Mountain Biking in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

by Ron Stenfors,
Past-President of Range Mountain Bike Club, Ishpeming-Negaunee

Where can a biker go to find mountain biking
in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan ?

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.

For those who prefer biking on marked and mapped trails, there are many opportunities available. In the Eastern U.P., Drummond Island offers 60 miles of mapped trails. For more information on these trails call 1-800-737-8666. Heading West, the Munising area offers several different trails, the most scenic of which would be Grand Island, which is accessible by ferry boat four times daily. Other trails in the Munising area are Bruno's Run, Valley Spur trails and the Seney National Wildlife Refuge. For more Information on these trails call the Munising District Ranger at 960-387-3700. The Grand Marais area has also developed a trail system, with over 100 miles of trail mapped at this time. Call 906-494-2337 for more information.

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.

bike forest

The Western U.P. has much to offer for mountain biking. The Pines and Mines trail system offers a broad variety with its Iron County Trails and the Pomeroy / Henry Lake Mountain Bike Complex. more information about the Pines and Mines system call 800-659-3232.

Heading North to the Keweenaw, bikers will find a broad variety of scenic multi-use trails. The Keweenaw offers upwards of fifteen trail systems for all levels of bikers to enjoy. The Maasto Hiihto trail located on the edge of Hancock offers some of the best in the area. The Jack Stevens Trail and the Bill Nicholls trails are old railroad grades making for excellent biking. For more information on the Keweenaw trails, call 800-338-7982. For the rail trails and others on State Forest land call the Baraga Forest at 906-353-6651.

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!

Mountain Bike Rentals and Guided Tours at the Keweenaw Adventure Company in Copper Harbor.


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