Baraga County is home to many natural, historical, and cultural attractions, but until recently many have remained some of the best-kept secrets known only to locals. This past June, however, these hidden treasures became more accessible to all when bicycle and motorcycle riders met at the L’Anse waterfront for the first ride on The Lake & Country Tour route. This 52-mile scenic route allows riders to experience and explore many of the County’s unique attractions, including eight miles of pristine Lake Superior shoreline just a few feet from the shoulder of the route. The route also passes by the Ojibwa ceremonial grounds at Pequaming, rolls through the more than 100-year-old Finnish settlement of Aura, goes past the road leading to Mt. Arvon—Michigan’s highest natural point—and winds by three sets of waterfalls. In total, 18 natural and historical destinations can be found along the tour’s route. According to Linnea Prost, a local resident and avid cycling enthusiast, “I really enjoy it. The sections along the lake are especially beautiful scenery.”
The trail is the result of a collective group effort of a handful of local citizens, representatives from the Baraga County Chamber of Commerce (BCCC), Road Commission, Baraga County Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Village of L’Anse, who first gathered two years ago to articulate a vision and come up with a plan. The group referenced a 2011 State of Michigan study, which indicated that a cycling, hiking and camping visitor spends twice as much as an average visitor. This economic component was a large part of the impetus for the group to create the route and vie for these potential visitor dollars. The grassroots group quickly raised $9,000 from local township and village governments, which they used to create and install 44 road signs along the tour’s route and two billboards on U.S. 41 designed to help cause drivers to leave the highway and detour into L’Anse to explore this new trail. According to BCCC President, Debbie Stouffer, “This project’s success is attributable solely to the collaborative efforts of local citizens holding a passion for making Baraga County a better place to live.”
An example of this is certainly set by 79-yearold local resident and cycling enthusiast James ‘Soup Bone’ Johnson who every Sunday hosts a group cycling event known as ‘Cycling with Soup.’ Once a group member reaches the 1000-mile mark, ‘Soup Bone’ presents them with a t-shirt to commemorate the occasion.
Visitors planning on traveling this scenic trail are encouraged to pick up a brochure at the Baraga County Convention and Visitors Bureau located at 755 E. Broad Street, L’Anse, or from the weatherproof box located on a large wooden trail sign at L’Anse Waterfront Park. For more information on the Lake & Country Tour contact the Visitors Bureau at 906-524-7444.