Michigan Circle Tour
While a loosely-organized "circle route" around Lake Superior
was promoted by local tourist organizations as early as the 1960s, the first
official (and signed) Great Lakes Circle Tour was the Lake Michigan Circle
Tour. The only single-nation Circle Tour (Lake Michigan being the only Great
Lake completely within the US, of course), the LMCT also is the longer of
the two Circle Tours in the state.
Initially working in conjunction with the Michigan
Department of Transportation,
the West Michigan Tourist Association (WMTA) helped to make the first of
the official Great Lakes Circle Tours a reality. After Michigan, Wisconsin,
Illinois and Indiana all jumped on board with the concept and helped complete
a closed loop around the lake. A short history from the WMTA website:
The Circle Tour route and its first Guide were the culmination of innovation
and hard work by the WMTA staff, led by visionary Jack Morgan of the Michigan
Department of Transportation. Just 14 months after Morgan introduced his
Circle Tour concept in 1987, agreement was reached on routes and signed
to be posted along all 1,100 miles of Lake Michigan's shoreline.
WMTA was tapped to produce the first guide book. More than a dozen years
later, the publication continues to help travelers navigate the four-state
route, which winds through some of the nation's wildest country and one
of its largest urban centers.
When the Chicago Tribune and Milwaukee Journal ran articles in 1988 about
the colorful, 52-page Guide, no one on WMTA's staff anticipated public
reaction. On Monday following the story, 150 callers from the Chicago area
alone requested the new publication. Two days later, an overburdened mail
carrier unloaded 700 requests for the Guide from Illinois and Wisconsin.
The next day, more than 1,000 mail and phone requests poured in.
Lake Michigan Circle Tour Route
In Wisconsin, the mainline of the LMCT follows signed state highway
routes in its entirety, although in some places the nearest state highway
to the Lake Michigan may be several miles away. This route listing lists
the official route as well as any locally-designated and marked "Lake
Michigan Circle Tour Loops," which are generally posted with brown
signs. These loop routes are detailed below the mainline route below:
- The Lake Michigan Circle Tour enters Wisconsin from Illinois via
STH-32 and proceeds northerly through the downtowns of Kenosha, Racine
and Milwaukee, all the while following STH-32 religiously.
- In northern metropolitan Milwaukee, the LMCT joins I-43/STH-32/STH-57 heading northerly into Ozaukee Co.
- At Grafton, the tour departs I-43 to remain on STH-32 and continues
through Port Washington.
- On the north side of Port Washington, the tour rejoins I-43 and contines
northerly via I-43/STH-32 toward Sheboygan.
- At Exit 123, the circle tour departs I-43 and continues northeasterly
via STH-28 into Sheboygan.
- At STH-23, where STH-28 ends
and STH-42 begins, the LMCT continues northwesterly via STH-42 back
to I-43 at Exit 128.
- The route continues northerly via I-43 from Sheboygan to Manitowoc.
- At Manitowoc, the circle tour leaves I-43 at Exit 149 and continues
into downtown via US-151.
- In downtown Manitowoc, the route continues northerly via US-10 to
STH-42. Also in downtown Manitowoc, a rather unique Lake
Michigan Circle Tour spur route begins: travelling straight
across the lake via Lake
Michigan Carferry's S.S. Badger carferry!
- On the north side of Manitowoc, the tour continues northerly via
STH-42 through the communities of Two Rivers, Kewaunee and Algoma into
Door Co and the Door Peninsula.
- At STH-57, the LCMT turns northeasterly via STH-42/STH-57 past Sturgeon
- The route then heads northeasterly along the Lake Michigan side of
the peninsula via STH-57 through Jacksonport, meeting back up with
STH-42 in Sister Bay.
- In Sister Bay, the LMCT turns back southwesterly via STH-42 through
Egg Harbor to Sturgeon Bay once again.
- Southwest of Sturgeon Bay, the tour continues southwesterly via STH-57 into Green Bay.
- At Green Bay, the circle tour transitions to the final seven miles
of I-43 northwesterly to that highway's northern terminus at US-41/US-141.
- The LMCT then turns northerly via US-41/US-141 in Howard.
- A the US-41/US-141 split in Abrams, the circle tour veers northeasterly
to follow US-41 through Oconto and Peshitgo on its way to Marinette.
- At Marinette, the Lake Michigan Circle Tour enters Michigan on the
Bridge linking that city with its sister, Menominee, on the other bank.
- Continue on the Lake Michigan Circle Tour route into Michigan
at the Michigan Highways website.
Note: The "Circle Tour Road Route" description
from the GLIN
website is not only vague, but incorrect! Ignoring the vague routings
in the Door Peninsula, Manitowoc, Sheboygan and Port Washington, the
route also doesn't traverse "US-43" (that would be "I-43"). The routing
of the LMCT on the GLIN
website is Michigan is flat-out incorrect! The route
included on this website has been personally researched by the website
author in the field.
Lake Michigan Circle Tour Loop Routes
Lake Michigan Carferry S.S. Badger spur route
While most Lake Michigan Circle Tour spur and loop routes simply involve
an alternate highway routing diverging from the mainline route, this
particular spur route is unique among them. On August 29, 1998, Lake
Michigan Carferry's S.S. Badger which ferries automobiles,
trucks and passengers between Manitowoc, Wisconsin and Ludington, Michigan
was officially designated as a Lake Michigan Circle Tour spur route.
The route traverses the following path:
- From the mainline Lake Michigan Circle Tour route in downtown Manitowoc
at jct US-10 & US-151,
the route heads southerly via US-10 along
10th St, easterly via Madison St and northerly via Lakeview Dr to the
- The route then traverses Lake Michigan itself via the S.S.
- In Ludington, Michigan, the route leaves the carferry docks and heads
northerly via US-10/James St.
- Downtown, the route turns easterly via US-10/Ludington Ave and heads
to a connection with the LMCT mainline at jct US-31 east of the city.
Back to: Great Lakes Circle Tour page.
"Dedicated to the past, present and future of the Wisconsin State Trunk Highway system as well as other highways and routes throughout the Badger State. This website is intended to be a clearinghouse of information on Wisconsin's highways, from easily-recognized facts to the little-known trivia. It is also meant to change as the state highway system changes."