View Full Version : U.P. Trail Feedback between Iron River and Gwinn
09-04-2009, 08:53 AM
Hello, I am planning our trip across the U.P. in January starting in Mercer WI and going to the Soo and back. I'm looking at taking a different route than normal and would like some feedback from those <u>that have ridden the trails</u> between Iron River and Gwinn. For this post, let's assume there are good snow conditions within the entire U.P. as I am well aware of the LES bands.
Our normal route from Watersmeet to Gwinn is by going to Sidnaw, across trail #8 to Ishpeming, and then down to Gwinn. I am thinking about taking a mid-tier or a south tier route and this is where I need some feedback.
Route A - Iron River to Crystal Falls to Randville to Helps to Arnold to Gwinn (trail 16 to trail 33)
Route B - Iron River to Cyrstal Falls to Randville to Silver Lake to Gwinn (trail 16 to trail 5 to trail 32 to trail 33)
Route C - Iron River to Amasa to Republic to Silver Lake to Gwinn (trail 15 to trail 111 to trail 18 to trail 5 to trail 32 to trail 33)
Route D - Same as C only going through Crystal Falls and up to Amasa from the east
So what I would like to know, assuming perfect snow conditions, is the following:
- Are these trails fast and open or very tight and twisty?
- Are these trails well groomed and maintained?
- Are these trails fun to ride?
This would be day 1 of the trip starting in Mercer WI and we normally ride to Munising. Some of the routes above would mean riding more than 300 miles so we might opt to stay in the Gwinn/Little Lake area. Thanks in advance for your help.
09-04-2009, 10:21 AM
On those routes I can only comment on the Silver Lake to Gwinn and Arnold to Gwinn (which I know does not help you too much). Gwinn (UP North Lodge) to Arnold by car is 16-17 miles and no idea mileage by sled but there is quite a bit of high speed stuff. It must not go in a very straight line though because even at warp speed it sure takes longer than 15-20 minutes to get there. I know you do not want to hear about snow conditions but getting any further south than Arnold (and even at Arnold) the snow can be VERY different than in Gwinn (which is into the real snow belt and is basically going to be just as good as anywhere else).
The Silver Lake trail is pretty narrow and twisty for the most part. A really nice trail riding trail that is out of the way enough that traffic is typically much lower.
That's all I can really give you. I am generally always heading in the north/east direction of Gwinn and not on the trail much. From Gwinn to Munising via 8 is mostly fast as you care to ride type trail. Same from Marquette to Munising.
09-04-2009, 10:33 AM
Actually, that helps quite a bit Scott. I have the estimated mileages based upon last year's trail maps for each of those routes. From Silver Lake to Gwinn it is 53 miles on the trail. From Arnold to Gwinn it is 33 miles on the trail.
If the Silver Lake trail to Gwinn is pretty narrow and twisty but a fun ride, then it might be worth it. However, I doubt we could make it Munising from Mercer as the mileage for that route would between 310 and 325 miles. The route we did last year Mercer to Munising was via Sidnaw then trail #8 to Ishpeming, down to Gwinn, and over to Munising, and that was 305 miles. You can make good time and it took us 10.5 hours including stops. With a twister trail for 53 miles, that would make it difficult.
I have really struggled to find lodging in the Gwinn / Little Lake area.
09-04-2009, 12:34 PM
Wow no wonder why it takes so long (relative speaking based on distance in a car) to get from Gwinn to Arnold (it is twice the distance).
Unless you need to go to Munising for the night perhaps take the Silver Lake trail and stay at the Red Fox Inn at the old airbase (Sawyer) or have it as a backup anyways in case you want to still get to Munising but it is late enough that you want to stop upon getting to Gwinn. It is right at a trail and the old officers club (the name escapes me at the moment) is right in the same parking lot with it. Other than UP North Lodge (EXCELLENT ribs), it is perhaps the best place to eat in the Gwinn area (we go there for lunch when riding sometimes and it has always been good). There is a groomed connector to it and that is just outside of Gwinn (East end). As our camp is near Gwinn I am not up on any other places to stay but I cannot think of anything else really?
I am suprised that going either of these ways is actually longer than Sidnaw, Ishpeming, basically to Marquette, down to Gwinn and over but I will not doubt you on trail miles as it seems you have done WAY more homework on it than me.
09-05-2009, 02:53 PM
09-05-2009, 06:08 PM
I have done this ride several times on your route B. It's kind of a nice mix of twisty/straight, more twisty. Gas is easy is Sagola, watch for spur trail turning north 1/2 mile after crossing Hwy 95. Easy gas at BP in Gwinn. Usually stay at Red Fox Inn/Tailwinds bar&grill, look for big sign East of Gwinn on tr 8, turn left. You know how grooming goes, but we usually do this leg on Monday and has been V. good. Milage: IR to sagola=45. Sagola to Gwinn=90. Gwinn to Wetmore=50 (very straight/fast). It's a great ride, hope this helps.
09-06-2009, 01:24 AM
Phelps, WI to Gwinn, MI is 165 miles and takes about 6 hrs with stops.
09-06-2009, 03:37 AM
Cheers RageX2, that helps a bunch, especially the tip about gas in Sagola. There will be a 2004 2-stroke in our group that can only go about 100 miles on a single tank. The rest of us are good 150 miles.
We will be riding midweek so grooming should be good . Provided there is good snow, it sounds like route B would be a good choice.
We plan to have breakfast in Watersmeet. Where would be a good place for lunch?
09-06-2009, 11:10 AM
Probably in Crystal Falls. Watch for easy-to-miss spur trail to business district right after crossing Hwy 2? several places there. Heard on this site Fob's was the place to eat, though I have not been there. We just grab gas and snacks at Sagola and go, but there is a bar/grill next to gas there, but have not eaten there. We usually start in Phelps,WI, eat big breakfast at Y-Not in Nelma, so our timing/route is way different than yours. Also, tr 32 is not shown turning east off tr 5 on edge of Iron Co MI map, but it's there, about due east of Sawyer Lake.
09-07-2009, 11:36 AM
Watersmeet to Crystal Falls is all railroad grade
and you will make real good time. Normally flat, straight, some turns around Iron River and well groomed. This is Trail #2 to Trail #16. 56 miles east of Watersmeet is the Chippewa Resort, right on Trail #16 with Groomed access! Great Food! From there, 28 miles to Sagola on Trail #16 all logging roads and cut through the woods, Scenic. East of Crystal Falls, Trail does get rather twisty and you will have to slow down. Or north on Trail #111 and northeast on Trail #18 to Republic is +/- 58 miles. Trail #111 is also windy in spots but also has a few miles of road riding, Half and half, fast and slow. Trail #18 is mostly unplowed seasonal roads but very scenic! If you have any other questions or if we can help you further, you can call us at The Chippewa Resort at (906) 875-3117. or stop in on your way by! And remember, when you are on the trail, Ride Smart, Ride Safe!!!
09-08-2009, 09:58 AM
That is very good feedback, thanks. So it sounds like you have ridden both routes, i.e. Crystal Falls to Gwinn via trail 16, 5, and 32, and Crystal Falls to Gwinn via Amasa on trails 111, 18, 5, and 32. Assuming perfect snow conditions, which route would you do?
09-08-2009, 10:27 AM
Depends on what you want to do/time factor. Tr 16, 5, 32 route will be more direct and shorter, the other is twistier and longer.
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