MOUNTAIN BIKERS — RIDE THE BEST BIKE TRAILS IN MICHIGAN HERE
THE UPPER PENINSULA IS YOUR FOUR-SEASON BIKING PARADISE
If you like mountain biking, there is no place in Michigan more scenic, more varied in its terrain or more thrilling in its races than the Upper Peninsula. This isn’t just a late spring through mid-fall muscle burn. Prove your mettle on our snowy trails from late fall to early spring straddling your fat tire bike. There is no vegging out here.
Besides the renowned U.P. trails listed below, you can spend years adventuring solo or with a group on thousands of miles of logging roads, abandoned railroad grades, state and national forest trails, single tracks, off-season cross-country ski trails and low-traffic highways.
No mountain biker in the Midwest will argue that whether you want to learn or push way beyond your limits, these are the best of the best trails to do it. Three of them earned International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMPA) top rankings.
Silver Mountain Mountain Bike Trail
St. Ignace | 1.58 miles | Beginner to intermediate flow loop and climbing trail
Just 3 miles west of the Mackinac Bridge off US-2 is an exposed bedrock trail that is also groomed for fat tire bikes in the winter months. The ride features berms, jumps, rock features and beautiful views of Silver Lake and Lake Michigan.
Day’s River Pathway
Gladstone | 9 miles | Beginner, intermediate and adrenaline-rush loop trails
This postcard scenery trail winds along the Days River. Choose from five loops; two are perfect for kids and those new to the sport. A 3-mile loop is exclusively for mountain and fat tire bikers. Watch for white-tailed deer, songbirds, hawks, eagles and other wildlife along the way.
Grand Island Trail
Grand Island | 21.2 miles | Most of the trail is just right for beginners
You will need to take a ferry to reach Grand Island, but it’s one scenic ride once you get there. The first 10 miles are uphill, but doable by beginners. If you don’t cross over to the island with your mountain bike, you can rent one at Williams Landing when you arrive.
Munising Bay Trail Network
Munising | 33 miles singletrack and 26 miles of two-track | Three singletrack loops | 6.2 miles groomed snow bike route
This trail network includes the Valley Spur Recreational Area, a great family ride with easy to difficult terrain choices. The Munising Mountain Bike Non-Motorized Park is open to bikers and hikers. Beginners to intermediate riders will go airborne on the “Superior Air” jump trail, the “Rock On” trail has black diamond status with its gap jumps and steep wooden roll downs, and the “Munising Bay” loop has jaw-dropping views of Lake Superior. Bruno’s Run Hiking/Mountain Biking Trail gets high praise for its terrain and scenery. If you are a competitive biker, enter Hiawatha’s Revenge in June and Mountain Goat Mash in September.
Morgan Creek Loop
Marquette | 8.2 miles (Green Loop) | Part of the South Trails in the Noquemanon Trail Network
An easy ride for beginners and any biker who wants to see the beauty of this mild terrain trip in the Noquemanon Trail Network. This narrow trail goes down along the Morgan Creek waterfall. For anyone who wants an even easier ride to the waterfall, follow the utility road next to the creek trail.
Harlow Lake Mountain Bike Trails
Marquette | Nearly 15 miles | Some of the area’s most advanced and technical terrain
This ride is not only exhilaratingly challenging, it’s tough to top the vistas of Harlow Lake and Lake Superior.
North Trails Loop
Marquette | 10. 6 miles | Part of the Noquemanon Trail Network, IMBA Epic Trail
Technically, this Noquemanon Trail Network unforgettable ride starts at Marquette Board of Light and Power, but locals will point you to kick-off from Tourist Park. This “new school” trail uses IMBA trail-building technology to give riders across all skill levels flow, technical, jump, freeride, DH, dual slalom and kids/beginners experiences. The singletrack has earned national acclaim in several publications including Bike Magazine, Singletracks, Freehub, Dirtrag, MTBR, Silent Sports Magazine and others. It is one of two trails in Michigan and 16 nationwide to get IMBA Epic Trail status. Gosh, it’s tough to surpass the thrills of this ride that incorporates waterfalls, dams, bench cuts, berms and bridges!
South Trails Loop
Marquette | 30 miles | Part of the Noquemanon Trail Network | Advanced and intermediate terrain
During your mountain biking lifetime, check out both the Benson Grade side and Mt. Marquette side of this section of the Noquemanon Trail Network. The Benson Grade has flow lines, steep berms and jump lines. You’ll love the downhill trails. Mt. Marquette grade dishes out steeper climbs, technical rocky trails and some milder enduro rides.
Among the South Trails Loop there are two double black diamond trails — Chunder Muffin and Bertha — and one black diamond trail — the Down Dogger. Be sure to catch the glorious thrill of the Freak N Nature blue/black diamond stretch of the Pioneer Loop.
Iron Ore Heritage Trail
Ishpeming to Marquette | 47 miles | Multi-use fun
See a cross-section of Marquette County’s scenery, history and culture. This trail takes you into the heart of Marquette for a restaurant or brewery stop. Views of Lake Superior are worth the calorie burn. Pick up a map to know the part of the trail designated for biking.
Ishpeming and Negaunee | 77 miles of hand-built singletrack | 20+ miles of groomed snow bike trail
This twisted singletrack climbs, winds and descends along the Dead River in the western part of Marquette County. Over the decades, it’s been hand-built (no machines) by the grassroots trail organization Range Area Mountain Bike Club (RAMBA). It is a Bronze Level IMBA Ride Center with trailheads throughout the Iron Range. If you are a half-crazed mountain biker, the Marji Gesick (locally called Da Marji) in September, is part of the National Ultra Endurance mountain bike race series. The RAMBA trails’ rocks, roots and punchy climb will pound you into submission and leave you woozy with an adrenaline high.
Copper Harbor Trails
Copper Harbor | Nearly 40 miles | IMBA Silver Level Ride Center
If you want an epic ride with incredible scenery, there is no better place in the U.S. Midwest than the Copper Harbor Trails on the Keweenaw Peninsula at the northernmost point of mainland Michigan. Old-growth forests, pristine inland lakes and streams, historic locations, mountaintop vistas and rugged Lake Superior shoreline punctuate these trails’ series of rocky undulating ridges and valleys. The cedar-planked boardwalks and bridges are hallmarks of these trails. This is a daredevil’s paradise!
If you want more thrills, you are within an hour of the Keweenaw Trails that spur out of Houghton, Hancock and Calumet.
Porcupine Mountains Trails
Ontonagon | 20+ miles | Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park
Michigan’s largest state park has loops ranging from 1.5 to 10.5 miles with the best rides in the northeast corner. Thrill seekers will brag for weeks after reaching the vista at the end of the singletrack at Copper Peak.
No matter what your riding level, these tips will make your time on the U.P.’s amazing mountain biking trails more enjoyable.
- Check the weather forecast for where you will ride before you head out. Bordered by three Great Lakes, the weather can be as different as sunshine in one part of the U.P. and blustery and rainy in another.
- Notify a friend or family member where you plan to ride. Let them know immediately if you change your route.
- Dress for the ride: mountain bike shorts with padding to reduce saddle fatigue, mountain bike jersey made with wicking fabric, mountain bike gloves, mountain bike shoes and mountain bike helmet. For downhill riding, seriously consider a full-face helmet.
- Outfit your mountain bike with flat mountain bike pedals — advisable for beginners — or clipless mountain bike pedals.
- Bring a cell phone or wear a smartwatch. Cell phone and GPS service reception can be spotty but have one of these communication devices with you.
- Keep your identification on you.
- Carry a mountain bike hydration pack. Make sure it has sufficient room to hold an extra clothing layer, repair essentials, trail map, portable snacks and 2 liters of water or sports drinks.
- Pack your mountain bike repair kit with these essentials: a spare tube, hand pump or CO2 inflator and a small multi-tool with several Allen wrenches and a chain tool.
Whether you are riding into the wilds or on trails near our cities, please read:
- 8 Things to Know Before You Go to the Upper Peninsula
- 8 Easy-to-Do Tips for Sustainable Travel in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula
- Wildlife in the Upper Peninsula
Protein bars and water or energy drinks are essential, but after racking your bike, you will be ready for a hunger-stopping meal, refreshing drinks and a chance to share your adventures. You won’t drive far to reach restaurants and drinking establishments near our mountain biking trails.
We also know the importance of a good night’s sleep after an epic ride. Find the amenities and rates you want, and even an occasional sauna or hot tub, at these lodgings. These are also good places to ask locals where to hit the trails tomorrow.
Please share with us what you are seeing and experiencing on your Upper Peninsula mountain biking adventures. Use our hashtag #uptravel or upload your photos or videos to our Crowdriff Collector below. We may feature them on our social media, website or in our marketing materials. Have a jaw-jarring good time!