Why Michigan Is an Epic Mountain Biking Destination
No matter if you're looking for insane views from the top or challenging paths to the bottom, you'll find it all in this Midwest state.
From flat, family-friendly paths to technical downhill dashes, Michigan's 800-plus miles of top-rated trails have every kind of mountain biker covered. (And while you're there, also check out these other gorgeous Michigan parks.)
If you want altitude adventures
Head to: Boyne Mountain Resort, Boyne Falls, or Boyne Highlands Resort, Harbor Springs
If you'd rather not pack your own rig, you can get wheels at these year-round sister-property resorts. Rent enduro bikes, fat bikes and electric bikes, good for a variety of terrain-then ride the ski lifts and fly downhill. Boyne Mountain Resort in Boyne Falls has 16 new trails of varying difficulties and a 7-mile paved path for all ages. Boyne Highlands Resort in Harbor Springs features dozens of miles of cross-country terrain, a skills park and downhill trails with banked turns and jumps. Bunk down in a lodge room, villa, condo or cottage.
If you want contour cruising
Head to: Glacial Hills Pathway, Bellaire
For fast, flowy mountain biking on more than 30 miles of forested trails, hit Glacial Hills. There's something for every stripe of rider here: a mellow family-friendly loop, a roughly 6-mile rolling hills route, and a loop under a canopy of hardwood trees that lets you tackle the steady climbs, long descents, and tightest trail. Make basecamp at Shanty Creek Resorts; you can rent traditional and e-bikes.
If you want epic views
Head to: Copper Harbor Trails, Copper Harbor
Riders know Copper Harbor for its network of more than 35 miles of world-class trails that hold Epic status from the International Mountain Biking Association. Check out the rolling singletrack, boardwalk and bridges, as well as trails such as On the Edge, with rocky terrain, epic climbs, and technical descents. (It may sound scary, but here's why you should try mountain biking even if it terrifies you.) Kick back with easier rides on the old logging roads and Jeep trails that traverse the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula by Lake Superior. Bike-friendly Copper Harbor lures riders with campgrounds, motels, restaurants, and a microbrewery. You can rent bikes, take a guided tour, and grab a convenient shuttle service with the Keweenaw Adventure Company.
If you want colossal climbs
Head to: Marquette Trails, Marquette
Three distinct mountain bike networks define Marquette's trail system. Find some of the most challenging technical riding (throughout the Midwest) at Harlow Lake. The 17.2 miles require navigating rocky outcrops and steep descents. Noquemanon Trail Network splits with the easier singletrack North Trails and the tougher South Trails, with great terrain diversity known for steep climbs and deeper drops. Decades-old, grassroots-built trails exist at RAMBA (Range Area Mountain Bike Association) and spread throughout the Iron Range. Road cyclists enjoy the 47-mile Iron Ore Heritage Trail, the backbone to all the county's singletrack, with easy on-off stops, including downtown Marquette with eateries and hotels. (Related: 5 Life Lessons I Learned from Mountain Biking)
If you want... to race your heart out
Test your skills at a mountain bike race that attracts elite riders and first-timers alike.
Lord of the Springs, Middleville
This challenge in and around the Yankee Springs Recreation Area takes riders over 35 miles of legendary singletrack trails, two-tracks, and gravel roads. (September 15, lordofthesprings.com)
Peak2Peak Mountain Bike Classic, Thompsonville
Held at the Crystal Mountain resort, this fast course's two-tracks and flowing singletrack trails weave through 12 miles of hardwood and pine forests. (October 20, crystalmountain.com)
Bell's Iceman Cometh Challenge, Kalkaska to Traverse City
This hugely popular race winds through two-tracks and a portion of the Vasa Pathway for 30 miles in the Pere Marquette State Forest. (November 3, iceman.com)