Here are preview routes, including recommended start/finish spots and places to refuel with fluids and snacks. Feel free to share what you learn about road conditions, convenience stores, dangerous dogs, etc. Scroll down to the bottom for lodging options along the way.
Coast to Coast Start Preview Loop
The Start Preview Loop begins at the corner of M-30 and M-61. There is a gas station on the corner where you can potentially park and stock up with snacks for the 100-mile journey. You’ll start heading west for a few miles to avoid busy roads before following the original C2C route backwards towards the lakeshore. The route uses mostly gravel roads with a few paved stretches. At mile 29 the route passes a convenience store on M-61 which is the only re-supply directly on route. Once you reach the shoreline, you’ll have the option of going off-route into Au Gres if you need re-supply. The course proper starts at Point Au Gres Marina and Campground. During the open season there is water available at the campground, but we recommend calling ahead if you’re planning to ride during the off-season. The route overlaps itself before heading south along the shoreline with occasional views of the lake. There is also overlap on Grim road to avoid traveling busy roads on the way out to the lakeshore. You’ll finish the route by heading back north up M-30 for just a few miles and please use caution on this stretch of road. There’s minimal elevation on this route (less than 1,000’ total) and not much sandy or loose terrain.
Coast to Coast Middle Preview Loop 1
Middle Preview Loop 1 begins near US 127 just north of Harrison. There are several convenience stores nearby that you should be able to park at as well as grab snacks for the road. The Leota Lodge Motel is in Harrison and offers inexpensive rooms if you wish to stay the night and park your car there. The route is ~65 miles and has a bit more elevation (just over 2,000’ total) than the start loop. It begins by heading directly east for some time and takes the most efficient path to get to where it joins the course but stays on gravel roads for the most part. At mile 27 you’ll pass a convenience store on M-30 and M-61 where you can resupply. After the c-store you’ll head south on M-30 briefly before jumping onto gravel roads and joining the course proper at mile 32 (corner of Hockaday and Smith roads). Around mile 37 of the loop, you’ll hit Gladwin where you can also find convenience stores. Gladwin is the official checkpoint #1 of the Coast to Coast 204-mile route. The official checkpoint location is on Spring Street at the Gladwin High School. From Gladwin onward you’ll begin traversing some quiet backroads and wonderful scenery. This route crosses over itself at Athey Avenue and Arnold Lake Road around mile 52. Continue heading north and west until you hit Old US 27. Here the course proper continues north then west, but the preview loop will direct you south back to the starting point.
Coast to Coast Middle Preview Loop 2
Middle Preview Loop 2 begins in the small town of Tustin, MI just off U.S. Route 131. There is parking near where the White Pine Trail crosses Church St. There’s a Family Dollar and a few other spots in town where you can grab provisions before heading out. This preview loop is just shy of 80 miles with nearly 3,000’ of total elevation gain. You’ll start out heading south on the White Pine Trail to 19 mile road and then dead east for ~15 miles before you hit the town of Marion, MI. Here the preview loop overlaps, and Marion serves as the official Checkpoint #2 of the Coast to Coast 204-mile route. The official checkpoint location is at the Marion Middle/High School on 20 mile road. You’ll turn south and then east again as you continue out to meet the course proper. You may encounter some sandy sections between miles 27 and 32 which will make for good practice. Around mile 36 you’ll hit the village of Leota and meet up with the course. There’s a small convenience store here for re-supply. Now you’ll turn back west and follow the course. The route meanders through little used dirt roads until about mile 55 where it crosses the town of Marion again. Upon leaving Marion you’ll turn north and zig zag on pleasant country gravel roads. There are some decent sized hills in this section to take note of (the highest point on the whole course is in this section!). At mile 76 you’ll leave the course proper and connect with the White Pine Trail which will take you south and back to the start of the loop.
Coast to Coast Middle Preview Loop 3
Middle Preview Loop 3 actually has two good starting points; Tustin, MI and the corner of M-37 and M-55. This preview loop is the shortest at around 54 miles but packs the most adventure into those miles with around 3,000’ of elevation gain and a fair bit of seasonal roads. For the purpose of describing the loop we will begin at the corner of M-37 and M-55. There’s a large convenience store, Corner Express, at the corner of M-37 and M-55 that serves as a good launch point. You’ll start out heading south on M-37 a short way before beginning the trek east to meet the course proper. You’ll cross the scenic Pine River on your way east and enjoy some very nice gravel and paved roads all while getting to enjoy some of the hillier terrain. At mile 23 you’ll come across Yoders of Tustin which is a great spot to grab a sandwich, baked goods, or a soda (bring cash as they don’t use electricity). At mile 24 you’ll arrive in the small town of Tustin, MI where you can re-supply at a Family Dollar if needed before turning north onto the White Pine Trail. At mile 29 you’ll join the Coast to Coast 204-mile course proper and begin heading back west. Not long after leaving the White Pine Trail you’ll begin experiencing some of the beautiful quiet roads within the Manistee National Forest. This section is one of the most scenic on the entire 204-mile route so enjoy it! At mile 44.5 you’ll pop out onto a nice, paved road that heads into Hoxeyville. At mile 46.5 you’ll come across a church on the south side of the road which will serve as a cut-off point and water re-supply during the event. You’ll also get to experience some of the climbs that this section holds, and it’s a good place to check your gearing. Around mile 50 you’ll jump back into some seasonal roads before popping out at M-37 where you’d head north to get back to your vehicle assuming you parked at M-37 and M-55. This is the shortest but most diverse preview loop. If you only have time to do just one, then this should be it.
Coast to Coast End Preview Loop
The End Preview Loop is the longest and most difficult of the preview loops. This makes for a great training ride as it’s not only over 100 miles (104 to be exact!) but also contains a large variety of terrain and some hills with nearly 3,000’ of total elevation gain. You’ll get to enjoy everything from scenic paved roads to rugged two-tracks. The preview loop begins at Stearns Park in Ludington, MI which is also the finish line for the Coast to Coast 204-mile route as well as the start/finish for the 100 mile Coast Loop. Due to the length of the loop, the first section heads northeast with efficiency in mind and follows some long straight stretches of road. At mile 20 you’ll enter the Manistee National Forest and leave the open farm country behind. At mile 21 you’ll pass by Timber Surf Camping Resort which has a small camp store for re-supply during the open season. Then you’ll travel along quiet forest roads and bits of pavement until mile 31.5 where you’ll pass Na-Tah-Ka Bar where you can grab a bite to eat during open hours or a small corner store which junk food and beverages. Around mile 39 you’ll cross through Irons, MI where there is also a convenience store for re-supply. You’ll hit M-37 around mile 48 and head north to cross the scenic Pine River. When you turn off M-37 onto the two-track you will be on the Coast to Coast 204-mile course proper. Just ahead of you is one of the most scenic stretches of the entire Coast to Coast route! The Pine River Scenic Corridor is a beautiful area and you’ll be riding on two-tracks along the river up on a high bluff. Pay attention to the course in here as there can be two-tracks leading off to campsites or parking areas. You’ll want to stay on the most obvious one. At mile 57 you’ll bomb down a paved hill to the Low Bridge which crosses the Pine River and then climb steeply back up the other side to more seasonal roads. [The current 204-mile route heads west here and goes through Wellston and on to Checkpoint 3 at Big M but Dublin Store is a great re-supply option off-course]. You’ll continue wandering west through the small village of Wellston on both paved and gravel roads. At mile 76 you’ll hit Udell Hills Road which is paved and takes you directly to Big M. Checkpoint 3 is officially located in the Big M parking area. You’ll find vault toilets here but no water. The route then enters into the Big M trails, and you’ll need to pay close attention to your cue-sheets and GPS to ensure you take the proper trails. Around mile 71 you’ll pop out of the dense forest onto a two-track which gradually leads into a more proper gravel road. Use caution descending Koon Road as it is steep/loose and there are typically sandy pits at the bottom of each downhill. Continuing along the route you’ll cross the Little Manistee River around mile 75.5 where there’s a great spot to take a break and enjoy the scenery. The landscape will flatten out and you’ll enter farmland which means you’re close to the big lake. Around mile 102 you’ll turn onto M-116 and head straight south back to the start of the loop at Stearns Park.
Coast Loop+Coast to Coast End Preview
Still debating between the 210 and 100 milers? The Coast Loop features 50 beautiful miles through the Baldwin district of the Manistee National Forest before joining up with the last 50 miles of the Coast to Coast. Preview the entire Coast Loop and final 50 of the Coast to Coast on the same ride.
Camping Options Along the Way
- Manistee National Forest. Ripe with great backcountry camping. Lots of great spots, especially off the forest roads and no permit is needed. In particular the section along the Pine River is beautiful. Just off route is the Pine Lake Forest Service campground if you’d like a bathroom and water.
- Peterson Bridge campground just south of the route on M37 and further south is Kestlewoods Campground.
- Start: Pt Au Gres Marina & Campground and many other options
- Gladwin (checkpoint 1) Gladwin city park and campground
- Marion (checkpoint 2): Marion Veterans Park Campground
- Leota: Leota Lodge Motel
Check out the route/race guide for info on re-supply via convenience stores along the route. Naturally every checkpoint town has amenities.
Bikepacking Adventures and Resources
Salsa Fargo Sub 48 weekend (put on by Matt and others)
Michigan Off Road Expedition – 1050 miles (designed by Matt)
Coast to Coast bikepacking trip article in Fat-Bike.com