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Michigander 25: Bikes, Brews & Beaches
Named one of the "Top 10 Multi-Day Rides in America" by Bicycling Magazine, The Michigander combines beautiful trails, Great Lakes beaches, lighthouses, rivers, virgin white pines, and a healthy serving of brewpubs for a perfect Pure Michigan route.
By: Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance
The 2-day Ride will be based in the Fruitport/Grand Haven area. North of Grand Haven, trails meander through forested parks and the towns of Fruitport, Ferrysburg, Spring Lake and North Muskegon to Lake Michigan.
There, tours aboard the WWII warship USS Silversides and the Prohibition era US Coast Guard Cutter McLane will be available and a memorable visit for all. South of Grand Haven, the Lakeshore Trail has been dubbed Ottawa County’s showpiece.This 20-mile paved bicycle path connects the communities in and around Grand Haven and offers beautiful vistas that open through the sand dunes to the shores of Lake Michigan. This is the perfect area for swimming, sunbathing, family pictures…or loads of selfies. The 2-Day Ride is perfect for all skill levels and suited to those that want a casual fun in the sun weekend of cycling blended with small towns and the great outdoors.
The 6-Day and 8-Day ride will take in spectacular views of winding rivers and rolling hills along the Fred Meijer Berry Junction Trail, all the way to the newly paved William Field Memorial Hart-Montague Trail. This 22-mile stretch is actually a linear state park and one of Michigan’s great rail-trails as it passes through rural and forested lands. At the end of the trail, cyclists will ride right into camp at John Gurney Park in the historic town of Hart. From Hart, the route switches from trails to back roads on the way to Newaygo, home to three unspoiled rivers, two immense dams, and lots of spring-fed lakes — spoiling riders with almost endless choices to paddle, boat, fish, sail, hike, shop, dine and sleep alongside the beauty of nature. Newaygo’s modern Ed Henning County Park gives cyclists campsites on the world class Muskegon River, noted for its excellent Salmon and Trout fishing. Because Newaygo is also home to the United States Canoe Association’
A blended day of back roads and trails will bring everyone from Newaygo to Comstock Park as cyclists wind and roll through the Manistee National Forest and farmlands on the way to the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail State Park. Known as the backbone to the state rail-trail system and Michigan’s second longest rail-trail, The White Pine Trail follows the old Grand Rapids and Indiana rail bed through forests and farmlands with vistas of the “Country Scenic” Rogue River and Rogue River Dam in Rockford along the way. Riders settle in at Comstock Park, and the festivities include the 25th Annual Michigander Ride Party where cyclists will experience America’s favorite pastime at the Fifth Third Ballpark — home to the Michigan Whitecaps Baseball Club — with an All- American rooftop dinner party/ball game soiree.
Next morning, it’s off for an urban trail ride through Grand Rapids’ Trail network on the way to Holland. A gem along this ride is Millennium Park, one of our nation’s largest urban parks, featuring the Fred Meijer Millennium Trail. Offering 18 miles of paved and crushed stone trails through 1500 gorgeous acres of rolling hills, wetlands and rich park amenities, it is an example of recreation planning at its finest.
The Holland area boasts one of the most extensive networks of paved trails in Michigan. In addition to the trail experience, there are multiple options for cyclists. Option one is a touristy day; spending the day at the beach or visiting the shops and attractions in Holland, Saugatuck, Douglas and Fennville. Option two highlights Holland’s leadership in the water trail movement with a pedal and paddle day. Option three will be a looping route down to South Haven along the Beeline Trail. Then, for the first time on the Michigander, we will offer a Century Ride for the most avid and ambitious touring cyclists.
Everyone will meet at our final overnight in Fennville, dubbed “One of the 20 Coolest Towns in the US” by the Matador Network. Fennville is known for its laid-back artsy vibe, fruit orchards, artisan cheeses, vineyards and farm to table fare. A celebratory event will take place at Fenn Valley Winery to close out the week. From Fennville, we make the journey back to where we started in the Grand Haven area where old — and new — friends will celebrate and say goodbye with a finish line party.
All of this and more is sure to mark the 25th Annual Michigander Bicycle Tour as the Pure Michigan Vacation of the summer. Registration opens in January from: www.michigander.bike.
Mary McGuire Slevin