If you’re cool with hopping on an ATV for a couple of hours, a tour with Beaver ATV Rentals is a perfect way to see some of Drummond Island’s highlights and get a feel for what this awesome island is all about.
Exploring Drummond Island with Beaver ATV Tours
“Most people see less in a whole day of exploring on their own than they see with me in four hours,” said Bill Beaver of Beaver ATV rentals. And Bill wasn’t boasting. I could tell that he genuinely feels bad for people who attempt to navigate the back roads of one of the Great Lakes’ largest islands on their own.
And after visiting the island, I think that going out on a guided trip to get a feel for the place and then going out on your own is a great way to go. But anyway, lets get into it…
Drummond Island – Huge, Wooded and Unspoiled
Like many Michigan residents, I’d never been to Drummond Island. I’d read about it my favorite Upper Peninsula guide book but had never actually taken the short ferry ride over to check the place out. And am I ever glad I did.
First off, I think most people underestimate how big Drummond Island is. It’s 249 square miles! By comparison, Mackinac Island is just under four square miles and Manhattan is about twenty-three square miles. So, you could fit almost eleven Manhattens in Drummond Island. Suffice to say, there’s plenty of room to roam around, and much of the island is state forest.
About Beaver ATV Rentals
Bill Beaver, a super nice guy that runs an ATV parts and repair shop on Drummond Island, recently started giving tours. And as one island resident put it, ‘he probably knows the island better than anyone.”
Bill has a fleet of ATVs to rent. (2013 rates were $75 for a tour hour trip and $150 for a four hour trip.) It’s pretty simple. You show up, meet Bill, he hands you a couple of helmets and then you’re off. If you’re new to ATV riding, he’ll spend time with you to show you what you need to know and has a little test course by his shop where you can practice.
My Experience with Beaver ATV Rentals
My wife and I showed up at Bill’s shop about 3:00 on a weekday afternoon and, just a few minutes after meeting Bill (and his Dad, Bill Senior) and getting some helmets, we were cruising though the Drummond Island wilderness.
Because both my wife and I are country kids who grew up riding ATV’s, Bill took us on a mix of gravel roads and very technical ATV only trails. The Michigan DNR maintained trails were awesome and not like anything I’d ever ridden. They were twisty, rocky, and not wide enough to get through with anything wider than a standard ATV. (ie. the new “side by side” style ATVs likely would have trouble with these trails.)
We parked the ATV’s and hiked around this area for a while searching for puddingstones.
It was super fun.
And the mixed terrain Bill took us through was great because our arms could only take so much. Right about when we were getting a little tired, we’d come upon a gravel road and ride that for a while, which gave our arms a much-needed break.
Later, Bill said that if we were less experienced he would have just stuck to the gravel roads.
Drummond Island Highlights
Our first stop was at Glen Cove, a gorgeous sand beach cove tucked far away on the east side of the island, about twenty miles away from the ferry. Five people were hanging out on the beach. Bill said that was the most people he’d ever seen there. Next it was on to Sitgreaves Bay, another popular destination.
After that, we headed even further east (down a rocky road spotted with deep pools of water) to Marble Head, arguably the island’s most popular natural feature and the easternmost point in the U.P.! From the top of this sixty-foot granite face, we looked out into Lake Huron and at Canada’s Cockburn Island.
After Marble Head, we meandered back toward Bill’s shop via another interesting mix of gravel roads and twisty trails. Bill stopped a few times during the trip to point out historic areas of the island. An old Finish farm site. An area where an entire town once stood. The (still standing) stone house of a prominent businessman from back in the day.
Honestly, I don’t think we could have picked a better way to get a feel for Drummond Island. My wife and I were both excited to get back to the island, vowing to stay for at least a few days next time!
Bottom Line: Touring Drummond Island with Beaver ATV rentals is a perfect way to get a feel for the island without spending hours (or days) trying to find everything on your own.
Other things to note: Many of the roads on Drummond are pretty rugged and should only be attempted by experienced off-road drivers. Stop at the Drummond Island Tourism Association (34974 S Townline Rd – 906.493.5245) for a map, directions, and advice. The older couple that works at the visitor’s center is super nice.