NMMBA: Glacial Hills

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NMMBA: Glacial Hills

Postby Nelg » September 18th, 2012, 2:06 pm

Please post here for updates on conditions at Glacial Hills in Bellaire.
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Re: NMMBA: Glacial Hills

Postby Glacial Hills » September 18th, 2012, 8:19 pm

For those not familiar with this trail, it is a new system being built in Bellaire (just west of town). The design and construction is being led by the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy in conjunction with Forest Home Township, Antrim County and the Village of Bellaire. Currently there are 7.5 miles of fully connected biking/hiking trails completed with another 4-5 miles to be finished this fall weather permitting. Ultimately, the entire system will have 20+ miles of trail. The trails are on the same ridge system on which Shanty Creek has its ski slopes, so elevation changes are the big feature. One of the recently finished loops has almost 300 feet of elevation gain from the parking lot to the highest point, with a 1.2 mile climb.

The most recent trail map (which we are updating as I write this) can be found at GTRLC's web site: http://www.gtrlc.org/wp-content/uploads ... 9-2012.jpg

Happy to answer any questions

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Re: NMMBA: Glacial Hills

Postby SteveF » September 19th, 2012, 6:28 am

That's a great area to visit and here's one more reason to make the trip!
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Re: NMMBA: Glacial Hills

Postby ihateplaindave » September 19th, 2012, 9:23 am

"That's a great area to visit and here's one more reason to make the trip!"

Short's!!!!!!
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Re: NMMBA: Glacial Hills

Postby scat silvurz » September 20th, 2012, 12:10 pm

Gonna try it out today! Any info on where the trailhead is?
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Re: NMMBA: Glacial Hills

Postby Nelg » September 20th, 2012, 12:35 pm

The parking lot is off Eckhardt Road just north of the Bellaire Highway. It's also accessible from Vandermark Road if you wish. It's about a 3 mile ride from town to the trail start on Vandermark.
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Re: NMMBA: Glacial Hills

Postby scat silvurz » September 21st, 2012, 8:30 am

Rode the trails yesterday. I guess we arrived at the right time, for upon reading the sign at the trailhead, we were informed that an additional 3 miles of trail were completed to allow the opening of "the Big Loop". The hilly forest that the trails reside in, are incredibly scenic - the trees are very tall, so the canopy is very high above, making for an expansive view - it's like being in a giant tree arena. The trails winds in and around the ravines and hillsides, taking advantage of the terrain to maximize flow. This trail is all about flow. There is notable elevation gain, but the trail designers were able to use a very constant grade pitch, so you never really feel like you're grunting like crazy to gain elevation - very clever. Also, of note is that the trail meanders into various isolated valleys, yet never crests to the very top (rarely trail designers can resist driving to the summit) - so one rarely sees the trail one came up on - you're always presented with fresh vistas - no recycled views of "there we were 5 minutes ago". I gather the trail was mostly cut with some sort of machine, for it's almost all bench cut trail - done by hand, this would have taken forever!!

We finished up the Big Loop, and explored the more established inner loops - where you can really dial your own ride within this area (multi-directional I assume), which supplies the same sort of easy sneaky elevation gain, yet offers up zoomy fun twisty singletrack descents. I could have played here all day...but, Shorts Brewing called (only 5-10 minutes away from the Trail!)

We've all been on trail turned into mtb trails, that has been adopted from other users, like equestrians, hikers, dirt bikes, etc....but, when you hop on a fresh trail designed for mountain biking, and it flows as nice as this trail does - it's a revelation. Brilliant design, fast and flowing, and incredibly scenic - the Glacial Hills network can be considered a "destination trail". It's awesome, and I enjoyed every minute there.

There's still more trail planned, so if this is any indication of what's in store, we're all in for more treats! Hat's off to the trail builders! Well done.

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Re: NMMBA: Glacial Hills

Postby Glacial Hills » September 21st, 2012, 9:31 am

scat silvurz wrote:Rode the trails yesterday. I guess we arrived at the right time, for upon reading the sign at the trailhead, we were informed that an additional 3 miles of trail were completed to allow the opening of "the Big Loop". The hilly forest that the trails reside in, are incredibly scenic - the trees are very tall, so the canopy is very high above, making for an expansive view - it's like being in a giant tree arena. The trails winds in and around the ravines and hillsides, taking advantage of the terrain to maximize flow. This trail is all about flow. There is notable elevation gain, but the trail designers were able to use a very constant grade pitch, so you never really feel like you're grunting like crazy to gain elevation - very clever. Also, of note is that the trail meanders into various isolated valleys, yet never crests to the very top (rarely trail designers can resist driving to the summit) - so one rarely sees the trail one came up on - you're always presented with fresh vistas - no recycled views of "there we were 5 minutes ago". I gather the trail was mostly cut with some sort of machine, for it's almost all bench cut trail - done by hand, this would have taken forever!!

We finished up the Big Loop, and explored the more established inner loops - where you can really dial your own ride within this area (multi-directional I assume), which supplies the same sort of easy sneaky elevation gain, yet offers up zoomy fun twisty singletrack descents. I could have played here all day...but, Shorts Brewing called (only 5-10 minutes away from the Trail!)

We've all been on trail turned into mtb trails, that has been adopted from other users, like equestrians, hikers, dirt bikes, etc....but, when you hop on a fresh trail designed for mountain biking, and it flows as nice as this trail does - it's a revelation. Brilliant design, fast and flowing, and incredibly scenic - the Glacial Hills network can be considered a "destination trail". It's awesome, and I enjoyed every minute there.

There's still more trail planned, so if this is any indication of what's in store, we're all in for more treats! Hat's off to the trail builders! Well done.

Image
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Glad you liked it - we hope to have 4- 5 more miles completed this fall and then 10 more built by next fall. Believe it or not, 90% of what you rode was hand built. We have recently switched to more machine built both to move a little faster and to save wear and tear on bodies!

As far as not quite reaching the summits of the knobs, we just were not able to without hurting the flow of the trail. Most of those will have short spurs for hikers with benches on the tops.

For the time being, it is multi-directional. We were very careful in setting up sight lines and managing speeds into curves, etc. so right now all the users feel safe. There are plenty of hikers there as well.

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Re: NMMBA: Glacial Hills

Postby Nelg » September 21st, 2012, 4:01 pm

Brad hasn't gone in to detail the huge effort the GTRLC and volunteers in Bellaire have put fourth on this project, but it's nothing short of amazing. Volunteers ranged from mountain bikers to hikers to village trustees to guys that just like to build things. The work crews from Goodwill were some of the hardest working and friendly folks you'll meet and of course Brad has poured his heart in to it. The three week visit from Americorps really pushed it to the point where it's well worth a visit if you plan to be any where in the region or if you just feel like getting away up north.

As Brad indicated there it a lot more trail flagged out so the fun is just starting. If you are coming up for fall colors, peak to peak or iceman, give yourself another day and go ride it!

http://www.gtrlc.org/protected-land/glacial-hills-pathway-and-natural-area/
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Re: NMMBA: Glacial Hills

Postby Josh McCreedy » September 21st, 2012, 4:40 pm

This is incredible. Combined with dirt cheap camping at the Bellaire city campground, Shorts, great coffee shops, and a swimming hole on the river (not to mention all the lakes), this is an incredible destination. I cannot wait to get back up there.
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Re: NMMBA: Glacial Hills

Postby Irish57 » September 22nd, 2012, 5:04 pm

Would this trail be comparable to Arcadia Dunes or some other trail? Level of difficulty? I have next week off and was thinking of trying it out even though it's a 2 hour drive. I'd combine it with other trails also. Thanks!
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Re: NMMBA: Glacial Hills

Postby Glacial Hills » September 22nd, 2012, 6:45 pm

Irish57 wrote:Would this trail be comparable to Arcadia Dunes or some other trail? Level of difficulty? I have next week off and was thinking of trying it out even though it's a 2 hour drive. I'd combine it with other trails also. Thanks!


I would say Arcadia Dunes would be a good comparison it that it is a flow trail. Glacial though has greater elevation change - that said, it is better hidden than at AD where honestly we got a little steep in places due to building and property boundary limitations. There is a 1.3 mile climb that we were able to construct with only one hidden switchback. I have had beginners tell me outside of the climbs they love the trail and advanced bikers enjoy it as their speed dictates the difficulty. There are some spots you do not want to miss your line if you have any speed. Another difference is that Glacial has stacked loops to make it more hiker friendly. Last fall it became one of area's favorite color watching spots.
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Re: NMMBA: Glacial Hills

Postby Glacial Hills » September 22nd, 2012, 6:52 pm

Josh McCreedy wrote:This is incredible. Combined with dirt cheap camping at the Bellaire city campground, Shorts, great coffee shops, and a swimming hole on the river (not to mention all the lakes), this is an incredible destination. I cannot wait to get back up there.


You make an excellent point about the attractions available in Bellaire. IMBA was very impressed with our area when they came up at the end of June. We have already started to work behind the scenes on making Bellaire a biking destination. No promises but I think you would be excited with the improvements being discussed.

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Re: NMMBA: Glacial Hills

Postby jer091 » November 1st, 2012, 5:47 pm

"Holy bench-cutting Batman!"

I got up to ride Glacial hills and wow, what a nice trail system with soo much more potential. The entire trail is clear and you can customize the route as much as you like.

I ended up riding ~10 miles and likes the elevation gains you have here. I'm so used to SE MI where elevation is gained over miles not meters. lol

Anyways, I would recommend taking the trail from 15 to 7, and not in inverse. You'll see why when you try.....

and of course Shorts a "short" drive away seals the deal.
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Re: NMMBA: Glacial Hills

Postby MLKuhl » April 2nd, 2013, 7:02 pm

This is on the "must ride list" of trails to hit this summer up north. Sounds great, thanks for all the hard work! See you this summer.
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