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MI Beginner Trails

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We live in Chicago and are interested in exploring some of MI's trails. We have looked around at the MI DNR site (plan on joining CCC too) and have found a multitude of trails, but what we can't find is difficulty levels. We'd love to find some simple trails to gain more experience on.

The wife and I, both ride KLX's (with plates). She's a beginner level rider and I'm a novice. I don't want my better half to become discouraged with riding, by ending up on trails that are too difficult. Any input, or advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you

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I would check into the Baldwin area. There is several loops there to choose from as well as a fully stocked dealer right on the trail, Peacock Motorsports on US-37.

Some of the trails acessable from there area:

1. Lincoln Hills Both single track and 2-tracks

2. Little Manistee Both single and 2-track

3. Tin Cup both single and 2-track

4. Little O, quad width trail.

5. Big O (need street legal bike to ride)

6. Mccct trail from Lincoln Hills all the way north to Boon.

None of these trails are too teriably challanging. But if we dont get any rain soon they will be a sandy dustbowl. Pretty much any trail in Michigan is gonna be a dusty sandpit right now. We havent gotten any real rain in over a month and its getting pretty dry out there.

Baldwin is really offroad friendly. There are plenty of campgrounds and hotels/cabins in the area to stay in.

You will need a Michigan ORV sticker avaliable thru the Michigan DNR's site for $16.25. and you will need a spark arested exhaust that meets Mi's 94db cuttoff. They dont check for the sound all that much. The orv and spark arester are the 2 biggest. But you dont want a thunderousely loud exhaust either. Thats just asking for trouble 🙂

Post up a note before you come on up. Maybe one of us locals can come over for a day and show you around.

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baldwin is probably your best bet. easy to get to. tin cup and kerryville are some pretty easy trails that are also fun. i believe one of them is 23 mi and the other is 32 but i cant remember which.

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just stay away from Gladwin (area off highway 61). It's always VERY sandy and whooped out...

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big o is the easiest being that alot of it is 2 tracks and forestry roads and also connected to little o, little manistee, lincoln hills. I will be riding out there with a group this holiday weekend. there is a nice campground called north country campground and store he has a connector path to the bottom of little manistee if interested number is 888-391-6329. or look on lake county chamber of commerce webpage for all the local campgrounds

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Just remember that if you are not platted ie street legal that you CANNOT legaly ride any part of the Big O. The Little O is ok to ride with non-platted bikes. But you cannot ride the Big O without plates.

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I personally think the North Missaukee trail (North of Cadillac off from US-131) is one of the better trails for beginners. There is a lot of sand in the Baldwin area, and a lot of traffic, and a lot of whoops (althought the Little Manistee was groomed this spring). The North Missaukee is not a loop (although there are some small loops that branch off it), so it does not tend to get ridden as much as other trails. Much of it is still hard topsoil, and much easier for beginners, and it is not very tight. It is easier to ride a 50" trail with hard soil then a 2 track of 6" deep sand.

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yzman400, cojo, RyanK & mixr50082, thank you ALL very much, for responding to my questions so quickly! We really appreciate the great suggestions and advice. 🙂

Now, we just have to see about finding some decent lodging in the area. I love camping, but my other half prefers a room with AC. I'm not complaining though, I'm glad to have a significant other that enjoys bikes.

I'll definitely be keeping an eye on this part of the forum and I'll make sure to post when we'll be headed your way. We are looking forward to riding in your neck of the woods and hopefully meeting some of you folks.

Regards, Art (potatoheadart)

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Ya might want to try some of these for lodging.

http://www.google.com/local?hl=en&lr=&sa=X&near=Baldwin,+MI+49304&q=category:+Motels+%26+Hotels

Yes there is better places in Michigan to ride. But seing as you are coming from the windy city this is probably going to be your closest place that has such a wide selection of trails. Almost anyplace in Michigan is gonna be dry and dusty right now. No sence driving all the way up north for that when you can get it in Baldwin. Yes Baldwin does see quite a bit of OHV traffic and can get pretty wooped out at times. What ya gonna do 🙂

If you are just getting into riding this is a decent area to start in as it has shoping, restraunts, lodging, and bike dealer nearby.

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Since you're both plated, another option is to head to the UP and ride the hundreds of miles of two-tracks.

They are a bit wider than most "ORV" trails, so are very easy riding. You can go all day and not see another person (so you don't have to worry about a bunch of yahoo's roosting by you, or worse yet, coming at you head on).

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Great to get all the awesome info!!! Again, I really, really appreciate all of the advice!The whole distance thing doesn't really seem to be much of an issue at all. It seems like I can reach the furthest areas of MI in 8 hours, or less. The difference in driving 5 hours, or 8 hours, doesn't bother me too much. We're definitely going to start investigating the places that you guys suggested. It's great to be taking the first steps in planning our first riding trip to MI.

BTW, Both of our bikes do have license plates and spark arrestors, and we'll be picking up our DNR stickers when we get there.

Is there much difference (terrain, conditions, crowds, etc.) riding in the UP? How about lodging and dining out... Are things more expensive?

I noticed that most of the trails have a marked parking area... Do people mess with your vehicles while parked there? Also, would it be wise to bring fuel cans and leave them on the trailer in the parking area, or is fuel something that's easy to come by on most of the trail systems?

Thanks again, Art

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I have never had a truck messed with when at a staging area. Most people that are there are for same reason as you, to ride.

As for gas I would bring a gas can and chain it to your trailer. People wont mess with it like that but if its not chained down it may disapear.

There is definately better places to ride than Baldwin in Michigan. And if you arn't afraid of a little drive that may be an option. I tend to be a little critical of Michigan trails. What I think is junk others may think is awsome. Us Michiganders are a little spoiled by the great trail system that we have. Were we can be bitchy about the sand and woops that we have to deal with others are happy as heck just to have a place to ride.

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The U.P. is quite different from the L.P. Some of the trails up there are so seldom ridden they can be hard to follow. You have to look very carefully some times for trail markers. Then on the east side of the U.P., including Drummond Island, there are rocks, rocks, and more rocks. There are several little loops north and east of St Ignace, up to Kinross. Not many whoops in the U.P.

Some of my favorite trails are Licoln Hills, Missaukee Junction, Grand Traverse (the short little loop on the south of Grand Traverse is fun), and Holton (yes I like the tight nasties). I like the loops that don't get ridden much, and tend to have more natural bumps and roots than whoops. Cadillac is a decent sized city, and many of these systems are within minutes of there.

If you do go to the Little Manistee, you'll find the southern part of the trail, south of the cut off to the Carrieville campground, much less sandy than the northern part, especially the section from the campground to the Lincoln Hills connector. I bet I've ridden the complete Little Manistee loop nearly 30 times.

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If you like crowds and beat up trails, then stick to lower Michigan, if you want solitude, great trails, and some beautiful country, then keep heading north to 'da UP.

Most of the riding here is done on a mix of old logging roads and snowmobile trails (which are often one and the same). There are a few official ORV trails, but there are hundreds and hundreds of miles of "two-tracks".

Your best bet is a good county map book (which only helps with the county roads), and either a compass or a good sense of direction. I like to pick a destination (either a particular lake or town), and then choose the most obscure route for getting there, along with a differing return route.

I have a cabin about 90 miles from where I live (by paved road), and I will often send my wife over in the truck, and I will ride my bike there using a combination of two-tracks and snowmobile trails....my usual route is 120 miles and during that time, I will only see one or two other vehicles (if any).

There are lots of good places to stay and eat...they're not fancy, but the food is good, the rates are fairly cheap, and the people are friendly

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I might also suggest you try one of the 4 LP counties (Cheboygan, Montmorency, Presque and Ogemaw) that allow riding on the side of county roads with a DNR sticker. That way you can try out a trail at a road crossing and jump off of it on the next road if you don't like it. I am only familiar with Ogemaw county. You can stay in Rose City, cheap hotels, and ride straight from your room with a DNR sticker. You can also stay in West Branch, a little bigger town, but can't ride in the city limits.

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The last three or 4 weekends that I've gone out to the Cadillac area and Higgins lake trails I've hardly ran into anyone. It hasn't been crowded at all yet.

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I might also suggest you try one of the 4 LP counties (Cheboygan, Montmorency, Presque and Ogemaw) that allow riding on the side of county roads with a DNR sticker. That way you can try out a trail at a road crossing and jump off of it on the next road if you don't like it. I am only familiar with Ogemaw county. You can stay in Rose City, cheap hotels, and ride straight from your room with a DNR sticker. You can also stay in West Branch, a little bigger town, but can't ride in the city limits.

Both of there bikes are platted. They can pretty much ride wherever they want anyways 🙂

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We rode last week around Baldwin and the sand is powder dry and dust prevails. No recent rain to speak of. Big O is a good suggestion as you're plated and can ride some fireroads. (much easier for new riders) I know of a good place for beginners;PM me if interested.

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Amen and Woo Hoo (to the rain). 🙂 We got some of the wet stuff here in the Windy City too! About time, and to think that I even watered the lawn yesterday!

yzman400, thanks for getting back to me. Later today, I'll be finding out from my supervisor (significant other) if we'll be headed to MI for the weekend. Either way, I'll definitely be giving you a call after 6 today.

Thanks again for all of your help.

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