Get lost for a day on the Big M, winding through Manistee National Forest’s miles of mountain biking trails. Cruise along the Betsie River, taking extra time in the small towns on your way. Race towards Point Betsie Lighthouse on M-22. All you need is a bike.

Betsie Valley Trail

This 22-mile multi-use trail meanders along the Betsie River and the beautiful Crystal Lake shoreline, and through birch, maple, ash and evergreen forests. Watch for wildlife along the trail, paved from Frankfort into Beulah, with an aggregate trail surface ideal for mountain bikes between Beulah and Thompsonville. A popular ride involves parking at the Frankfort trailhead and riding to Beulah and back, about 20 miles roundtrip. Bonus: you can call to arrange for the Benzie Bus (231.325.3000) to pick up your posse and your bikes at a trailhead and drop you off anywhere along the trail, so you can ride one-way back to your car. Beulah is 10 miles one way; Thompsonville is 22 miles one way. BETSIEVALLEYTRAIL.ORG.

Big M

One of the first Nordic trail systems in the United States, the Big M today lays out 50 miles of trails that roll through the Manistee National Forest. Most are single-track paths and all are marvelous gifts to mountain bikers and cross-country skiers. The dense forest makes for a cool ride through the Udell Hills. Four distinct segments range from easy to difficult.

M-22, from Frankfort north

One of the region’s most scenic drives, M-22’s wide shoulders, smooth pavement and stunning views also make for great biking. Ride early to avoid car traffic in peak summer travel times, and savor the stretch that hugs the shoreline of aquamarine Crystal Lake as you pass century-old resorts and gorgeous vistas. For a beach break on the big lake, take the turn toward the iconic and much-photographed Point Betsie Lighthouse.

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