Berrien Springs, MI (About 1.5 hrs east of Chicago)Trail Photos Trail Review
Over eight miles of nice singletrack trail will keep the average rider happy, but serious riders will want for a little more. There are some decent short climbs and fast downhills, with a few optional jumps on the way down. There's also a few whoop-dee-dos for good measure. One noticeable ommision are log ride-overs, possibly because the local BMX crowd has been developing features and apparently doesn't like obstacles. Regardless, the trail twists, climbs and drops regularly enough to keep you wanting to explore.
From the church lot, follow the trail and take left turns at forks. This leads you to a nice downhill run before going by the retirement home. Passing that (or taking a left if you start at the home), you will quickly find a trail breaking off to your left. This is a nice but short downhill run with several high banking turns. Hit them fast and you can ride up the sides. Explore the trails at the bottom to your left. Most of what this trail system has to offer is on this side of the retirement home.
If you go right at the bottom, you will end up at the widetrack that leads back uphill to the home. Head up there only when you're done with the rest. If you follow the widetrack downhill, don't bother going past the T intersection. You can take a left at the T and find more trails, but going straight only gets you to farmland.
You'll find that there are no marked or easily identifiable loops. The trail forks often, sometimes for a connector that offers a bailout to shorten the loop you're on. To find everything here, including a '70s Toyota abandoned right in the middle of the woods, you have to be willing to explore and discover. The widetrack is especially rich in trail spurs. There is no formal trail maintenance plan here, so don't be surprised if the locals get behind in their trimming chores. And poison ivy could be flourishing in spots once summer comes around. Take precautions
and you'll be fine.
When you're ready to head for the car, take the widetrack uphill towards the home and get on a short loop at the top counterclockwise. It connects with some steep downhills and a winding trail that leads to the church, as well as loops back to the home.Getting There
Take I-94 to Michigan. At exit #16, turn right onto Red Arrow Hwy (north). Go up to Lake St. and turn right (east). Drive through the town of Bridgman and keep going for about 10 miles. Lake St. becomes Shawnee Rd. on the way. Turn left at Red Bud Trail Rd. and go a mile to Old US Hwy 31. Turn right and cross over the freeway, then take the first left at the Timber Ridge Retirement Mansion (8689 N. US Hwy 31) access drive.
A trailhead can be reached either from the back left corner of the Andrews 7th Day Adventist Church lot, at the start of the access drive, or from the back of the retirement home parking lot.More Info
Overall, this trail system is not worth a trip from Chicago by itself. But if you're already driving to Michigan, it's a nice way to break up your trip and get the bike out.