Bicycling in Crawford County, Michigan -
WE DON'T HAVE A MOUNTAIN...BUT YOU'LL LIKE OUR BIKING
When you think about it, do you really want to ride up a mountain on your bike? Of course you don't, which is why Crawford country is perfect, no mountains.
If you want rugged biking, head Northeast of Grayling to Deward, where you can view the white pine stumps to get an idea of the massive forests which once covered the state. Still visible are the foundations of the old logging camp and railroad grades of a once active lumbering center.
The Michigan Shore to Shore riding/hiking trail offers a demanding ride for the adventuresome. This trail, which stretches across the state, has rustic campsites. Be forewarned that hundreds of horses travel this route every Summer, and it will be very rough riding. If you meet horses, give them the right of way, and remember - they may spook at sudden movements, causing an accident.
Any designated snowmobile trails are available for riding, with the exception of the ORV trail West of Grayling on M-72.
Another public trail can be found on the "Rayburn Property" on North Down River Road. This two track winds down the former estate to the AuSable River, which can be crossed on a primitive bridge, allowing you to reach M-72.
For easy biking, try the trails in Hartwick Pines State Park. There are loops of 7.5, 5 and 3 miles. With 9,672 acres, Hartwick Pines is the largest State Park in the Lower Peninsula, and is open year around. There are full campground facilities, with grills, tables, restroom facilities and electric hookups. The park includes a nature interpretive canter and a replica logging camp. A State Park sticker is required. For information call (517) 348-7068.
The DNR has placed very few restrictions on trails, however the Mason Tract Pathway East of Grayling is off limits. Use of designated ORV trails is discouraged.
Other excellent biking areas include:
THE NORTH HIGGINS LAKE PARK TRAIL SYSTEM, with three loops - 1, 3 and 6.8 miles in length. The trails are mostly hardpacked and good for the novice.
WAKELY LAKE, non-motorized area. This scenic area has three loops of 4.5, 5 and 7 miles. The terrain is well suited for the novice/intermediate biker. Wakely Lake is a gem, and a home to loons. Camping is permitted.
THE MICHIGAN CROSS COUNTRY CYCLE TRAIL goes through the area. This is a great single track which requires technical skill and fitness. The trail crosses Military Road about a half mile North of the North Higgins Lake State Park exit off of US 27. The MCCCT goes for miles and miles. It is best to take a map.
TISDALE TRIANGLE PATHWAY in Roscommon has 2 loops from 3 to 6 miles in length. The terrain is fairly flat, making it a great beginner trail.
HANSON HILLS, a recreation area just outside Grayling, offers some challenging terrain. Try not to get discouraged in the sandy opening stretch, it gets much better.
Mountain biking is one of America's fastest growing sports, and with good reason. The only equipment needed is a bicycle, a helmet and a water bottle. All the other extras are up to you.
While biking is an opportunity for riders of all ages and abilities to enjoy the beauty of our natural surroundings, there are a few points to keep in mind for a safe ride:
* Ride with a buddy. No one anticipates accidents, but they do happen, and an injury can be very dangerous if you are alone.
* Always carry a compass and map. If you do become lost, remember to follow water courses downhill, or use the map and compass to connect with one of the surrounding roadways.
* Make sure drinking water is available along the route, or carry enough with you.
* If camping or riding overnight, plan for radical changes in temperature, as well as the possibility of wet conditions.
* Take insect repellents and relief for any allergies that may arise from contact with plant and animal life.
* Extinguish all smoking materials and build fires only in designated fire rings and keep the flames low. Check the fire danger ratings with the local DNR to determine if "no burn" rules are in effect. Crawford County has been the scene of several disastrous forest fires, which start easily if conditions are dry.
Bicycling is truly a great way to get the best out of the glorious natural areas which surround us. Employ our safety suggestion and make your trek an educational and enjoyable experience. If possible, carry a camera to capture an everlasting memory of the unsurpassed beauty of Crawford County.
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