If you ever want proof that trails can change a community, look at Glacial Hills and Bellaire.
Glacial Hills might look like a seamlessly run trail network, but it was born out of collaboration and vision, and plenty of hard work. This is a trail system made from local businesses and governments working together to support one of the best trails in the country, not just the Midwest.
Glacial Hills is really a lot of organizations turned into one. With nearly 800 acres of forest and now 31.5 miles, representatives from Antrim County, Forest Township Home Township, and the Village of Bellaire, as well as the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, and members of the community. Like all of the NMMBA trails, Glacial is a registered non-profit that is dedicated to providing non-motorized recreational opportunities for hikers, bikers, and everyone with a love of the forest. Of course, Short’s Brewing Company has also played a vital role in support Glacial Hills, and it’s fitting that many rides end at their pub. That has almost become a part of the experience when you ride at Glacial!
Just a short ride or drive up from Bellaire, Glacial Hills offers rolling, flowing singletrack that is a blast to ride. No matter what your skill level, Glacial is just fun; it’s the only mountain bike race each summer that you’ll hear riders hooting, hollering, laughing, and cheering each other on just because they’re enjoying it so much!
There are a couple of trail heads at Vandermark, Orchard Hills, and Eckhardt Roads, and one of the exciting improvements this summer has been parking lot expansions and bathroom installations that should be finished soon.
Also new this fall is the signage. With so many little loops, it was always tough to put together different circuits without stopping; however, you can now use color coordinated signs to put together expertly loops from Vandermark, and that will expand to other areas throughout the winter and spring.
And it’s winter that is getting us excited. Glacial has the most well-organized team of trail crew around, and while that group is incredible all spring, summer, and fall, the groomers in the winter make Glacial a great place to fat bike. Along with the Cadillac Pathway, Vasa Winter Sports Singletrack, and Northport State Park, our region has the best winter trails around!
Glacial Hills offers almost any distance loop, so if you’re new to riding, you can duck in for a three mile ride, or ride all day! There are also weekly guided hikes and, in winter, snowshoe tours! It’s a trail that offers a unique, fun, experience that’s become an integral part of the Village of Bellaire and Antrim County, and if you haven’t check out Glacial yet, you need to!