Sights and Recreation
About 50 miles of trails crisscross Grand Island, mostly old roadbeds. If you’re just visiting for a day, a mountain bike is the only way you’ll have time to see the entire island: It’s about a 23-mile trip around the perimeter. In fact, it’s probably one of the best mountain bike routes in the U.P. for the nontechnical rider, with wide grassy paths cutting through hardwood forests, passing under towering pines, shinnying up against Lake Superior shorelines, and rewarding you with grand views of wilderness bays and the distant Pictured Rocks.
Both hikers and bikers can reach Murray Bay, about two miles from the ferry dock at the southern end of the island. Murray Bay has a nice day-use area and sand beach nestled in a grove of pines. There are also two campsites here, but the location near the ferry dock means you’ll have less privacy than elsewhere on the island.
Don’t miss the nearby historic cemetery, where you can pick up a little history and examine the gravestones of various shipwreck victims and the island’s first white settlers. Grand Island had long been a summering ground for the Ojibwa when Abraham Williams arrived in the 1840s to establish a trading post. He raised a family and died on the island in 1873 at the rather amazing age of 81. Today, only the descendants of Williams and their spouses can be buried here.
North of Murray Bay, the island sprouts a tombolo off its southeastern corner known as “the thumb.” This landmass wraps north and forms Trout Bay, a lovely spot ringed with honey-hued beaches and sandstone cliffs. Watch for the low profile of loons bobbing in calm waters. Trout Bay is home to the island’s four other developed campsites, and you could camp a long time before finding another site this pretty.
by Laura Martone from Moon Michigan, 3rd Edition, © Avalon Travel