This trail is fun, flowy, and twisty in a north woods forest just outside of downtown Grand Rapids, and is within short pedal distance of coffee shops, restaurants, shopping, and beaches. The entire trail is hand-cut, most of which consists of expert bench-cut. The tread is also narrow, which is a plus to me. A lot of the trails in the cities resemble dirt freeways, so this trail reminds me of the track I used to bike as a kid.
This trail has a lot to offer and not a lot of visitors that I saw.
From the parking lot, enter the Legion Ski trails, and you'll find signage for the singletrack trails. The singletrack starts across from the sign, perpendicular to the ski trail. Head up the track and you'll shortly come to a fork in the path. For this trail, keep right. You'll come down a hill and will come across more ski trail. The trail continues in a narrow spit of trees between two ski trails.
The bench cut trail continues up a slop with some tight turns. This section offers some fun technical features, including a skinny and several log overs. It took me several of attempts before I cleared the skinny.
The trail dumps you out onto the ski trail where you can either re-enter the loop to continue on to the North Loop
or Pine Plantation Loop
, or you can head towards the trailhead.
From the Intermediate Loop
I, you can either continue to the Pine Plantation Loop
or hang a right to the North Loop
. This will add some mileage out of the way, but will return you to roughly where you left the main trail.
At the entrance of this trail is a rooty section that leads to a technical feature consisting of wide, cut logs set on end to form an elevated skinny. Many of the logs are starting to deteriorate in the middle, so I didn't attempt.
What makes this trail more challenging than the rest is that it's narrower, tighter, and has more grade reversals. The climbs are steep and punchy. The trail is also the least traveled of the trail system, some parts are a little overgrown.
Keep your eye out for optional log piles on the sides. I realized they were rideable as I pedaled by. This trail made me wish I lived nearby. I could see myself progressing on this trail on the technical features and improving my speed/time.
On the western-most end of the trail system, you'll enter a stand of red pine on a ridge. This was a trail highlight for me. In the cities, we mostly have deciduous forests, so it's a treat to be in the pines. The sweet smell in the air, the gentle chorus of the needles in the wind. You may be tempted to look above or about rather than watch the trail, but beware of stumps hidden in the grass just off of the track. Hitting one of the those will cause an instant endo.
This section has great flow. The trail weaves about, and you can build up quite a bit of speed pumping.
On the return from the Pine Plantation, there is a nifty rock garden consisting of multiple rock overs. I spent some time playing in here as there were too many lines I couldn't just pick one. I ended up combining multiple rock overs together, which made for a challenging roller-coaster experience.