 

Photo courtesy of Bryan Much

Photo courtesy of Bryan Much

Winter may be somewhere up ahead, but there is still time to get in that last great motorcycle ride of the season.  Late fall riding allows us to be comfortable in our riding gear without the sweat, bugs, and discomfort of hot summer days.

As autumn colors fade and leaves begin to fall, the fields and forests offer another aspect of their beauty for us to appreciate.  We soon are able to enjoy the now unrestricted views that penetrate the forests. Features hidden in summer and early fall are now there for us to discover and enjoy. What better time than now to take that stroll to a hidden waterfall or a scenic overlook?

Wander off the Beaten Path
One of the best ways to enjoy scenery unique to late autumn, and to discover some of the remarkable history of the Upper Peninsula, is to tour the forests and towns by dual sport or adventure motorcycle.  Many know that road riding is great for traditional bikes, but riding dirt and gravel paths through the backcountry provides an experience not available to many.

Upper Peninsula Adventure Trail

Upper Peninsula Adventure Trail

The Upper Peninsula Adventure Trail (UPAT) is a GPS guided 1,250 mile loop of the UP.  The path is principally off-pavement often following twisty and rolling paths through the forest.  Points of interest that detail the location of historic and scenic places that are not to be missed are included in the GPS file.

Take Your Time
It takes 5-6 days to navigate the entire loop, but riders have the option of riding either the east or west loop over a long weekend. I’ve enjoyed some stimulating wildlife encounters including a wolf that lingered long enough for me to take a few photos.  I’ve also encountered bears, moose, and a variety of other wildlife along the way.

Photo courtesy of Bryan Much

Photo courtesy of Bryan Much

A Little Research Goes a Long Way
Points of interest on the trail offer riders the opportunity to explore the fascinating maritime, mining, and logging history of the UP.  A little advance reading provides a rich background that makes in-person visits to these sites a fascinating experience.

It’s Nearly Impossible to ‘Pick a Favorite’
I tried to sort out a few locations on this ride that I might consider favorites.  In the end, I had to admit that nearly every section had some element that propelled it to near the top of the list.  The technical riding, the scenery, the wildlife, the history, and so much more.  Touring the mining towns and camping at the very tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula certainly is near the top.  But so are the long rides through uninterrupted forest and visits to the now small towns that were once major logging and fishing centers.

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Photo courtesy of Bryan Much

Customize Your Route
Some people might be wondering if this ride is within the capabilities of their motorcycle or their skills as a rider.  To help people explore the route and answer these questions as they plan a trip of their own, I’ve prepared a “ride report” that gives detailed information and photographs. View the report here or download the GPS file.

For those that don’t ride, but enjoy overland travel, there is a version of the path tailored specifically for standard four-wheel drive vehicles.

So what are you waiting for?  Get started on that late season motorcycle adventure.  See you in the UP!

Where is your favorite place in Michigan for a motorcycle or ORV tour

Bryan Much retired from the military after having advanced from Private to Colonel. He now spends much of his time advocating for off-highway motorcyclists and exploring and recording paths for them to ride and enjoy.  He serves on two councils relating to trails and is a member of many organizations related to this recreational interest.

From Our Fans: The Best of Fall in Pure Michigan

Fall in Michigan is short, but jam-packed with spectacular seasonal offerings! Earlier this month, we asked our fans to share their favorite fall foods, activities, and traditions.  We rounded up their responses to create an at-a-glance guide to experiencing fall in Pure Michigan. Take a look at some of the best of fall in the Mitten State according to our community. 

Michigan Apples

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Photo by Mary Van Arsdell

Dark chocolate covered caramel apple from Veni’s in Niles, MI. - Mary Van Arsdall

Koezes in Grand Rapids has locally grown apples hand dipped in house made caramel and rolled in cashew pieces. Only in October, delicious! - Joyce Winters

Michigan apples in an Apple Crisp recipe from Mackinac Island Dessert cookbook. Can’t get more Michigan than that! - Eric N Susan Murrell

Fall Flavors

Just had a Short’s Brewing Funkin Punkin keg for our wedding reception. Mmmmm good! Cheers to fall beers! - Adam Crall

Founders Harvest Ale. - Jan n’ Gary Dall

I made homemade apple fritters with Michigan maple syrup glaze! - Briana Herzog

Wasem Fruit Farm in Milan for great apples, maple glazed donuts & cider at a nice price.  - Jill S. 

Nothing is as fabulous as a cider mill donut, still hot enough for the outside to be almost crispy.  - Michele Cook Hayden

Love Blackstar Farms Late Harvest Riesling . It’s the best. can’t wait to visit.  - Sandy Westen

New Holland Brewing Icabod Pumpkin Ale.  - Kim Looman

Color Tours

Photo by Becky Pawloski Scholten

Photo by Becky Pawloski Scholten

Top of the lift ride at Boyne Mountain. Awesome views! - Lynn Jones

Went up to Leelanau, came back down M-37. Was very happy to have stopped at the scenic turnout/rest stop along the way. - Shelley Ferguson

Going to Oscoda. Taking the Fall Color Cruise on the AuSable. - Patrick Shaffer

My quick fall color tour is driving Edward Hines from Northville to Dearborn. - Lynn Plachetzki White

A fall drive to see the trees. When we lived in the Detroit area, we would take the drive through Hines Park. While living in the U.P., we always drove along Lake Superior, then to Tahquamenon Falls. - Joni Johnson

Cider Mills

Franklin Cider Mill! I’m not even a resident of Michigan and we make an annual trek to the “Cider Mecca!” - Karen Page

Opening Day at Dexter cider mill for fresh cider and warm donuts! Yum! - Angela Marshall ‏

Parmenters in Northville – THE BEST fresh cinnamon donuts!!! - Tracy Nafe

Uncle Johns, Spicers, Parshallville, Montrose Orchards…..love them all! - Nancy Miller

Pumpkin Patches

Cari Angell

Photo by Cari Angell

The charming Pumpkin Barn in Levering, MI.  - Cari Angell

Johnson’s Giant Pumpkin Farm in Saginaw, MI. They have a lot of activities for kids, a corn maze, crafts, food, pumpkin chucking with a trebuchet, animals to pet & feed. Always a great time for the family.  - Terri Garabelli

Vince and Joe’s Market on Garfield Rd. in Clinton and 25/Van Dyke Rd. in Shelby Twp. They have everything pumpkin for your Octoberfest.  - Vlasta Hallova Trulik

Andy T’s! See the monster weigh-off contenders and winners! - Andrew Eagle

Fall Festivals and Events

I love Fruit Ridge Hayrides! - Star Juarez

Applefest in Charlevoix! Love my Michigan! - Ruthann LaPorte Beyer

Farmer J’s world record corn mazes by Cabela’s in Dundee. – Jill S.

Art Prize is  awesome its a must see. - Shawn Sams

Joining in on the excitement of The Detroit Marathon is memorable for both participants and spectators.

Game Day Excitement

Photo by MMB Photography

Photo by MMB Photography

Eastern Market is always a stop for my daughter and I…what a great mix of the D at it’s best.  - Jules Ryan

Comerica Park – My favorite spot in all of the great state of Michigan!! - Lynn Friedenstab Becker

Ann Arbor and East Lansing are game day hot spots throughout the season!

Outdoor Exploration

Manitou Charter Fleet – With charter captain Bill Wright out of Leland. We learned many different ways to cook salmon! - Kevin Rogers

Hiking, biking, and off-roading on Michigan trails are a great way to experience fall colors.

Fall means the start of prime hunting season!

Halloween Fun

Spooky trails, Swartz Creek. - XTREMETALS

Halloween on Tillson Street – We’ll be going… It’s a Halloween must! And a sleepover for the grandchildren. - Donna Vehar

Junction Valley Railroad is entertaining enough for the whole family – and Handicap accessible! - Dan Miller

Family Traditions

Go horseback riding in the woods and listen to the sounds and look at the colors of autumn. - Brenda Shaw

Bon fires with good friends and some good wine! - Lynn Scraver

We take a trip to Mackinac Island and walk the trails. It is a quiet way to enjoy the beauty. - Cindy Howard Murphy

What’s on your “Best of Fall” list? 

Serene Walk-in Campgrounds in Pure Michigan

Jim DuFresne, author of more than 20 guidebooks and main contributor to www.MichiganTrailMaps.com is a go-to resource for all things hiking and trail-related in Michigan. Today, he fills us in on some of the incredible walk-in campsites around the state.

Sometimes it seems like you have to drive to the end of the road to escape the summer crowds and find a quiet place to camp.

And sometimes all you have to do is walk 100 feet.

When the National Park Service renovated its Platte River Campground in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in 1991 it installed electrical hook-ups in 96 of the 179 sites, a change in previous NPS policy of rustic-only campgrounds. But the designers also added 25 walk-in sites for tent campers where a short stroll leads to a quick escape from this otherwise popular and busy campground.

A couple of the walk-in sites are less than 30 yards from where you leave the car and but the majority are a longer walk through the low wooded dunes. Each is unique; site B-8 occupies the top of knoll, B-5 overlooks a pond filled with cattails and wild irises.

The Platte River sites can be reserved in advance through recreation.gov, but the beauty of walk-in sites is that they are often available the day you arrive.

Platte River Campground isn’t the only place offering sites to campers willing to walk. Here are some others:

Shelley Lake
This dispersed recreation area in the Huron-Manistee National Forests is north of White Cloud and has eight designated sites spread around the shoreline of this scenic, 15-acre lake of which seven are reached after a short walk of a 50 yards or less. Site Number 3 is located on a point in the southwest corner of the lake where you can pitch your tent with a 180-degree view of the water.           

Wakeley Lake
Wakeley Lake Foot Travel Area is east of Grayling in the Huron-Manistee National Forests and is best known for its catch-and-release fishery that produces six-pound bass and foot-long bluegills. But the 2,000-acre tract also has a walk-in campground and 30 miles of two-tracks that has become a playground for hikers and mountain bikers. The hike from M-72 to the campground is a third of a mile and the four sites are located in a stand of red pine on a low hill overlooking the lake. Two of them have picnic tables and fire rings.

Tubbs Lake Island
Located in Tubbs Lake State Forest Campground, this small island, created when Winchester Dam was built in the late 1950′s to create a waterfowl habitat, is a Mecosta County Park reached by driving across a narrow dike. The campground features 12 sites including two walk-in sites. These sites are located at the top of the island in a semi-open area that commands a great view of the surrounding lakes as well as your neighbors below.

Pete’s Lake
Located south of Munising in the Hiawatha National Forest, Pete’s Lake Recreation Area has 41 rustic sites, including two for walk-in campers. Site Number 7A is a 50-yard stroll from a trailhead at the east end of the campground and features a clear view of the lake. Less than a quarter mile further is Site Number 8A, another shoreline site with even a bit of sandy beach in front of it.   

Find more campsites around the state at michigan.org and let us know if you have a camping trip planned for this summer!

Jim DuFresne is the author of more than 20 guidebooks and the main contributor to www.MichiganTrailMaps.com, a resource web site for hikers, backpackers, cross-country skiers and other trail users. Among his titles are Michigan’s Best Campgrounds and Isle Royale National Park: Foot Trails & Water Routes.