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Showcasing the DNR: Discovering the joy of Michigan’s mountain bike trails

Showcasing the DNR: Discovering the enjoyment of Michigan’s mountain bike trails


Michigan’s nonmotorized trails system has greater than 3,000 miles devoted to paved, gravel and off-road single-track trails for bicyclists to take pleasure in one year a yr.

These public trails are located in each area of Michigan at state parks, recreation areas, pathways, forests and rail trails.

Michigan’s pure terrain, together with different seasons and entry to public trails, offers a novel expertise for all cyclists.

As a Michigan Division of Pure Assets videographer, I’ve the privilege to assist doc and promote this recreation exercise throughout the state.

What I’ve realized is that nonmotorized bicycle trails can dramatically affect private connection to the outside, construct communities and strengthen native economies.

A couple of yr in the past, in August 2019, I used to be assigned to movie a promotional motion video of the Waterloo State Recreation Space’s DTE Vitality Basis mountain bike path system in Chelsea, Michigan.


At the moment, my data of mountain biking was minimal. I didn’t even personal a bicycle.

So, what’s mountain biking? It’s finest described as driving a bicycle off-road, on trails particularly designed for bicycle use, over different terrain. Two frequent kinds of mountain bike trails are circulation and cross-country (or backcountry).


The DTE path is assessed as a circulation path — constructed with a particular machine that carved berms, hills and distinctive options into the pre-existing pure terrain on public land.

Backcountry mountain bike trails characteristic present pure terrain, together with roots, rocks and different obstacles discovered within the forest. These trails can typically be extra technically difficult. Each kinds of trails can be found on Michigan public land.


Whereas I used to be capturing video clips of mountain bikers on the DTE path, one rider determined to cease and introduce himself. It was Jason Aric Jones, creator of the path.

My encounter with Jason was inspiring. He inspired me to deliver a bicycle with me subsequent time I visited the path. In response to this expertise, I went to my native bike store three days later and bought my first mountain bike.

I then discovered myself again on the DTE path for a follow-up video task, recording the path with a 360-degree video digicam mounted to my bike helmet.

Lengthy story brief, I found the enjoyment of mountain biking by a piece task and inspiration from the superb neighborhood of Michigan bicyclists.

The bicycle has reworked my life and given me a brand new appreciation for Michigan trails and the mountain biking neighborhood.

Mountain biking in Michigan grew to become an accepted recreation exercise within the late Nineteen Eighties.

A couple of of Michigan’s prime locations for mountain biking embrace Copper Harbor and Marquette within the Higher Peninsula, the Chelsea/Pinckney space close to Detroit, Augusta and Rockford within the western Decrease Peninsula and the Traverse Metropolis area within the northern Decrease Peninsula.

Every of those locations offers a novel kind of terrain and challenges, they usually welcome all mountain bikers, no matter ability degree.

That’s the better part about trails in Michigan – they’re approachable for novice or less-experienced riders.

And when the snow arrives in Michigan, current manufacturing of fat-tire bicycles allows fans to expertise groomed trails year-round.

A number of progress has been made in popularizing the game in the course of the previous 40 years with the assistance of mountain biking advocacy teams, volunteers and the holding of particular occasions. Advocacy teams assist affect insurance policies and guidelines and create or introduce new path methods in partnership with the DNR.

The Michigan Mountain Biking Affiliation, the state’s largest group devoted to the pastime, coordinates native and regional teams just like the Potawatomi Mountain Biking Affiliation in southeastern Michigan. Members of those teams present monetary assist and volunteer their time to take care of mountain bike trails.

Improvement, administration and upkeep of mountain biking trails on state land is commonly a partnership between the DNR and mountain biking organizations. The DNR, because the land supervisor, works to steadiness use and preservation of public pure assets, whereas permitting for excellent path alternatives.

Native mountain bike teams carry out the vast majority of on the bottom path work and upkeep of the paths with the assistance of many devoted volunteers.

Along with managing the land, the DNR additionally works with native teams to allow particular occasions hosted at state parks and recreation areas. These occasions are important to communities and to introducing the exercise to new customers. Mountain biking occasions additionally strengthen native economies, particularly by way of elevated patronage of motorbike outlets and eating places.

In my private expertise, native bike outlets are the guts of each bicycle neighborhood. Not solely have I bought all my bikes by a neighborhood store, I’ve realized about upkeep and different necessary data, like biking security and etiquette, from pleasant employees. If I’ve a query about something associated to the bicycle, I name my native store for assist.

Bike outlets additionally present jobs and upkeep service to the neighborhood by repairing outdated bikes which have been in storage for years or with month-to-month tune-ups for avid cyclists.

In my view, bike outlets present a product, service and data needed for mountain biking to flourish in each neighborhood in Michigan.

I’d encourage all bicyclists to become involved with their native biking neighborhood by way of a path group, biking occasions and bike outlets, or to take part in volunteer path upkeep workdays.

Riders must be good path stewards and never experience when trails are moist after rains or throughout muddy spring circumstances after the bottom thaws.

“Riders ought to experience safely and respectfully when utilizing trails in the course of the COVID-19 restrictions, together with spreading out to watch social distancing and being affected person with different riders,” stated Ron Olson, chief of the DNR Parks and Recreation Division.

Though Michigan isn’t identified for mountainous terrain just like the western United States, there’s a super wealth of enjoyable to discover whereas driving a mountain bike in “The Trails State.”

Sept. 20-27 is Michigan Trails Week, a good time to get out and revel in all of Michigan’s 13,000 miles of state-designated trails. Be sure you take part within the digital Trails Week Problem and get entered to win cool out of doors gear and Michigan-branded prizes. For extra data, go to Michigan.gov/TrailsWeek.

To be taught extra about learn how to become involved and uncover mountain biking, go to Michigan.gov/DNRTrails.

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