Michigan may be renowned for its lakes and forests, but hidden within its scenic landscapes are some exhilarating mountain bike trails waiting to be discovered. Whether you’re a seasoned rider or a beginner seeking new challenges, the diverse terrain and breathtaking views offered by Michigan’s trails will leave you craving more. We’ve been riding all over Michigan and have found these 5 locations to be the best destinations for mountain biking!
Dragon Trail – Newaygo County:
Not surprising that this is our number 1 pick! It’s right in our backyard! One of the newest additions to the MTB scene here in Michigan, The Dragon Trail is quickly becoming a destination spot for mountain bikers both in the state and out-of-state! It’s called the Dragon because the shape around Hardy Dam looks like a dragon, but it is also a beast of a trail! When finished, it will be over 40 miles looping around the whole of Hardy Pond. Lots of amazing flowy areas, wider trails, and great views of Hardy Pond make this trail a must-ride! Ride it all in one day, or take multiple days to finish it. The beauty of this trail is that while it will make a full loop when finished, there are multiple entry and exit points, meaning you can do as much or little of the trail as you want. There are also tons of great gravel roads in the area for a day ride too. This trail is multi-use, so hikers can enjoy it as well! Need a place to stay in the area? We’re building a mountain bike-centered Airbnb with other really cool community features called Dragon Adventures Basecamp!
Marquette South Trails – Marquette:
Situated in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the Marquette South Trails are a mountain biker’s paradise. With more than 60 miles of interconnected trails, riders can explore the diverse terrain, including rocky ridgelines, lush forests, and scenic overlooks. The trails offer options for riders of all abilities, with opportunities for technical challenges and thrilling descents. The stunning views of Lake Superior and the city of Marquette add to the allure of this trail system. Marji Gesick, one of the toughest races in the Midwest uses many of these trails in its course. These trails are very different and more like old-school MTB trails because they are all hand built and maintained.
From Noquemanon Trail System’s Website, “Marquette County has received national acclaim as a premier mountain bike destination in several publications including Bike Magazine, Silent Sports Magazine and others. In 2014, the NTN Singletrack trails were awarded status as an International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) Ride Center, only one of two in Michigan. Parts of the South Trails have been there for over 25 years, while new trails are being added yearly.”
These trails are definitely a must-ride in Michigan!
Copper Harbor Trails – Keweenaw Peninsula:
Tucked away in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the Copper Harbor Trails offer an unforgettable mountain biking experience. With over 40 miles of purpose-built singletrack trails, riders of all skill levels can enjoy the rugged beauty of this region. From flowing descents to technical climbs, the trails cater to a variety of riding styles. Be prepared to navigate through rocky outcrops, root sections, and thrilling drops while soaking in stunning views of Lake Superior. One of the most famous sections of trail is called the Stairway to Heaven (video above) gives you just a glimpse at some of the technicality of the trails in this area. There are several different trails with something for each riding level! They are also one of the few trails that are Level 1 E-bike friendly in Michigan! One of the biggest destination points for mountain biking in Keweenaw is Keweenaw Mountain Lodge, which has three trailheads from the lodge, bikes to rent, and all different level of riding trails. It’s a great spot to get a taste of the amazing trails in this area of Michigan!
Potawatomi Trail and DTE Energy Foundation Trail – Pinckney and Chelsea:
Located just outside Ann Arbor, the Potawatomi Trail in Pinckney Recreation Area is a favorite among local riders. Spanning approximately 18 miles, this trail system weaves through dense woodlands, meandering around the scenic Silver Lake. The trail’s mix of fast, flowing sections and challenging climbs will keep you engaged throughout the ride. Don’t forget to pause at the observation deck for panoramic views of the lake and surrounding landscape. Drive about 20 minutes over to the DTE Energy Foundation Trail and add to your day of fun! This trail offers an exhilarating adventure for mountain biking enthusiasts. With over 20 miles of purpose-built singletrack, this trail system features an assortment of features, including berms, jumps, and technical descents. The carefully designed trail caters to riders of varying skill levels, ensuring an enjoyable experience for everyone. Scenic views of the surrounding Waterloo State Recreation Area are an added bonus.
Glacial Hills Pathway and Natural Area – Bellaire:
Head northward for a mountain biking trail that combines natural beauty with a variety of terrain! Glacial Hills Pathway and Natural Area is located near the charming town of Bellaire, about half way between Traverse City and Charlevoix, and spans over 30 miles through rolling hills, hardwood forests, and open meadows. The trails are well-maintained and offer a mix of gentle climbs, fast descents, and scenic overlooks, treating riders to breathtaking vistas of the surrounding landscape. Another trail that is also Level 1 E-Bike Friendly! Great fat biking in winter too! Make a weekend of it and enjoy the local shopping and eats too! Shorts Brewing is one of our favorites to grab a bite to eat when we are in the area!
Michigan’s mountain bike trails offer a thrilling and unforgettable experience for riders of all levels. From the rocky cliffs of Copper Harbor to the flowing trails of The Dragon, each trail provides a unique blend of natural beauty and adrenaline-inducing challenges. You can’t go wrong with any of these trails or the hundreds of other trails that are spread throughout Michigan! Just get out and enjoy the beauty of our great state and have some fun doing it! If you’re traveling to any of these locations and have questions, let us know, and we can give you recommendations to make your stay epic!
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Mark Deering, Adventuring REALTOR, 616.292.6215
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