Pick up a cup of hot java (fresh roasted in-house) and a homemade brown sugar-cinnamon scone from downtown Gaylord’s Brothers Coffee and Tea (416 W. Main St., 989-705-7660), then head north on old U.S. 27 to Vanderbilt. Turn east on Sturgeon Valley Road, then north on Twin Lake Road, which morphs into Osmun Road. Go slow. Stop as you like. Take it in. You’re heading through one of the Midwest’s premier forests. Keep an eye out for wild elk, deer and just about any other mammal Michigan has to offer. Stop at park headquarters (9966 Twin Lakes Rd., 989-983-4101 or michigandnr.com) for a nature lesson, then continue to east on M-33/M-68 all the way to Onaway. Stay on M-33 as it veers south to Atlanta. If you haven’t seen an elk yet, stop here to check out the mounted one, in glass case, that you’ll see as you drive through town. West on M-32 back to Gaylord. Stop in to Bennethum’s for the wild mushroom bisque and the homemade chipotle meatloaf (3917 South Old 27, 989-732-9288, bennethums.com). Total loop: about 80 miles.
Photo(s) by Brian Confer