Pat Smage is an 11x MotoTrails national champion. He lives in Elkhorn, Wisconsin, with his wife, Hannah. The couple enjoys traveling together in search of challenging outdoor adventures, and both are extreme sports enthusiasts.  
 

“Beep, beep, beep!” The sound of the alarm went off, and that meant it was time to start our action-packed weekend up in Marquette, Michigan. My wife Hannah and I made sure to pack our fatbikes, snowboards, cross-country skis, snowskates, hiking shoes, and even some radio-controlled (RC) cars. We were in for a long weekend of winter activities at one of the best destinations in the Midwest, and we wanted to be prepared.

For us, Marquette feels like a little piece of the West because there are steeper hills, more rocks, and typically a lot more snow in the winter than where we live in Southern Wisconsin. It’s also much closer to home than Colorado! The 6-hour drive is always well worth it.

Pat and Hannah Smage fat biking on the trails in Marquette, MI

FAT BIKING FUN

When we rolled into town, we had to get on our bikes right away! Fatbiking up in Marquette is like a winter wonderland with an endless number of trails. Plus, there is no better way to get the legs moving and blood flowing after driving for a while. We didn’t have a lot of time before dark when we arrived, so we went to Presque Isle Loop for a quick ride. There were some rocks and short trails as well as some snowmen to jump over! Presque Isle doesn’t only have rocks to look at, but a great view of Lake Superior. The ice formations along the shore were a bonus!

Snow coverage in the woods was great, and most of the trails had been groomed. The South Trails have the ultimate variety and had the best snow conditions, so we rode those the most. On the north side of the road, we enjoyed the Eh Line, a fast, flowy downhill trail, and the rest of the Noquemanon Trail Network (NTN) Snowbike Route that is a bit more of a cross-country ride. Both are machine groomed by a snowmobile pulling a roller, making a wide and consistent trail surface. Where those trails were smooth and fast, Doctors, Scary, and Chunder Muffin trails were steeper and rougher, requiring the trails be groomed by actual people wearing snowshoes. Throw in some snowless rocks here and there, and these proved to be a bit more challenging. But, who doesn’t love a challenge?

Marquette also has the North Trails that have a different feel with less elevation. The more traveled trails along the river were a bit icy, so we ventured out to explore different trails further away. We were rewarded with a bunch of icicles that were neat to see on the BLP Rocks Trail. Luckily, we had studs in our tires, so everything was very rideable! It is awesome to have another great trail system to choose from for a completely different riding experience.

SLIPPERY SLOPE SESSIONS

We didn’t just find biking trails; we also enjoyed some cross-country skiing on the Marquette City Fit Strip. As beginners to the sport, we both enjoyed laughing at each other’s struggles. With the trails being so fast and icy, it added to our entertainment. It also has a range of different types of exercise obstacles you can do while you ski, run, or hike. We went for some bonus points and tried a few with skis on!

Along with the biking trails and cross-country skiing, Marquette has a local sledding hill at Harlow Park that is right in town. Although we didn’t bring any sleds, we brought snowskates to share the hill with all of the kids enjoying the slippery slope. We found some jumps and ledges to hit as well. It was a great way to break up our long day of pedaling.

But if you’re not a biker, cross country skier, or sledder, they also have a ski resort called Marquette Mountain. There were a lot of people enjoying the slopes. It was great to see they still offered lessons and kept things running smoothly in these challenging times. We made the most of it and got a good amount of boarding in.

A slider trio from the Delft Bistro in downtown Marquette

FUEL FOR THE ADVENTURE

Marquette doesn’t just have fun activities to offer, but a great selection of different types of restaurants and coffee shops to choose from. One of our favorite breakfast joints was Third Street Bagel. They were affordable and tasty! The egg sandwich on a 9 Grain Works bagel was our go-to. Along with the great breakfast, we enjoyed some warm drinks from Velodrome Coffee Company and Contrast Coffee Co.

The Marquette Food Co-Op provided made-from-scratch sandwiches. Out of all the restaurants we tried, our first choice would be Delft Bistro. They offer mouthwatering double burgers with fries, loaded Brussels sprouts, and so much more.

RC car crawling at Morgan Falls in Marquette

ONE LAST HURRAH

When the last day rolled around, we were sad that it was time to leave. No matter how long we stay, it always feels like there is more to do! Marquette was magnificent to us, and it was convenient having everything 10 minutes or less from our hotel. But we couldn’t just leave Marquette without doing something in the morning.

So, we decided to head over to Dead River Falls to hike with our radio-controlled cars. The hike was challenging, yet it was well worth seeing all of the beautiful waterfalls. The calming sounds of rushing water along with driving RC crawlers along the snow-packed trail was a peaceful way to end the trip.

Overall, it was an awesome weekend getaway. Getting out in the woods was a much-needed break from all that is going on in the world. It is such an easy place to just enjoy the moment, forget about the stress around you, and enjoy the ride (or slide).  Marquette has quickly become one of our favorite travel destinations, and we cannot wait to go back!


 

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