Crystal Mountain's woodland pathways are a delight to bike. (Crystal Mountain)
Several Heartland ski areas allow mountain biking on their summer slopes, but if you’re looking for lift served, five resorts will turn the lifts for downhill fun.
Boyne Mountain, Boyne Highlands, Crystal Mountain and Marquette Mountain in northern Michigan and Spirit Mountain in upper Minnesota offer lift served mountain biking trails and in one case a bike park complete with drops, ladders, rollers and other features.
Boyne Mountain offers seven miles of paved trails that goes right across the spine of the mountain offering great countryside views and overlooks. There’s also over 30 miles of marked trails, both two-track and gnarly single-track. You will need a map. It’s all accessible from Hemlock lift, which begins summer lift operations on Memorial Day. They also rent mountain bikes including E fat tire bikes. Check out the mountain biking page for details.
Boyne Highlands offers cross country routes up to five miles in length, free-ride downhill trails modeled after popular North Shore designs found in the upper Northwest and Vancouver areas, and a Skills Park complete with flow tracks, berms, rollers, skinny bridges, a teeter-totter, ladders, and small drops. It’s the only true bike park in the Midwest and ranked among the top parks nationwide. The MacGully chairlift opens for the summer Saturday, May 27. Check out the resort’s biking page for details. Rental mountain bikes, including beefed up suspension bikes for the bike park are available. Helmets are included with all rentals.
Crystal Mountain offers close to 20 miles of off-road mountain biking pathways and single-track, including the DNR’s Betsie River Trail that takes you down along the river. They also have six downhill, lift-served trails that range from easy to expert, all considered “technical.” All the details are on the resort’s mountain biking page. Rental mountain bikes and fat tire bikes are available.
Marquette Mountain, Michigan’s UP, will offer lift served mountain biking on selected days beginning June 14. Trails range up to a mile-and-half length with views of distant Lake Superior. Details are on the summer page.
Spirit Mountain, overlooking Duluth and Lake Superior, offers downhill trails up to a mile-and-half in length ranging from easier to difficult in ability level. All offer breathtaking views of the city and harbor on the way down and back up the chairlift. The bike park is consistently ranked among the top parks nationwide. Summer details will be announced on their mountain biking page.