With the way Crusher has evolved every year bikepacking feels like a natural fit – so we added some options. Out of the gate you could bikepack the EX225, EX-BIKEPACK, or ask me to put together a longer custom route. In this post I’m going to focus on the EX-BIKEPACK because I bikepacked it a few weeks ago.
Here are some stats:
Ascent: 4,000 feet
Resupply options I found:
*I didn’t actually go into Germfask but the route goes right by it. You might want to do a little detective work and find out if there are any stores. I bet there are.
Otter Lake Campground*
*The EX-BIKEPACK route I’m referencing starts and ends at Otter Lake. Other bikepack options may have different start/end points.
The only thing I’m going to say is that you need to be prepared for experiences that might be new to you. Case in point: When I headed out to recon the route it was not supposed to rain but it ended up raining all-day. All-day rain and 50 degrees is a bad combo for people who leave unprepared, hell, it’s a bad combo for people who ARE prepared. I rode about 97-miles the first day and camped at Mead Creek. I knew I was going to roll into camp just before dark soaked and it may or may not still be raining. My plan was to get there, set up the tarp, and get into dry clothes ASAP. Having a plan, the right gear, and plan when you roll into camp is important.
How many days should it take?
It took me two but you could easily stretch it out to three. The cutoff is 72-hours.
There are a lot of official and unofficial options (unofficial = dispersed camping). Do your homework. Know the rules for camping on state and federal land. I saw a lot of options along the way. Bring a fishing pole or a good book. Lots of lakes.
There are a lot of water sources. I had to filter once. You might not need to or maybe you’ll filter more. Between the natural water sources and towns I didn’t have an issue. Make sure to bring a filter.
Mile 0 – 20
Hiawatha National Forest gravel. There’s a store in Shingleton.
Mile 20 – 40
After Shingleton you’ll get into Trail 8. It’s mildly enhanced and was wet when I rode it. You’ll ride through USFS land for a good ten-miles. Many of the roads have been blocked. Yes you need to go over the berms. There’s a store in Melstrand (just over the 35-mile mark).
Mile 40 – 60
It’s pretty lonely out there. You start getting into some state and federal camping opportunities. Lots of gravel and some sand. Driggs Lake Truck Trail etc.
Mile 60 – 80
Solid camping opportunities out this way. You’ll be on the Fox River Road for a good pull. I bet it’ll be sandy if we don’t get rain. Seney is around mile 70. There’s a store, maybe a place to get warm food. You leave town on Old Seney Road.
Mile 80 – 100
You’ll pass by Germfask (if you wanna go into town jump off course). Around mile 97 you’ll find Mead Creek campground – that’s where I stayed. It has a bathroom and well. Nice rustic campground. Quiet. The gravel will begin to get mildly enhanced.
Mile 100 – 120
There’s a nice campground around mile 114 called the West Branch Campsite. Highwater Trucl Trail is rough and potentially sandy. You’ll head toward and into the Seney Wildlife Refuge soon.
Mile 120 – 140
More mildly enhanced and potentially sandy roads on the way to Stueben. It’s lonely out here. You won’t see much water from here till Stueben, be smart. Depending on when you get there the store in Stueben might be open. They didn’t have much but it was better than nothing.
Mile 140 – 216
From here till the end you’re into the good gravel and should make good time. The route will intersect with rivers and streams along the way. You’ll arrive back at Otter Lake around mile 216.
A note on the EX-BIKEPACK300
The main difference between the BIKEPACK200 and BIKEPACK300 is your start/end point. We had requests for a longer route so we took what we had (the 200-mile option) and tacked on another 100-miles by moving the start/end to Rippling River in Marquette. Resupply options are the same and there are plenty of camping options.