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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hey all. Our group is getting pretty serious about doing a multi day trip on the sleds this winter, in the UP.
Thinking to base out of Munising/Wetmore, but I'm thinking Christmas might be better as it gives us a little advantage on day 1 since we will be heading west. Our goal is to ultimately make it to the Keweenaw to check it out. This is our first time backpacking.

We will be doing this during the week for less traffic.

Any feedback appreciated!

All mileage estimates via VVMapping and BaseCamp.

Day 1 - Christmas -> Houghton via north route along water and up to Big Bay, lunch at Big Bay, then continue north west towards Baraga, then south and west and finally up to Houghton. This appears to be 250 miles. I'm wondering if this is a little aggressive. I know the trails get pretty tight/twisty between Marquette and Big Bay. Not sure what it is like west of Big Bay, looks twisty on the maps. Another option could be stay in Baraga for the night, that's about 180ish miles.

Day 2 - This would be the day we ride the Keweenaw and make our way up to Copper Harbor and such. Check out some of the sights to see. If we depart from Houghton, we would return to Houghton the same day. Looks like you can put on 100-200 miles just riding around north of Houghton. Plus time for sight seeing.
If we departed from Baraga, I was thinking we could still ride the Keweenaw, and then stay in Houghton overnight. This would make the day a little longer though. I think it's about 80 miles from Baraga to Houghton.

Day 3 - Make a return to Christmas. Would take trail 8 back in essentially. Might consider riding along the way east of Marquette but I think it would be fun to run south out of Marquette into Little Lake and then east back into Christmas. That's a pretty easy trail and you can haul the mail. Houghton to Christmas using this route is over 200 miles but I feel it would be a pretty easy 200 miles.

Question: anyone go from Houghton to Lake of Clouds and back?

Question 2: I should have asked this earlier! Any food stop recommendations? Specifically in Houghton, tip of Keweenaw area, Baraga, and Ontonagon area-ish.
 

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We did a trip like this last year but closer to 150 miles per day. Temps were brutally cold and it made it really difficult, no way we could have done more especially with a large group that we ride with. Just something to think about. If it was 0 degree or above it would have been fantastic, -25 before windchill, not so much lol
 

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Overall I think it sounds like a solid plan, but all depends on how quickly your group rides. Day 1 will be a longer day, due to the tight twisty trails between Marquette and Big Bay, as you mentioned. This continues as you go west out of Big Bay, but the trail opens up a bit as you get closer to Baraga. I would go to Houghton on day 1 though, because you won't be left with as much time to explore the Keweenaw if you start in Baraga on day 2. No issues with day 3 from Houghton to Marquette, as that route has lots of straightaways.
 

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We did this from Newberry to Marquette, Marquette to Copper Harbor and Reverse. The wind coming off Superior hit us hard and sucked the first day riding, huge snow drifts. I would pencil in as much time to ride around Keweenaw as possible, Its awesome. Looks do able but if you can get a 4th day in i would suggest cutting down the miles for everyone, you can always make the days longer while in route if you choose 4 days. Also recommend staying in copper harbor for the night, its very cool.
 

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It’s all doable as others have said. I wouldn’t wait for the weekend though to do it. Traffic will ruin the trip for you especially the Keweenaw and Munising area. That was probably supposed to be top secret info, but whatever. Not saying you won’t see traffic during the week, just not as bad.


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Backpack trips are fun. That said, holiday weekend is always a **** show and the trails are packed. Could probably make better time getting around throughout the week and snow is always hit or miss that early. I avoid Christmas/New Years weekend like the plague lol. Otherwise, sounds awesome!
 

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That would be a great route. If you can stay another night, you could take more time to explore. Calumet is another good option to stay a night.

Houghton to Lake of the Clouds and back in 1 day is doable. Or, how about.. Houghton--> LOTC -> Baraga?
 

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Hey all. Our group is getting pretty serious about doing a multi day trip on the sleds this winter, in the UP.
Thinking to base out of Munising/Wetmore, but I'm thinking Christmas might be better as it gives us a little advantage on day 1 since we will be heading west. Our goal is to ultimately make it to the Keweenaw to check it out. This is our first time backpacking.

We will be doing this during the week for less traffic.

Any feedback appreciated!

All mileage estimates via VVMapping and BaseCamp.

Day 1 - Christmas -> Houghton via north route along water and up to Big Bay, lunch at Big Bay, then continue north west towards Baraga, then south and west and finally up to Houghton. This appears to be 250 miles. I'm wondering if this is a little aggressive. I know the trails get pretty tight/twisty between Marquette and Big Bay. Not sure what it is like west of Big Bay, looks twisty on the maps. Another option could be stay in Baraga for the night, that's about 180ish miles.

Day 2 - This would be the day we ride the Keweenaw and make our way up to Copper Harbor and such. Check out some of the sights to see. If we depart from Houghton, we would return to Houghton the same day. Looks like you can put on 100-200 miles just riding around north of Houghton. Plus time for sight seeing.
If we departed from Baraga, I was thinking we could still ride the Keweenaw, and then stay in Houghton overnight. This would make the day a little longer though. I think it's about 80 miles from Baraga to Houghton.

Day 3 - Make a return to Christmas. Would take trail 8 back in essentially. Might consider riding along the way east of Marquette but I think it would be fun to run south out of Marquette into Little Lake and then east back into Christmas. That's a pretty easy trail and you can haul the mail. Houghton to Christmas using this route is over 200 miles but I feel it would be a pretty easy 200 miles.

Question: anyone go from Houghton to Lake of Clouds and back?
 

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We have been doing a backpack trip from Strongs over to the Keweenaw for damn near 20 years. Usually 4 day trip about 1200-1400 miles pending routes (250 miles is a short day). but few things we have learnt over the years

1. have a driver on stand-by for sled/person recovery

2. Go during the week

3. We usually leave on Superbowl Sunday and around that week is Houghton ice fest, have had issues finding a room around that area. Went week before last two years and no issues getting rooms.

4 Don't make room reservations. Break-downs/crashes/trail closures/weather etc can stop you from making the destination.

5. If riding a 2-stroke carry your own oil it will be the biggest expense on the trail.

6. Pack your cloths in a vacuum seal bag makes for a lot more room.
 

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My only concern would be snow in and around baraga can get slim. Keep an eye on conditions. Twin lakes is also a nice area tos ray south of houghton and would take about 15 miles off the first day end of ride.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks everyone for the feedback so far! Sounds like we're not too crazy haha!

That would be a great route. If you can stay another night, you could take more time to explore. Calumet is another good option to stay a night.

Houghton to Lake of the Clouds and back in 1 day is doable. Or, how about.. Houghton--> LOTC -> Baraga?
That's a great idea to return to Baraga rather than Houghton. I hadn't really thought that far, I just knew I want to see LOTC lol. That makes the trip back to "base" on the last day like 80 miles shorter, a welcome relief I'm sure by then lol.


We have been doing a backpack trip from Strongs over to the Keweenaw for damn near 20 years. Usually 4 day trip about 1200-1400 miles pending routes (250 miles is a short day). but few things we have learnt over the years

1. have a driver on stand-by for sled/person recovery

2. Go during the week

3. We usually leave on Superbowl Sunday and around that week is Houghton ice fest, have had issues finding a room around that area. Went week before last two years and no issues getting rooms.

4 Don't make room reservations. Break-downs/crashes/trail closures/weather etc can stop you from making the destination.

5. If riding a 2-stroke carry your own oil it will be the biggest expense on the trail.

6. Pack your cloths in a vacuum seal bag makes for a lot more room.
Great tips - thank you. I still feel a little uneasy about not getting reservations ahead of time, but totally understand the point you make. So for the past 20 years, you've generally gotten a room the day of ? Do you call ahead at all as the day progresses?
 

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Thanks everyone for the feedback so far! Sounds like we're not too crazy haha!



That's a great idea to return to Baraga rather than Houghton. I hadn't really thought that far, I just knew I want to see LOTC lol. That makes the trip back to "base" on the last day like 80 miles shorter, a welcome relief I'm sure by then lol.




Great tips - thank you. I still feel a little uneasy about not getting reservations ahead of time, but totally understand the point you make. So for the past 20 years, you've generally gotten a room the day of ? Do you call ahead at all as the day progresses?
We always have gotten rooms the day of and try to get them before dark. The only time we get a room early in the day is at Houghton or Calumet just because we have to pass the hotel to ride up in the ear and come back down.

The towns we stay in are Big Bay or Iron MT (Iron MT pending snow conditions), Silver City, Houghton or Calumet, Christmas. We havent had any issues yet getting rooms in these town the day of, few close calls around Houghton during the Ice Fest like a previously mentioned.

We made reservations before and had troubles and actually got charged due to late cancellation so we just rolll with the flow.
 

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We have done many of these trips over the years. We have started in Newberry, Paradise or St. Ignace. We always make our room reservations in advance. The one year we tried to wing it, we ended up on cots in a conference room for the night. We have never had a chase vehicle, but it could have helped a few times. We have had 3 breakdowns over the years. We were able to find someone to tow the broken sled back to home base, but it was not cheap. Generally $1.00 per mile. We used to carry oil, but it is heavy and if not packed properly they can break open and create a mess. It's a little more expensive to buy on the trail, but it beats having your next day's clothes oil soaked. We pack our clothes in zip lock bags and then in sea bags to keep things dry. Other places to stay in Keweenaw are Parkview Lodge in Toivola or Konteka in White Pine. You can make nice day loops from either place. Even south to LOTC and Gogebic.
 

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I cross the UP once sometimes twice a season. Newberry to lake gogebic or thereabouts. Never do I make motel reservations. Got burned once a couple years ago. Dog sled race weekend. Could not find a thing. Also something going on in the western up. I rode from Newberry to lake gogebic. No rooms to be found anywhere! Looped back and got to munising before I found that a motel I had stayed at a couple weeks earlier had a rec room building that was open. I slept on the couch. Almost slept in a snow bank for the first time. 420 mi day. My best day for miles ever. Did I learn a lesson, nope. But I do look at what's going on up there before I try one of those trips.
 

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Every saddlebag trip I have done, I have made reservations ahead of time. For peace of mind if nothing else. Love the hills around Michigamme and Nestorian. Rocky but scenic. I have friends who have ridden from St. Ignace to Houghton in one day. Too far for me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
We have done many of these trips over the years. We have started in Newberry, Paradise or St. Ignace. We always make our room reservations in advance. The one year we tried to wing it, we ended up on cots in a conference room for the night. We have never had a chase vehicle, but it could have helped a few times. We have had 3 breakdowns over the years. We were able to find someone to tow the broken sled back to home base, but it was not cheap. Generally $1.00 per mile. We used to carry oil, but it is heavy and if not packed properly they can break open and create a mess. It's a little more expensive to buy on the trail, but it beats having your next day's clothes oil soaked. We pack our clothes in zip lock bags and then in sea bags to keep things dry. Other places to stay in Keweenaw are Parkview Lodge in Toivola or Konteka in White Pine. You can make nice day loops from either place. Even south to LOTC and Gogebic.
That's exactly what I'm afraid of haha.
I cross the UP once sometimes twice a season. Newberry to lake gogebic or thereabouts. Never do I make motel reservations. Got burned once a couple years ago. Dog sled race weekend. Could not find a thing. Also something going on in the western up. I rode from Newberry to lake gogebic. No rooms to be found anywhere! Looped back and got to munising before I found that a motel I had stayed at a couple weeks earlier had a rec room building that was open. I slept on the couch. Almost slept in a snow bank for the first time. 420 mi day. My best day for miles ever. Did I learn a lesson, nope. But I do look at what's going on up there before I try one of those trips.
That sounds absolutely terrible lol. Seems like a rare occurrence but man I would not want to be in that situation!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Every saddlebag trip I have done, I have made reservations ahead of time. For peace of mind if nothing else. Love the hills around Michigamme and Nestorian. Rocky but scenic. I have friends who have ridden from St. Ignace to Houghton in one day. Too far for me.
I'm with ya on that one!! Wow that has got to be 300+ mile day. No thank you! We're looking forward to seeing the more western side of UP. Typically only go as far as Marquette, basing out of Munising.
 

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You will have to be sure and ride south out of Houghton and go across the old RR bridges. I believe it’s the Bill Nichols trail. Great ride.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
You will have to be sure and ride south out of Houghton and go across the old RR bridges. I believe it’s the Bill Nichols trail. Great ride.
This appears to be trail 3. Isn't that basically the only way in and out of the Keweenaw right now? This would be the route we are taking so we'll cross over it for sure!
 
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