Mountain Biking in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan
by Ron Stenfors,
Almost anywhere, from Menominee County in the South to the Keweenaw in the North, to Sault Ste. Marie in the East to Ironwood in the West. Mountain Biking Trails abound. The trails range from flat (novice level) to very hilly (expert level) with miles and miles of intermediate trails in between. They also range from mapped, marked double-track to unmarked single track trails. With hundreds of miles of old logging roads and abandoned railroad grades the options for places to ride are virtually uncountable.
There are three basic land categories which are open for biking in the Upper Peninsula: Commercial Forest, Federal and State of Michigan forest. Each of these entities have about two million acres of land. At this point in time, none of the big three commercial land owners (Champion, Mead, and Shelter Bay Forest) have any restrictions on mountain bike use. They do encourage bikers to use existing roadways (do not make new single track), avoid waterways and refrain from littering. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and U. S. Forest Service have similar policies concerning the use of lands under their jurisdiction. Before biking on any National Park Service land, the Park Service should be contacted.
In the Marquette area, the Blueberry Ridge X-C trail system is marked and available for biking. To the North of Marquette, there is an abundance of roads and trails offering scenic views of Lake Superior and very rugged terrain. Call 1-800-544-4321 for more information.
Just to the west of Marquette, in the Ishpeming-Negaunee area, the Range Mountain Bike Club has mapped and marked over 35 miles of trails utilizing the Superior Nordic Training and Recreation Complex (SUNTRAC) Suicide Bowl and Hill Street trail systems along with the City of Ishpeming's Al Quaal Recreation Area trails. Plans are for adding several more miles of trail. Bike rentals are available at the trail head.
In the southern U.P., Dickinson county offers several trails open to biking, most of which are ski trails in the winter. A good one to check out is in the Fumee Lake Natural area. For more information call 906-236-2447.
For the avid biker there is also the U.P. Mountain Bike Race Series. In 1997 it was a seven race series starting with the Norway Mountain Bike Challenge in May and ending with the Mountain Chase in Marquette at the end of September. For more information about the race series, call U.P. Mountain Biking at 906-228-3395.
Looking for a Mountain Biking destination for this summers vacation ? Look no further. Michigan's Upper Peninsula offers a great variety of biking experiences within less than a days drive from the Midwest's population centers. See you on the trail!
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