Mountain Bike Trails in Michigan 

There’s cycling on two wheels – sedately pedaling along a flat path – and then there’s mountain biking. If you love the rush of riding a bike with a big, knobby tires down a curving trail, over roots and rocks, then pushing your body into a leg-pumping climb, this popular sport might be your jam. And if you’ve already found your sweet spot with mountain biking, you know you’re in growing company. Michigan bills itself as one of the most bike-friendly states in the nation. Let’s look at some great mountain bike trails across Michigan. 

It’s not secret mountain bike trails have spiked in popularity across the country in the last few years. Biking joined other outdoor sports that saw a huge pandemic-era increase. And it’s great exercise. It’s not only a good workout for your heart, pedaling a bike improves your coordination, helps with fat loss and offers a nice mental health boost as well, according to Harvard University’s School of Public Health 

In Michigan, mountain biking trails are varied as our two peninsulas’ gorgeous topography. We’ve got Lower Peninsula trails through pine forests and hardwoods, and others near beach towns and backdune areas. In the Upper Peninsula, there are trails close to waterfalls and over tough bedrock linked to the area’s ancient volcanic past. We turned to Pure Michigan, the state’s travel and tourism arm, and other mountain biking websites to find a collection of cool trails to try across the state: 

Keweenaw Peninsula. Michigan’s northernmost peninsula that just into Lake Superior proudly describes itself as home to the Midwest’s best mountain biking trails. Want those ‘gnarly’ technical trails? Head out on the 37 miles of single track that is part of the Copper Harbor IMBA Silverlevel Ride Center. Or check out the all-level rolling trails at Michigan Technological University in Houghton. Places like the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge host free weekly group rides in season.  

Traverse City. Each November, this city by Grand Traverse Bay is home to the biggest single-day mountain biking race in North America, the Iceman Cometh Challenge. But mountain biking is popular here whenever the weather is good for it. The VASA Pathway trails just outside of town are known for their open and rolling terrain. But they also serve up some bite, with fast downhills and sand pockets to maneuver through.  

Newaygo. The Dragon Trail in the Hardy Dam area is described as multi-use trail, but it is a special place among mountain bikers. This curving destination trail has more than 29 miles already finished, with more segment work planned. It takes riders through forests, past lake-like Hardy Pond, and past rivers, parks and campgrounds. On this one, you can ride for hours or make it a bike-and-camp adventure.  

Chelsea. In Southeast Michigan, this trail gets rave reviews. It’s a four-loop, 20-mile trail system all located within the Waterloo Recreation Area. Riding direction alternates depending on the day, so make sure to check out the trail signs before you begin.  


Photo credit: Getty Images

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