Glacial Hills

NMMBA Trails Series Next Up: Short's Glacial Hills Challenge

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Our little trail series is pretty big fun! After the Traverse City Trails Festival, we go to the heart of Short’s Brewing country for race number two, the Short’s Glacial Hills Challenge on August 18.

We look at the NMMBA Trails Series as the best way to commit yourself to experiencing the diverse trails of Northern Michigan at full speed. Each of the three events on the calendar are designed to be inclusive and accessible to newer riders, but brutally challenging to even the most experienced racers. That wide ranging appeal goes hand-in-hand with how the trails themselves offer a little something different to every sort of rider.

Much like the TCTF, the Short’s Glacial Challenge offers three different distances to suit any fitness level. From the Elite and Expert 28 miler, a 20 mile miler, and a very fun half-lap at 11 miles, use your summer riding miles to take on a longer challenge or see what kind of a time you can thrown down over the two shorter options. There are also three different starts times, which means you’ll always be on course with people going about your speed.

Sunday, August 18 is going to be a really good time, and the perfect chance to make the trip north to Bellaire. It’s sort of a given that you’ll stop at Short’s after the race, but make sure you save enough in the legs to talk a walk through downtown and see what’s new!

The fun keeps rolling another neat month later with the race that really sparked the series, the Bear Claw Epic. The race is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Cadillac Pathway and played a big role in helping to get eleven miles of new singletrack approved and ready to be built!

Looking to get in a pre-ride at Glacial Hills? Patrick from Paddles and Pedals has you covered. You can check out and download the Elite/Expert, Sport, and Beginner files and get your pals out for a recon this weekend!

Ready to sign up? You can pre-register right here!

2019 NMMBA Trail Series Schedule

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All three of our races are confirmed! We’ve got three dates for you to circle in deep blood red on your calendar this summer and fall.

The NMMBA Trail Series is all about celebrating and enjoying our trails. Northern Michigan offers some incredible riding opportunities, but it isn’t always easy to make the drive or plan the trip to a new place to ride. Summer and fall as insanely busy for cyclists, plus day-to-day life tends to make long drives to different trails tough without having it set in stone weeks or even months ahead of time. Races make it easy to ride a marked trail, often designed to let you enjoy the best sections designed by NMMBA or the local trail crews to make sure you leave smiling from ear to ear.

This summer, we’ll be offering the same trio of trails you enjoyed last year, though you can count on some big changes at each event to keep them fresh and to help you discover new trails, new sections, and more fun than ever.

Traverse City Trails Festival, July 20. We’re headed back to Ranch Rudolf for the third edition of the TCTF! Tom White’s pipe dream has turned into the premier singletrack event in the state, offering 25 or 40 miles of racing or more laid back touring! The race plays a vital role in adding more singletrack to Traverse City’s ever-expanding network of both marked and unmarked trail at the Vasa Singletrack, Vasa Pathway, and all over the Pere Marquette Forest. As always, the race will finish alongside the creek at Ranch Rudolf, with great food and beer to help you recover and enjoy the day!

Short’s Glacial Hills Challenge, August 18. The second leg of the triple header, Glacial Hills is in prime shape in August! Under sunny skies and with flying-fast conditions, Brent Walk and the Fun Promotions LLC. crew is back with another event that not only draws some of the best riders from around the state, the event also raises money for the trails. The local trail crew does an incredible job getting the trail in simply perfect condition, and riders of all ability enjoy their one or two laps on course. It’s also the event that brings us all to Short’s Brewing Company’s backyard, and while our friends at Short’s have a massive presence at every event, it’s a little extra special when you can hit the pub after your race!

Bear Claw Epic, September 28. The summer racing season caps off at the Bear Claw Epic, the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Cadillac Pathway. Few races have grown as consistently as the BCE, and with good reason. Offering tons of categories and a course that is equally challenging to elite racers and beginning riders, the event has morphed into the perfect way to cap off summer and bridge into the fall campaign in the long lead in to the Iceman Cometh Challenge.

Racing one, two, or all three of these events supports the local trails and NMMBA, and we challenge everyone to hit all three. Pre-register for every NMMBA Trail Series event and you’ll pick up an exclusive water bottle, which you’ll be able to proudly show off at Bear Claw Epic. Race, tour, explore, and support these trails by showing up and having fun. Questions? Let us know!

Don't Wonder, Know: Get Your Grooming Badge AND Get Trail Reports In Your Inbox

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Your grooming badge doesn’t just put gas in the tank of our grooming sleds. It doesn’t just help us build and fix grooming equipment. It doesn’t just put well-earned beer in the cooler. It also gives you access to the most up-to-date trail reports around!

It’s weeks exactly like this that having timely, accurate trail information to decide whether or not to make the trip to the trail. Freezing temps overnight, sunny and above freezing daily highs, and only the odd chance of snow makes nearly every day this week a bit of a crap shoot. Luckily, those who have already purchased their grooming badges have been getting grooming reports!

It’s a system we’ve implemented for years now, and it’s proven to be one of the most useful tools fat bikers can use to plan their rides. Unless you’re lucky enough to live right next to the Winter Sports Trail, the Cadillac Pathway, the Winter Sports Trail at Leelanau State Park, or Glacial Hills, it’s often just a bit of a hike to get the trail head, and knowing the conditions before you head out can be key.

We offer grooming reports every single time we head out to work on the trails. Our groomers all over northern Michigan relay what they see on the ground so that we can direct riders to the best places to ride, alert them of any trail issues, and keep everyone in the loop for trail events. It’s definitely a great tool when we have a lot of snow, but it’s these more uncertain days that we can often help you save a trip to the trail for less than ideal, or even dangerous, conditions due to weather.

Trail reports come from trail crews at all of our trails, including the trails at Leelanau State Park and Glacial Hills. Because most folks don’t live close to these trails, they’re perhaps the most important to have accurate information on so you know you’re getting to experience the very best of these two very fun and unique winter trails. It’s been a ton of fun working to bringing you these opportunities, and we really hope you make the trip to all of our trails over the course of this winter!

We’re only just getting started for what looks to be a beautiful winter if we can hold on to the snow that we have! As always, use your best judgement as we roll into what could turn into a weekend warm-up; riding Monday through Wednesday in the morning may provide the best riding conditions. We should also note that muzzle loader season is still open, so while you’ll see fewer hunters in the woods, make sure you have plenty of blaze orange or bright colors to help keep everyone safe out there.

Don’t have your grooming badge yet and want to get those Grooming Reports in your inbox? There’s a lot of winter left to enjoy! Get your badge today and help us get things rocking as we await a long overdue blizzard.

Glacial Hills Signage Fundraiser at Short's Brewing!

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Join us Sunday, October 21 for an afternoon of fun, bikes, food, beer, and a great cause!

Glacial Hills grew quickly, and while balancing the interest of multiple user groups, our signage needs have changed, ebbed, and flowed since day one. One of most common pieces of feedback from mountain bikers over the past few years is to alter signs to make putting together loops easier, without having to slow down and check trail markers.

After some small-scale testing this summer, we’ve not only got a color-coordinating solution, we’ve got a few loops already in place for you to check out! But that’s just the start; we’re going to upgrade and update signage at Glacial Hills across the board, but we need your help to make it happen! Luckily, we’ve got Short’s Brewing to make it really, really easy and really, really fun to support our new signs.

On Sunday, October 21 from 2pm until close, proceeds from all sales at Short’s Brewing Company’s pub in downtown Bellaire will go directly to our signage fundraiser! Yep, just by grabbing a beer and some grub, you can help us bring the new look we’ve all been hoping for to Glacial. For those who’ve ridden here before, it’s a great chance to get up and ride the trails, spin out the legs from Peak2Peak the day before, or bring a friend to the trail for the first time, this is really the perfect chance as our autumn season comes to a close in the next few weeks.

We’re making it easy to get out to the trail, too. We’ll be leading a guided hike from Eckhardt Road at 2pm, and a guided, relaxed pace mountain bike ride from Orchard Hill at 2pm as well. Feel free and encouraged to get your group together for a ride on your own schedule, too, and make sure everyone meets back at the pub to help make this signage fundraiser a big success!

For updates, make sure you follow along on the Facebook event page, and post up your ride, run, or hike plans for the day if you want to make it open to more people!

Michigan Trails Week: Glacial Hills

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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!

Learn more about Glacial on their website, and you can also stay up-to-date on Facebook and Instagram.