Glad you asked, Zane. I’m sick of how the Midwest always gets short shrift when people talk about adventure destinations. Michigan is full of top-notch sailing, hiking, mountain-biking and kayaking. Ohio has amazing forests and shoreline. Indiana—well, two out of three isn’t bad. These springtime rides will make you grateful to live in the nation’s heartland.
The Best Midwestern Bike Rides: Edge of the Wilderness Scenic Byway
Edge of the Wilderness Scenic Byway, Minnesota
French fur traders—known as voyageurs—were the first Europeans to establish a presence in northern Minnesota nearly 200 years ago, carrying their goods by canoe. You can trace one of their routes by biking the Edge of the Wilderness Scenic Byway, a 47-mile stretch of State Route 38 that traces the edge of the untamed Chippewa National Forest. Along the way are more than 1,000 lakes, and nearly as many streams and rivers. Get outfitted at Itasca Trail Sports bike shop in Grand Rapids, a downtown institution since the 1950s.
The Best Midwestern Bike Rides: Covered Bridges Scenic Highway
Covered Bridges Scenic Highway, Ohio
A drive on this 47-mile route feels like taking a trip into the past. Old white farmhouses dot the side of the two-lane route, which follows the Little Muskingum River along the foot of the Appalachians from Marietta to Woodsfield. You’ll pass through four well-preserved covered bridges, each built in the 19th century, and along the wildflower-drenched Wayne National Forest. Stay at the stately, triangle-shaped Lafayette Hotel at the convergence of the Ohio and Muskingum rivers in downtown Marietta. Rates start at $85.
The Best Midwestern Bike Rides: Tunnel of Trees Road
Tunnel of Trees Road, Michigan
The 22-mile stretch of State Route 119 that traces the bluffs above Little Traverse Bay in Northern Michigan is known by locals by the more elegant monkier Tunnel of Trees Road. This narrow two-lane road that runs north of Petoskey is shaded by an overhanging canopy of hardwoods that break occasionally to offer open vistas of Lake Michigan. The windy, hilly route winds through several switchbacks and curves with names like Devil’s Elbow, and Horseshoe Bend. Start your day at the Roast & Toast coffeehouse and café on E. Lake Street. The glazed cinnamon rolls, baked in-house, will power you through the morning’s miles.