A few years ago Outside Magazine cited Grand Rapids, Michigan as the best city for mountain biking in the country. While some cyclists may have scoffed at the time, the trail riding in Grand Rapids has only gotten better.
Many people think of locations like Moab, Utah and parts of Colorado when they think of mountain biking. The Grand Rapids area offers a very different type of riding. In Michigan the trail rider dodges trees, slogs through sand and mud (sometimes on the same trail), and does lots of climbing. The city itself is bisected by the Grand River. This has helped create significant hills in the area. It is common to have several hundred feet of climbing during a 10 mile ride.
There are many great trails both in the city and along the edges of town. Here are three notable ones. For a full list check out the West Michigan Mountain Biking Association’s web site.
Luton Park: One favorite trails in the area, along with the nearby Merrell Trail. Luton offers 9.7 miles of trails in a stacked loop system. The main Blue loop is relatively easy with five other loops splitting off and then returning to the Blue. The more advanced loops, Black, Red, and Yellow, feature rock gardens, log piles, and very tight turns. There are spots where your bike’s handlebars will clear the trees by only a couple of inches. The trail head is located on Kies Road, north of Grand Rapids and east of Rockford.
Grand Rapids Bike Park: One of the ideas behind this “in the city” park is to be able to ride your bike without having to drive your car first. The park is close to public transportation and several short connector trails. There is a pump track filled with small hills and berms to test your skills. Follow up a pump session with three miles of single track through the woods. It’s an amazing opportunity to ride right near the center of a metropolitan area. The park is located on Kirtland Street, near the intersection of Burton Street and US-131 in Grand Rapids.
Cannonsburg State Game Area: This spot has 7.5 miles of trails near the Cannonsburg Ski Area. The area features lots of climbing, a fair amount of it in sandy conditions. This is a very rustic place to ride, which makes it quiet, except for when you come screaming down one of the hills. Because it’s a state game area open to hunting, the trails are closed from September 15th to February 1st. Find the trail head on Four Mile Road, north of Grand Rapids near the village of Cannonsburg.