Annual Labor Day Mackinac Bridge Walk 2023: Cross the Mighty Mac
by Arianna Bicharra
The Mackinac Island Bridge Walk is scheduled for September 4, 2023, from 7 a.m. until noon.
We’re sharing everything you need to know about this exciting Michigan Labor Day tradition, including where the rules for bridge walkers, where to park, and even where to find restrooms!
About the 2023 Annual Labor Day Mackinac Bridge Walk
Ever dreamed about crossing the Straits of Mackinac?
You can, of course, thanks to the amazing feat of modern architecture that is the Mackinac Bridge.
You can do it in the company of thousands of others, too, at the annual Labor Day Mackinac Bridge Walk, when participants in the walk traverse to the midpoint of the bridge from Mackinaw City and St. Ignace, and then turn back.
Some continue on, walking the entire bridge on foot or in wheelchairs; hundreds of feet above the deep blue below at the exact spot that Lakes Michigan and Huron meet. Taking part in this event is very special: it is the ONLY time that pedestrians are allow to walk on the Mackinac Bridge.
Read on to learn more about this annual Michigan tradition celebrating Michigan’s iconic bridge and the unity between the state’s two peninsulas.
The Labor Day Bridge Walk isn’t just for the super – physically fit; as long as you can make the five-mile journey to the mid-point of the bridge on foot, you’ll be fine.
Labor Day Bridge Walk
Walkers may start from the north end of the bridge in St. Ignace or at the south end of the bridge in Mackinaw City.If you decide to cross the entire bridge, you’ll have to turn back to get back to the side of the bridge that you started from. That brings your journey to 10 miles!
You’ll be joined by people pushing babies in strollers and folks in wheelchairs, too, all eager to cross the Mackinac Bridge and get a certificate at the completion of the event. It’s a fun event that has attracted crowds for more than 50 years, growing in popularity each year. According to the bridge authority, more than 30,000 people walked the bridge in 2019.
Come join us as we share more information about this unique Michigan tradition.
How to Participate in the Mackinac Bridge Walk
The Mackinac Bridge isn’t only known for being the state’s largest asset in Michigan history or being the longest suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere. It is also known for their annual bridge walk, a long-held tradition of crossing the bridge pedestrian-style on the outside paved lane of the bridge on Labor Day.
Here’s how the Annual Mackinac Bridge Walk works:
Where the Mackinac Bridge Walk Starts
You can walk from either side of the bridge – St. Ignace or Mackinaw City. To ensure the safety of the walkers, the bridge is closed to cars trucks and other public traffic from 6:30 a.m. until noon on the day of the walk. You may choose to walk the midpoint of the bridge and then turn around to reach your starting point (5 Miles), or walk to the other side of bridge.
Please note that if you choose to walk the entire length of the bridge, no transportation is provided for your return to your starting point. You will have to make arrangements for transporation back to your starting point on your own. Find more details on shuttle, ferries and transportation below.
When the Mackinac Bridge Walk Begins
The annual Labor Day Bridge Walk kicks off at 7:00 am, when the Governor starts the walk with her group.
The public may begin walking once she proceeds, and please remember that the latest you may start walking is at 11:30 am. You’ll want to be sure to show up before then in order to take part in this Michigan tradition.
Walk until you reach the midpoint of the bridge, approximately 2.5 miles, and then continue to walk returning to your starting point. This means it’s about five miles round trip: you’ll deserve that bridge walk certificate proving you’ve walked the bridge.
Options for Taking Part in the Mackinac Bridge Walk
You have three options for taking part in the annual bridge walk:
Half-Way and Return
Walk the 2.5 miles to the midpoint of the bridge and return to your starting point. You can do this walk from either side. Per the Mackinac Transit Authority: Walkers must be on the side of the bridge they wish to return to before 10 a.m. or you will be turned back, but walkers can walk at least a portion of the bridge if you start by 11:30 a.m.
Walk the Full Length of the Mackinac Bridge
Walk from either end of the bridge and continue across to the other side. This option is most like previous bridge walks. However, since bus transportation across the bridge will not be provided, walkers who choose this option will need to arrange for their own transportation back across after the bridge reopens at noon. Walkers who do not reach the midpoint of the bridge before 10 a.m. will be turned back.
Double Cross the Mackinac Bridge
Walk from either end of the bridge, continuing across to the other side, then walking back to the end of the bridge you started from. This option will mean a 10-mile round trip for participants. If walkers in this option do not reach the midpoint of the bridge on their return trip by 10 a.m. will be turned back. If you make the complete 10-mile journey, you’ll be able to call yourself a “Mackinac Bridge Double Crosser” along with a select group of others who have completed the feat. You can even purchase a T-shirt to tell the world about your accomplishment!
As in the past, persons who need reasonable accommodations due to disability may contact the Mackinac Bridge Authority by August 30, 2023 at 906-430-5337.
More Must-Know Facts About the Annual Labor Day Mackinac Bridge Walk
Where to Park for the Mackinac Bridge Walk
Parking for the Annual Labor Day Mackinac Bridge Walk is available along the streets in Mackinac City. You can also head to the Shepler’s Ferry Docks. For $20, bridge walkers who would like to park close to the Mackinac Bridge and start their walk from Mackinaw City may park in Lot 3 for $20 CASH ONLY per vehicle. Shepler’s guests, who are traveling to Mackinac Island or St. Ignace on Labor Day (must show valid ticket), may either park for free in Lot 1 at 311 S. Nicolet St. Mackinaw City or pay $20 to park in Lot 3 close to the Mackinac Bridge start. Parking is limited, and no advanced reservations will be accepted.
You can find free parking at Bridge View Park, located at W69 Boulevard Dr, St Ignace, MI 49781. Bridge View Park is located directly on the west side of the bridge. Parking is also available at Little Bear East Arena, 275 Marquette St, St Ignace, MI 49781, about two miles from the Mackinac Bridge. PLEASE NOTE: In past years there has been a shuttle service to and from the Little Bear East Arena to the bridge, but that shuttle service has stopped. You will have to find your own transportation from the parking lot to the bridge and back.
UPDATE: According to St. Ignace, Northern Transport and Shuttle Service will be providing transporation to and from the ferry docks and the local hotels. Please contact them directly 906-430-4337 at for more information.
Stay at a Hotel in Mackinaw City, St. Ignace or on Mackinac Island
If you choose stay at a hotel in Mackinaw City or in St. Ignace, you’ll be able to leave your car in the lot. You can also choose to stay in a hotel on Mackinac Island and take a Shepler’s or Star Line ferry to one of the starting lines. Round trip tickets are available, contact the ferry services for more detailed information on times and ticket prices.
More Things to Know About the Annual Mackinac Bridge Walk
Restooms at the Bridge Walk
Remember to prepare for a long trip as this walk takes about 2 hours to finish with no washrooms around for bathroom breaks. There are no bathrooms on the bridge. Portable toilets will be available in St. Ignace and Mackinaw City.
Getting Back to Your Starting Point If You Cross the Entire Bridge One Way
Remember thtat we mentioned if you are walking the entire length of the bridge, you will have to arrange for transportation back to their starting point, after the bridge reopens to the public after 12 p.m.
If you want to do the entire walk one way, Northern Transport & Shuttle provides shuttle service from the Mackinaw City Recreation Center to the north end. Reservations will be necessary and they will start running from Mackinaw City at 5 AM and the last shuttles must cross by 6:30. This shuttle was designed to aid people doing the Mackinac Bridge Run and will cost $20. They will also be available to take people back across the bridge after the walk for $20 per person after the bridge reopens.
They will be unable to cross the bridge between 6:30 AM and noon. If you walk the bridge and have them bring you back, they will take you to your motel or ferry dock. $10/peron. Call them to schedule at (906) 430-5337.
Our Family Share a Ride LLC will also be providing a shuttle vans over the Mackinac Bridge following the conclusion of the walk for $8/person. Details are still be worked out, but call them at (906) 298-2527 to see if they will work for you.
Another option is Star Line Ferry, which on Labor Day only, provides pedestrian ferry departures between Mackinaw City and St. Ignace. Star Line Ferry’s first 2023 departure from each community is at 6 AM and they will run from each community on the hour, through noon. Tickets purchased online in advance are $30/adult and $10/child (ages 5-12).
Both Star Line Ferry and Shepler’s Ferry also provide the option of taking a ferry to Mackinac Island from one of the two mainland communities and then taking a 2nd ferry to the other community. Many people using this option take the ferry after their Mackinac Bridge Walk and spend some time on Mackinac Island before taking the second ferry.
Mackinac Bridge Walk Must-Knows
- As per the Bridge Authority, prohibited items include umbrellas bicycles roller skates skateboards signs, banners, wagons and similar types of devices.
- With the sole exception of working service dogs, no animals are allowed on the bridge.
- Wheelchairs are allowed.
- Also note that except for pre-qualified, registered participants in the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness Run, no running or racing is permitted on the bridge.
- You will receive a numbered bridge walk certificate at the completion of your walk. Certificates will be distributed at both ends of the bridge. Individuals under the age of 18 should have the permission of a parent or guardian to participate in the walk. Any two or more people walking together should make plans for a meeting place in the event that they become separated during the walk.
- It’s Free! Crossing Mackinac Bridge is a Michigander’s rite of passage: if you decide to spend your Labor Day on the bridge, you will be glad to know that no fee nor registration is required to join in on the fun!
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Mackinac Bridge Facts
About the Mackinac Bridge
- When you hear the word “bridge”, one of the first things you may think of is the well-known fairy tale about the greedy troll living under one.
- Well, fear not because the only thing you will find under the fourth largest bridge in the world is a short waterway named the Straits of Mackinac.
- If you’re lucky, you’ll even catch a glimpse of a Mackinac ferry or two in the distance, scurrying across the water as it transports visitor to Mackinac Island from Mackinac City or St. Ignace.
- The Mackinac Bridge is one of Michigan’s proudest tourist attractions, and is a landmark for some taking the Great Lakes Circle Tour, which encompasses the entire Great lakes shoreline.
- Also known as “Big Mac” and “Mighty Mac”, Mackinac is the bridge connecting the village of Mackinaw City to St. Ignace which is another popular tourist attraction.
Mackinac Bridge Frequently Asked Questions
A. The Mackinac Bridge is a Suspension Bridge. Suspension bridges are decks held by cables and alow a person to cross from point A to point B. Mackinac Bridge connects the two peninsulas of Michigan. It it is not just a bridge, it is an adored landmark by Michiganders that even warranted for a book published by local author Mike Fornes in honor of its 50th anniversary. This 26,372-foot-long bridge is the world’s longest suspension bridge between anchorages in the Western Hemisphere
A. In case of emergency, official personnel, such as the Michigan State Police and more, will be in attendance to the event.
A. The Straits of Mackinac is located between the Upper Peninsula and Lower Peninsula. The Mackinac straits connects two of the Great Lakes’ bodies of waters, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. The Straits of Mackinac have a rich history in the development of Michigan, rooted in both the fur trade and the Native Americans living in the area.
A. The Mackinac Bridge is 26,372 ft. long, and 54 feet across. This vehicle crossing is five miles long and takes about 5-7 minutes to drive.
A. 3,500 workers helped construct the magnificent structure. Workers had to climb high towers, but they were rewarded with beautiful views.
A. Building the site was very precarious, 5 individuals perished during its construction.
A. Historic bridges include Brooklyn Bridge, Golden Gate Bridge, and, of course, Mackinac Bridge.The Golden Gate Bridge is the tallest bridge suspension in America, however, not the longest. The “Mighty Mac” is the longest, therefore earning it the grand nickname. To compare the total length of the bridges, the Golden Gate Bridge is 8,981 ft. and Mackinac Bridge is 26,372 ft. long
A. If you plan on crossing the bridge in Michigan, be mindful of the tolls you will have to pay with credit or debit cards on the North side of the bridge.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR-
Arrianna Bichara is a content writing intern for mymichiganbeach.com. Originally from California, she later moved to Michigan where she now attends Madonna University. She is currently majoring in Journalism and Public Relations with a minor in Criminal Justice. Travelling and storytelling has always been a hobby for Arrianna, and she is excited to bring the two together. In her free time, Arrianna likes to binge watch television shows, take photographs, and plan her next trips.
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