Start your island day on the mainland, at Cheboygan’s State Street Coffee Company (211 W. State St., 231-597-9575) for a cappuccino and croissant. Buy a bag of roasted cashews for the ferry trip to Bois Blanc Island, a quiet Lake Huron hideaway only 8 miles away. The Plaunt family has run their Plaunt Transportation passenger ferries out of Cheboygan for more than 75 years (412 Water St., 888-PLAUNTS, bbiferry.com). Take your car across if you wish – reservations required – or book passage for your bike. There are no rentals in Cheboygan or on the island, but Rivertown Cycle (202 1/2 East State St., Cheboygan, 231-627-1699) can hook you up with advice, a bike mirror and sundries.
On the 40-minute trip over, set your sights on the freighters plying the Straits, and a glorious view of the Mackinac Bridge.
Debark and set out: The winding dirt shore road that circles the secluded 12-by-6-mile island is a flat and easy bet for biking. The speed limit on the island is 25 miles per hour everywhere – a blessing for bikers – but still watch for cars wending around the bends.
Three miles east of the ferry docks, find Bob-Lo Tavern (231-634-7100) for chef-owner Barb Schlund’s spicy dill pickle spears and a Bob-Lo Burger, topped with shredded slow-cooked ham. Before an island treat of fried ice cream anointed in Kahlua, sneak in a round of shuffleboard on the vintage board in the bar.
Another mile east, take a dip at the beach between Rosie Point and Snake Island. Locals named it Snow Beach, as it’s one of the only sandy – not rocky – shores on the island. Dry out in the sun before circling back the way you came past the island woods filled with chicory, ferns, Queen Anne’s lace and black-eyed Susans. End up at Hawk’s Landing (231-634-7375), a restaurant, gas station and general store within sight of the ferry docks. Pick up some Bois Blanc paraphernalia and a treat (owner Missy fixes fine apple pies, strawberry shortcake and banana splits to meet the whims of the islanders), then head to your ferry home. Most days the last ferry from the island leaves at 5 p.m. – and the Plaunt family runs a tight ship.
Emily Betz Tyra is associate editor of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine.[email protected]
This article was first published in June 2007, and was updated for the web February 2008.