Arcadia Dunes: Dry Hill Trails
The bulk of the Arcadia Dunes-C.S. Mott Preserve trail system is Dry Hill Trails, a glacial moraine ridge that runs inland several miles from the Baldy Trails along Lake Michigan. South of the moraine are steep-forested back dunes and together they give the preserve a rugged interior, much to the delight of the mountain bikers who laid out the trail.
Although open to all trail users, Dry Hill was a collaboration between the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy and the International Mountain Biking Association. The loop is classic single track, a flowing trail rated “intermediate” with quick rolling hills, numerous long uphill sections and naturally banked turns.
The main trailhead is located on Saint Pierre Road, just off M-22, and the loop is marked with map posts in a clockwise direction. The main loop measures 9.9 miles while Chestnut Trail is a cross-over spur that reduces the ride to 2.1 miles.
Dry Hill, which lies between the Herring Lakes to the north and the Lake Arcadia watershed to the south, picked up its name when early farmers discovered it was too high above the water table to drill a well. Eventually, more advanced techniques allowed deeper wells to be drilled and the flatter areas on top were farmed.
Dry Hill winds through a half-dozen meadows and a hardwood forest of predominately sugar maple and American beech, making it a stunning ride in the fall. If riding in a clockwise direction, the first half from the St. Pierre Road trailhead is often tight and technical in the woods while the second half is more flowing, including a 1.6-mile long downhill run after the trail tops off above 1,000 feet.
Hikers also enjoy the trail. If the nearly 10-mile loop is too much, you can spot a car at a small parking area near where Dry Hill crosses Taylor Road and a second vehicle where it crosses Matzinger Road, a mile before the Saint Pierre trailhead. That would make for a 4-mile trek along what many consider the most beautiful section of the loop.
Mountain bikers, especially beginners, looking for a flatter, easier ride should consider Camp Trail, which also departs from the Saint Pierre Trailhead. Built in 2014, Camp Trail is a 3.7-mile loop mostly west of Saint Pierre Road.
|Difficulty - Moderate|
|Mountain Bike Single Track|