Motorcyclists head north for beautiful views
By Brian Ames
A group of riders from the EC Riders Motorcycle Club just completed the Lake Superior Circle Tour, logging more than 2,100 miles.
Our group of seven motorcyclists included O.J. Clark and Tom Hosteny from Champaign and Dennis Ohnstad, Robert Hessellmann and Ross and Paul Tenszar from Urbana.
While getting that far north certainly couldn't be done in one day, the group broke it up by traveling to Wausau, Wis., for the first leg, staying mainly on Interstate 39 all the way. Upon leaving Wausau, we traveled north on U.S. 51 to Ashland, Wis., and got the first view of Lake Superior while eating lunch.
Temps were very hot for this area (90 degrees plus) and made for some steamy riding. Our group had decided to travel around the "mouth" of Lake Superior and visited Bayfield, Wis., on Sunday afternoon, taking some time to dip our feet in Lake Superior. Later that day, we traveled to Duluth, Minn., and stayed that night, eating a fabulous cheeseburger at the Anchor Bar & Grill in Superior, Wis. The establishment was featured on 'Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives' on the Food Network. Needless to say, we were not disappointed in the food.
Day No. 3 started in Duluth and following the North Shore took us past some beautiful scenery all along the lake. We stopped in Two Harbors, Wis., and visited the lighthouse there. After another few miles on the bike, we stopped at Split Rock State Park and took in some fabulous scenery as well as toured the Split Rock Lighthouse — still in operation today. That evening, we crossed into Canada and stayed in Thunder Bay, Ontario.
Day No. 4 was by far the most breathtaking part of the trip. Leaving from Thunder Bay, over the top of the lake, there are many spots to stop and take in the scenery. One such area is the Aguasabon River Gorge. This waterfall and pool below are favorite swimming spots for local teenagers — and brave people who jump off the rocks into the pool below — and a few of us hiked a back trail to get directly across from the waterfall for some nice photos.
After leaving Aguasabon, we headed to our next stop, Wawa, Ontario, where the large Canada Goose looks over the road. We stayed at the Best Northern Motel owned by a local couple, who are from Poland, and had a great Polish meal and Polish beer as well. The only downfall of the motel is that it did not have air conditioning.
Day No. 5 started with a visit to Wawa's most famous resident, the current Canada Goose atop the hill, for some photos, and then a short ride to Magpie Falls. This waterfall, which was the widest I'd ever seen, sits back on a dirt road and is another wonderful attraction along this route.
About 60 miles past Magpie is another spot that must be visited in Lake Superior Park. The pictographs in this park are well worth stopping and hiking down to. (No stairs however, so bring your hiking shoes.)
This part of the park is a sheer wall face where the Native Americans had painted some of their art depicting hunting/fishing in Lake Superior. The pictographs can still be seen today with some sure footing and some bravery. If you cannot make the trip down to the lake, it is still worth your time to hike as far into the trails as possible.
After leaving the park, we traveled back into the U.S., crossing the border in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. This town is of course famous for the Sault Locks, where many boats pass through each day.
We suggest stopping at the museum and checking out the schedule for boats passing through the locks. You can walk right up to the locks and stand on a platform looking down.
Unfortunately, we did not see any boats that evening. Right across from the museum is the Lockview Restaurant, which had the best walleye fillet around.
At this point, we headed home, passing through Escanaba, Mich., and onto Green Bay, Wis., where a few of the group took a tour of Lambeau Field. The next day we left and headed back to the 100-plus-degree heat here in central Illinois. We longed for being back near the lake and the mild 70s we rode in most of the week.
Brian Ames of Champaign is a sales manager for Altrusia Group Distribution Co., based in Schaumburg. He's been motorcycling for about four years, but this was the first major motorcycle trip he's taken.