Midwest biking trip advice….. UP MI or AK?

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    • #239917

      Thinking about a road trip late May or early June.  Looking into either Copper Harbor, MI or Bentonville, AK.  Not much of a difference travel time from Minneapolis so looking for a nudge either way.  I haven’t ridden outside of MN so something different from my norm would be preferred.  I’m a solid intermediate rider that like a combo of flow with jumps/drops and technical trails.   Thank you!

    • #239918

      Prescott Arizona.  Look no further.



    • #239978

      I have not ridden Bentonville (yet) but the Copper Harbor trails and community are pretty unique. There are a bunch of other trail systems in that general area as well that you may want to check out around the Houghton Area.

      Another area that’s a bit farther south is the Marquette and Ishmeping areas. I haven’t ridden near Ishmeping but I hear it’s impressive from riders that I trust. If you make it to the Marquette area, do not miss the chance to ride Harlow Lake just north of the city. That is probably my favorite trail in the entire state. HUGE rock faces that you can session for hours and some pretty amazing trails as well. Make sure you bring food, water, and tools as it’s a bit remote with little to no cell coverage.

    • #239980

      I am going to echo what Jared13 said. I’ve ridden Copper Harbor and the surrounding area multiple times and it is phenomenal. It is incredibly unique and the culture is fantastic. The entire Keweenaw Peninsula has great trails that feel very remote, and you can go further south to Marquette and get more awesome riding (and breweries) in. Keweena Adventure has some great people with good trail info. There are also great off bike activities like Brickside, the Viking Ruins and lake Superior.

      On the other hand though, Coper Harbor trails are like a mix of North Woods flow and North Shore wood features. If you want something entirely new, check out Bentonville. I’ve never actually been there, but it is at the top of my list of unridden places behind Pisgah.

      P.S. Blackrocks 51K is the hidden gem of the UP

    • #239981

      If you’re going to Bentonville, you might want to think about venturing into the Ozarks. I’ve been to both places, and Copper Harbor has a special place in my heart for all the reason previously mentioned. However, if you’ve never been riding outside of MN, the Ozarks do have that mountain feel to them. Trail systems like the Upper Buffalo Headwaters will provide you with an isolated sense of exploration that you will not get in Copper Harbor. Plus, Copper Harbor isn’t really that big. It has a small amount of really good trails. NW Arkansas has a massive variety of trails that are almost on par with Copper Harbor or on par.

      • #240009

        Gas prices are going up.   Skip the car ride and airline to Phoenix.  Catch a ride to Prescott or Sedona and enjoy a fantastic mountain bike Trip.

        Bentonville and Michigan are good places for the locals but not good enough to spend time or money traveling there in my opinion.


        Thats my two cents.

    • #240025

      AK is Alaska, I think you mean Bentonville AR. 😀

      I’ve been to Copper Harbor and definitely plan on going back a few times this Summer! The trails are an awesome blend from techy to machine-built flow, there is at least one cool waterfall to be found and the whole little town has an atmosphere of isolation, like it’s a setting from Twin Peaks or something. I live in Central Wi so it’s close enough to be a weekend trip for me.

      How long do you plan on staying at your chosen destination? I didn’t ride all the trails at Copper Harbor but was told they can all be ridden in a day if you opt for the shuttle which runs on weekends. For a week-long expedition, you might want to plan some other stops on the way (like Levis Mound right here in Wisco!).

      With that said, I’ve heard lots of great things about Bentonville, hoping to make it down there myself this Fall!


      • #240044

        CraZivn – Yup my state acronym game is pretty weak!!!  I’d likely try for 3-5 days so it sounds like multiple stops in WI or MI would be the play.  Cable WI is on the list too.  Tough choice really.  I might just have to make the call based on weather.  At some point headed further west to CO and AZ would be great but that’s another topic.  Thanks for advice.

    • #240034

      Gas prices are going up.   Skip the car ride and airline to Phoenix.  Catch a ride to Prescott or Sedona and enjoy a fantastic mountain bike Trip.

      Bentonville and Michigan are good places for the locals but not good enough to spend time or money traveling there in my opinion.


      Thats my two cents.

      Have you ridden all four areas? That’s a fairly bold claim considering all the accolades Bentonville and CH have received. Based on trail type/quality only, I actually like Harlow Lake better than Copper Harbor, but I wouldn’t say CH isn’t worth the drive.

      And for what it’s worth, I would consider AR and MI “local” to someone living in the Twin Cities because it’s a one-day drive for both locations.

    • #240062

      I live in the twin cities and have timed out the trips to both. Copper harbor is a quicker (and beautiful) drive but you got to remember the switch to eastern time zone. Haven’t ridin Bentonville yet but I plan on going down there during the spring thaw next year to escape the Minnesota “off season”. The weather might be ideal in the U.P. in a few weeks. Add CAMBA and Marquette and hit up Duluth on your way home and you got yourself a trip!

    • #240067

      My experience in the Midwest is keep both in your plans and watch the weather.  Go to whichever has a good forecast.

      • #240075


        I have been there.  Trails are ok but how much can you really dress up a pig ?   Michigan is beautiful in the summer.  I’m sure the 20 miles of trails are ok.

        If you are going to travel go ahead and do it right.   Head somewhere that will be knock your socks off.   Prescott and Sedona have endless miles of trails and plenty of things to do when off the bike.  Moab is another great choice.  Epic mountain bike trips

        Head to Michigan on a weekend when you have nothing better to do.

        My two cents.


    • #240078

      Between the two, definitely Copper. First, it’s about 2 hrs closer.  Second, by then, Ark could be wicked hot and muggy.

      But Copper is limited.  It’s awesome, but not a place I could ride for more than two days back to back.  I recommend choosing a base camp somewhere back down the peninsula a bit and day tripping from there.  Marquette has two great trail systems.  I’m with Jared; Harlow is special.  Just be ready to do a little route finding.  If you use the commercial shuttle at Copper, you can get the equivalent of 3 or 4 days riding in just one!

      I also like the idea of hitting Duluth on the way. If you haven’t already ridden Brewer Park yet, I think you’d really like it.

      If you do head south, stopping at Kansas City’s Swope Park is a 100% must ride.

      One more suggestion:  Rapid City/Black Hills.  It’s still an hour closer than Ark, and it will give you a completely different experience.  It’s truly western geography, very much like the middle elevations in the Rockies.  Weather should be prime and if it does get hot, it’s a nice, dry heat, do it’s less physical drain and discomfort. Tons of great trails there that meet your criteria.



    • #240081

      Literally, disregard what everyone else said… Mongwolf gave the best advice for the Midwest. It sounds like you’ll have fun either way unless one has nasty weather.


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