While not the first "official" routing of the Great Lake Circle Tours, the approximately 1,300-mile long Lake Superior Circle Tour can trace its history back to a loosely-organized "circle coute" around the Big Lake in the 1960s. Promoted by local tourist organizations by way of brochures, pamphlets and other promotional materials, the earlier incarnations of a loop route around the largest freshwater lake in the world were not signposted and travellers had to rely on the tourist brochures to find their way.
After the first official circle tour—the Lake Michigan Circle Tour—was designated and signed in 1987-88, the LSCT became the second official tour, complete with designated route and signs very soon after. While Lake Superior is the largest of the Great Lakes, the shortest segment of the LSCT is the part in Wisconsin between Superior and Hurley/Ironwood. Wisconsin's 144 miles of Lake Superior Circle Tour comes in just behind Minnesota's 154 miles, Ontario's 485 miles and Michigan's 520 miles.
Lake Superior Circle Tour Route
In Wisconsin, the mainline of the LSCT follows signed state highway routes in its entirety, although in some places the route might be nearly ten miles from Lake Superior. With one exception, though, there are no other state or county trunk highways closer to the lake than the route of the LSCT. This route listing lists the official route as well as any locally-designated and marked "Lake Superior Circle Tour Loops and Spurs," which are generally posted with brown signs. The loop and spur routes are detailed following the mainline route below:
- The LSCT enters Wisconsin from Minnesota at Duluth/Superior via I-535/US-53 on the Blatnik Bridge.
- At the southern end of the Blatnik Bridge, the LSCT continues southeasterly via US-53 and US-2/US-53 through Superior.
- Just south of Superior, the tour turns easterly via STH-13 to parallel the shoreline through the communities of Port Wing, Bayfield and Washburn in the Apostle Islands region.
- The Circle Tour re-joins US-2 just west of Ashland and continues easterly via US-2 through Ashland and Odanah toward Hurley and Ironwood.
- At Saxon, a Lake Superior Circle Tour Loop route leaves the mainline route and continues northerly.
- The LSCT leaves Wisconsin and enters Michigan at Hurley and Ironwood.
- Continue with the Lake Superior Circle Tour on the Michigan Highways website.
Note: The "Circle Tour Road Route" description from the GLIN website is not only vague, but incorrect! While a good shortcut route, the LSCT does not use US-2 between Superior and Ashland. In fact, between STH-13 junctions on US-2, there are no Lake Superior Circle Tour route markers! Other errors in the routing shave hundreds of miles from the acutal, posted route of the Lake Superior Circle Tour. The route included on this website has been personally researched by the website author in the field.
Lake Superior Circle Tour Loop and Spur Routes
As it leaves Wisconsin and enters Michigan, the LSCT at Hurley is approximately 10 miles from the Big Lake, as the crow flies. To provide for a easy-to-navigate route to the Lake Superior shore at Little Girls Point as well as the westernmost point in Michigan, a locally-desinated Loop Route heads north from the mainline in the Hurley/Ironwood area. Although it follows a state highway route in Wisconsin, the route on the Michigan side is county roads, which precludes it from being signed as an official portion of the LSCT. The route:
- The LSCT Loop route begins at jct US-2 & STH-122 at Saxon and continues northerly via STH-122.
- At the Montreal River bridge, the loop route enters Michigan and the road is now designated as Gogebic CR-505, which it will remain all the way back to Ironwood.
- The loop route contines on CR-505 through some turns, entering Ironwood from the north.
- This routing ends at the LSCT mainline along US-2 northeast of downtown Ironwood.
Back to: Great Lakes Circle Tour page.
- Great Lakes Circle Tour – new website from the author of WisconsinHighways.org.
- Lake Superior Circle Tour – from the Great Lakes Information Network (GLIN), which "is a partnership that provides one place online for people to find information relating to the binational Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region of North America." Please note that the "Circle Tour Road Route" description from the GLIN site is not only vague, but incorrect in several places! (See note above following the detailed routing for more information.)
- Lake Superior Circle Tour Online – from the publishers of the excellent Lake Superior Magazine, headquartered in Duluth. The site is currently under development, but visitors are encouraged to visit the magazine's site for Lake Superior touring information. Lake Superior Magazine also publishes an annual Lake Superior Circle Tour Travel Guide and even offers anyone who requests one a free map of Lake Superior! (Alas, you have to pay a small shipping & handling charge these days...)
- Lake Superior Circle Tour – "North of Superior Tourism Association is proud to present the Circle Tour as a cooperative marketing initiative to bring together like minded destinations that are accessible to travelers of the Lake Superior Circle Route. (This site mainly deals with destinations in Northern Ontario.)