Fresh air, two wheels, and seemingly endless trails are the only ingredients needed for the perfect escape, and Michigan has an abundance of great mountain bike trails. The West might get more press when it comes to mountain biking, but you can have a full, challenging day of biking exploring the trails of Michigan.  We think the whole cycling scene in Michigan is underrated.

Pere Marquette

To get some serious bike hours in in the Wolverine State, here are some awesome trails to discover:

Pere marquette state trail

Located in Western Michigan near the Huron Manistee Nation forest, this path is for those seeking a place to let loose and build up some speed. From Baldwin to Clare, this 53-mile open ride consists of well-maintained asphalt and crushed stone. The smooth simple trail allows for high-speed travel with little distraction. The lack of technical features, incline variance, and difficult terrain makes it a great place to burn it up. During this trip, you will see the Baldwin River, Sanborn Creek, small lakes, and plenty of nature scenes. For cool down periods, rest points equipped with benches are spotted along this track. Pere Marquette is a great place to get those legs pumping and just fly, with some towns and villages along the way for a rest stop or cup of coffee.

Noquemanon Trails Network

Noquemanon

Let’s say you are a skilled cyclist and want to get some technical work in.  The Noquemanon is a perfect location to build technical skills and push your limitations. Located in rugged Marquette on the south shore of Lake Superior, this set of paths consists of 3 trail networks with 150 miles of single and double track. There is something for every skill level here from beginner to professional. Come ready for excitement, as this is not the place for easy, relaxing rides. Focused on more extreme endeavors, Noquemanon offers twists, turns, hops, bumps, jumps, rocks, roots, and many other technical challenges. To conquer this beast be prepared for multiple terrains, over-water bridges, and several steep climbs. Riders will experience the elevations of Mt. Marquette as well as water views of the Carp River and Morgan Creek.

Fred Meijer White Pine Trail

This 92-mile Western Michigan rail-trail lets a rider experience a bit of everything.  It is located not far from the first trial on our list, the Pere Marquette. This track offers a good length of smooth paved riding but tosses in some challenging sand, grass, crushed stone, and gravel areas. Stretching from Walker to Cadillac, the route passes through several small communities which makes it ideal for a group ride if some social stops are in order. Pack plenty of water though, because between towns are large stretches of natural beauty and farmland. The scenery includes views of Sand Lake, Rouge River, amazing underpass tunnels, and breathtaking water crossings.  Technically, it is not a terribly difficult trail, but you will want to be sure you have a bike that can handle a variety of surfaces.

Glacial Hills

Another single track trial, the Glacial Hills trail system is known just as much for the hiking as it is for the bikin.  If elevation change is your desire, then head over to Bellaire and give this gorgeous 32-mile track a try. Consisting of an unpaved natural path, Glacial Hills provides a high altitude adventure. It is a smooth fast flow trail with a few technical tasks, and allows the rider to take full advantage of downhill acceleration. The ride involves many quick turns and switchbacks as you weave between the trees. Making your way up and down the hillside provides periods of calf-burning workout, broken up by adrenaline-pumping bursts of speed. The high ground provides a beautiful backdrop for the experience with a long distance view of water bodies and forests.  A good trail for those who are looking to get their mountain bike good and dusty, without having to head up to the Upper Peninsula.

North Eastern and North Central State Trails

NorthCentral Trail

There are some great bike trails on the Eastern side of the state too.  For a true endurance challenge, these two trails offer an immense 133 miles to cover. The North Eastern State Trail is located between Alpena and Cheboygan. Near the Cheboygan trailhead, it intersects with the North Central State Trail, which stretches between Mackinaw City and Gaylord. With a path of mainly crushed limestone, they beckon for mountain bike enthusiasts but are also good for other gravel bikes and cyclocross setups.  As a difficult, exhausting terrain, it requires carrying a lot of water and supplies to fix a flat tire. The trip is ideal for those who also love camping, as many waterside stops are spread along its length. These include Lake Huron, the Indian River, and Mullett Lake. Over the full experience, you will encounter farmlands, forests, small towns, beaches, and wetlands.

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