Running Mackinac Island’s Lake Shore Drive offers much more than you might think. Called Main Street, running through the middle of downtown, and officially designated M-185 by the Michigan Department of Transportation, Lake Shore Drive is an 8.2-mile lap ideal for runners comfortable at that distance.

The road is paved, flat, and the views are spectacular. The Mackinac Bridge looking all mighty like its nickname “Mighty Mac” off to the west, the Upper Peninsula to the north, and historic Round Island lighthouse just across the channel from Mackinac Island’s harbor.

But if a typical run is less than eight miles, even a lot less, it’s still possible to enjoy what M-185, the only state highway without vehicles, has to offer. Be flexible while you’re on Mackinac Island. Pick up a Mackinac Island map at the Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau window on Main Street or at your Mackinac Island hotel, bed & breakfast, inn, or resort.

A woman poses for a picture inside Devil’s Kitchen on a run around Mackinac Island.

Choose a spot on the map, say, Devil’s Kitchen (west toward St. Ignace) or Mackinac Island’s Arch Rock (east past Mission Point Resort). Using the corner of Main Street and Fort Street (at Marquette Park) to begin a run, Devil’s Kitchen and Arch Rock are each a little over one mile from downtown. Run out, turn around, run back. It’s as simple as that. That may not be the way you run at home, but give it a try and get a feel for why running the perimeter road is more enjoyable than a daily training run. You’ll be surprised how interesting and different it’ll be.

Certainly, consider a run-walk outing. If you’re like most serious runners, the mere idea of a run-walk might be annoying, so think of it as a special opportunity on Mackinac Island. Visit for professional suggestions for tackling a long walk-run.

Adding distance is easy. British Landing on Mackinac Island, for example, is about 3 miles west of downtown.

Unsure about relying on a map? Run by time rather than distance, there’s no need to choose a spot. Hit the start button, add 1 minute or five to a run out of downtown, turn around and head back.

A woman sits on a brick wall beneath Arch Rock during a run around Mackinac Island.

Keep in mind that Lake Shore Drive can be very congested, with carriages, drays, walkers, and bicycles sharing the same two-lane road. An early morning or evening run is a far better option than mid-day, especially during the peak vacation season of mid-June to Labor Day. Less congestion allows for a more relaxing run, so you can enjoy one of Lake Shore’s wonderful benefits, the spectacular view.


Peter Marabell grew up in Metro Detroit, spending as much time as he could street racing on Woodward Avenue in the late 1950s and visiting the Straits of Mackinac. With a Ph.D. in History and Politics, Peter spent most of his professional career at Michigan State University. As a freelance writer, he worked in several professional fields including health care, politics, and the arts. In 2002, Peter moved permanently to northern Michigan with his spouse and business partner, Frances Barger, to live, write, and work at their Mackinac Island business. All things considered (Peter still says), he would rather indulge in American politics, or Spartan basketball, after a satisfying five-mile run on the hills of Mackinac Island.

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