Marblehead Drummond Island

Drummond Island: The Gem of the Huron

Drummond Island is known as the Gem of the Huron and it doesn’t take a visitor long to realize how it got its nickname. Your journey begins when you cross the Mighty Mac, as you drive the 5 mile suspension bridge across the Mackinaw Straits, you can breathe a little easier. I don’t know if it’s the clearer air of the UP, the beautiful views from high above the straits, or the fact that Drummond Island isn’t much further. Nestled at the eastern tip of the upper peninsula, in the north end of Lake Huron lays an ORV enthusiast’s paradise. Excitement builds as you follow M-134 east along Lake Huron through the Les Cheneaux Islands region, trying to catch the boat to Drummond! But have no fear, the car ferry operates year round, hourly from 5:40 am to 12:40 am! The ferry ride is an adventure itself! Drive right on, and enjoy the short one mile ride to paradise. When you arrive you will be treated to picturesque forests, and plenty of room to roam. 

Drummond Island is the second largest freshwater island in the United States, consisting of 87,000 acres. With a year-round population of a little over a thousand people, Drummond is the perfect place to get away from it all. Although a world away, the Island offers plenty to make you feel right at home. From gas, to groceries, auto repair, to a variety of lodging, we have you covered. But you came to the largest closed loop ORV/ATV system in the state to RIDE! With over 100 miles of trails there is a lot to explore! There are trials for experienced off roaders, and those just starting out alike. The Drummond Island Tourism Association (located at four corners), Drummond Island Resort and Conference Center, and several other local businesses offer free ORV/ATV trail maps, which show the relative difficulty of the various trails. For those just starting out I highly recommend taking a ride out to the famous Fossil Ledges. Located on the north shore of the Island the off road trail opens up to a breath taking rocky ledge beach, a remnant of eons past. Take a bit of time to stretch your legs and look closely at the fossilized remains of a salt water coral bed; if the weather is right this is also a great place to take a dip! Just be careful as the ledges create some deep drop offs. Remember to tread lightly, the journey to the ledges is a fun ride, but foot traffic only on the beach, and be sure to take only pictures, and leave only footprints.

Fossil Legdes Drummond Island
Fossil Ledge on Drummond Island is made up of the fossilized remains of salt water coral

If the trail to Fossil Ledges wasn’t challenging enough, check out the rocky road to one of Drummond’s signature landmarks, Marblehead. The largest challenge of the ride to the dry non-acid cliff is the final obstacle, the steps! Traversing these makes the view even more spectacular. Overlooking the North Channel, 100 feet above Lake Huron, you will be on the eastern most part of the island, on a clear day you will even see Cockburn Island, Ontario! The plant life found on this rare limestone cliff is unique! Take a moment to enjoy one of Drummond’s thirteen plus ecosystems. With Fossil Ledges being one of the least challenging rides, and Marblehead one of the most difficult, don’t forget there are lots more trails to explore, with some great destinations like Glen Cove Beach, and Shale beach. But as a true off road enthusiast will know, the journey IS the destination! 

With the off road trails darting in and out of the boreal forest landscapes, flirting with the rocky shoreline of Lake Huron, here are some of the most scenic trails in Michigan. It seems that one could ride for days and not explore it all. 

To challenge yourself and your ride even further, check out the off road park, Turtle Ridge. Within Drummond Island Resort and Conference Center’s large property lies a challenging off road experience. With an upper and lower section for varying skill level and vehicle modification, you can try out the carved limestone trails that are sure to put your vehicle to the test, and provide memories that last a lifetime. 

Turtle Ridge is an ORV park and wildlife preserve
Turtle Ridge is an ORV park and wildlife preserve
Kayaking the island is always an added adventure with a different perspective
Kayaking the island is always an added adventure with a different perspective

When its time to take a break from the trails don’t fear Drummond hasn’t much to offer aside from its rugged terrain and off road challenges. Make sure to pack your paddling gear, and enjoy kayaking part (or all!) of the Heritage Water Trail around the island. There are even some shipwrecks that are visible on a calm day. With many peaceful coves off of ORV trails, paddling becomes riding’s perfect mate! Don’t be afraid to stretch your legs either, all of the ORV trails on the island are hikable as well! This can provide the perfect opportunity to take in some of the Island’s many bird species and prevalent wildlife. 

Jeep the Mac is an annual event
Jeep the Mac is an annual event

If you aren’t sure how to get the ball rolling and meet other ORV enthusiasts here on Drummond Island, look into joining one of the many off road events hosted annually on the Island. The official kick off to the season is brought to us by the annual Jeep the Mac event, held this year May 6-8. With nearly 700 jeeps crossing the Mighty Mac and making their way to the Island, this is the perfect event for beginners and seasoned jeepers alike. This year we had a great time welcoming in Summer with the poker run, Jeeps and Java at Drummond Island Resort, and, of course, an all day party with vendors, music, and thrills at the mud bog! We are looking forward to hosting the 29th Jeep Jamboree on the Island over Father’s Day weekend. With an expected 300 participants looking to enjoy a weekend of riding and friendship, this year is sure to be a wild ride! Many participants will look to earn their Jeep Badge of Honor on the Marble Head Trail. 

If you don’t have a Jeep, no problem! Stock ORVs and 4x4s can handle most everything the Island throws at them, however, it is recommended that you equip your vehicle with skid plates. There’s a reason one of Drummond’s nicknames is ‘The Rock’. Though utility style quads and 4x4s tend to be the vehicles seen most often on the rugged Drummond Trails, side by sides and all varieties of off road vehicles have ample trails to explore. 

Time to put all that Drummond has to offer, from delectable dining at Bayside Fine Dining, to the miles of trails, to the numerous lodging options from rustic to modern, on your bucket list. I’ll see you out on the trails, don’t forget to ‘Tread Lightly’! Check out or to start planning your trip today! •

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