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The 12 Best Mountain Bike Rides Near Detroit Michigan

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Updated March 26th, 2024

DTE Foundation Trail
Image courtesy of DTE Foundation Trail

There is lots of great mountain biking near Detroit, Michigan. It’s certainly not an area known for it’s mountain biking but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there. We have everything from fast and flowy to very technical trails here. We have some nice rails to trails gravel paths as well for days you just want to cruise along in the woods. Let’s look at the 12 best mountain bike rides near Detroit.

Fast and Flowy Trails

These are smooth fast trails with corners you can go fast through. This is where to go when you want to put some miles on and don’t want to do it at a grinding slow pace. These trails are really fun and also really good for beginner riders or not real aggressive mountain bikers.

DTE Foundation Trail

DTE Foundation Trail is relatively new being only a few years old. It was built to be a very fast flowy mountain bike trail with a lot of bermed corners and plenty of optional jumps and drops.

The highlight of this trail is the Big Kame Loop which has a couple of really good downhill sections that are as good as what you could get at a lift served ski resort in the summer. The Green Loop is one of the best beginner mountain bike trails around. This is a very smooth trail with few rocks and roots anywhere on it.

There are some very technical features on these trails that are very challenging. They can all be easily bypassed for people that don’t want that kind of ride. DTE has great flow and technical features. It is one of the best mountain bike rides near Detroit and anywhere else for that matter.

If you do all the loops the trail is about 22 miles long and there is a lot of vertical. To get the great downhills you have to have some great amount of climbing.

This trail is located on Waterloo Recreation Area. A Recreation Passport or daily fee is required for parking here.

To learn more about this trail you can go to their website here.

Island Lake Recreation Area

Island Lake Recreation Area has 2 mountain bike loops that ridden together make about 15 miles of trail. This trail is relatively easy with long stretches of flat windy trail through the winds with an occasional short climb or short downhill. The experts out there can ride all 15 miles in 45 minutes. The trail is relatively smooth and not too punishing on bikes or equipment.

There are some sand pits that form after rainfalls. If it’s your first time riding it you should be a little cautious on downhills because most of the sandy spots tend to be at the bottom of hills where you can hit them with a huff of steam if your not careful.

This trail is located in a State Recreation Area. A Recreation Passport or daily fee is required for parking here.

To learn more about the Island Lake trail click here.

Riverbends Park

Riverbends Park Trail in Shelby Township is a great beginners trail. It is about 9 miles long now. It has very few hills. Climbing is very minimal. There is nothing really technical about it at all. It can best be described as a nice windy walk through the winds done on a mountain bike. The trail can be a little confusing to find all the segments. It can be helpful to ride with someone who’s been there before to learn them. It makes a great fun ride when you want to cruise through the woods but don’t want to work too hard climbing up hills.

There is no fee for parking or entering Riverbends Park

To learn more about Riverbends Park Mountain Bike Trail click here.

Addison Oaks County Park

Addison Oaks County Park near Lake Orion, has a professionally maintained 7 mile mountain bike trail. It is very fast and flowy with some technical features that are optional. It has a moderate amount of climbing and downhill sections. It can be combined with the trails at nearby Bald Mountain Recreation Area for a longer ride. There is an entry fee for Addison Oaks County Park. Some of the funds goes toward paying the Pauly who maintains the trail.

To learn more about Addison Oaks Mountain Bike Trail click here.

A little flow with a little technical

mountain bike trail curve with bridge
Image courtesy of CRAMBA

These are trails with some flow sections and some technical sections. They aren’t beginner mountain bike trails but they aren’t experts only trails. They are fun for most days of riding when you want some challenge but want to go fast too.

Maybury State Recreation Area

Maybury State Park in Northville is a short trail that packs a lot of punch. It starts almost immediately with the longest climb of the trail. From there on the trail rolls a lot. It has one of the best fast downhill sections anywhere near Detroit about halfway through the trail. This trail is a good place to develop skills and get climbing in without having to commit to a really long trail. This trail is great when your short on time but want to get a lot of intensity into your ride.

This trail is located in a State Recreation Area. A Recreation Passport or daily fee is required for parking here.

To learn more about Maybury Recreation Area Mountain Bike trail click here.

Stony Creek Metropark

Stony Creek Metropark has about 10 miles of mountain bike trails. They range from easy on the 2 track sections and “The Pines” to challenging on the “Roller Coaster”. All of it is within the ability of most riders if they take it slow in the challenging parts.

The “Roller Coaster” and “Back Nine” segments are extremely fun with a lot of quick windy climbs and downhills that culminate in a downhill followed by a steep sandy climb. If you go fast on the final downhill you can make it up the sandhill at the bottom.

These trails are fairly well marked with maps at most intersections. It can be helpful to study the mountain bike trail map online to understand the trail before going to make sure you don’t miss anything.

Stony Creek trails are located in Stony Creek Metropark and require a day or annual Metroparks pass to enter.

To learn more about Stony Creek Metropark Mountain Bike Trails click here.

Pontiac Lake Recreation Area

Pontiac Lake Recreation Area in Waterford Twp has a 10 mile mountain bike trail that is best known for “2 Mile Hill” which is a long climb that occurrs a bit after the 2 mile mark in the trail. The trail is fast with some technical climbing sections.

Most of the longer climbs occur before crossing Maceday Road about half way through the trail. If you make it to the road don’t give up. The worst is behind you.

There are a few optional portions of the trail. The first one that leads to a steep windy short downhill is the most technical. The others don’t add anything more challenging than what is already in the trail.

This trail is popular with the go fast racing crowd. The faster riders can do this trail in less than an hour.

This trail is located in a State Recreation Area. A Recreation Passport or daily fee is required for parking here.

Technical and High Challenge

mountain bike trail with roots
Image courtesy of CRAMBA

These are trails that have little to no easy parts. The terms straight and smooth really don’t apply. You earn every mile on these trails. Lots of rocks and roots on every single climb and descent. You go to these when you need a bit of self punishment.

Highland Recreation Area

Highland Recreation Area in Whitelake is a 4 loop trail that totals about 16 miles. This is without question the most technical mountain bike trail near Detroit. The loops are labeled A, B, D and D. There is exactly 1 spot on the trail that goes straight for any distance where you can build up a little speed. The rest of the trails is a slow very windy grind.

B Loop is the longest segment with a very large amount of climbing. There is a cutoff halfway through it if becomes too much.

There is some talk that D Loop is more technical than the others. It really isn’t. The most challenging downhill obstacles are a rock pile descent on A loop and a steep descent with some rocks in the middle on B Loop. The most challenging climb is a rock garden towards the end of B Loop. There is no reason to fear D Loop thinking it will be too challenging if you have ridden A and B loops.

C Loop is similar in technical challenge to A and B loops also. Plan on several hours to ride all 4 loops. Bring lots of water.

This trail is located in a State Recreation Area. A Recreation Passport or daily fee is required for parking here.

To learn more about Highland Recreation Area click here.

Bloomer Park

Bloomer Park in Rochester is a 6 mile trail with very technical features and a lot of climbing. There is a dowhill switchback section that is by far the most challenging thing to ride on a mountain bike anywhere near Detroit. This trail has a lot of root covered windy climbs and steep descents.

It is also one of the more confusing trails to find all the trail segments. Having an app along like Trailforks or MTBProject really helps until you learn the trail.

This trail is located along the Clinton River Trail as well so you can ride into the park and start the trail via the CRT as well as parking inside Bloomer Park. A fee is required to park inside Bloomer Park.

To learn more about Bloomer Park Mountain Bike Trail click here.

Holly-Holdridge Recreation Area

Holly Recreation Area is home to the infamous East Loop otherwise known as Gruber’s Grinder. The East Loop is a 15 mile very technical trail that has very few straight segments to build up any kind of speed at all. Expect it to be a very slow grind where you earn every mile of the trail. There are many rooty windy technical climbs and downhills.

There aren’t a lot of shortcuts or ways to get off this trail once you start it. This trail is more like a several hour afternoon project than a quick fun ride that you bust out in 45 minutes.

There are several other loops besides the East Loop that are not as challenging or long and suitable for almost any mountain biker including beginners.

This trail is located in a State Recreation Area. A Recreation Passport or daily fee is required for parking here.

To learn more about the Holly-Holdridge Mountain Bike Trails click here.

Rails To Trails Dirt Road Cruisers

Paint Creek Trail
Image Courtesy of Paint Creek Trail

Rails To Trails paths are trails made from abandoned railroad lines. They make great bike paths since they are already a very smooth grade and a 2 track width. These trails are great for days when you just want to go take a nice easy relaxing ride through the woods.

Paint Creek Trail

The Paint Creek Trail is a 10 mile trail that goes from Rochester Hills to Lake Orion. It is a Rails To Trails path that is a smooth gravel surface for it’s entire length. It is a nice straight forward easy ride when you just want to cruise through the woods somewhere. There are nice restaurants to eat at in both Rochester Hills and Lake Orion. The Sagebrush Cantina is one of our favorites.

The trail is slightly uphill going from Rochester Hills towards Lake Orion. You’ll find the return ride is very quick most days without much effort. There are many places to park in Rochester Hills and you can also make use of parking along the Clinton River Trail in Rochester Hills as well.

To learn more about the Paint Creek Trail click here.

West Bloomfield Trail

The West Bloomfield Trail is a 7 mile rails to trails smooth gravel path that extends from the west to east sides of West Bloomfield. The trail continues 3 miles farther as the Clinton River Trail going east into downtown Pontiac. It continues west another 4 miles as the Airlines Trail to Wixom. The Airlines Trail is paved. The total trail length from Wixom to Pontiac is about 14 miles. The scenery along the trail is wooded with a few small lakes and ponds along the way. It passes through the West Bloomfield Nature Preserve as well.

More Trail Resources

There are many more trails around Detroit than what I have listed here. For more trail information you can go to Michigan Mountain Biking Association. You can also go to the local chapter pages as well.

Doug Ryan Portrait Skiing 200x200

Ryan Craig
Co-Founder & Chief Editor

I am a total gear nerd and love learning how things work and thinking about how they could be improved. Nothing excites me more than trying out new gear. I’d rather spend 3 hours taking my bike apart and learning how to change something than go to a bike shop. These days, I reside in Michigan by the Great Lakes and go skiing, biking, and boating as much as possible. Visit our About Us page and learn more.


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