Move over Mighty Mac, there’s a new bridge in town. Well, nothing is every going to replace my love for the Mackinac Bridge, but Boyne Mountain’s Skybridge Michigan does have a few aspects it can laud over the old grandad, namely, that you can walk across it all year, as opposed to only Labor Day. Plus, the views are quite stunning.
Skybridge Michigan was inspired by a similar bridge in the Smokies of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and designed by the same company. I first experienced the new attraction when it opened in October of 2022. It was an incredibly memorable experience, and not just because there were still a couple of workers harnessed to the outside, making me wonder if it was really all finished. The view was magnificent, and everyone there was crossing it for the first time.
What to Expect
The adventure actually begins when you get on the chairlift. It might seem like no big deal if you’re an avid skier, but a few things are different. First, unless you’re visiting in the winter, you won’t have skis on, nor snow beneath your feet, so getting on and off is surprisingly clunky the first time. Then there’s the rookie element. Many people are taking this lift just to walk across the Skybridge, and have little or no chairlift experience. Be patient, and ease their fears, or your own, by remembering to pull the cross bar down for safety.
Once at the top of the mountain, you are welcome to explore. Turn right to head straight to the Skybridge. This is a suspension bridge, so you should expect it to sway a little, or a lot, depending on weather, how many people are on it, where they are, etc. Chances are, if you are embarking on this trek, you do not have much of a fear of heights. Still, it bears mentioning that the very center of the path includes a 36-ft see-through section of glass panels, which can make your heart skip a beat, or your feet forget how to move for a moment. Even if it doesn’t happen to you, be prepared that someone ahead of you may stop abruptly, or even turn back in fear.
Most important of all, take a good look around. On a clear day, you can see for miles and miles. Even on a hazy day, there’s beautiful views of the resort and surrounding mountains from up there. Fall is undoubtedly the most thrilling time to experience it, but it’s a fun jaunt any time of year. The engineering feat alone is amazing to contemplate. Here are some fun facts:
- SkyBridge Michigan’s tower design was inspired by the M in the Pure Michigan logo.
- It is the world’s longest timber-towered suspension bridge.
- The bridge is located between the peaks of McLouth and Disciples Ridge.
- It has an amazing 1,023-foot suspended walking surface, and the span from end-of-tower to end-of-tower is around 1,200 feet.
- The walking surface is 5-ft wide.
- At its highest point, the bridge towers 118 feet above the valley floor.
- Each tower is 52 feet high and weighs nearly 40,000 pounds.
- The bridge’s massive timber towers are constructed of timber that came from Matelski Lumber in Boyne Falls.
- The foundations contain more than a million pounds of concrete.
- 3,250 bolts are used in each tower.
- The main 3-inch cable weighs 22,000 pounds.
SkyBridge tickets include all-day access to SkyBridge Michigan and the nearby Hemlock Scenic Chairlift. That means you can ride the lift up, cross the bridge, and wander a bit. Get a bite to eat or a drink at Eagle’s Nest or a food truck. You can even go back down to explore restaurants and shops, and come up again to walk back and forth on the SkyBridge. Trust me, the experience changes a bit, each time, so it is well worth it to stay for a few hours, if not a weekend, and enjoy differing times of day, breezes, and crowd levels.
Save time and some money by ordering your ticket online or adding it to a Go Card. Online prices are:
- $25 for adults 11-69
- $20 for seniors 70+
- $15 for juniors 3-10
- Children under 3 are free
QR Codes will be emailed after your purchase. The codes will be scanned at the base of Hemlock chairlift and at the entrance of SkyBridge Michigan for access each time. If you opt to purchase on-site at the ticket window, it’s an extra five bucks per ticket. Plus, the lines can be long, especially with fall foliage in its full glory.
I’ve always been a huge fan of any opportunity to see the countryside from up above. Typically, those opportunities are fleeting, like in a plane. In this case, you can take your time, and let the majesty unfold before you. I’d say run, don’t walk to SkyBrdige Michigan, but it’s the walking that makes it special.