Yankee Springs – Winter Fat Bike Trail

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6.5 miles – Winter Single Track – Yankee Springs Recreation Area

Highlights: Groomed snow at one of West Michigan’s most popular mountain bike trails.

Trailhead: The trail starts at the Deep Lake Unit at 2526 South Yankee Springs Road Middleville, MI.  Parking is just past the contact station on the right.  In the winter this will be the only thing that is plowed.  At the trailhead there is room for about 30 cars, 2 changing rooms, a pit toilet and an information board with a trail map.

A Michigan Recreation Passport or $9 day pass is required for non-resident vehicles.

Driving Directions >>

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Yankee Springs Fat Bike Trail Parking

The Ride:  The Deep Lake Mountain Bike Trail, which is typically just called “Yankee” by locals was one of the first bike trails in West Michigan.  This is where a lot of us first learned to ride technical single track and it still remains a favorite.  In 2015 the West Michigan Mountain Biking Alliance obtained permission from the Michigan DNR to start grooming part of the trail for winter fat biking.  For the most part the winter trail follows to same track as in the summer other than a couple spots that are too tight to get the snowmobile through.  The groomed parts include the 2 mile warmup loop and then the 4.5 mile front loop of the main trail.

To pick up the warmup loop, saddle up on your fat bike and ride back past the contact station towards the road where you came in.  You will see the start of the trail on your left about 200 feet from the entrance.  Most of this loop runs through an area that had a controlled burn done a couple years ago.  It is still pretty open on the forest floor here, especially in the winter.  This shorter loop must not get as much traffic as the main trail and can be a little softer at times.  After 2 miles of pedaling the trail spits you out right back out in the parking area near the pit toilet.

GoPro video of the warmup loop in 150 speed.

To continue on to the main loop, go right to cross the road and you will see the trail heading down a slight hill.  You pass through on open area and then just after you get back into the trees you will cross a bridge over a small creek at about 0.6 miles into this loop.  Just before the bridge you will see the trail going up a hill to the left.  If you take this you will cut back to the trailhead for shorter 1.25 mile loop.  In the winter the bridge is used to get you across the creek in both directions.  You will be back here again at the end of the 4.5 mile main loop.

After climbing out of the creek valley the trail dips down into another little low section before you start ascending up on the ridge that runs on the west side of Deep Lake.  For about the next mile the trail twists along the top of this ridge.  Without the leaves on the trees you will have a view of Deep Lake for most of this section.  At about 1.8 miles the trail swings to the west.  You will ride through a horseshoe section of trail that is called “The Peninsula” where you can get a good idea of how far ahead, or behind, you are from your friends.  After this you will be in the toughest part of the winter loop as the trail slowly climbs up to the cut back at about 2.5 miles.  You will know that you are at the turn back point when you see the guard rails on the corner of Deep Lake Road.  This road is seasonal and in the winter there is only snowmobile traffic.  If you want to get in a couple extra miles you may be able to follow the packed snowmobile tracks to the north for about a mile up to Chief Noonday road.

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The guard rails at the corner.

To continue on the main loop take a left down a 0.2 mile perfectly straight section of trail that is shared with snowmobiles.  Watch for a post with both orange and brown arrows pointing you left toward Deep Lake.  For the next 0.75 miles you are rewarded for your climb with some slightly down sloping trail.  In the summer this is wide sandy section of trail is known as the “speed zone.”  It is not as fast, but it is still a fun in the snow.  After this the trail parallels Gun Lake Road and then cuts to left and back over the creek bridge you crossed near the beginning.  This is the only part that is a little hard to follow in the winter.  About 200 feet after the creek, the trail climbs up a hill after a sharp right.  This is the cut back that was described for the 1.25 mile loop above.  The last 0.6 miles has a few short climbs and then ends on the entrance road directly across from the start of the warm up loop.

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The fat bike trail marker pointing back toward Deep Lake.

GoPro video of the first section of the main winter loop.

GoPro video of the second section of the main winter loop. (this video was on a different day)

Ride Map:
Yankee Springs Trail Map:

If this map does not show above, click here to download or print >>

Post Ride Beverage: For years we would go to Sam’s Joint to get something covered in their award winning barbecue sauce for lunch.  Unfortunately, the owner retired and it closed a couple years ago.  The best place to go now is probably the Terrace Grille at Bay Pointe Inn.  It is a little too fancy for me, but the food was very good.  Make sure to check their hours in the off-season.

In the Area:  The Deep Lake Unit is also home to one of the largest rustic campgrounds in Michigan.  Come back after the snow melts to spend a night and ride the rest of the 11 mile loop.  The first half of the back loop is some of my favorite single track in the area.

Links:

 

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