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The Great Lakes Challenge

Last updated Apr 9, 2021 | Published on Oct 18, 2020

At the beginning of our socially distant road trip, the Great Lakes weren’t really on my radar. My husband Daniel and I didn’t plan on visiting any of the Great Lakes, let alone all five of them. We were mostly focused on National Parks and roadside attractions. When we found ourselves traveling more than expected in the Great Lakes area, however, I decided to change things up. Let’s make a game of it and create a Great Lakes Challenge!

What is the Great Lakes Challenge?

The idea behind the Great Lakes Challenge is simple: to visit all of five the Great Lakes and dip a toe into each of them. If we were feeling really adventurous we could have swam in each lake or kayaked or gotten up to some other shenanigans. But I was content to simply stick a toe into each lake. That was enough for me.

Ok I’ll come clean. I stole the idea from my Daniel. On a previous road trip, he and a friend resolved to dip a toe into each of the Great Lakes. That seemed like such a great idea that I decided to do it too.

Daniel also wrote a blog post about the Great Lakes Challenge. You can read it here: Driving the five great lakes.

Great Lake #1: Lake Superior

We began our Great Lakes Challenge with a visit to Lake Superior in Duluth, Minnesota. Our friend Evan took us on a tour of his favorite stomping grounds, including Minnesota Point and Wisconsin Point. I couldn’t resist putting my feet into the lake as we strolled along the beach. You can read more about that particular adventure here: Great America Road Trip Days 36-42: Duluth Interlude.

Daniel and Evan stroll along the beach at Minnesota Point

Getting my feet wet at Wisconsin Point

Our second encounter with Lake Superior was during our visit to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Daniel and I drove through Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore to see the fall foliage. During the visit, we stopped at Miners Beach to enjoy some time in the sand. It was fun seeing Lake Superior from a different vantage point. More details here: Falling for Fall Foliage at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

I get a little wetter than planned in Lake Superior. Photo by Daniel.

Miners Castle Beach on Lake Superior in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Great Lake #2: Lake Michigan

The next stop on our Great Lakes Challenge was Lake Michigan. Daniel and I first encountered Lake Michigan at Indiana Dunes National Park. We then continued up the coast and got to get further acquainted with the lake at Warren Dunes State Park in Michigan. Both parks have miles of lovely beaches. More details here: Indiana Dunes Itinerary: The National Park You’ve Never Heard of and A Lazy Beach Day at Warren Dunes State Park.

Dipping my feet in Lake Michigan at Indiana Dunes National Park

Daniel braves the water at Warren Dunes State Park

Great Lake #3: Lake Huron

Our visit to Lake Huron was a brief one. Although we first saw Lake Huron on our drive across the Mackinac Bridge, I didn’t dip my feet into the lake until our return trip. We stopped at the Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse on the south side of the bridge so that I could make it official. More details here: A Long Travel Day Across Michigan.

Standing in Lake Huron with the Mackinac Bridge in the background

Great Lake #4: Lake Erie

Our first encounter with Lake Erie was at the Sandusky/Bayshore KOA Campground in Ohio. We got some nice views of a little corner of the lake but I didn’t put my feet into the water. The shore was rocky and the water looked a bit marshy and gross. More details here: The Pandemic Dilemma: Traveling across America during COVID-19.

Lake Erie as viewed from the Sandusky/Bayshore KOA Campground in Ohio

Since I didn’t dip my feet into Lake Erie while we were in Ohio, Daniel and I rectified the situation on our drive to New York. We pulled off of I-90 at Westlake Public Beach and parked on the pier. It’s a cute little beach only minutes away from the Interstate. The waves were really choppy that day so I got a bit wetter than I planned.

Standing in Lake Erie at Westlake Public Beach

View of our RV, Appa, parked on the pier

Westlake Public Beach

Big waves today

Oops! Those waves are bigger than I anticipated.

Great Lake #5: Lake Ontario

Daniel and I encountered our fifth, and final, lake on our Great Lakes Challenge at Four Mile Creek State Park in New York. Located on Lake Ontario, the park provides distant views of Toronto all the way across the other side of the lake. This park doesn’t have a swimming beach or sand. Most of the coastline is comprised of cliffs but there is one rocky sandbar where the creek flows into the lake. I wore flipflops and a puffy jacket for this encounter.

Braving the cold waters of Lake Ontario at Four Mile Creek State Park

There’s Toronto in the distance!

Where are we now?

We are at Four Mile Creek State Park on Lake Ontario!

Date: October 7, 2020
Great American Road Trip Status: Day 94
Starting Location: Streetsboro/SE Cleveland KOA
Ending Location: Four Mile Creek State Park – Youngstown, NY

Miles Traveled: 237
Total Trip Mileage: 6333.2

For more details on our Great America (Socially Distanced) Road Trip, see my previous posts:

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Hi, I'm Unicorn!

I am an avid hiker, traveler, and adventurer who is on the mission to explore hiking trails around the world.  I’m also obsessed with National Parks, long-distance trails and other outdoorsy things.

I hope to share this knowledge with you and inspire you to explore new hiking trails too!


    • Unicorn

      Thanks Michael!


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