This sport gets people outside. It creates a sense of community. It can build self-confidence in kids. You get a charge of adrenaline from riding the trails. We’re talking about mountain biking, an activity that’s taking the Petoskey area by storm, with dedicated trail advocates, clubs, clinics, equipment, and new mountain biking trails in the works.

Mountain biking has been popular in the region for years, but there’s been a more recent expansion of opportunities for the sport in Northern Michigan. This is due in part to the work of Top of Michigan Mountain Bike Association (TOMMBA), an organization established in 2012 to construct mountain bike trails. Aside from trail building, TOMMBA provides women’s mountain biking clinics, and they’re in the process of building a bike library to be used in conjunction with Norte Youth Cycling programs.

“We have everything from beginner trails to skills trails,” says Lynn Wolf, TOMMBA’s board president. “We recently built a jump line trail and we just started adding drops.” Wolf is hoping that a partnership with Rails to Trails will yield cycle trails that lead directly to mountain biking opportunities. “You could literally just ride right to your destination,” she says.

Mike Cortright, owner of North Country Cycle in Boyne City, has mountain biked all over the country. “What’s unique about mountain biking in northern Michigan is that the trails are really close to the cities. You can just park your car for the weekend, go biking, and then walk around town to restaurants and shopping. And there’s swimming and so much more recreation for the whole family.”

You heard it right: you don’t have to travel to a distant land to get in some mountain biking. The Petoskey area is waiting for your tires to hit the trail, and we’ve got a ton of amenities for you after you’ve had your fun.

North Country Cycle hosts Taco Tuesday rides at Boyne Forest Trails a few times a month that attract up to 100 mountain bikers. Photo credit: Mike Cortright


Check out these area trails and places for gear rental or purchase and bike maintenance.

Photo: Michigan Barefoot Memories

Avalanche Preserve

1129 Wilson St, Boyne City, MI

Difficulty levels: Intermediate to advanced, with a few easier green loops

Miles of trail: ~9 miles

# of trails: 9

Notes: The ascent to the top of the preserve is incredibly rewarding, with a stellar view of Lake Charlevoix below. There are also separate hiking trails with multiple ways to summit.

Boyne Forest Trails System

3640 Old Horton Bay Rd., Boyne City, MI

Difficulty levels: Beginner to advanced

Miles of trail: ~16

# of trails: 15

Notes: Wolf says that these are “very user-friendly, multi-level trails” that can accommodate riders of all experience levels. Hikers can also use the bike paths—just make sure to follow the directions for hiking safety and travel direction at the trailhead. Latitude 45 sales manager Britt King lives close to the Boyne Forest Trails and rides them often.

The Highlands at Harbor Springs

600 Highland Drive, Harbor Springs, MI

Difficulty levels: Beginner to advanced

Miles of trail: ~22 miles

# of trails: 20

Notes: The Highlands includes lodging, resort services, gear rental, and a chairlift to take you right up to the top.

Boyne Mountain Resort

Parking: 1 Boyne Mountain Rd, Boyne Falls, MI

Difficulty levels: Beginner to advanced

Miles of trail: ~36 miles

# of trails: 11

Notes: Boyne Mountain includes lodging, resort services, gear rental, and a chairlift to take you right up to the top.

Browns Creek

Parking: the east end of the East Jordan Senior Center, 951 Mill St, East Jordan, MI

Difficulty level: Mostly intermediate

Miles of trail: ~5

# of trails: 7

Notes: Hikers and trail runners are also welcome on the trails.


Tanton Family Reserve

Parking: 1601-1335 Maxwell Rd, Petoskey, MI

Difficulty levels: Beginner to advanced

Miles of trail: 6

# of trails: 4

Notes: Hikers are also welcome on these trails, as well as Class I e-bikes.

Wildwood Hills

Parking: 9744 Wildwood Rd, Alanson, MI 49706

Difficulty level: Intermediate

Miles of trails: 10

# of trails: 4

Young State Park

Parking: 2280 Boyne City Rd., Boyne City, MI

Difficulty level: Beginner

Miles of trails: ~5

# of trails: 5

Notes: This is a popular state park with camping, beach access, hiking, and a boat launch.


These are the larger trail systems in the area. TOMMBA is always looking to add more trails and mountain biking is allowed at some smaller parks, so do a thorough search on Trailforks for updates.



Latitude 45 sales manager Britt King says that local bike stores are very involved in the sport, offering repairs, supporting TOMMBA, and hosting clubs to get youth interested in mountain biking. Staff are available to help you with trail tips if you’re new to the area. Below is a selection of shops and details on their offerings.

Bike maintenance is available at North Country Cycle (pictured here) and other local bike shops. Photo credit: Mike Cortright

Anvil Bicycle Co.

6128 Forrest Ridge Lane, Harbor Springs, MI

Offerings: repairs

High Gear Sports

1171 US-31 North, Suite A, Petoskey, MI

Offerings: mountain bike sales, gear, repairs

Latitude 45

476 W Mitchell St, Petoskey, MI

Offerings: mountain bike sales, gear, repairs, and bike rentals

North Country Cycle 

126 Water St, Boyne City, MI

Offerings: mountain bike sales, gear, repairs, and bike rentals

Revolution Bike

102 Mason St., Charlevoix, MI

Offerings: mountain bike sales, gear, repairs

Serendipity Cycles

7576 Blackwood Court, Harbor Springs, Michigan

Offerings: Handcrafted bike frames, repairs


Great vibe”

Aside from the great trails and recreation opportunities, accessibility of bike shops, gorgeous scenery, and quaint northern towns, why else would you mountain bike in northern Michigan?

“Having traveled all over the country for mountain biking, I know we have something unique,” explains Cortright. “There’s a great vibe here.” He says that shop customers often remark on the region’s midwestern hospitality.

That’s important, because, according to Lynn Wolf, mountain bikers are a different breed of person altogether: relaxed, fun-loving, and adventurous. “I’ve never seen a mountain biker without a smile on their face,” she says.

A Go-Pro view of a group trail ride at Boyne Forest Trails. Photo credit: Mike Cortright


About the Author: Jen DeMoss is a newcomer to the Petoskey area and loves northern Michigan. You can catch her paddling a canoe, hiking a trail, or swimming in Lake Michigan as often as the weather cooperates. She’d love to help you make the most of your time in this paradise she now calls home.




Featured header image: The view from the top of Avalanche Mountain Preserve is well worth the effort to get to the top. Photo credit: Mike Cortright