Most biking trails are open every day from sunrise to sunset. It’s important to pay attention to all signs and designations, as well as follow some global rules of etiquette, so that everyone is kept safe.
If you’re wondering about appropriate etiquette while biking on Michigan trails, simply remember TRAILS. From the Top of Michigan Trails Council, this acronym is explained:
T. Use the right side of the Trail except when otherwise designated.
R. Pedestrians always have the Right of way.
A. Always pass on the left.
I. Don’t Inhibit your ability to heat those around you by listening to loud music.
L. When passing, announce your presence with a bell or by saying “On the Left.”
S. Always maintain proper Speed so that you are always in control.
The Country of Jackson provides some additional courtesies to keep in mind while trail biking, including respect private property, clean up after pets, travel in single file, and keep from blocking the trail.
Little Traverse Wheelway (map)
A paved trail that stretches from Charlevoix to Harbor Springs, you can choose to ride all 26 miles or a segment. One of the most popular segments is the nine miles from Charlevoix to the Emmet County Line along the north side of US-31. Along this part of the route is a half-mile stretch of boardwalk and two roadside parks. Another grand sight along the way is Bay Shore Resort, which is located between Charlevoix and Petoskey. The magnificent resort is a popular summer and winter destination. Between Petoskey and M-119 is known for its relationship to history. The segment begins at the Little Traverse Bay History Museum, housed in a historic depot, and then follows an old stretch of trailway from the late 1800s. Other than the ease of the ride, the view of Little Traverse Bay is what makes this trail so worth riding. Instead of heading west toward Harbor Springs on M-119, you also have the option to continue north from Petoskey to the Mackinac Trail.
Falling Waters Trail (map)
This rail-trail follows the route of the old Michigan Central Railroad between the Village of Concord and the City of Jackson in southern Michigan. It’s a popular choice for bikers, because it’s wide and paved. Running for 10.5 miles, the trail meanders by natural springs and lakes, wetlands, and agricultural areas. Lime Lake is the midpoint of the trail and is a favorite spot to take a break and bask in the natural beauty of the area.
William Field Memorial Hart-Montague Trail (more information)
Another rail-trail, this 22.7-mile paved trail in southwest Michigan “rolls through farms, orchards, and forests of western Michigan between Hart and Montague,” according to TrailLink.com. It follows the old path of the, originally, Chicago and Michigan Lake Shore Railroad. The railway changed hands and names several times, and the tracks were removed in 1982. See the world’s tallest weathervane, 42 feet high, at Dowling and Water Streets via the connecting Medbury Bike Trail; it’s a minor detour of only a quarter mile. On the main trail, the midpoint, bike riders can stop in New Era and homemade ice cream at the trailside dairy bar. You can start at either the southern trailhead in Montague or the northern trailhead in Hart.
Alpena Bi-Path (map)
Choose a spur or ride the entire 14-mile-loop of this flat, paved trail. The Alpena Bi-Path links together city and country, as well as many civic attractions such as the Alpena Wildlife Sanctuary (with covered bride), Water Works Park, and Bayview Park and marina. The parks are ideal stopping points for a rest or to have lunch on the shores of Thunder Bay or at the banks of Thunder Bay River.
Pigeon Creek Park Trails – Red Pine Loop
If you’re looking for an easy ride, then drive to West Olive to Pigeon Creek Park and hop on the Red Pine Loop. Good for all skill levels of mountain bike riders, the loop is 2.7 miles long and sees moderate traffic, according to AllTrails.com. The well-marked trail consists of gravel and sand and can be very leaf covered in the fall, but it is relatively flat, making for an easy ride. The trail runs by Pigeon Creek at one point.