What better way to take in the natural beauty of Michigan than on a bike? Designated bike paths and trails across the state provide the perfect opportunity for bikers to get some exercise all while taking in the scenic views of the Great Lake State. Oil your chains, inflate those tires, and head out to one of these 10 great bike paths in Michigan!
The Marquette Snow Bike Route (SBR) offers bikers a 15-mile trail boasting snow packed by machine for one of the best experiences you can get on a bike in the winter. Featuring a few big climbs followed by a variety of descents, the track is sufficient for beginners but should be a fun ride. Throw in an additional 40 miles of single track that are available year-round and Marquette's got one amazing set of trails on hand.
Variety is the order of the day at Traverse City's Vasa Trail, home to a combination of challenges and highly easy operations. Featuring drinking water and restrooms as well as winter fat biking options, some have described this trail as featuring a set of “fun sections” followed by some portions that seem almost explicitly designed for the smaller 26-inch bike. Reports suggest a state park pass will be needed to get into the park, so be sure to check on that—for any trail, really—in advance.
Connecting Kalamazoo and South Haven, the Kal-Haven Trail is not only the first state-owned rail trail the state has ever boasted, but also the second rail-trail conversion. It's managed by an area road commission, which means excellent maintenance, and with a limestone surface there's opportunity for even skinny tires to go trail riding. Throw in things to see like a covered bridge and a restored depot and the Kal-Haven offers plenty of opportunity for fun.
Not far from Midland, the Pere Marquette Trail is one of Michigan's best known biking alternatives. A 21-mile paved trail featuring maintenance by Midland County Parks and Recreation, bikers will be able to check out a variety of nature overlook points, as well as a trail that follows the Tittabawassee River. Check out the Northwood University campus and its wide array of trees while in the neighborhood, and after a day of biking, Midland itself awaits with a variety of shops and restaurants.
Danielle Musto knows bike trails. She has to. She's one of the best mountain bikers on the face of the Earth today, taking not only fourth place at the 24 Hour Solo World Championships but also first place at the USAC 24 Hour Single Speed National Championships. When Experience Grand Rapids asked her about the best trails in Michigan, the first name to come up was Rockford's Merrell Trail. Cited for its excellent flow, its multi-directional operations, and its array of terrain aspects like rock gardens, Musto considers this one of the best in Michigan, and few will likely disagree.
A 13-mile stretch of history awaits bikers in Lansing, as they'll have access to a paved bike path complete with plank bridges and smooth pavement. With the trail so clearly set up and maintained, bikers will be able to focus on the sights, of which there will be plenty. Swing by the Potter Zoo, the Turner-Dodge House, and even the Michigan Capitol Building just for starters.
Head up to Copper Harbor for an advanced-level experience that won't soon be forgotten. Beginners will have a tough time here, but reports suggest some intermediary tracks are on hand too to allow the beginner to join in if he or she is willing to pull a little harder. Previous riders suggest bikers watch out for the array of rocks and roots on the trail, but with plenty of woods and lakes to see—a point trail features a look at the south side of Lake Fanny Hooe—Copper Harbor Trails should be a great time.
The Bay City Loop—not far from, as the name suggests, Bay City—boasts 17.5 miles of paved asphalt trails featuring a complete boardwalk system that crosses the Saginaw River. That's a lot to recommend it right there, but it gets better: An urban portion that runs through the city itself, and an easy connection to the Bay State Recreation Area makes for a wide variety of experiences readily available.
Head on out near Rochester for a shot at the Paint Creek Trail, a trail whose origins go clear back to the 1800s. A former rail line, it's now an 8.5-mile paved trail that offers an incredible variety of sights. Check out not only a complete nature preserve—the Dinosaur Hill Nature Preserve, specifically—but also a set of cedar swamps, a cider mill, and a set of ponds. Naturally, the eponymous Paint Creek is also on hand for bikers to check out and enjoy.
Remember when we talked about the Kal-Haven? Well, as it turns out, the Kal-Haven is itself part of a much larger trail that connects South Haven to Port Huron, a town on Lake Huron that's over 250 miles away. That's the Great Lake to Lake Trail, which runs through heavy woods and some downtown streets, showing off the fullest range of what Lower Michigan can offer in one particularly long trail. It features everything the Kal-Haven has, and then it goes on from there.