Editor’s Note: Jordan Carr and co-author and photographer Leilani Bruntz are currently traveling the country spreading the gospel of mountain biking as the Subaru-IMBA Trail Care Crew. Along the way they get to explore some of the country’s best riding locales, and then share them with you in this reoccurring Mtbr Trail Report series. Follow Carr and Bruntz’s adventures on Facebook and Instagram, and let us know in the comments section below if you have additional beta about these great riding destinations. And be sure to check out their write-ups on Salida, Colorado, Oakridge, Oregon, Phoenix, Arizona, and Cable, Wisconsin.
Nestled in a nook on the south shore of Lake Superior, Marquette, Michigan, is surrounded by glacial-carved bluffs cloaked by dense forest. The largest city in Michigan’s rugged Upper Peninsula, Marquette is home to roughly 20,000 residents and Northern Michigan University. Marquette’s recreation minded population radiates an outdoorsy vibe. A paved bike path snakes along the historic industrial lakeshore, that’s constantly buzzing with runners, walkers, and cyclists.
Despite harsh winters with head high piles of lake effect snow covering the trails for nearly six months of the year, Marquette is a year round riding destination. From the diverse networks of singletrack in the summer to the consistently groomed snow bike trails come winter, local mountain bike advocates from Noquemanon Trail Network (NTN) have made the area a prime locale for top-notch riding. The area boasts some of the most progressive groomed singletrack around, with more than 11 miles of groomed, winter bike specific singletrack. Marquette is quickly becoming a true year round mountain bike destination.
Maybe it’s the local jargon or the expansive views of Lake Superior that make Michigan’s upper peninsula such a great place to visit, but it could also the area’s continued interest in mountain biking and trail development. If you haven’t spent time in the U.P., we’d recommend saying “Yah to da U.P. eh?” sooner rather than later. Here is some trail beta to help get your planning started.
With the most variety in all of the upper Midwest, Marquette’s South Trails offer an extensive network of extremely well constructed singletrack. Continued development has provided riders with everything from high-speed flow trails with massive berms and rollers to old school freeride trails. There is also plenty of traditional intermediate benchcut singletrack. Divided by Highway 553, the South Trails have seen the most improvements and continued development due to connectedness of the city owned acreage in the area.
More recently, new mapping and signage in the area has made it a visitor’s dream. Delineated by color-coded trail routes and excellent maps, this system is easy to navigate. Beginner riders will appreciate the mild Morgan Creek loop (Green loop) while more intermediate riders will enjoy the rolling, flowy Pioneer Trail (Red loop). If you’re looking to catch some air and carve some sweet berms, try Eh Line and Down Dogger.