Biking M-185 on Mackinac Island [Video]
You can see a lot of things on Mackinac Island, but automobiles are not one of them. Cars are banned. Instead of cars, bicycles are everywhere. Bikes are used to commute and for recreation.
Here's a look at the most common recreational bike ride on Mackinac Island, the eight mile trail that travels around the island along the shore.
The trail around the perimeter of Mackinac Island is actually State Highway 185/Lakeshore Road. The Michigan Department of Transportation says it's the only highway in the country that doesn't allow motorized vehicles.
How long does it take to travel the eight mile road via bicycle? That can vary widely.
We did it two times with three kids. The first time included numerous stops: climbing up Arch Rock, photos, skipping stones, snacks, and more. It took us two hours and four minutes according to our bike rental receipt.
The second time we didn't stop as many times and we finished in one hour and thirty minutes.
M-185 is appropriate for all skill levels. There is only one mild hill to navigate, so most should be able to handle the trip without a problem.
The road gets very busy through the main strip where ferrys arrive and businesses line the street. The congestion of foot and horse carriage traffic can slow things for about a half mile or so, but the rest of the road travels pretty quickly. If you are set on biking quickly it can easily be done in less than an hour, but if it's your first time around you will want at least twice that time maybe much more to see the sights.
Most bike rentals shops have prices that start around $5/hour for small, single speed kids bikes. Most other bikes rent for around $8/hour. Price breaks are given for half or full day rentals. With a large group these prices can add up quickly, but there is no better way to experience the island.
M-185 is only one of many roads and trails to be explored on a bicycle while on Mackinac Island, but it is the best starting point for any first time visitor.