Even though fall has barely made its entrance, you’re beyond ready for a weekend up north and your whole family wants to do something new and fun. We hear you! Pack up the car now and head to Crystal Mountain to ride the newest Traverse City mountain bike trails.
The setup is cool and the trails are fun, even for those who are brand new to mountain biking.
“Crystal Mountain is a fun place for all mountain biking skill levels,” says Chris Remy, Bike Programs and Race Manager with Crystal Mountain. “It’s a brand new thing and the bike park we have now is a complete redesign. Our Clipper chairlift means bikers can access a ton more terrain than ever before.”
He’s talking about the all new lift-assisted on-hill biking available at Crystal Mountain, a gorgeous Traverse City-area ski resort that has added an innovative new experience to its already-packed four season activity menu.
Here’s how it works
Added to the Crystal Clipper chairlift are dedicated bike carriers that lift your bicycle — rented or your own from home — up the mountain. “You put your front tire in the carrier, it’s easy to do. You sit in the chair behind the one your bike is on, and at the top of the mountain the lift operators will remove your bike and have it waiting for you,” Remy explains.
Once you reach the top of the mountain and grab your bike, you can choose from six unique trails, Remy says. “We have two green, three blue and one black diamond,” he says.
Green trails are perfect for beginners because they follow the “natural lay of the land, where we accentuated the positives already there and found fun things for people to ride over,” he says. Blue trails incorporate manmade drops and bridges and some wooden features, which riders can easily bypass. “A beginner could also ride blue trails,” Remy says.
Both blue and green trails are buffed for an easy and pleasurable flow, perfect for family rides. “You’re using gravity to get yourself downhill and that’s why it’s so fun. It’s all the mountain biking with less work,” he says.
The black diamond trail, on the other hand, is what Remy calls “the trail of consequence,” because riders are committed to the rooty, rocky, rough terrain of this technical mountain bike trail created through “benign neglect.”
Many options for families
Kids as young as 10 can experience Crystal Mountain’s on-hill biking trails, but Remy says that younger kids with demonstrated ability can also participate with parent sign-off. “What that means is we talk to parents to learn about what kind of riding their child can do,” he explains. “There are some 6 to 8 year olds who tear me up on the hill. Fearless little BMXers!”
Especially for kids younger than 10, Remy recommends that kids and parents ride together. “We don’t want young kids riding alone, and we’re learning that if a kid is good, their parent usually is good, too,” he says. “We have also created this experience to be as family-friendly as possible. We wanted families to ride with their kids. There’s stuff out there for everyone and options to build your confidence to get up on that hill.”
If heights aren’t your thing, Crystal Mountain also offers miles of traditional mountain bike trails through the woods and fields which do not require a chairlift. Or pedal through the Crystal village on pavement for a more relaxing biking experience. There’s a bike experience for everyone in your family!
If you’re looking to up your game or are a complete newbie, you can get professional instruction. “We offer beginner mountain bike lessons and advanced skills lessons,” Remy says. “We can ride up there with you so you can get that experience right in the woods.”
The beauty of Crystal Mountain is that you don’t need a special bike to enjoy the fun of mountain biking. You can bring your own bike and helmet or rent them. Helmets are required!
“If you only ride a green trail all day, you will have a blast. It’s super fun and if you don’t graduate from this, who cares?” Remy says, adding that most people can descend the mountain on the “Pistachio Trail” in about five to eight minutes, “typical for a Michigan gravity trail.”
Most of all, your whole family will love the vibe at Crystal Mountain. “This is a really fun place for all skill levels and riders get the best guest experience here,” Remy says, adding that it makes sense because “Crystal is the best place to learn how to ski. We have a second-to-none ski school and that’s the vibe I wanted to have for the summer, too.”
Lift assisted on-hill biking at Crystal Mountain is available on Saturdays through September and on Saturdays and Sundays through October. And you know what that means? Gorgeous fall colors — and the best place to see them is on one of Crystal Mountain’s chairlifts!
Learn more about the immersive family activities you can enjoy in the Traverse City area. Visit traversecity.com.