Trail Report: Marquette, Michigan’s North and South Trails

Largest city on Michigan's Upper Peninsula is year round MTB playground

Travel
Just this year Marquette was awarded the IMBA Silver Ride Center status, a designation system centered on communities that offer ample trail diversity and experiences. Marquette is a great example of why the Ride Center designation works so well.

This year, Marquette, Michigan, was upgraded to IMBA Silver Ride Center status, a designation system that is centered on communities that offer ample trail diversity and experiences. Marquette is a great example of why the Ride Center designation works so well (click to enlarge).

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.

Riding to either the north or the south trails from town is made easy thanks to the towns commitment to bike friendly infrastructure. We spun many circles along this scenic path during our time exploring Marquette.

Riding to either the north or south trails from town is made easy thanks to the town’s commitment to bike friendly infrastructure. We spun many miles along this scenic path during our time exploring Marquette (click to enlarge).

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.

The Noquemanon Trail Network organization has been hard at work creating a specific type of experience tailored to mountain bikers. Directional trails help allow riders to let it run on trails that really emphasizing embracing gravity.

The Noquemanon Trail Network organization has been hard at work creating a riding experience tailored to mountain bikers. Directional trails allow riders to let it run on trails that really emphasizing embracing gravity (click to enlarge).

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.

Down Dogger offers high-speed rollers and berms to create the ultimate roller coaster feel. This trail rips.

The Down Dogger trail offers high-speed rollers and berms. This trail rips (click to enlarge).

South Trails

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.

More information on Marquette’s South Trails can be found on the NTN website and MTB Project.

Continue to page 2 to learn about Marquette’s rugged North Trails »

About the author: Jordan Carr

Having spent more than half his life riding all types of bikes at almost every type of cycling event, Carr loves the freedom two-wheeled travel has brought to his life. Having spent many years behind the stand at a bike shop, he’s tested mountain bike products for a number of publications. Follow Carr's adventures as they travel the country promoting trails and mountain biking on Facebook and Instagram.


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