Mountain Biking Up North
By Jeff Wellman
Mountain biking seems to be gaining more and more popularity lately and it is an activity that I have been enjoying in Northern Michigan for years. There are so many beautiful trail networks in our area to get out and bike on to enjoy the beautiful scenery of our area. I’ve outlined some of my favorites that are in and around our area that are worth checking out, and that I always recommend to my friends.
Glacial Hills, Bellaire
This well-maintained “spider web” network runs for 31.5 miles and consists of well-engineered, flowy trails. Accessible enough for beginners, but challenging enough for experts, the trail is diverse in topography and offers a fun ride. The paths are well marked and well groomed, with few roots and rocks to avoid. Just outside of Bellaire, Michigan, which is famous for Short’s brewery, so you’ll have to stop for a post-ride beer or snack!
For more experienced riders looking for challenging terrain, checkout the freeride trails at Boyne Highlands. These trails were modeled after the popular trails in the Northwest US, and will provide for an exhilarating ride. The naturally-cut trails, banked turns, jumps, narrow single-tracks and more make the terrain exciting and challenging, though there are trails that are more suitable for beginners as well. Located just north of Harbor Springs, these trails are easily accessible a few miles beyond M-119.
McCune Nature Preserve
A mixture of two-track and single-track trails, the ride at the Little Traverse Conservancy’s McCune Nature Preserve is a great place to ride for newbies and seasoned veterans looking for an easy ride. Minnehaha Creek passes through the land, making the topography lush and scenic; it’s a really beautiful ride. I recommend starting from the Berger Road Parking lot, although the trail can also be accessed from Maxwell Road. This is a year-round trail so pack your fat tire bike and utilize the groomed trails in the winter as well. The trails are not super technical and relatively flat, so they’re great for beginners.
The Boyne City School Forest
This trail network sits on land owned and maintained by the Boyne City Schools, and has recently added many more trails making this a large and diverse network of trails. The trails are great for beginners as they are relatively flowy with forgiving terrain. But, there are still some downhills that can be fun for more experienced riders and a new advanced trail that offers a more challenging ride. Just north of Boyne City, Barrel Back restaurant in Walloon Village is a great place to grab a post-ride bite to eat.