Grand Rapids bike shops share favorite summer trails

The weather is great for bike riding, but with hundreds of miles of trails to enjoy in West Michigan, which ones are best for summer rides? GR|Mag decided to talk to the experts for recommendations on some of their favorite summer trails. See which trails local bike shop owners and staff love and get out and enjoy the sunshine.

Beginner Level/Easier Rides

The Johnson Park Trail is a great trail for all riders, according to Jill Martindale, store manager for Grand Rapids Bicycle Company’s Fulton St. store.

“Johnson Park has a paved scenic drive that loops about two-miles through a flowing wooded area. I think it’s beautiful,” Martindale said. “Being paved, it’s appropriate for any style of bike, and the hills sometimes get your heart pumping.”

The trail also has the benefit of easy access. Johnson Park is accessible from Kent Trails, which you can pick up south of John Ball Zoo or at the end of Market Street.

Chris Jensen, staff member at Alger Bikes, said the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail is a great ride for beginning bikers or anyone looking for a leisurely ride.

The 100-mile, tree-lined, flat rail-trail starts in Riverside Park in Grand Rapids and ends in Cadillac.

“The trail is paved all the way north through Sand Lake and works its way through Belmont, Rockford and Cedar Springs. There are many parking areas along the trail with easy access,” Jensen said.

Rider Kevin Soules tackling one of West Michigan’s many trails. Photo courtesy of Central District Cyclery.

Intermediate Level/Moderate Rides

“Cannonsburg State Game Area is personally one of my favorite local trails in the area because of the diversity of the terrain you get to ride through,” Martindale said. “I really love that the trail is divided into four segments because, depending upon my mood, I can ride gravel roads and then dip into the singletrack to ride my favorite segments.”

Martindale said the trail system at Cannonsburg State Game Area lets riders race through scenic pine trees, traverse bridges and tackle fast descents, making for a varied and fun ride.

She also said the trail can be enjoyed by people of different skill levels. “This trail can be a little more difficult at times, especially some of the downhill segments or the root-y climbs, but riders shouldn’t be deterred because of those areas,” she said.

Martindale also recommends the Ken-O-Sha Park/The Underground mountain bike trail. She said the accessibility of this trail makes it a particularly great choice for anyone crunched for time that still wants to get a ride in. It happens to be a short 15-minute ride from the Grand Rapids Bicycle Company’s Fulton St. location.

“They’re great trails to practice handling skills at because there isn’t much elevation, but there are lots of twisty spots and some fun features like rock piles or swaying bridges,” Martindale said.

Jensen said Kent Trails is a great choice for riders wanting to have some fun. Located west of Grand Rapids, Kent Trails is a network of paved and crushed limestone trails around the lagoons of the Grand River valley. The trailhead at the corner of Butterworth Street and O’Brien Street has ample parking and full restrooms too.

“The paths wind through until they arrive at Millennium Park, which boasts more parking, restrooms and a beach,” Jensen said.

He added, “Kent Trails has some small hills and gravel paths, so I suppose it’s better for riders with more fitness – or a yen for adventure.”

Nate Phelps, owner of Central District Cyclery, recommends Grand Rapids Bike Park for those seeking a bit of a challenge.

“Currently going through a $200,000 renovation, the bike park offers progressive jump lines, a pump track, and three-miles of singletrack with technical features,” Phelps said.

Advanced Level/Challenging Rides

For advanced bicyclists, Phelps said a great bet is the Richmond Park Flow Trail, which offers a half-mile of downhill flow trail.

“Stay off this one when wet as this trail is filled with huge berm turns and tabletop jumps,” Phelps warned.

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