Help a NorCal rider plan a Midwest mtn bike trip
Hoping you all can point me in the best direction. I'm coming out to Chicago from the Bay Area for a week and a half in June. This time I am bringing the rigid 29er, not the road bike, and want to explore some dirt!
I am hoping to get away from the city for 3-4 days with a friend who lives in Chicago (but only rides local stuff). Ideally, I'd like to rent a cabin/house somewhere and spend a few days riding and maybe do a little fishing too.
I've been reading through all the threads and am trying to decide between going south to Brown County, up to the UP and Copper Harbor, or over to the Manistee area. Technical trails would be great, but I'd rather have access to longer trails and more wilderness area to explore than short downhills.
I would say you want to head down to Brown County for a few days. You can rent a cabin at the State Park, ride the 25 miles of trails at the park before exploring everything else the Hoosier National Forest has to offer.
I am biased. I've only skied in the Manistee area. It is very beautiful in the winter and offers the best hills to ski in the Lower Peninsula. I imagine it would be great in the summer, but I'm not familiar with the biking trails there. Also, I have never been to Copper Harbor. I've always wanted to get up there and ride or ski Mt Bohemia in the winter, it just hasn't happened yet.
I'll second the Brown County option. Great trails in the park and several other trail systems within reasonable driving distance. Brown will also be the closest of the areas you mentioned. Marquette/ Copper Harbor/ Houghton have some truly great riding, but you're looking at 7-8 hours to Marquette and another 2 to get up to the Keweenaw.
"If you can get both wheels sliding with no brakes, that's when you really know that you're cookin." Nathan Rennie
Haven't actually been there, but Kettle Moraine is nearby in Wi. There are a bunch of POV videos posted on youtube if you want to check it out virtually first.
copper harbor is a phenomenal, and I hear even better than the last time I was there. it's a long way from chicago, tho.
If you want long rides with a chance to explore, another great option with a little longer drive is Chequamegon based out of Hayward.
Originally Posted by plantdude
Chequamegon Area Mountain Bike Association - Home Page |
Lots to explore, techy and flowy trails are all available, over 100 miles of trail choices.
I've lived in Milwaukee, WI (1.5hr. drive north of Chicago), and I've had the pleasure of riding NorCal trails while working in CA over the past year (Annadel, Demo, China Camp to name a few). While the riding is not as epic in the midwest, there are definitely some great trails. Trails can be just as technical, you just need to find them. Without the downhills present like out west, midwest trails can be described as more cardio based. Spin, spin, spin on the rolling terrain.
I'd second the recommendation of the trails in the South Kettle Moraine State Forest in WI, which is about an hour drive SW of Milwaukee, not sure what drive time would be from where you'd be at in Chicago. That state forest has two bike legal trail systems at the John Muir and Emma Carlin trailheads. The trails are set up as varying loops at both trailheads with a connector between the two. A big loop ride between each trailhead is easily 24 miles, then the shorter inner loops can be ridden as well. The terrain is rolling singletrack primarily through woods with some field sections. Varying technicality, mostly intermediate.
Another great spot is Blue Mound State Park southwest of Madison. It is known as the home to some of the most technical trails (very rocky sections) in the state. The rocky terrain coupled with the short relatively steep climbs, and the trails are advanced rating, but rideable by intermediates with some hike a bike.
Other great spots are 9 Mile in Wausau, WI, Levis Mounds near Black River Falls, WI, the CAMBA network based out of Hayward, WI (mega miles of trails there). Copper Harbor is a great spot, but it is a long drive. From Green Bay, WI I think it was a 6 hour drive, so from Chicago you're looking at 10 hours!