Discover the Top 12 Mountain Bike Trails in Michigan for 2024: Ultimate Riders’ Guide


Explore 2024’s top 12 mountain bike trails in Michigan. Find your perfect ride with our ultimate guide for enthusiasts and adventurers alike. Michigan, a state renowned for its diverse landscapes and breathtaking natural beauty, offers some of the most exhilarating mountain biking experiences in the country. In 2024, the search for unparalleled mountain biking adventures leads to Michigan’s stunning variety of landscapes, from dense, verdant forests and rugged terrains to breathtaking vistas. This state is a haven for cyclists, offering thrilling paths for veterans of the sport and welcoming routes for novices eager to immerse themselves in nature. Our guide to Michigan’s top 12 mountain bike trails serves as a beacon for those ready to embark on extraordinary journeys.

Discover the Top 12 Mountain Bike Trails in Michigan for 2024: Ultimate Riders' Guide

It highlights not only the well-trodden paths but also the undiscovered treasures, ensuring each ride becomes a memorable part of your biking exploits. Prepare to explore and experience the best trails that cater to every rider’s preference, setting the stage for rides filled with awe-inspiring scenery and exhilarating challenges.

List of Top 12 Mountain Bike Trails in Michigan for 2024

Why Michigan for Mountain Biking?

The state’s unique topography provides an eclectic mix of trails. Michigan’s extensive natural beauty, marked by its Great Lakes shorelines, dense woodlands, and rolling hills, creates a perfect backdrop for the sport. Over the years, a committed community of riders and trail builders have developed a network of trails that not only challenge the rider but also offer moments of tranquility and connection with nature. This growth in the mountain biking community reflects the passion and dedication to the sport, making Michigan a must-visit for bikers.

Top 12 Mountain Bike Trails in Michigan for 2024

1. Copper Harbor Trails – Keweenaw Peninsula

Nestled at the tip of the Upper Peninsula, the Copper Harbor Trails stand out for their rugged terrain and breathtaking vistas of Lake Superior. These trails offer a variety, from flowy singletracks that provide scenic views to technical downhill paths adorned with natural obstacles. The trail system’s diversity ensures a fresh and exhilarating ride each visit, making it a top choice for mountain bikers seeking adventure amidst nature’s splendor.

  • Trail Length: Over 35 miles of singletrack trails.
  • Best Time to Visit: Late May to early October for optimal trail conditions and weather.
  • Special Features: The Flow and Downtown trails are notable for their thrilling downhill rides and panoramic views.
  • Bike Rental Fees: Options available in Copper Harbor with prices starting from $40 for half-day rentals.
  • How to Get There: Fly into Hancock’s Houghton County Memorial Airport and drive approximately 45 minutes to reach Copper Harbor, situated at the northern end of the Keweenaw Peninsula along US-41.

2. Marquette South Trails – Marquette

A mountain biker catches air over a jump on a forest trail, while another rider cycles below on a sunny autumn day, surrounded by trees with golden foliage.

Marquette’s South Trails, set in a city celebrated for its dynamic outdoor culture, span a network that captivates with its beauty and variety. Boasting over 30 miles of meticulously groomed paths, these trails offer diverse experiences from swift, flowy segments to challenging technical features, including rock gardens and jumps. The trails weave through dense forests and open to stunning views of Lake Superior, providing both a physical challenge and a feast for the eyes.

  • Trail Length: More than 30 miles of varied trails.
  • Best Time to Visit: Summer and fall provide the best riding conditions and scenic beauty.
  • Special Features: The “EZ PZ” trail for beginners and “Gorge-ous” overlook trail for breathtaking views.
  • Bike Rental Fees: Local shops in Marquette offer rentals starting at $25 for a few hours.
  • How to Get There: Marquette is accessible by car via US-41 or by plane via Sawyer International Airport, with the trails located just south of the city center.

3. Potawatomi Trail – Pinckney Recreation Area

A mountain bike stands alone on a forest trail covered with fallen leaves, surrounded by tall, slender trees.

The Potawatomi Trail offers an immersive ride through Michigan’s diverse landscapes, featuring forests, meadows, and lakes. As one of the state’s pioneering mountain biking loop trails, it strikes a balance between technical challenges and smooth sections, making it perfect for intermediate riders or those looking to elevate their riding skills. The trail’s beauty peaks in autumn, making it a popular destination for experiencing Michigan’s vibrant fall colors.

  • Trail Length: Approximately 17 miles for the main loop.
  • Best Time to Visit: Spring through fall, with peak colors in autumn.
  • Special Features: Natural beauty with a mix of terrains and technical challenges.
  • Bike Rental Fees: While direct rentals aren’t available at the trailhead, nearby shops in Pinckney and Ann Arbor offer bikes starting at $35 per day.
  • How to Get There: Located in the Pinckney Recreation Area, accessible via M-36 and about an hour’s drive from Detroit.

4. Highland Recreation Area – Highland Township

A mountain biker, clad in a pink helmet and red backpack, rides up a leaf-strewn trail through a bare forest, backlit by the sun.

The Highland Recreation Area offers a variety of trails that cater to mountain bikers of all skill levels. With routes winding through lush forests, open meadows, and beside serene lakes, riders are treated to a visually stunning experience. The area’s trails are well-maintained, offering a mix of technical challenges, rolling hills, and smooth sections ideal for those seeking both adventure and a tranquil ride in nature.

  • Trail Length: Four loops totaling over 20 miles.
  • Best Time to Visit: Late spring to early fall for the best trail conditions and weather.
  • Special Features: A balanced mix of technical sections, fast descents, and climbs.
  • Bike Rental Fees: No direct rentals at the site, but nearby shops in Highland and Milford offer bikes starting at $30 per day.
  • How to Get There: Easily accessible by car, located about an hour’s drive northwest of Detroit, off M-59.

5. Merrell Trail – Rockford

Two cyclists on mountain bikes tackle a narrow, winding dirt trail through a green, leafy forest.

Designed with input from local cyclists, the Merrell Trail is a testament to Michigan’s vibrant mountain biking community. The trail features a series of loops that range in difficulty, providing options for beginners through to advanced riders. Its design incorporates natural terrain and man-made features to create a unique riding experience, including berms, jumps, and rock gardens. The trail is surrounded by beautiful woodland, making it a scenic ride throughout the year.

  • Trail Length: Approximately 6 miles of interconnected loops.
  • Best Time to Visit: Year-round, with groomed paths for winter fat biking.
  • Special Features: Features tailored for various skill levels, including a pump track and skills area.
  • Bike Rental Fees: Local bike shops in Rockford offer rentals, with prices starting around $40 per day.
  • How to Get There: Located near Rockford, about 20 minutes north of Grand Rapids, accessible via US-131.

6. Arcadia Dunes: C.S. Mott Nature Preserve – Arcadia

A blue mountain bike parked at a fork in a trail within a lush, green forest.

Arcadia Dunes offers a breathtaking mountain biking experience with its trails set in the C.S. Mott Nature Preserve. The landscape is characterized by rolling dunes, dense forests, and stunning views of Lake Michigan. The trails here are a perfect blend of challenging climbs, thrilling descents, and flowy sections that cater to intermediate and advanced riders looking for an unforgettable ride in one of Michigan’s most picturesque settings.

  • Trail Length: Over 15 miles of singletrack.
  • Best Time to Visit: May to October for the most pleasant weather and trail conditions.
  • Special Features: Spectacular views of Lake Michigan and diverse terrain.
  • Bike Rental Fees: While there are no rentals available directly at the preserve, nearby shops in Arcadia and Frankfort offer options starting at $35 per day.
  • How to Get There: Situated along M-22, approximately 45 minutes southwest of Traverse City.

7. Fort Custer Recreation Area – Augusta

A cyclist in blue and black attire tackles a rocky descent on a mountain bike trail amid a forest with autumn leaves.

The Fort Custer Recreation Area is known for its extensive network of trails that cater to mountain bikers of various skill levels. Spread across over 3,000 acres, the area features loops through wooded terrain, around lakes, and across open fields. The trails are well-marked, offering a mix of technical sections, fast descents, and climbs. Fort Custer is not only a haven for bikers but also a site of historical significance, providing an added layer of interest to your visit.

  • Trail Length: More than 25 miles spread over several loops.
  • Best Time to Visit: Accessible year-round, with peak conditions from April to November.
  • Special Features: Diverse trails with options for all skill levels, historical military sites.
  • Bike Rental Fees: Bike rentals are not available on-site, but local shops in Kalamazoo offer daily rentals starting at $30.
  • How to Get There: Located between Kalamazoo and Battle Creek, accessible via I-94, about a 2-hour drive from Detroit.

8. Big M Trail – Manistee National Forest

A trio of cyclists rides along a narrow dirt trail through a serene, sun-dappled forest.

Located in the heart of the Manistee National Forest, the Big M Trail is a paradise for riders seeking solitude and immersion in nature. The trail system spans through dense forests of towering trees, across open meadows, and along serene lake shores, offering a peaceful yet challenging ride. The trails are designed to cater to various skill levels, with loops that range from gentle to more demanding.

  • Trail Length: Over 40 miles of trails with multiple loops.
  • Best Time to Visit: Summer and early fall for the best riding conditions.
  • Special Features: Remote setting, diverse ecosystems, and the Udell Rollways loop for breathtaking hilltop views.
  • Bike Rental Fees: No bike rentals available on-site. The nearest rental options are in Manistee and Ludington, with prices starting at around $25 per day.
  • How to Get There: Located near Wellston, Michigan. Accessible via US-31, followed by a short drive inland.

9. Hanson Hills – Grayling

A cyclist in black attire is riding a mountain bike on a sandy trail with a hill and trees in the background.

Hanson Hills offers a dynamic mountain biking experience with trails that have been developed and refined over the years. The area features a combination of natural and man-made obstacles, including tight turns, steep climbs, and fast descents, making it a thrilling ride for bikers of all levels. The trails meander through a variety of landscapes, offering scenic views and a chance to connect with nature.

  • Trail Length: Approximately 20 miles of singletrack trails.
  • Best Time to Visit: Spring through fall for optimal conditions.
  • Special Features: A balanced mix of technical and flowing trails, including the challenging Gravity Trail.
  • Bike Rental Fees: While Hanson Hills does not offer direct rentals, nearby shops in Grayling provide mountain bikes starting at $30 for half a day.
  • How to Get There: Hanson Hills is located in Grayling, accessible via I-75.

10. Vasa Pathway – Traverse City

Two cyclists, one in a white helmet and the other in an orange and black outfit, ride on a curving dirt bike path in a grassy area, with a paved path nearby.

The Vasa Pathway, situated near the vibrant city of Traverse City, is renowned for its beautifully maintained trails and stunning natural surroundings. This trail system is designed to accommodate riders of all abilities, offering a network of loops that range from easy to challenging. The Pathway cuts through dense forests, open fields, and rolling landscapes, providing a serene yet invigorating biking experience.

  • Trail Length: 25 miles of loops, including a 3-mile beginner loop.
  • Best Time to Visit: Year-round access, with groomed trails for winter fat biking.
  • Special Features: Well-marked trails with a variety of distances and difficulties, including a 10km loop used for the Iceman Cometh Challenge.
  • Bike Rental Fees: Traverse City offers several rental shops with prices starting at $20 for a few hours.
  • How to Get There: The trailhead is located just east of Traverse City, accessible via US-31 and Bunker Hill Road.

11. DTE Energy Foundation Trail – Chelsea

The DTE Energy Foundation Trail is a newer addition to Michigan’s mountain biking scene but has quickly gained popularity for its innovative design and stunning landscape. This trail system features a series of loops that cater to different skill levels, from gentle rollers for beginners to challenging climbs and descents for the more adventurous. Set amidst the lush forests near Chelsea, the trails offer a perfect blend of natural beauty and biking thrill.

  • Trail Length: Currently over 20 miles of singletrack, with plans for expansion.
  • Best Time to Visit: Open year-round, with peak conditions from spring to fall.
  • Special Features: Distinct loops like “The Big Kame” for its intense elevation changes and “Green Lake” for scenic rides.
  • Bike Rental Fees: Chelsea and nearby Ann Arbor have several bike shops offering rentals, with daily rates starting at $35.
  • How to Get There: Located near Chelsea, about a 30-minute drive west of Ann Arbor via I-94.

12. Bass River Recreation Area – Ottawa County

A dog is visible in the distance, following a narrow trail through a lush green field with trees under a clear sky.

The Bass River Recreation Area is quickly becoming a favorite among local mountain bikers for its challenging terrain and natural beauty. Situated along the Grand River, this relatively new trail system weaves through a varied landscape of dense forests, open meadows, and riverside scenes, offering a tranquil yet exhilarating biking experience. With trails designed to suit a range of skill levels, from beginner to advanced, Bass River provides a satisfying ride for everyone.

  • Trail Length: Approximately 10 miles of trails.
  • Best Time to Visit: Accessible year-round, but the best riding conditions are from late spring to early fall.
  • Special Features: Unique riverside trails and a mix of terrain that includes tight singletrack, open fields, and challenging climbs.
  • Bike Rental Fees: No direct rentals available at the recreation area. The nearest rental options are in Grand Rapids, with prices starting at $25 per day.
  • How to Get There: The Bass River Recreation Area is located in Ottawa County, accessible via I-96, close to Grand Rapids and the Lake Michigan shoreline.

Planning Your Adventure

Before you embark on your mountain biking adventure in Michigan, it’s essential to prepare accordingly. Ensure your bike is in good condition, wear appropriate safety gear, and familiarize yourself with each trail’s regulations and conditions. It’s also advisable to check the weather and trail status, as Michigan’s weather can be unpredictable.

Supporting Michigan’s Trails

Michigan’s trails offer incredible experiences thanks in part to the efforts of local communities and organizations dedicated to their maintenance and preservation. Riders can contribute by practicing Leave No Trace principles, volunteering for trail work days, and supporting local biking organizations. Together, we can ensure these trails remain beautiful and accessible for future generations.


Michigan’s diverse landscape offers some of the best mountain biking trails in the Midwest, if not the country. From the rugged terrain of the Upper Peninsula to the serene beauty of the Lower Peninsula, there’s a trail for every rider in Michigan. Whether you’re seeking thrilling descents, challenging climbs, or scenic rides, these top 12 trails provide a perfect starting point for your 2024 adventures. So gear up, hit the trails, and discover the beauty and excitement of Michigan mountain biking.


  1. What makes Michigan’s mountain bike trails unique compared to other states?
    Michigan’s trails are known for their diverse landscapes, including Great Lakes shorelines, dense forests, and rolling hills. This variety, combined with a passionate biking community and well-maintained trails, offers a unique riding experience not easily found elsewhere.
  2. Can beginners find suitable trails in Michigan, or are they mostly for experienced riders?
    Absolutely, beginners can find numerous trails in Michigan tailored to their skill level. Trails like the Vasa Pathway and the beginner loops at Merrell Trail provide a friendly introduction to the sport while ensuring a fun experience.
  3. Are there any fees associated with accessing these trails?
    Some trails or recreation areas may require a day-use fee or a recreation passport. It’s best to check the specific trail’s website or contact the managing organization for the most accurate information.
  4. Is mountain biking in Michigan a year-round activity?
    Yes and no. While some trails, especially those in the southern part of the state, can be ridden year-round, others, especially in the Upper Peninsula, are snow-covered in winter. However, winter biking or fat biking is growing in popularity, with groomed trails available in areas like the Vasa Pathway.
  5. How do I find out about trail conditions before visiting?
    Many Michigan trails have websites or social media pages where current conditions are regularly updated. Additionally, local biking shops and clubs are excellent resources for the latest trail information.
  6. Are there any guided mountain bike tours available in Michigan?
    Yes, several companies and local bike shops offer guided tours on Michigan trails. These tours can provide a great introduction to the trails, biking techniques, and local ecology.
  7. What should I bring for a day of mountain biking on Michigan trails?
    Essential items include a helmet, water, snacks, a basic repair kit, and a map or GPS device. Considering Michigan’s variable weather, dressing in layers and carrying a rain jacket is also advisable.
  8. Can I rent a mountain bike nearby, or do I need to bring my own?
    Many of the trail locations or nearby towns have bike shops that offer rentals. It’s a convenient option for those traveling without bikes or looking to try out a new model. Rental fees and terms vary, so contacting the shops ahead of your visit is recommended.

Explore our dedicated section on national forests and state parks to uncover hidden gems and outdoor wonders.

We’re excited to hear about your ventures on Michigan’s mountain bike trails! Feel free to recount your tales, insights, and memorable moments with us below. Let’s come together as a group of cycling enthusiasts and environmental stewards, committed to exploring and protecting Michigan’s magnificent outdoor settings.

Benjamin Brooks
Benjamin Brooks
Forestry Author

Greetings! I'm Benjamin Brooks, and my journey over the past 15 years has revolved around the fascinating realms of content creation, expertise in snow clearing, and the intricate world of lumberjacking and landscaping. What began as a simple curiosity about the natural world and heavy machinery has evolved into a passionate profession where my love for crafting words intertwines seamlessly with my lumberjacking and garden skills.


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