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Stage 669 – Raco to Sault Ste Marie

When I looked at the map and thought “There’s one full stage left in the United States before Sault Sainte Marie and the Canadian border, I was expecting a route that straddled the coast or something that headed generally north east. What I wasn’t expecting was what stage 669 throws up: sixteen miles straight and downhill heading east to a ninety degree left hand turn north that climbs for four miles before flatting out right at the finish. It’s a very stark, very black and white kind of a stage. It basically feels like one or the other from start to finish yet actually it might even be either of those things because while it climbs less than one hundred feet, it also descends by less than two hundred. It’s almost certainly a powerfest.

The rollout is east from Raco and it’s gently downhill from the off. There’s water after a mile in the shape of Hickler Creek which crosses under the road flowing south, and there’s South Branch Orrs Creek to the north. Both rivers follow the road for the first five miles: indeed Hickler Creek crosses under it twice more, at four miles then again half a mile later, And there’s more water at six miles where Hickler Creek flows into the Waiska River just south of where the Waiska crosses under the highway. The direction of all of the tributaries at that point suggest that the Waiska River flows south to north into Lake Superior.

Approaching the foot of the descent, at thirteen miles, Highway 28 passes by Dafter, and three miles after that, the route swings left (north) onto Highway 129 which has come up from Pickford further south. Around the corner, the road starts rising, albeit gently, but that’s surprising as the highway is actually heading straight for Sault Sainte Marie where the St Mary’s River flows into Lake Superior.

Streams continue to flow under the road at regular intervals, flowing east into the river or west into the lake. The most prominent of them is Ermalinger Creek at nineteen miles and it’s shortly after that that the road peaks before flattening out in the last mile to the finish which is where Highway 129 approaches the junction with 3 Mile Road West and East, a couple of miles south of Sault Sainte Marie.

Distance: 21 miles / 34 kilometres

Distance: 21 miles / 34 kilometres

Ascent: 69 feet / 21 metres

RGT Magic Road: wWsEQd99Ovly

Total distance: 21.05 mi
Max elevation: 819 ft
Min elevation: 661 ft
Total climbing: 69 ft
Total descent: -174 ft

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