One of my absolute favorite things to do in my free time is to go mountain biking. Nothing beats a rollercoaster ride in the woods, especially in the fall. Fortunately, you don’t have to look to far to find some of the greatest mountain bike trails right here in Grand Rapids!
Why I love it:
I think first and foremost it is the opportunity to be outside in nature. Every season (yes, even winter) provides an opportunity to take in the beauty, breath fresh air and savor what is unique to each season here in Grand Rapids.
It is also great exercise! The climbs can be challenging, but my focus to finding the right “line” to avoid roots and rocks keeps my mind occupied rather than dwelling on my elevated heart rate and tired legs. And the best part of those climbs is that they are always followed by a fun downhill descent.
It is a social activity. I have several friends who I like to ride with. We have a great time catching up while we exercise. All the mountain bikers I have met are super friendly. It is a great community of people passionate about the sport.
It is family friendly. I have a couple of kiddos so we have a great time heading out to the trails on a weekend afternoon.
It is competitive. For those who like to compete (I am not one of those) there are local races for everyone.
Where I like to ride:
Luton – This park has an amazing trail system with a bit of something for everyone. It is definitely where I would recommend for kids and beginners. There is one central loop with several off shoot trails. The climbs are reasonable and the trails are pretty smooth (meaning free from rock and root obstacles) although you will encounter some challenges you can pick and choose based on your preference. In my opinion, the blue and green loops are the easiest, orange and black are in the middle and yellow and red would be the most challenging.
Merrell Trail – My favorite part of this trail is the flowy rolling down hills. It really is incredible. Since these trails do have some challenging terrain, if you’re new to the sport it is important to ride at a pace you are comfortable with and hop off your bike to avoid some of the difficult obstacles. The “Siren” section is SO FUN and has to be my favorite downhill section in our area. This is also a fun trail in the winter when the trails are groomed for fat bikes!
Cannonsburg Ski Hill– This is where I go to get my work out in! The trail begins with a pretty intense climb into the trail system. But here’s the good part; what goes up, must come down. The reward is fast, flowing descents followed by more technical climbs. I enjoy the concentration required to tackle this trail. It can be very rewarding both physically and mentally. They are continuously adding to the trail system at Cannonsburg which always adds the element of surprise and adventure. This trail system also boasts a very cool skills area and pump track! In the summer they have a lot of different events on the deck where you can grab a burger, taco or ice cold beer.
Cannonsburg State Game Area aka “Egypt Valley” – This is another challenging trail that I would recommend for the more advanced rider. When I’m feeling really on my game is when I feel most confident on this trail. There are some pretty long and technical climbs followed by some gnarly descents. But, it is very beautiful with varied scenery, creeks and forests. It certainly is a ton of fun! This trail is closed to mountain bikers from September 15th – February 1st annually for small game hunting season.
These are my four favorite trails. But not surprisingly, there are many others all over our amazing state.
If mountain biking sounds like your jam, there are many group rides organized through our local bike shops. I would suggest heading over to Grand Rapids Bicycle or Freewheeler to get you started. Alger Bikes, Village Bike & Fitness, West Michigan Bike & Fitness, and Central District Cyclery are also other great shops in the area. Moxie Wild is a locally owned ladies only adventure organization that offers amazing clinics and biking adventure trips. Dirt Dawgs is an energetic mountain biking club for kids. You can learn more about that here: