ATV Online - Gladwin, Michigan ORV Riding Area

Oct. 01, 2005 By ORC STAFF

Image062.jpg (168825 bytes) Gladwin is located approximately ¾ of the way up the lower peninsula of Michigan and is one of the many riding areas available throughout the state reserved for recreational vehicle use. The entire Michigan ORV trail/route system covers 3,100 miles with 73% on state forests. Of the system, 40% is cycle trail, 43% is ATV trail and 17% is route. 

he Gladwin Trail consists of two loops that total 52 miles in all. Our group decided to run the shorter southern section the first day and then hit the longer, northern loop the second day. You can plan on spending about 2-3 hours on each leg depending on how often you stop. Don't worry about swampy trails. Although the area had steady rain for the previous two weeks, the trail surface was mostly dry sand with only a few "mudholes" owing much to the sandy Michigan soil.  Image066.jpg (173194 bytes)

Right from the get-go we were impressed
by the organization of the trail system- from the information on the website ( which included downloadable trail maps, regulations, and guides, to the well marked trail heads and parking areas. Our impressions persevered once starting out on the trails- well maintained trails (even wooden bridges at some water crossings), trail markers every few hundred yards, and arrows whenever the trail became vague.

Image073.jpg (166230 bytes) As far as the actual riding goes, our group was a bit disappointed overall mostly due to our unsatisfied appetite for challenging, adrenalin pumping terrain. The terrain was fairly flat with really no hills at all. Rocks were virtually non-existent. No jumps, and lack of traction was absolutely not an issue. The riding was very "woopy"- bump upon bump, mile after mile of moguls. Kind of entertaining at first but after the first half hour it just became plain monotonous. On most of our quads (250X, Banshee, 400 Scrambler 4x4, and 500 Scrambler 4x4) the distance between the bumps was too short and frequent to jump, and too long to wheely more than two at a time without really getting burnt out. Overall, on a scale of 1-5 for technically challenging, it'd be about a 2.

Image080.jpg (155468 bytes) On the plus side, the forest was just gorgeous. And some of the woodsy sections were much less woopy and were a blast to run at a fast clip. Lots of short sections to open it up, followed quickly by tight radius turns threading through the zillions of pines. Near the upper end of the northern loop we even encountered a water crossing that almost gulped up our 2wd machines. Both 4x4 Polari easily powered through the tank deep water, but the X and the Banshee required following a carefully scouted line to make it across.

Bottom line? It was a fun ride. A nice Sunday ride.  Probably a great place to take younger, or less experienced riders to play in the sand. There's even a couple of large sand pits with some smaller hills and berms to rail through. If you happen to live within 6 hours (like we do) it'd might just be worth the road trip.    Thanks for visiting
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