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Level: Beginner
Length: 13 mi (20.9 km)
Surface: Singletrack
Configuration: Loop
Elevation: +415/ -373 ft
Total: 347 riders

Mountain Biking Island Lake

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#22 of 317 mountain bike trails in Michigan
#849 in the world

One-way, closed-loop, singletrack that can be ridden all in one shot or divided between two loops. Terrain is mostly flat through gentle rolling grasslands with some medium length gradual climbs. While weekends are very crowded (50 cars parked) the trails are almost completely empty during the week (3-5 cars) except for evenings in the Fall. More experienced riders will find these trails a great place to spin all out. Some can finish all 13 miles in less than 45 minutes. The yellow trail is more technical, but not overly challenging. The Blue trail is mostly flat with a couple of hills that can catch you off guard. There are some nice downhills and uphills. These trails are a great place to introduce a beginner to the sport of Mountain Biking. Experts will find it mildly entertaining. Good intermediate level trail.

First added by alvin.santoy on Jan 1, 2003. Last updated May 10, 2020. → add an update
Before you go
  • Drinking water: yes
  • Lift service: unknown
  • Night riding: unknown
  • Pump track: unknown
  • Restrooms: yes
  • Fat bike grooming: unknown
  • E-bikes allowed: unknown
  • Fee required: unknown
This trail information is user-generated. Help improve this information by suggesting a correction.
Getting there
Take I-96 west to Kensington Road (exit 151). Exit South onto Kensington Road. Pass the light at Grand River and the park entrance is 1/4 mile on left. Turn right after the entrance booth and proceed to "Trailhead Parking Lot" on right. Follow the road to the parking area.
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Island Lake Trail map

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Scott Lang (on Dec 18, 2022)
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Trail conditions

Wet (on Sep 8, 2020)
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Mountain Bike Trails Near Brighton, Michigan

Intermediate | 23 mi

Rider questions

Q: How long on average would it take to complete the yellow loop?
A: under 20 minutes if you're a rocket, to 45 if you're in no rush. It's a mildly technical 6-mile loop with about 300 feet of climbing, so budget for that.

Q: I understand that the Yellow Trail is also shared hikers... which direction/way around should the bicyclists go and which way should the walkers go?

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  • Kennywalkup

    Great pair of trails. Yellow (6 miles) is a more technical trail with a few more climbs. Blue (9 miles) is a great ride with a new re-route that is a lot of fun.

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  • Chilly Varblow

    Great beginer trail and still pretty fun for advanced riders. The trail is a bit sandy and washed out though.

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  • labrodent

    First let me state I am a beginner rider, who has led a sedentary lifestyle for 13 years and has taken up MTBing to get fit. With that said, keep that in mind while reading my review.
    There is 2 trails at Island Lake Rec. The Yellow trail, 9KM or 6 Miles is a lot of bang for the buck. There are a good amount of climbs, with awesome decents as rewards. It wasn't too difficult skill wise. Nothing that freaked me out.
    The blue loop is 17km or 10 miles long. It's like the yellow loop with less climbs, and alot of flat riding. I found it a bit boring at times. Also the blue loop intersects the road, and the trail follows the road a ways until it jumps back in the woods. I found these 'intersections' poorly marked. You come to the road, and there's nothing to tell you whether to go left or right, and I missed a few 're-entry points' because they were poorly marked. There is also sand or pea gravel at the bottom of some decents, which makes for some treacherous conditions.
    I still give this Rec Area a 4 out of 5 because even though there are bad points, the good points far out weigh them. The scenery is very pleasant, and there is benches along the trail, usually at the top of a climb for those (like me) that need a pit stop.

    FYI the 'get directions' link here takes you to the wrong park.

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  • Mikeyninja

    Great trail system well maintained.

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  • Woody1974

    Rode for the 1st time ever (5.8.18) and enjoyed both loops. As a newbie to MTB I was happy that neither loop was too difficult at all. Well taken care of and a good flow. I will be back ????

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  • JayB119

    Good beginner trail. Nothing is too difficult on the trail. Fairly spread out, so you don't have someone always riding up on you.

    Yellow Loop (6 miles) - This loop is shorter and a little more technical. More up hill and downhill. I find this more entertaining than the blue loop.

    Blue Loop (9.2 miles) - It seems that most people ride this loop. Fairly flat except in two sections. Good for cardio and building endurance.

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  • George B

    Blue loop is in perfect condition, fast rolling and really no technical features. Sand in spots. Yellow trail is similar, just has some longer ascents. You can gain good speed on both loops.

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  • swankee21

    This was my first mountain biking ride ever, and I found the yellow trail very enjoyable! Some of the steeper uphills were a challenge to get up in one go, and I got very close to losing control going down some of the steeper slopes a few times. But, I would agree with other people that say it seems very well suited for a beginner like myself.

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  • Joey B

    Best beginner mountain bike trail in SE Michigan. This is the perfect place to bring someone just trying to get into mountain biking, and not scare them away, but give them a couple of challenges along the way. Brought my wife out for her first ever mountain bike ride and she loved it. We also bring a group of students on a wilderness course here yearly, most of which who have never ridden before, and they tend to love it. Lots of speed and flow, with a couple small climbs and obstacles here and there. A great trail, fun for everyone no matter your skill level.

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  • MikeyO

    Blue Trail review (I did not ride the Yellow trail yet). Great Intermediate Trail! I only say intermediate because there are about 5 short 30-40 ft. hills with some roots that are beyond the beginner skill and one 100 ft. climb towards the end that is full of roots. But other than these spots it is a fun trail with great speed. The views are spectacular as you ride along some creeks, ponds and the ridge line. The markers need to be updated as a few spots were unclear as to direction. About 7 miles in there was a 4-way spot with no sign Turn right! Luckily another rider new his stuff and we asked him as he passed. I love the width of the trail in general about 2-3 ft. on average, but there are some tight squeezes between trees occasionally, a very natural feel. Last, there are some small stints on the road for a few hundred ft. Not enough to wear down the knobbies.

    9/16/17 Updated: Yellow Trail Review - Although shorter the yellow trail is more fun. I liked that it flows nicely along the river. It does seem to have more ups and downs but is very much shorter in distance. Again, I will say that with some of the root filled climbs it may be difficult for a newbie, but you need to start somewhere. The one thing I do NOT like about this trail is after the beginning descent you turn right at the bottom and at this point you are now going opposite the Blue trail (oncoming traffic) which is not bad on the flat section, but right when you cross the river you are going up the hill where blue trail folks want to be flying downhill at you. I hope someone changes this, very dangerous and confusing, but half way up you split to the right (NO signage) and you are good to go. In fact, if you were riding the blue loop. This is the area you can switch to the yellow and finish out that way with a few extra miles.

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  • James Michael

    Love this trail. Nice climbs, great down hill areas, some fast straights. Very much a beginner / intermediate trail but is around 13 miles... the yellow loop will put your endurance to a test.

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  • daleydan

    The wife & I came back. We did both the yellow & blue trail this time. It was a little over 16 miles combined. The yellow trail has more climbing which makes it more difficult but still not much more than the blue. Both trails are very well maintained with pretty clear markings. I also want to restate - My God There Is A Lot Of Sand! Do they truck it in by the yard or what?! LOL! Great trails & Great park in general!

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  • Mitchell Duncan

    Did the 9.3 mile blue loop. Very zen, very chill. A couple of playful drops and climbs alone interrupt this otherwise rolling, relaxing ride along some positively GORGEOUS scenery. Biggest downside is a long open climb through sand that drags with no real payoff. Definitely a strong beginner course, with potential for real ripping speed for more experienced riders, but I'd recommend just taking in the surroundings ^_^

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  • daleydan

    Not much to say about this trail that hasn't been said. I took my wife here for her introduction to the sport. Very beginner friendly, yet enough to keep most entertained. There's no radical jumps and your not catching any big air. However, there were some nice opportunities to gain some speed and a a few steep climbs. It seemed like sand at the bottom of every downhill, actually this is the most sand I've encountered yet on a trail, but I'm still a noob myself. We enjoyed it very much, definitely a great trail to introduce people to the sport with. She wants to go again so she must have liked it. Oh and the trail was very well maintained. Lastly, we only did the blue trail, not enough time to do the yellow too but we'll be back to do both soon enough.

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  • PhatPedals

    Great flowy singletrack that's relatively flat and fast with some bridges, sand pits, and a few decent ups n downs. Some trail segments have lots of sand and mostly easy to moderate climbs making this great for fat biking year round. Overall beautiful place to ride, hike and Yak.

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  • zbiky

    Great trail. Beginner friendly, but can be really fun for those more advanced. Has some great flowing spots, and a couple steep climbs to get the blood pumping.

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  • Fangboner

    Great beginner course. Dries out quick. Not many technical sections but enough if you are just getting into the sport. One decent climb and a couple nice descents. Cx bike friendly, I've had no issues riding here with 32c tires.

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  • Kp_Swizz

    Good trail overall, not very technical. Very slick around some bank turns and sharp turns.

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  • Jeff Kelley

    Blue Trail: The closest thing to a scenic trail I can think of that is more of a mountain biking trail than a trail like Paint Creek. A few spots are hard to ride due to loose gravel and sand, but those are the only draw backs to this wonderfully beautiful trail. A great place for a leisurely ride.
    Yellow Trail: Shorter than the Blue, but more technical. Nothing too crazy. Some inclines, but the terrain is nicely maintained.
    This is honestly one of my favorite trails in the area. My suggestion is to make a day of biking and kayaking in the same day at the park.

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  • Bryan Beach

    Yellow trail is fun, easy, and fast. I averaged 2 mph faster than I do at Brighton Rec. Or Holdridge. Some mild climbs, downhills and switch backs. When you master this go ride the intermediate loop at Holdridge in Holly, then go ride Murray lake at Brighton rec.
    Blue trail is a little boring and over crowded with joggers and cyclists preparing for the next big race. Get used to being passed constantly if you are an average rider, then dodging joggers running at you or whichever way they choose. It's really full of yuppies.
    Blue has a few very mild climbs and downhills, and a couple very mild switchbacks. The last climb is a little challenging. There are parts of the trail that are really lame though, like the long two track thats all sandy that goes around a parking lot and fishing pond. And the long straight shot by the railroad tracks. These parts make you wonder if your on a mtb trail. LoL.
    Personally, I would like to see yellow trail added on to with a whole extra loop, and closed off to joggers. Give the joggers that blue loop.

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