THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW
LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY
– EASY –
- Hours: Always Open
- Access: By Ferry
- Automobiles: Not Allowed
- Pets: Allowed
- Island Loop: 8 Miles
- Total Trails: 70+ Miles
- Lodging: Available
- Starbucks: Available
THINGS YOU MIGHT NEED
- Trail Map
- Bike (BYO or Rental Available)
- Athletic/Cycling Shoes
- Athletic/Cycling Clothing
- Bike Helmet
- Jacket (See Below)
ABOUT THE AREA
Mackinac Island is an island located in Lake Huron just off the coast of Michigan. It is located between Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas, in what is referred to as the Straights of Mackinac. The British established Fort Mackinac during the American Revolutionary War, and there were two battles located on the island during the War of 1812.
Since then, Mackinac Island has become a tourist destination and summer colony. The core development is around Main Street and the harbor, and nearly 80% of the island is part of Mackinac Island State Park. Popular activities on the island include hiking, biking, fishing, shopping, kayaking, carriage rides, and eating fudge.
ACCESSING THE ISLAND
Mackinac Island is only accessible by water or by air. The ferry ride across the Straights of Mackinac is the cheapest and most accessible method of travel. There are two ferry lines that provide access to the island, and both depart from Mackinaw City to the south side and St. Ignace to the north. They both charged $24 round trip per adult with a charge of $11 per bike, and the trip lasts around 15 minutes each way. The real difference between the two is that Star Lines has free overnight parking. We chose Star Lines, and we departed from Mackinaw City which takes you under the Mackinac Bridge. Be prepared for a windy ride, and don’t forget to wipe your seat during mayfly season.
ARRIVING AT MACKINAC ISLAND STATE HARBOR
Once your ferry docks on Mackinac Island, you will find yourself right in the middle of bustling Main Street. This is the main business district on the island and you will find everything you need to make the most out of your trip to the island, including restaurants, storefronts, lodging, bike rental, and tourist information.
MACKINAC’S HISTORIC PAST
If you choose to explore the more populated portions of the island, you will find numerous historic structures featuring many different styles of architecture. Above the downtown area you will see Fort Mackinac which was originally founded in 1780. For additional fee, you can take a tour of this historic structure. There is also a walking architectural tour which guides you around the island’s structures, including a Native American style chapel, the Colonial Revival Grand Hotel, and many Victorian mansions.
EXPLORING THE ISLAND
Mackinac Island is a destination with something for everyone, and within a few minutes walk in any direction you can escape the hustle and bustle of Main Street.
In either direction Main Street turns into State Highway 185, which is the only state highway in the nation where motor vehicles are banned. The entire loop around the island is just above the shoreline, and flat for nearly the entire 8 miles. If you choose to take the entire loop, you will be treated to beautiful beach views of Lake Huron.
MILES OF LAKE HURON VIEWS
The center of the island is around 150 feet higher then the coast line. Should you choose to venture inland to Fort Mackinac, Mackinac Island State Park, or any of the other inland areas of the island, you should expect a climb, with the easiest we found being up Cadotte Avenue. This climb will take you past the Little Stone Church, the Grand Hotel, and then through the working residences of the island. Most of the island is part of Mackinac Island State Park. Traveling along the 70+ miles of trails you will find Fort Mackinac, Fort Holmes, Arch Rock, Sugar Loaf, and several caves to explore.
ONE OF A KIND DINING
Once your hunger sets in from exploring the island all day, picnics on the beach are an excellent choice if you came prepared. Another great option is stopping in at one of the many eateries on Main Street. Here you will find one of the few Starbucks with hitching posts out front, as well as traditional american eats, pizza, BBQ, and even sushi. We had a late lunch at Millie’s on Main, and had some of the best burgers we have had in a while.
Many choose to spend the night on the island, and an abundance of lodging options are available for your stay. There is the four star Grand Hotel, traditional hotels, several condo complexes, and the most unique option of a Victorian Mansion Bed and Breakfast.
DEPARTING THE ISLAND
When you are ready do depart the island, you will venture back to Main Street. This is your last chance to pick up souvenirs and fudge for you ride back to shore, and be sure to board your ferry at the same dock in which you arrived. The trip back to shore takes around 15 minutes, and be sure to take in the beautiful views of the lighthouses as you leave the island.