There are thousands of miles of off road trails perfect for ATVs, dirt bikes, side by sides, Jeeps, trucks, and cheap Craigslist finds turned off road machines in the Great Lakes State. Michigan’s lower peninsula is home to many off road parks and public lands with two tracks for ORV registered vehicles. Whether you are traveling to Michigan, or already live here, there are a few vacation worthy destinations solely for going off road.
Covering all of the trails and two tracks would warrant a book, but we’ve whittled it down to a shortened list just about any seasoned off road enthusiast would agree with. This list is not in any particular order. If you’re looking for a hidden trail system near your backyard this might not be for you, but if you are looking to plan an overnight or extended stay then these off road trails might be of interest.
Twisted Trails Off Road Park
Twisted Trails is open May through October and hosts some of the biggest off road events including mud runs, Jeep Blessing, rock crawling, and more. There is a fee to access the trail system as well as campsites, both rustic and with electric.
The property is 400 acres with a wide variety of trail types. Twisted Trails is located in Copemish, MI, just off of M-115 between Manistee and Traverse City. This area is fairly centrally located for all of the “up north” Michigan destination cities with Manistee, Traverse City, Frankfort, Cadillac, and Arcadia all being within about a 45 minute drive.
St. Helen Motorsports Area
This area offers an expansive trail system open year round for ATVs, dirt bikes, Jeeps, and snowmobiles. The trails are roughly 50 miles, though there are connecting routes, and riding areas that could total closer to 70 miles. St Helen is easily one of the best places off road in Michigan’s lower peninsula for all vehicles up to 72” wide. You’ll ride a lot of flat terrain, find jumps, berms, and more on the trails. If you’re looking for steeper climbs, the scramble area has a few sandy hills and rocky areas to offer. Campgrounds and other lodging are nearby, and it is legal to to ride on the far right side of some roads in the area to access the trails from most campgrounds, gas stations, or lodging.
Big Bear Lake Trail
This 18 mile loop is open to ATVs 50” wide or smaller, and off road motorcycles. Located just East of Gaylord, MI in Vienna Township, the Big Bear Trail is right near campgrounds on Big Bear Lake. The Big Bear Trail system connects to the Crapo Creek Trail just east, which adds another 17 mile loop intersecting with ORV trails open to all permitted vehicles.
These trails are mostly in wooded areas with lots of roots, burms, and short hills. Big Bear is popular for dirt bike and dual sport riders looking to do long rides with lots of opportunities to explore the area via off road.
Silver Lake Sand Dunes ORV Area
The Silver Lake ORV area is a massive area of hilly Michigan sand dunes dedicated to off road vehicles of any size. With, 500 acres of off road terrain, and a number of campgrounds and lodging options near Silver Lake Dunes State Park, Silver Lake is easily the biggest ORV area in Michigan on most weekends.
Located between a large inland lake, Silver Lake, and Lake Michigan, the entire park is about as scenic as it gets in the state of Michigan during the summer. The park is 20-30 minutes south of Ludington and 30-40 minutes north of Muskegon off of US-31 making it an easy destination for travelers coming from Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois.
Kalkaska Trail & Route
With seemingly endless miles of 50” ATV trails and connecting routes for larger ORV vehicles, the Kalkaska area as a whole offers several days worth of riding. The Kalkaska Trail is open to ATVs and off road motorcycles with a loop that circles all of Kalkaska County and then some.
Most of the terrain is sandy, well drained trails with roots and a few mildly rocky sections. The Kalkaska Trail is very flowy with some rolling hills and short climbs. You’ll find yourself ripping through smooth sections with lots of berms, but those tight and technical sections will creep up on you in a hurry. Sections of the ORV trails open to larger vehicles are generally flat and wind through wooded and open areas with several loop options.
Holton Motorcycle Trail
Not too far from Muskegon, or Grand Rapids, is a 26 mile trail system strictly for motorcycles, and it is a fun area worth mentioning for at least a day trip. A lot of the trail system is a sandy soil mix with hard packed sections and a few tight sections. You won’t find big jumps, rock gardens, or super technical sections here, but 1-2 loops at the Holton Motorcycle Trail is a good way to get out without the commitment of a long drive to the northern parts of Michigan.
Bundy Hill Off Road Park is located about 30 minutes south of Jackson, MI in Jerome and is open year round. This all terrain park is roughly 300 acres and open to ATVs, motorcycles, side by sides, and larger vehicles. 3 wheeled ATVs are not permitted. You’ll find everything here from steep climbs, rock crawls, mud, deep water, off cambered technical sections and more. Portions of Bundy Hill have been expanded to offer more ATV specific trails. The trail system here can accommodate riders of all ages with plenty of easy trails, and very challenging terrain. Camping on site is available as well.
The Gladwin ORV scramble area and ATV trails are located in northern-central Michigan with a few 20+ mile loops open to ATVs, dirt bikes, and other ORVs less than 50” wide. The trails are overall sandy and flowy winding through dense wooded areas and fields. A number of big berms and fast riding sections make the Gladwin ORV area a fun place to ride. Majority of the trails here are easy, so this would be a great destination for a new or young rider. Some sections have short climbs, water crossings with bridges, or mildly rough off camber trails.