I was first introduced to mountain biking just after graduating from college. I had of course biked all throughout my childhood but mountain biking was a whole new world, one that I grew to love. The thrill of conquering the trail while enjoying the beauty of the wilderness soon became my weekend obsession. Michigan has an abundance of great mountain bike trails to choose from. Whether you are a beginner to the sport or an expert looking for new challenges, there is a mountain bike trail for you in Michigan. With 1,300 miles of bike trails in Michigan, you can have a new adventure every time you bike. Here are some of the best mountain bike trails West Michigan has to offer.
West Michigan Mountain Bike Trail: Pigeon Creek
12524 Stanton, West Olive, Michigan; in Olive Township on Stanton Road between 128th and 120th Avenue
Pigeon Creek is located close to Allendale, Michigan and Grand Valley State University. It is extremely popular with the college mountain biking crowd. There are several groups of student riders from Grand Valley that ride the Pigeon Creek Trails weekly. Pigeon Creek’s 10 miles of trails wind through Pigeon Creek Park, a 282 acre park with an additional 150 adjacent acres of open space. Pigeon Creek trails wind through old pine plantations and mature deciduous forest along the Pigeon River. The scenery is breathtaking, especially in the autumn. Pigeon Creek is officially open from April 1 to October 31 from 7am- 10pm although I have also found it open at other times in good weather. There is no entry fee. The trails are clearly marked and are of mixed gravel, dirt, cedar chip and sand. Mountain bikers share the trail with hikers and horses.
West Michigan Mountain Bike Trail: Riley Trails
Riley Street in Holland, Michigan between 160th and 168th Avenue
I first discovered Riley Trails when I lived in Holland. It remains my favorite mountain bike trail in West Michigan. The trailhead for the Riley Trails is off Riley Street. Riley trails are not difficult. There is quite a lot of sand, but otherwise this is an easy ride. The trails are relatively flat and they are perfect for the beginning mountain biker. There are one or two big hills and some smaller hills all mixed in. These trails are also great for kids just learning the mountain biking ropes. Riley Trails includes 6 miles of heavily wooded trails and is also very popular with casual walkers, hikers, dog walkers, families and cross country skiers. This can be a problem as you share the trail with them. The trails are marked by paint on the trees.
West Michigan Mountain Bike Trail: Bass River
104th and Johnson Street, Grand Haven, Michigan
Maintained by the Michigan Mountain Biking Association, Bass River has 8 miles of continuously twisting mountain bike trails contained entirely in a wooded area inside Bass River Park, a 1,100 acre park in central Ottawa County. Located in Grand Haven Township, these trails are enjoyable and a great trail for beginning mountain bikers. There are two looped trails to choose from with many alternate trails looping off the two main trails. The south loop is single track and requires at least intermediate bike handling skills. The north loop is straighter and can be pretty fast. While Bass River is generally not considered challenging and relatively flat by experienced bikers, there are some close trees and sharp turns that can make some sections a bit of a challenge for the novice. There is little sand but mud and especially sticks can be a problem.
Entry into Bass River will cost residents $6 per day or $24 for an annual pass. Non-residents can expect to pay $8 per day or $29 for an annual pass. A DNR Motor Vehicle Permit is required and is available on site. Bass River is very buggy. I grew up a few miles from Bass River and I can tell you from personal experience that the mosquitoes are quite a nightmare most of the time, even in the middle of the daytime heat. Make sure you wear your bug spray!
West Michigan Mountain Bike Trail: Holland State Park
The trail head for the Holland State Park mountain bike trails are located off Ottawa Beach Road near the entrance to the state park. These trails offer 2 miles of steep, technical riding on single and dual tracks. The trails are very sandy, perhaps not surprising given their proximity to the Holland State Park beach. Prepare to get dirty and work hard. Sand, roots, rocks, steep climbs and steep drops are par for the course. These may not be the best trails for the beginning rider. There are few flat sections and more experience is required to navigate these trails.
Check out the Pure Michigan website for tons of information on all kinds of biking in Michigan. There is information about bicycle tours through the League of Michigan Bicyclists, trail guides for mountain biking in Michigan, information about mountain biking in Michigan State parks and Forests and bicycling maps. You can even order a free Michigan bicycling packet.
Western Michigan Mountain Biking Association
Michigan Mountain Biking Association