Gull Lake Loop

W.K. Kellogg Manor House

W.K. Kellogg Manor House

I decided to ride around Gull Lake on a lark after doing a bunch of hills to the south. From its south end, the lake looked small, although the number of boats docked at the marinas should have been a clue to its true size. Fortunately, the lake isn’t too big, so it only added about 12 miles to my day. That’s pretty short as a stand-alone bike ride, but there are plenty of other activities around the lake to fill your day.

The lake’s size was not the only surprise. It was also exceptionally pretty, even by Michigan lake standards. Another surprise was the W.K. Kellogg Manor House, which I had no clue about. For a minute I thought I had fallen into a T.C. Boyle novel (especially just after seeing the eerie Brook Lodge). Then I realized The Road to Wellville focuses on that other Kellogg, J.H., the one with the weird (not to mention racist) notions of sexuality, eugenics, and racial purity.

Ross Township Park

Ross Township Park

Ross Township Park on the east side of the lake is a good place to start the loop, offering parking, restrooms, picnic tables, and a beach for swimming. I rode this loop counter-clockwise, but I noticed a lot of cyclists going the other direction. It turns out there’s a reason: a nasty left-hand turn off a blind corner at the north end of the lake. To avoid that hazard, ride in clockwise direction by turning right onto E. Gull Lake Dr. when leaving the park.

Kellogg House plaque

Kellogg House plaque

In just under a quarter-mile, you’ll come to the entrance to the Kellogg Manor House. This Tudor-revival mansion was built in 1925-26 as a summer retreat for W.K. Kellogg, the founder of the Kellogg Co., maker of the famous corn flakes. Today, Michigan State University operates it as a conference center and site for weddings, as part of the Kellogg Biological Station. The house also offers both guided and self-guided tours to the public. If you come for a tour, you’ll find there’s no bike parking, other than some racks for students at a dorm-like building next to the house itself. You might want to drive here separately, before or after going on your bike ride.

Leaving the manor house behind, turn right to stay on E. Gull Lake Dr. (where E B Ave. goes straight ahead). Now you’ll skirt the edge of the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary, another MSU property, for a little over a mile. The sanctuary offers several short loop trails around tiny Wintergreen Lake. Admission is $5.00 for adults. To reach the entrance, you’ll need to keep riding to the intersection of E. Gull Lake and E C Ave., where you’ll turn left. The entrance road is a tenth of a mile down E C Ave.

Also at the intersection of E. Gull Lake Dr. and E C Ave. is the well-reviewed Frona’s Pantry, open for breakfast and lunch Tuesday through Sunday.

Gull Lake marina

Gull Lake marina

When you’re done birding and/or eating, continue south on E. Gull Lake Dr. You’ll reach the southern tip of the lake in another 1.5 miles. You can rent pedal kayaks, paddle boards, and even pontoon boats at Gull Lake Marine, or get a drink at The Dock at Bayview at the intersection of E. Gull Lake and E D Ave. The latter bar even has bike nights, but that’s for the kind of bike with a loud roar coming from its tailpipe. Tamer refreshments are available at the Ice House, a tiny establishment a block west on E D Ave., offering ice cream and a deli.

If you want more than 12 miles of riding, and don’t mind a few steep hills, you could connect this loop to the Augusta Hills route. To do so, turn left (east, curving north) on 39th, then follow the directions in that post from that point. They’ll bring you in a lop-sided figure eight back to this point.

If you’re ready to continue the loop around the lake, turn right (west) onto E D Ave. Just past the Ice House on E D Ave. is the Bayview Marina. When I was there, the marina sign bore the message, “Zombies can’t swim – buy a boat!”

The return trip around the lake’s west side is less interesting than the east side. This is partly because you’re often farther from the lake on this side, with fewer views to the water, and also because there are fewer public attractions here. This side is also more confusing, with W. Gull Lake Dr. alternating with lettered and numbered streets. I had trouble staying on W. Gull Lake Dr. as I tried to navigate my way around the lake. If you continue making your way north and west, following the cue sheet,  you shouldn’t have too much trouble.

Gull Lake

Gull Lake

As you head generally northwest, the “lake cabins” become larger and tonier, as if the owners are trying to rival the Kelloggs in their extravagance. One of the most scenic spots is the Gull Lake Country Club, with a nice lake view.

In another 2.5  miles, you’ll pass Prairieville Township Park, offering restrooms and picnic tables. 2.5 miles beyond that, you’ll return to Ross Township Park, where you left your vehicle.


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Trackbacks

  1. […] For a safer and more scenic option, continue along the flat on Hwy. 89 for half a mile before descending to 38th St., where you’ll turn right. The road drops steeply to another intersection near the south shore of Gull Lake, where you’ll face another choice: to continue the hilly loop or to take a scenic trip around this lake. To do the latter, see my Gull Lake post. […]

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