Unbeknownst to many newcomers, Ann Arbor is an incredibly bike-friendly city with more than 87 miles of bike lanes, over 900 bike parking spaces downtown, and plenty of incredible bike trails to explore!
As summer quickly approaches, we took it upon ourselves to round up a short list of the best places to ride throughout the entire Ann Arbor area. Whether you’re strictly a paved-route rider, a mountain bike-enthusiast, or someone who likes a mix of both—you’ll find a trail to suit your needs right here.
Trail Cycling, 3-Mile Loop Trail
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The setting for some of our favorite events throughout the year, Hudson Mills Metropark covers 1,536 acres and features some of the Huron River’s most picturesque scenery. This area offers multiple hiking and walking trails along with two 24-hole disc golf courses. As for biking, cycling-enthusiasts can enjoy a 3-mile, paved loop trail all year long. If you don’t have your own bike—don’t worry! Hudson Mills Metropark offers bike rentals between Memorial and Labor Day.
Mountain Biking, 3.5 Loop Trail
Olson Park offers 54 acres of fun for the entire family —including the dog, since it’s home to one of the only off-leash dog parks in the city! Visitors will also find a wonderful fishing pond, paved pedestrian trails, premium athletic fields available for use by permit, a basketball court, and a rock-climbing playground. Mountain bikers will love the 3.5-mile loop trail that is perfect for both beginner and intermediate riders.
Mountain Biking, 6-15 Mile Loops
If you’re looking to dip your toes in the mountain-biking world but aren’t ready to invest in an actual mountain bike yet, opt for the Island Lake Recreation Area! This area’s bike loops cover about 15 miles, offering rugged terrain that is relaxed enough for a cyclocross bike or road bike. You can travel the East Loop around the Huron River, the 9-mile West Loop, or both, depending on how much time you have. Regardless, both offer a fun, slightly challenging ride that we promise you’ll enjoy!
For a quiet, pleasant ride, try the Dexter–Chelsea Road that connects these two charming towns. If you go on a weekend, don’t miss stopping by Zou Zou’s Café in Chelsea, which is often full of cyclists enjoying a caffeine-fueled break. Because this is an actual road and not specifically a biking trail, you’ll want to stay alert and observant of traffic patterns and other drivers while riding.
Trail Cycling, 9.5 Miles
Just 40 minutes from Ann Arbor directly above Island Lake Recreation Area, Kensington Metropark is one of the most popular parks in the state of Michigan. Throughout the 4,486 acres, you’ll find an 18-hole golf course, a 27-hole disc golf course, a nature center, a farm center, beautiful picnic areas, and the 1,200-acre Kent Lake. As for cycling, you won’t want to miss the paved Kensington Metropark Trail, which begins at the Island Lake Pathway at Kent Lake Beach Road and ends at the Huron Valley Trail.
Trail Cycling, 10-Miles of Trails
Waterloo Recreation Area, the largest park in the Lower Peninsula, offers more than 20,000 acres of outdoor paradise just minutes from Ann Arbor in Chelsea! A variety of trails are available for hiking, including nature trails at the Discovery Center and the 36-mile Waterloo-Pinckney Trail that traverses from Big Portage Lake to Green Lake and further into Pinckney Recreation Area. Additionally, the new DTE Energy Foundation Trail offers more than 10 miles of loops and will soon consist of 25 miles to explore on bike!
Locally, the classic road bike choice is the 24-mile route along Huron River Drive from Ann Arbor to Dexter and back. And if you’ve ever taken a drive to Dexter from Ann Arbor on a Saturday morning, you’ll find that many local cyclists agree. The winding route offers incredible views of the Huron River and with just one stop light, you can cycle almost uninterrupted. After you’ve done 12 miles, you can turn around for another 12 (after exploring Dexter for a bit, of course) or meet up with a friend or two who can drive you back.
Trail Cycling, 15-Mile Trail
Lower Huron Metropark, Willow Metropark, and Oakwoods Metropark—located within a short drive from Ann Arbor—offer more than 5,000 acres of combined parkland, all centered around the beautiful Huron River. All three parks are connected by paved bike trail that runs for more than 15 miles, perfect for cyclists of all skill levels. If you don’t feel like biking the entire trail, stop at one of the parks, park and then bike a little bit along that section of trail before heading home. If 15 miles isn’t enough for you, you can also cycle through Flat Rock and into the Lake Erie Metropark, creating a 23.75-mile trail in total.
Trail Cycling, 26-Mile Trail
Located northwest of Ann Arbor, the Lakelands Trail State Park is part of the Great Lake-to-Lake Trail that stretches from South Haven to Port Huron. This paved section of trail lies between Hall Road in Hamburg Township to M-36 just west of Pinckney and is the perfect pick for a bike trip near Ann Arbor. The 26-mile stretch is popular with cyclists, horseback riders and cross-country skiers in the winter. The trail connects directly to the Pinckney Recreation Area equestrian trails and provides an additional 13 miles of riding opportunities. Because it is often also used by horses, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for bumps and potholes.
Trail Cycling, 40-Mile Trail
Developed in partnership with Huron River Greenway, the Border-to-Border Trail is a non-motorized pathway that connects cities, parks, neighborhoods and trails throughout Washtenaw County. Currently, this extremely popular trail that connects Dexter, Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, currently stretches 40 miles. Eventually, the trail will span 70 total miles and is perfect whether you’re looking for a short jaunt, a long hike, or a leisurely bike ride.
Have a wheelie good time!
Where do you like to ride in the Ann Arbor area? Let us know in the comments below!