Bikepacking Roots unveils the Northwoods Route — a 600 mile loop around Western Lake Superior

Ready for your next bike bikepacking adventure? For those looking to tackle a new route through the incredible terrain surrounding Western Lake Superior, the Northwoods are calling.

Northwoods Route bikepacking

All images c. Bikepacking Roots

Just unveiled by Bikepacking Roots, the new route was created with support from Shimano, and Otso Cycles. Given that the Northwoods Route is right in Otso’s backyard, that connection makes a lot of sense — and leads us to believe they may already have, or are working on the perfect bike for the journey.

Based on the description, the route is “primarily gravel roads, relatively smooth two-tracks, rail trails, and short sections of pavement through thick forests and along countless lakes of all sizes.” However, there are numerous singletrack alternatives along the way plus MTB trail networks that you can check out should you have the legs.

Northwoods Route ride with gps waypoints

Spanning 600 miles, three states, and one Great Lake (along with many, many smaller lakes), the route can be ridden as a loop if you add in passenger ferries to Isle Royale National Park. This will require some planning and forethought though, as “the ferries do not run daily, and the lake crossing will require an overnight stay on Isle Royale (see the FAQ for more information on these ferries; note that bikes are not allowed anywhere on Isle Royale other than at the docks and main campgrounds). We also encourage riders to spend an extra day or more on Isle Royale to experience some of the many miles of hiking trails.”

LAke Superior Sunset Northwoods fall colors

When is the best time to attempt a full ride? According to the team at Otso, September may be the best month. By then temperatures are pleasant and the humidity is lower, but more importantly the first frost of the season will help keep the bugs down, and the fall colors will be going off.

Get the Guide Book

Northwoods guide book

This is a big journey, so it’s best to be prepared. To give you all of the information you need (plus a ton of detail on the area’s cultural history, geology, forest ecology, and gray wolves), Bikepacking Roots has put together a comprehensive Guide Book. Available as a Digital format or a 70 page physical book that you can take with you, the print version also includes downloads of the guidebook in PDF and e-book formats plus the most recent GPS tracks and 350 waypoints for the route. The spiral bound books are available for a $40 donation to Bikepacking Roots, within North America and ship out in batches every 2-3 weeks. The digital copies will be sold for a $25 donation and email out immediately. 

Northwoods route riding

Ready to check out the Northwoods? Check out the Resources page, and start planning!

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David R.
David R.
1 year ago


Brian Anderson
Brian Anderson
6 months ago

Friend and I are riding route June 2022. Riding 2022 Trek Checkpoint ALR5 with 35mm Gravel Kings. Going counterclockwise leaving from around Duluth. Have made ferry and national park reservations. Anyone have any advice on choice of equipment, tires, etc? Thank you!!