Northern Michigan is home to a lot of avid bikers; Mountain biking being only one of the many different types. Here in Michigan we are lucky to have so many different trails, each with different things to offer like: terrain, distance, difficulty, etc. I myself, am not an expert mountain biker by any means..however, I love getting out there, trying new trails and enjoying the beauty of Northern Michigan in a different way!
I’ve created a list of my top 12 favorite mountain biking trails in Northern Michigan.(This includes the northern lower peninsula, and upper peninsula.)
1. Woopidy Woo East/West Trail-Copper Harbor, MI
Copper Harbor is home to some of the most beautiful biking trails in Michigan. With its granite rocky terrain, and beautiful scenic overlooks, it is really hard to beat. Woopidy Woo East starts with a long hike up the side of Brockway Mountain-it’s exhausting and nerve-wracking (as you are riding the mountain side the whole time), but extremely rewarding when you get the the top! The trail then turns into Woopidy Woo West, where you start your decent down the mountain! Yes, it’s a little easier because you’re going downhill, but the rocks and roots make for an exciting and technical ride! I would highly recommend this trail, especially if you want an amazing view of Lake Superior!
2. Green Loop (South NoquemanonTrails)-Marquette,MI
The South Noquemanon Trail system in Marquette is full of so many different trails, all with different expertise levels (makes it easy for a group of riders to choose based on their comfort level.) My all time favorite trail though is the Green Loop. Yes, green does signify ‘easy’ in the mountain biking world, but I love it more because of the views you get, along with the distance (being about 9 miles), and the overall enjoyness of it. Like any UP bike trail it has quite a few rocks and roots, but overall is not too technical of a ride. While on this loop, you get to ride along the Carp River and pass by the Morgan Falls waterfall.
After you can easily jump on the paved sidewalk bike trail that goes everywhere throughout Marquette and hit up the ‘Marquette Co-Op’ or Sol Azteca for some good grub!
3. Bullwinkle-Copper Harbor,MI
Copper Harbor again! Bullwinkle trail connects to the trail system that I mentioned above. Woopidy Woo West ends at the bottom of the mountain and branches off into three different routes, one of which is Bullwinkle. This trail is full of a bunch of small ups-and-downs, quick turns, and a couple bridges crossing little rivers throughout. It doesn’t have the scenic overlook of Lake Superior like the other trails, however, it flows so beautifully through a thick Pine forest, which is beautiful itself.
4. Glacial Hills– Bellaire,MI
Most people know Bellaire, Michigan for the famous ‘Shorts Brewery,’ and lets be honest you definitely have to hit that place up if your in the area! But first, take a fun trip to the mountain bike trails of Glacial Hills! It is a spider web of trails weaving amongst the hills and forest covering 30+ miles of land. This trail is more groomed than other trails with few roots and rocks! The trail is very well marked, but can get confusing if you don’t stop and read the signs at all the intersections. It is beautiful all year around, but definitely makes for one of my most beautiful Fall mountain bike rides in Northern Lower Peninsula!
5. Vasa Pathway-Traverse City,MI
Difficulty: Intermediate/ Advanced
Traverse City also is a hotspot for a lot of different biking trails, with the most popular being the Vasa Pathway. The pathway has two different “main trails” being the 10K and 25K loops-both which are super fun! There are also a ton of different unmarked trails branching off, creating a web of different biking opportunities! The trail system is definitely one of the harder ones due to the rocks, roots, and sand but it extremely fun!
*If you are in the area and need to get a bike tune up, want a new bike, or just want to look around check out our friends at Einstein Cycles and ask for our friend Dan Curnayn!
**Also, grab a before ride breakfast/after ride lunch at their neighbor store Breakaway Cafe! They’ve got the best breakfast burritos in town, along with some amazing coffee, and other delicious treats. Make sure to say hi to Breanne Fortuna for us!
6. Gorgeous Trail (South Noquemanon Trails)-Marquette,MI
Another breathtaking trail in Michigans’ northern peninsula is the Gorgeous Trail in Marquette. Unlike the green one mentioned above, it is considered a black diamond (biker scale=difficult.) This trail is yet again along a cliffside overlooking the Carp River. It has pretty difficult terrain, covered in rocks and roots, but is definitely do-able (especially if I can do it!) The pretty cool thing about this tail though is that it ends right along M28-which has a paved trail leading to downtown Marquette. This trail is used for biking, walking, running, etc.
7. Stairway to Heaven-Copper Harbor,MI
Stairway to Heaven, is that suppose to be a metaphor for how one would feel going down it? When you first approach it…thats exactly how it made me feel! This is the end of the Copper Harbor Trail system-the final decent of the mountain! Catch is you have to ride wooden bridges down the entire thing…and they don’t have a side rail. All that set aside, it’s a super fun end to an awesome trail! Flying dow the wooden planks with a scenic view of Lake Superior, you really can’t beat that at the end of a ride!
Home sweet home! This bike system is right around the corner from where I live, so it makes for an easy trail to ride in a time crunch. This trial is around a system of about five small lakes: great for camping, fishing, or just hanging out for the day. Here, there is also an awesome spider web of different trails to take, but my favorite is the big loop around it all; about an 8 mile round trip. This is more on the beginners difficulty, but a fun and beautiful ride still!
9. Arcadia Dune Mountain Bike Trail– Arcadia,MI
Arcadia trails, another beautiful northern lower peninsula trail!It has a lot of fun uphill climbing and fast downhill sections. The terrain is generally smooth and hard packed with a few sand traps mixed in. There is a mix of fun winding back and forth and passing through some farm fields along the way! Just down the road is the Arcadia Bluff’s dune climb and hiking trails. This place could easily have a day trip out if it!
10. Harlow Lake Trails-Marquette,MI
My husband and I tried this trail system out for the first time this past summer and really enjoyed it! Snuggled in by Sugarloaf and Hogback mountain in Marquette, this bike system is definitely unique! It reminded me of those out in Colorado..you start riding in fields of grass, and then end up on a mountain side! Like most of the other bike trails, this also has a spider web of trails that you can really go as far and long as you want too!
11. Vasa Single Track– Traverse City,MI
Similar to the Vasa pathway that I mentioned earlier, but different in the fact that it is only single track and definitely less difficult than the pathway (most of the time.) This is 12 miles of marked trail weaving through more flat, but wooded forest terrain. Extremely beautiful, fast and fun bike ride!
12. Kalkaska Trails-Kalkaska,MI
This mountain bike trail is unnamed and unmarked along the trail. Found just off M72 and W Kalkaska Rd. For anyone who rides the Traverse City Iceman, this is part of the course at the very beginning! Kwin and I really enjoy riding this trail during the fall colors time!