Newer rider in SE Michigan- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Newer rider in SE Michigan

    So I'm picking back up after ~7 years off. I rode a 26" dirt jumper back in high school 10+ years ago, had a fixie when I was in college, and haven't really touched a bike until last week when I picked up a Specialized Pitch. Its got some upgraded parts (pedals, bard, stem, Fox 34 fork). I've been trying to look around for trails and there seems to be quite a few. However, I don't want to jump straight into the DTE Sugar Loop, which appears to have some decent speed, jumps, rock gardens, etc.

    I live quite close to the stuff they installed at Hines Drive, which I plan to hit when the weather turns, to get comfortable on the bike again, but is there any recommendation for "progression" in the trails in this area?

    I'm relatively young (28) and I think I'm in shape (I know I will realize I'm not when I start riding again), I just don't want to jump into a trail that's over my head, having 0 experience with any of the trails around here.

    Eventually I'd love to hit Boyne (we have a cottage in St Ignace, so I could frequent Boyne quite a bit), but again, don't want to get in over my head.

    I'm hoping some of y'all who know the trails around here can shed some light. I know there's quite a few trails around the Milford/Brighton area, as well as to the north like Stoney Creek.

  2. #2
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    the hines drive pump track is fun

    I have ridden DTE, but I have not been to the sugar loop at DTE. the green and the blue (kame) and orange (winn) are all fine trails. you shouldn't have any problems on them, especially the green.

    nothing around here really compares to the DTE trails, in terms of enjoyment. like you said there are plenty of trails on the maps (trailfork.com and mtbproject.com) around here. I've ridden some and watched some youtubes (duke of mtb is SE mich and has videos on a lot of the local trails) on some others. and I've ultimately concluded that if I'm riding, I much prefer to go to DTE.

    But, if you were to jump into any trails around here, you wouldn't be over your head. you can find on youtube a video of the trails and you can see for yourself if it's too much (which I doubt it would be)

    p.s. follow https://www.facebook.com/dtetrail/ on facebook, as they update trail conditions (open or closed... etc)

  3. #3
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    The rule in SE Michigan is: always start with Island Lake.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by tweeder82o View Post
    the hines drive pump track is fun

    I have ridden DTE, but I have not been to the sugar loop at DTE. the green and the blue (kame) and orange (winn) are all fine trails. you shouldn't have any problems on them, especially the green.

    nothing around here really compares to the DTE trails, in terms of enjoyment. like you said there are plenty of trails on the maps (trailfork.com and mtbproject.com) around here. I've ridden some and watched some youtubes (duke of mtb is SE mich and has videos on a lot of the local trails) on some others. and I've ultimately concluded that if I'm riding, I much prefer to go to DTE.

    But, if you were to jump into any trails around here, you wouldn't be over your head. you can find on youtube a video of the trails and you can see for yourself if it's too much (which I doubt it would be)

    p.s. follow https://www.facebook.com/dtetrail/ on facebook, as they update trail conditions (open or closed... etc)
    I will definitely check him out on YT, and see if any others come up. YT is how I came across seeing the sugar loop and boy am I glad I did!

    Quote Originally Posted by ddoh View Post
    The rule in SE Michigan is: always start with Island Lake.
    My brother told me the same thing. Heís more of a mellow rider, so he advised hitting island lake in the spring time! Seems like thatís number 1

  5. #5
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    Seriously, having lived out west for 13 years starting when I was about your age, there's nothing in the lower peninsula to worry much about. I felt like a beginner all over again and I'd been riding in Michigan for 10 years at that point. At least in the LP you don't have to worry about sharp rocks, cacti, exposure, rattlesnakes (ok there are a few here, but I've never seen one in MI), etc.

    Seems that most new trails with 'features' have easy lines. Even Boyne Highlands has lines around the larger jumps and drops. They're also building a beginner flow trail that should be top to bottom next season. Top half is fun. Also can see some of the lines around the drops. Just don't go charging into a wet wallride.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CQjo1KnWT9I

    Just ride. Don't be afraid to take on trails that feel over your head, walk a section if needed, and session stuff til you get it.

  6. #6
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    Iím also a SE Michigan rider who is getting back into it after too many years off.

    Thereís 3 miles of trail that runs parallel to Hines Drive in Livonia. I havenít ridden those yet, but I plan to check it out soon. It would make a nice quick after-work ride for me, since I work in Livonia.

    Island Lake - These are great trails. Easy to ride, fast, and fun. There are two loops. Blue is the longer loop (8-10miles?) and Yellow is about 5-6 miles. Iíve heard yellow described as being more technical, but both are tame and flowy.

    Lakeshore Park / Novi Treefarm - This park is currently under construction, so parking is very limited. You can park at a city park just up the road, and then ride into the park to get to the trails. These trails are a lot of fun, and more technical than Island Lake. Thereís also a pump track and a mtb skills area (wooden features like teeter totters and balance beams) near the end of the trail.

    Stoney Creek - I used to ride here all the time when I was younger, but havenít been in recent years. Great trails with a few options for loops.

    Maybury - Another trail system thatís close to work for me. Pretty tight and technical trails with some short climbs.

    Pontiac Lake - I havenít ridden here recently, but this was also one of my favorite trails when I was younger. I remember it having a killer climb right at the beginning of the trail, and also being pretty rocky and technical. Really fun trail, and it requires some fitness.

    Fort Custer Rec Area - There are some great trails out here, but itís a bit of a drive from SE Michigan.

    DTE Energy Foundation Trails - These trails look great, but I havenít made it out there yet. They seem to be some of the best maintained trails, and Iím really looking forward to checking them out.

    Thereís plenty more in the area, but those are the ones coming to mind right now.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by ryguy79 View Post
    Seriously, having lived out west for 13 years starting when I was about your age, there's nothing in the lower peninsula to worry much about. I felt like a beginner all over again and I'd been riding in Michigan for 10 years at that point. At least in the LP you don't have to worry about sharp rocks, cacti, exposure, rattlesnakes (ok there are a few here, but I've never seen one in MI), etc.

    Seems that most new trails with 'features' have easy lines. Even Boyne Highlands has lines around the larger jumps and drops. They're also building a beginner flow trail that should be top to bottom next season. Top half is fun. Also can see some of the lines around the drops. Just don't go charging into a wet wallride.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CQjo1KnWT9I

    Just ride. Don't be afraid to take on trails that feel over your head, walk a section if needed, and session stuff til you get it.
    I honestly didn't think about a lot of this. The "easy lines", walking a trail, or even just taking it slow for the first lap and stopping to check out features (granted nobody is behind me). Thanks man!

    Quote Originally Posted by jonlong724 View Post
    Iím also a SE Michigan rider who is getting back into it after too many years off.

    Thereís 3 miles of trail that runs parallel to Hines Drive in Livonia. I havenít ridden those yet, but I plan to check it out soon. It would make a nice quick after-work ride for me, since I work in Livonia.

    Island Lake - These are great trails. Easy to ride, fast, and fun. There are two loops. Blue is the longer loop (8-10miles?) and Yellow is about 5-6 miles. Iíve heard yellow described as being more technical, but both are tame and flowy.

    Lakeshore Park / Novi Treefarm - This park is currently under construction, so parking is very limited. You can park at a city park just up the road, and then ride into the park to get to the trails. These trails are a lot of fun, and more technical than Island Lake. Thereís also a pump track and a mtb skills area (wooden features like teeter totters and balance beams) near the end of the trail.

    Stoney Creek - I used to ride here all the time when I was younger, but havenít been in recent years. Great trails with a few options for loops.

    Maybury - Another trail system thatís close to work for me. Pretty tight and technical trails with some short climbs.

    Pontiac Lake - I havenít ridden here recently, but this was also one of my favorite trails when I was younger. I remember it having a killer climb right at the beginning of the trail, and also being pretty rocky and technical. Really fun trail, and it requires some fitness.

    Fort Custer Rec Area - There are some great trails out here, but itís a bit of a drive from SE Michigan.

    DTE Energy Foundation Trails - These trails look great, but I havenít made it out there yet. They seem to be some of the best maintained trails, and Iím really looking forward to checking them out.

    Thereís plenty more in the area, but those are the ones coming to mind right now.
    I didn't know there was trails at Hines, I thought it was only the new "skills park" and pump track they built. That's pretty close to me as well, as I live and work in the Dearborn area, so that's only about 20-25 minutes for me.

    Thanks for the tips!

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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by derfernerf View Post
    I honestly didn't think about a lot of this. The "easy lines", walking a trail, or even just taking it slow for the first lap and stopping to check out features (granted nobody is behind me). Thanks man!
    my mistake, I failed to mention those things. I've taken them for granted.

    wheels in motion and team jtree offered a free one day clinic last May at DTE and took people out on to the Blue trail at DTE. stopped at a few features and talked and walked through them.

    keep an eye out on the facebook, maybe there'll be a similar event next May.

    Quote Originally Posted by derfernerf View Post
    I didn't know there was trails at Hines, I thought it was only the new "skills park" and pump track they built. That's pretty close to me as well, as I live and work in the Dearborn area, so that's only about 20-25 minutes for me.

    Thanks for the tips!
    this is a recent video of lakeview (one of the two trails off of hines) albeit it's done on a e-unicycle, it still is a good representation of what to expect.

    https://youtu.be/bcXCcviPsnk?t=262

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by tweeder82o View Post
    my mistake, I failed to mention those things. I've taken them for granted.

    wheels in motion and team jtree offered a free one day clinic last May at DTE and took people out on to the Blue trail at DTE. stopped at a few features and talked and walked through them.

    keep an eye out on the facebook, maybe there'll be a similar event next May.



    this is a recent video of lakeview (one of the two trails off of hines) albeit it's done on a e-unicycle, it still is a good representation of what to expect.

    https://youtu.be/bcXCcviPsnk?t=262
    No problem, as an experienced rider I'm sure you're used to doing it, where I've never been to a trail so wouldn't think about it. I just went through the video, seems easy enough for myself!

  11. #11
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    Some of the resources you might find useful:

    MMBA -- forums, classifieds, & listings of most of the local trails
    https://www.mmba.org/

    SE Michigans Trail Conditions -- if you're looking for info on whether or not trails are too wet to ride after rain, etc. this is a good place to check. This is kind of a big one -- with type of soil we have in most of the region, trails get damaged pretty badly if people ride them while they're muddy. DTE Trail has their own Facebook group, but any trail closures usually get shared here as well.
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/SEMi...ailConditions/

    Motor City Mountain Bike Association (MCMBA) -- covers most of the trails on the west side of SE Michigan
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/mcmba/

    Clinton River Mountain Biking (CRAMBA) -- covers most of the trails to the north in SE Michigan
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/metronorth/

    Hines Drive closure alerts -- email list you can sign up for to get notifications (usually same-day) of when Hines Drive is closed. Useful to know whether or not you can park at the lot by the bike park or if you'll need to park somewhere like Nankin Mills and then ride over:
    https://www.waynecounty.com/departme...ad-alerts.aspx


    If you want to vary things a bit, I'd suggest picking up a cheap BMX on FB marketplace to take over to the Hines Drive pump track. Sterling Heights also has a nice skatepark as well and I've found riding on a BMX occasionally over the past year or so has helped with my bike handling skills more than just riding on the local trails. Added plus: since the skateparks are paved, you can ride on them in pretty much any condition.

  12. #12
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    An additional thought on progression in the area -- MiSCA is the local youth MTB racing league and usually does a pretty good job at accommodating riders of different levels of skill at the same park.

    Looking at their course maps can be a good way to find easier routes to try first.

    Their "beginner" loops are ridden by elementary / middle school riders and their "advanced" loops are ridden by high school / more advanced middle school riders.

    Here's an example of the course they did at Bloomer last season -- while the changes between beginner and advanced might not look like much on the map, the advanced sections add in some significantly more technical terrain:
    https://miscabike.org/event/2019-bloomer-park/

  13. #13
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    I used to live in Ypsilanti and rode all over SE Michigan a while back. Maybe quite a while bit back... but anyway...

    Some of the names that come back me include:

    Potowatomi trail in Pinckney State Rec area

    Maybury in Canton

    Brighton Lake in Brighton

    Fort Custer near Kalamazoo

    Pontiac Lake recreation area

    Of course, Island Lake.

    I really liked a system that was called "Heartland" in the early 2000's. It was closer to Flint and may have also been called Holly or Holdridge lakes - but I can't recall exactly. It was more technical and a big step up from Island lake.

    May I recommend using the Strava Global Heat map to find trail systems? It's a godsend. Google it and have your life changed forever in terms of finding singletrack.

    Sent from my SM-N960U using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by connolm View Post
    I used to live in Ypsilanti and rode all over SE Michigan a while back. Maybe quite a while bit back... but anyway...

    Some of the names that come back me include:

    Potowatomi trail in Pinckney State Rec area

    Maybury in Canton

    Brighton Lake in Brighton

    Fort Custer near Kalamazoo

    Pontiac Lake recreation area

    Of course, Island Lake.

    I really liked a system that was called "Heartland" in the early 2000's. It was closer to Flint and may have also been called Holly or Holdridge lakes - but I can't recall exactly. It was more technical and a big step up from Island lake.

    May I recommend using the Strava Global Heat map to find trail systems? It's a godsend. Google it and have your life changed forever in terms of finding singletrack.

    Sent from my SM-N960U using Tapatalk
    13 posts to get Poto mentioned... it's madness I tell you.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by connolm View Post
    I used to live in Ypsilanti and rode all over SE Michigan a while back. Maybe quite a while bit back... but anyway...

    Some of the names that come back me include:

    Potowatomi trail in Pinckney State Rec area

    Maybury in Canton

    Brighton Lake in Brighton

    Fort Custer near Kalamazoo

    Pontiac Lake recreation area

    Of course, Island Lake.

    I really liked a system that was called "Heartland" in the early 2000's. It was closer to Flint and may have also been called Holly or Holdridge lakes - but I can't recall exactly. It was more technical and a big step up from Island lake.

    May I recommend using the Strava Global Heat map to find trail systems? It's a godsend. Google it and have your life changed forever in terms of finding singletrack.

    Sent from my SM-N960U using Tapatalk
    Sweet, will do! I honestly had no idea there were so many trails around here. I assumed Michigan was so flat that it was just the same 3-4 I've always heard of (Kensington, stoney creek, island lake, highland rec)

    I've been making a list in on All Trails, but will check out Strava as well!

    Quote Originally Posted by driver bob View Post
    13 posts to get Poto mentioned... it's madness I tell you.
    I assume that means its a good trail then? Noted!

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by derfernerf View Post
    I assume that means its a good trail then? Noted!
    You bet, do the full 20 miles and it will hurt.

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