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Great Lakes 2022

Featuring Michigan’s Mighty Mac  Bridge Walk on Labor Day
Walks in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin

Aug 30 – Sep 9, 2022 • 11 Days • $3950

Walks and exploring in all 5 Great Lakes in the states of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin. A major new highlight is the annual Labor Day walk across Michigan’s Mighty Mackinac Bridge.

This tour is now full and accepting standby requests (contact us by email [email protected]).

Tour Type: Volkssport

Welcome to Great Lakes 2022!

The Great Lakes region is packed with historical, cultural, and economic significance: the impact of the War of 1812; the influence of Ohio on the growth of the fledgling United States; the Erie Canal transportation revolution; and the vast industrialization of the region initiated by empire builders such as Henry Ford and John D. Rockefeller, to name a few. Yet the significance of the region is delightfully framed by its natural wonders: placid tracts of Michigan farmland, laid back lakeside towns, and traditional enclaves like Wisconsin’s Door Peninsula. The charms of Wisconsin’s pristine capital of Madison is a fitting finale.

Including:

  • All land travel by motorcoach as outlined
  • Tourist-class or better hotel accommodations
  • 11 meals: all breakfasts and 1 dinner
  • 10 walk routes as listed
  • 2 walks during optional Pre-Day excursion to Niagara Falls
  • Walking fees for 10 walks (plus 2 on Pre-day optional activity) for those collecting AVA walk credit (if AVA sanctions approved)
  • WAI guide service throughout
  • All tipping for coach drivers, any local guides, and group meals
  • Pricing is based on double occupancy. A limited number of single rooms are available for a supplement of $925. We also provide a roommate matching service for those interested.

Activities/Visits:

  • Walks along 4 of the 5 Great Lakes: Erie, Huron, Superior, and Michigan, with Lake Ontario available on a Pre-Day option (see DAY 1 below)
  • Walks in five states: New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin
  • Walks in two state capitals: Lansing, Michigan, and Madison, Wisconsin
  • Presque Isle State Park ~ Pennsylvania
  • Toledo Wildwood Metropark ~ Ohio
  • The Henry Ford Museum ~ Michigan
  • Half-day driving tour of Heritage Route 23 along Michigan’s Lake Huron coast ~ Michigan
  • Visits to at least three Lake Huron lighthouses ~ Michigan
  • Mackinac Island ferry ~ Michigan
  • Pictured Rocks National Shoreline Cruise ~ Lake Superior
  • Door County drive & walk ~ Wisconsin
  • Two-night stay in Madison directly across from the stunning state capitol
  • More fun stops than we can list!

 

Optional Activities:

  • Optional Niagara Falls & Lake Ontario Pre-Day (optional Maid of the Mist cruise mid-walk) (DAY 1)
  • Fish boil dinner in Sturgeon Bay (DAY 7)
  • Afternoon activities in Madison (DAY 10)

Adventure Pace

Tour Pace: 1 2 3 4 5
Walk Challenge: 1 2 3 4 5

Contact Us

Important Info

Group Size

Maximum 22 travelers

Hotels

Strategically located Tourist Class hotels or better

Transportation

Included. We use a full-size motorcoach with a seating capacity of 50+ seats.

Meals

11 meals: All breakfasts and one dinner

Airfare

Not included. Travelers will fly into Buffalo, NY and fly home from Madison, WI.

Traveler Age

Our travelers usually range from 50–75 years of age. All ages welcome!

Your Guide

Scott in Idaho

Scott Isom has had a passion for the outdoors ever since his childhood days spent exploring the waterfalls and outstanding hiking trails of the Columbia River Gorge with his family. Currently living in Puyallup, Washington, Scott loves to explore the unknown, knows how to have a good time, and enjoys including others in the fun! As one of WAI’s busiest guides and on-site Adventure planners, Scott has led tours on all 7 continents.

Tim guide pic

Tim Friesen, has been guiding for Walking Adventures since 2003, most often leading our summertime adventures in Europe. Throughout the school year, Tim has had a long career as a high school music teacher in Molalla, Oregon, and is occasionally known to burst into song on the trail!

Tim co-led the 2021 edition of Great Lakes with brother Dan Friesen, owner of WAI, and is eager to return to this storied Great Lakes region working in tandem with Scott Isom.

Itinerary

Click on each day to reveal more details.

DAY 1-August 30: Arrive Buffalo, New York (B for those who purchase the pre-night hotel)

Optional: Niagara Falls Walk, NY – 5 km, rated 1B
Optional: Queenstown War of 1812 Walk, NY – 5 km, rated 2
A

LAKE ONTARIO

Travelers arrive into Buffalo, New York today for the beginning of a Great Lakes odyssey.

Optional Niagara Falls & Lake Ontario Pre-day

Walkers looking to add the 5th Great Lake to their resume, in addition to panoramas of incomparable Niagara Falls, are invited to come in one day early for an all-day, pre-Adventure experience. The morning begins with a drive north to Niagara Falls for the first of two 5 km walks, plus the option to ride a legendary Maid of the Mist boat into the thunderous spray of the Falls(highly recommended). After time for lunch, we continue north to the shores of Lake Ontario for a second 5 km walk in historic Queenstown, which also features War of 1812-era Fort Niagara. The optional Pre-Day excursion includes all-day bus transportation, walk credit for two walks, and WAI guide service. Estimated price: $175 per person

Back at the hotel this evening, dinner is on your own at one of the local, walkable eateries, followed by our Welcome Orientation to get acquainted and prepare for the coming days of Adventure!

DAY 2-August 31: Buffalo – Mentor, Ohio (B)

Buffalo Walk, NY – 5 km, rated 1B
Presque Isle State Park Walk, PA, 5 km, rated 1A

LAKE ERIE

Lake Erie figured prominently in the War of 1812, the 2nd war between the upstart United States of America and the globe’s most feared fighting force. This morning’s walk is one of the day’s two Lake Erie walks and features the War of 1812 Seaway Trail and the confluence of the Niagara River into Lake Erie—the western terminus of the legendary Erie Canal.

Leaving Buffalo, our coach follows the contours of Lake Erie out of New York and into Pennsylvania. Lake Erie day continues with a walk on Presque Isle, technically a peninsula jutting out into Lake Erie from the town of the same name. Presque Isle also has strong ties to the War of 1812 and the rising naval star of Master Commandant Oliver Hazard Perry. Perry used the shelter of the peninsula to build part of his fleet and as a base for some of his famous forays against the British Navy. Presque Isle State Park is Pennsylvania’s most visited state park and Pennsylvania’s only “seashore”, boasting 13 beaches on the lakeside edge of a peninsula jutting out into Lake Erie.

We finish our day with a short drive west toward Cleveland. Dinner is available from several eateries in easy walking distance from our hotel, or consider joining us in nearby Fairport Harbor for something with a little more local character.

DAY 3-September 1: Mentor – Monroe, Michigan (B)

Cleveland Lakeside Cemetery Walk, OH – 5 km, 2
Toledo Wildwood Metropark, OH – 5 km, rated 2B

Wrested away from England at the close of the Revolutionary War, Ohio became the heart of the 18th century Northwest Territory of the United States. The territory was later carved into the states through which we now travel. Most prominent of these was Ohio, which became our 17th state in 1803 and played a major role in the history and development of the new societal experiment called “United States of America”. Producing seven of our U.S. presidents is just one evidence of Ohio’s contribution. Only Virginia, with eight, contributed more.

The walking club in Cleveland offers a unique walk through celebrated Lakeside Cemetery.  Our route passes Wade Chapel, on the National Register of Historical Places with its exquisite Tiffany design in Lakeside Cemetery, and the grave sites of a host of Cleveland’s leading figures including empire builder/industrialist John D. Rockefeller and federal agent Elliot Ness, head of the small team of “Untouchables” who destroyed organized crime in Chicago and brought down gangster Al Capone.

The Metropark system in Toledo is considered one of the country’s best park systems. After time for lunch in the classic lakeside town of Port Clinton, our second walk of the day follows nature trails through Toledo’s lovely Wildwood Metropark.

DAY 4-September 2: Monroe – Lansing, Michigan (B)

Lansing Capital Walk, MI – 6 km, rated 2A

Today’s main event is a phenomenal museum in Dearborn, Michigan that memorializes the incredible innovative spirit of Henry Ford, the man who revolutionized the assembly line concept and made it possible for the average American to own an automobile. Half a day is dedicated to exploring this remarkable site and your ticket includes entrance to two of the major venues: Henry Ford Museum of Innovation and Ford Rouge Factory Tour.

The capital walk in Lansing, Michigan is the walk of the day and includes historic neighborhoods, lovely Grand River Trail, and the campus of Lansing Community College.

DAY 5-September 3: Lansing – Mackinaw City, Michigan (B)

No walk today

We take a break from walks today as we traverse large portions of the state of Michigan, often within sight of Lake Huron, our third Great Lake. Most of the day is spent tracing Heritage Route 23, a historic coastal highway. Lake Huron is renowned for its plethora of stately lighthouses, shipwreck tales, and mile-upon-mile of sweeping beach panoramas. We follow the highway its entire length, making multiple stops en route for photos, short walks, lighthouse visits, and a pause for lunch in Old Town Alpena on Thunder Bay. Today’s destination is Mackinaw City our base for two nights at the Straits of Mackinac, the narrow body of water connecting Lakes Huron and Michigan. Our hotel sits directly on the shores of Lake Huron and we have booked lakeview rooms for all!

DAY 6-September 4: Activities from Mackinaw City (B)

Mackinac Island Walk, MI – 6/13 km, rated 1A

LAKE HURON

A 20-minute scenic ferry ride takes us from Mackinaw City out to charming Mackinac Island, with superb views of Mighty Mac, the legendary bridge that spans the Straits of Mackinac between Michigan’s Lower and Upper Peninsulas. The island was the country’s second national park, after Yellowstone, until 1895, when it was closed by the Federal Government. Since then, most of the island has been a Michigan State park. The day is open for you to enjoy the trail set up by the local club, who suggests that we sample the fudge shops, which have been a unique island confection for over 125 years!

Two routes are available. The shorter 6 kilometer walk is full of attractions and distractions in and around the main settlement on the island. The longer walk satisfies those who prefer to keep striding for a 13 kilometer distance. Cars are banned on the island, so if you don’t plan to walk the 13 km trail, a horse-drawn carriage is an alternative way to see the island. Bicycles are also for rent and miles of beautifully wooded, paved bike paths beckon. Several museums are available, and don’t forget to have lunch before we meet back at the ferry dock early this afternoon.

In past years, Mackinaw City has hosted its own club walk, which may offer a late afternoon activity. The city will be active on this Labor Day weekend, may visitors here for the Mighty Mac Walk that’s on our schedule for tomorrow! We preregister for the event this evening.

DAY 7-September 5: Mackinaw City – Marquette, Michigan (B)

Mackinac Bridge Walk, MI – 10 km, rated 1A

With a total length of 8,614 feet, Mackinac Bridge is the longest suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere and the third longest in the world!

“Mighty Mac” stretches over the Straits of Mackinac linking Michigan’s Lower and Upper Peninsulas. Throughout this a one-of-a-kind bucket list experience we’ll be walking south to north with Lake Huron to the east and Lake Michigan to the west. We start early this morning, walking Mighty Mac in the company of thousands of other walking and bridge enthusiasts. Normally we prefer to walk in small groups, but the energy of a mega-walk of this magnitude is magical!

Rendezvousing with our bus on the Upper Peninsula, we continue north to the shores of Lake Superior. The afternoon event is a memorable, 2-hour cruise along Pictured Rocks National Shoreline, a pristine and protected unit of the national park service. Lake Superior, by far the largest of the Great Lakes, is renowned for its crystal clear waters. Pictures Rocks National Shoreline is famous for its dramatic, multi-colored sandstone cliff lakescapes. Iron, copper, and lime are carried by groundwater and springs to drape sandstone walls with rich hues even as they help sculpt them. You will be the first WAI group to visit Pictured Rocks!

Our home for the night is Marquette, on the shores of Lake Superior!

DAY 8-September 6: Marquette – Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin (B)

Marquette Lake Superior Shoreline Walk, MI – 6 km, rated 2A

LAKE SUPERIOR & LAKE MICHIGAN

This morning’s walk features Historic Downtown Marquette, more lighthouses, charming heritage neighborhoods, and the shoreline of Lake Superior—coldest and most pristine of the Great Lakes and largest freshwater lake (by surface area) on the planet! Turning south, we reach the western shores of Lake Michigan, our fifth Great Lake, and cross the state line into Wisconsin.

Our destination is bucolic Door Peninsula, projecting east from the city of Green Bay into Lake Michigan. After checking into our lodging on the shores of Sturgeon Bay, relax in the laid-back environs of this local hang out situated adjacent to Potawatomi State Park or consider joining us for a drive further into Door Peninsula for a short walk at Cave Point County Park.

Walkers with energy to burn may take advantage of the fact that the 1200-mile-long Ice Age National Scenic Trail runs from Potawatomi State Park directly past our resort.

Optional Door County Fish Boil Dinner
The famous Wisconsin fish boil is an entertaining and delectable cultural activity, and the best way to have dinner this evening. This Door County cooking method, started by Scandinavian settlers more than a century ago, entails a huge black pot of fresh cod, potatoes and onions bubbling and hissing over an open fire. When the fish is done, a Master Boiler tosses a small amount of fuel oil or kerosene under the pot. A burst of flames causes the water and floating fish oils to boil over, and the steaming meal is ready to serve. The meal comes with boiled cod, potatoes, onions, carrots, rye bread, and Door County cherry pie with ice cream for dessert. All are welcome to attend the “boil over” even if they choose not to partake of the meal. Estimated price: $30.

DAY 9-September 7: Sturgeon Bay – Madison, Wisconsin (B)

Devil’s Lake State Park Walk, Wisconsin – 5/10 km, rated 2B/3C

Leaving Door County this morning, we snake through Green Bay, winding past famous Lambeau Field, home stadium of the storied Green Bay Packers of the National Football League. The Packers are the only team in the NFL owned by local fans; a drive past the stadium on streets named after legendary players of years gone by, passing back yards festooned with miniature goal posts, leaves no doubt about the loyalties of the locals!

Our walk of the day is a stimulating nature hike at Devil’s Lake State Park, largest and most visited park in the Wisconsin park system. Two routes are available, a mostly-level 5 km walk along the lake or a longer 10 km route on a more challenging trail.

We end the day in the delightful capital city of Madison located directly across from the stately capitol building in one the favorite hotels of last year’s tour group. Madison is a “foodie” town so plenty of dining options are available within walking distance.

DAY 10-September 8: Activities in Madison (BD)

Madison Capitol Walk – 6/10 km, rated 2B

Madison is truly a city blessed with ample charms, not the least of which are its five lovely lakes. It happens to be one of only two cities in the USA situated on an isthmus. The city is also blessed with an active walking club and a number of local walks from which to choose. We are directly across from the capitol, and the Capitol walk is an obvious choice. Others, however, are under consideration, including a route that features the lakes, and guides will update you on your choices.

After time for lunch, the afternoon is yours to explore more of Madison’s charms. Guides will again update you with options that will likely include: 1) a visit inside the capitol building – well worthwhile, 2) an excursion by taxi/Uber to visit the National Mustard Museum, an educational and quirky experience made more attractive by the excellent cafe right next door serving outstanding pie!, or 3) one of several other high-quality walking trails sponsored by the local club.

We rendezvous this evening for a farewell dinner.

DAY 11-September 9: Depart for home (B)

This morning marks the official end of the Great Lakes tour. Travelers are free to arrange homeward flights at any time of day; the Madison airport is about a 20-minute taxi/Uber ride from our hotel. We return home further enriched by our odyssey of discovery through this historically nuanced, geologically intriguing, culturally rich, and spectacularly lake-filled region of America, the Beautiful! Thank you for sharing the Adventure with us!

More Details

Click on each heading for more details.

How Do I Lock in My Place on This Adventure?

To register, a non-refundable $200 deposit is required to hold your spot. A final payment is due 60 days before departure and is non-refundable once paid. You will receive a reminder email from us a week or two in advance.

Soon after registration, an “Adventure Advice” email will be sent with critical information on flight arrangements as well as important steps to take in the months before your trip. Please do not buy your airline tickets until you review this Adventure Advice email.

Follow this link to read our full General Tour Conditions.

What's a Volkssport Tour?

WAI offers walking adventures all over the planet. Most of the walks featured on these tours are developed by WAI tour planners in cooperation with local walking guides. These itineraries are the result of extensive on-site planning by WAI staff. A Volkssport Tour, on the other hand, streamlines the tour planning process and focuses more on walks and less on sightseeing. The objective is to feature more walking, offer more volkssport stamps (a record of walks volkswalkers keep in a passport-like walking book), and keep the price lower. Primary differences between Volkssport Tours compared to Curated Classic Tours include:

  • Walks offered are hosted by clubs, not planned by WAI staff. Usually, they are self-guided walks using club-provided maps and directions.
  • Itineraries focuses more on local club walks, and less on sightseeing and cultural activities.
  • Itineraries tend to be paced faster, giving us the ability to offer walks in more locales.
  • Extensive work is done by in-office, but on-site planning is generally not done by WAI tour planners (experience gained on previous editions of the tour, however, produces improvements to subsequent itineraries).
  • Volkssport Tours tend to be limited to the USA. International tours generally follow the Classic Curated model.
  • A larger number of walkers is accepted on the tour. During 2022, however, the maximum for all tours is 22 travelers.

Walk Difficulty

Walks on this tour are typically not difficult. All but two (Marquette-DAY 8 and Devil’s Lake-DAY 9) are rated 2B or lower (see WALK RATINGS below). On some days, we opt to use the shorter version of walk routes which allows us to share more of the region.

Walk Ratings

We generally walk at a pace of 2 to 3 miles per hour. Walks that are oriented more towards education may take longer due to stops for guide commentary. Nature walks, on the other hand, generally continue at a steadier pace because we’re stopping less to talk.In most cases, we are not “strolling.” We are walking at a relaxed but steady pace. Your experience will be significantly affected by your level of physical fitness. If not walking regularly at home, we strongly recommend that you make a priority of “training” beforehand to both enjoy the trip and avoid medical issues due to overexertion. If you have questions about your ability to participate, please contact our office at [email protected].We have adopted a walk difficulty rating system which contains a numeric indicator for trail incline and an alpha indicator for trail terrain. The explanation for this system is presented on the table below:

INCLINE

1. Minimal hills or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain: <200 feet.
2. Some moderate hills and stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain: 200-1000 feet.
3. Some significant hill or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain: 1000-2000 feet.

TERRAIN

A. Almost entirely on pavement.
B. A significant part of the route is on well-groomed trails with very few obstacles.
C. A significant part of the route is on somewhat difficult terrain (rocky / rooted paths or soft sand).

Tour Accommodations

Good quality, tourist-class or better accommodations are the standard for this Adventure. We use national chains like Holiday Inn Express, Hampton Inn, and Best Western most nights. Accommodations are selected primarily as a practical base from which to pursue our itinerary. Most, but not all, of our accommodations on this adventure are either single-floor or have elevators. Travelers should be able to carry their luggage up a number of steps to get to a second-floor room if necessary.

How Is Airfare Arranged?

The Adventure begins in Buffalo, New York and ends in Madison, Wisconsin. Details about flight arrangements will be made available once we reach a viable participation level.

We recommend that you contact Laura Pfahler, the travel agent we work with, to help book your flight arrangements. In this age of airfare complications and airport uncertainty, using a travel agent is a good investment! More details about flight arrangements and travel agent contact information will be provided in an Adventure Advice PDF by email after you register for the Adventure.  Please do not book your airfare prior to receiving these flight details from us!

Travel Insurance

WAI believes strongly in the importance of travel insurance for financial and medical protection from any number of unforeseen circumstances that can arise before departure or during your Adventure. Many travel insurance providers are available for you to consider. Laura Pfahler and Sharon Mitchell of World Travel Inc. are travel agents who provide air travel and insurance services to many WAI travelers.

Check out Insurance Tips from World Travel for a short introduction to travel insurance. (NOTE: WAI receives no commission or financial remuneration from World Travel Inc.).

As always, do some shopping to ensure you are getting best value. Using the SquareMouth.com website can be a good way to compare pricing.

Other options for travel insurance include:

  • Allianz
  • Betins
  • Travel Guard
  • Travel Insured International

NOTE: We suggest purchasing from a reputable, well-established insurance company (avoid buying insurance from an unknown company found only online). Travelers interested in purchasing “cancel for any reason” insurance coverage should be careful to check pricing and terms BEFORE they register for a tour. Recent changes in the international travel landscape have caused changes in the policies of some insurance companies, and made the purchase of this particular type of policy even more time-sensitive.

What if WAI Cancels the Tour?

Walking Adventures International reserves the right to cancel this tour departure with fewer than 12 participants, in which case registered participants will receive a 100% refund of payments received. This refund policy contains one exclusion related to the COVID-19 environment. Many suppliers require non-refundable deposits as a condition of booking services. Though unlikely, unforeseen circumstances linked to the virus can force us to cancel a tour. In the case of COVID-19-related cancellation that trigger these supplier non-refundable policies, WAI attempts to retrieve as much of these deposits as possible, but cannot guarantee a 100% refund. In cases where full refunds cannot be obtained for a cancelled tour, we will do our best to transfer unrefunded money as traveler credits to be applied to a future tour to that destination.

View our full Coronavirus FAQ for more details.

COVID-19 Policies and Procedures

Our Approach to Fun but Prudent Travel document identifies and explains Covid-19 mitigation policies and procedures WAI is using as a starting point for our 2022 tours. Because the knowledge base about COVID-19 changes regularly, we review these policies and procedures on an ongoing basis, and will, of course, notify travelers of updates as we approach the departure date of your tour.

COVID-19 Travel Waiver

As COVID-19 wanes, WAI evaluates reports and conditions on an ongoing basis. Please read Our Approach to Fun but Prudent Travel document before registering for the tour. Part of the registration process is affirming the terms of the COVID-19 Travel Waiver.

Participation in this tour requires your assent to these terms.

What Happens Next?

Upon registering for this Adventure, you will receive a welcome email and initial invoice notifying you of your tour balance and due date. All payments for the tour or optional services/excursions can now be made online.

Soon after registration, an “Adventure Advice” email will be sent with critical information on flight arrangements as well as important steps to take in the months before your trip. Please do not buy your airline tickets until you review this Adventure Advice email.

About 70 days before departure, you will receive a final statement reminder about the final tour payment, which is due 60 days before departure. Please see our General Tour Conditions for the full terms and conditions for participation in this Adventure.

Around 2-3 weeks before departure, you will receive a final email packet with details of the program, including hotel names and contact information, a list of fellow travelers, and a more detailed daily schedule.

Take a few minutes to peruse the enclosed itinerary. We maintain that walking is still and always the best way to experience our world. Join us for this fall for one of our newest Walking Adventure programs celebrating the unique history, geology, and culture of the Great Lakes region!