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.
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 83 mile journey. You’ll start heading east and the route takes both gravel and paved roads heading mostly east to get to the shores of Lake Huron. Once you reach the shoreline you’ll travel northbound on some nice gravel to meet up with the course proper on Hale Road. Head down to the end of Hale Rd. to find the start area and begin following the course back westward. Around miles 24 and 59 you’ll find gas stations if you’re in need of snacks. This preview loop overlaps itself on Grim Road and makes a figure 8 to avoid spending time on busy roads. You’ll finish the route by heading back north up M-30 for just a few miles. There’s minimal elevation on this route 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 80 miles and has a bit more elevation 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. At mile 27 you’ll pass through Whitestar where there’s a good convenience store for snacks. You’ll be on M-61 for about 5 miles after than before making the final turn south to meet up with the course proper. Once you arrive at the corner of Deer and Grim Roads you will officially be on the course and immediately begin working your way back west. Around mile 50 of the loop you’ll hit Gladwin where you can find convenience stores. Gladwin is the official checkpoint #1 of the Coast to Coast 210 mile route. From Gladwin onward you’ll begin traversing some quiet backroads and wonderful scenery. Just past mile 61 you’ll come across a party store on the corner of Eaton and Hoover roads. Stop in and grab a snack or just say hello and let them know you’re out pre-riding the Coast to Coast. At mile 70 you’ll get into the first seasonal road of the Coast to Coast 210 mile route. Continue heading 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.
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 Dollar General and a few other spots in town where you can grab provisions before heading out. You’ll start out heading 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 210 mile route. You’ll turn south and then east again as you continue out to meet the course proper. At mile 34 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 53 where it crosses the town of Marion again. Upon leaving Marion you’ll turn north and zig zag on pleasant country gravel roads. At mile 74 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.
Middle Preview Loop 3 actually has two good starting points; Tustin, MI and the corner of M-37 and M-55. For the purpose of describing the loop we will begin at the corner of M-37 and M-55. There’s a large convenice store 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 ways 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 roads all while getting to enjoy some of the hillier terrain. At mile 24 you’ll arrive in the small town of Tustin, MI where you can re-supply if needed before turning north onto the White Pine Trail. At mile 29 you’ll join the Coast to Coast 210 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 210 mile route so enjoy it! At mile 36 you’ll get to experience one of the more sandy two-tracks and this will be a good place to check your tire pressure and assess your setup. After crossing M-55 you’ll continue winding your way towards Caberfae along rolling gravel terrain. You’ll also get to experience some of the climbs that this section holds, and it’s a good place to check your gearing. Upon crossing M-55 again you’ll wind through seasonal roads before re-joining M-37 where the start is just a short ways north. This is the shortest but most diverse preview loop. If you only have time to do just one then this should be it.
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 but also contains a large variety of terrain. 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 210 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 22 you cross the small town of Freesoil where you can grab a snack if needed. 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 210 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 2020/2021 210-mile route diverges here and goes through Wellston and on to the new Checkpoint 3 at Big M but Dublin is still a great route to access the General Store which should be open again by September 2020 after an arson fire destroyed it]. At mile 62 you’ll arrive in the town of Dublin, MI and I highly recommend heading into the general store for some world famous Dublin General Store jerky if you’re a meat eater. They’ve got all kinds of good stuff for re-supply. Around mile 65 you’ll pass by a gate and into a snowmobile trail for a short while. Take some time to look around and enjoy the giant White Pines, it’s our state tree after all! At mile 72 you’ll enter the Udell Hills area and Big M trail network. You’ll continue wandering south and west and cross the Little Manistee River which is always a nice spot to take a break. The landscape will flatten out and you’ll enter farmland which means you’re close to the big lake. Around mile 106 you’ll turn onto M-116 and head straight south back to the start of the loop.
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
- 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.
Coast to Coast bikepacking trip article in Fat-Bike.com