Tucked away in the robust terrain of Ishpeming, Michigan, the Red Earth Classic Trails offer an intoxicating blend of technical intricacy and pure, unadulterated fun. With a distance of 21 miles and a difficulty level labeled as "difficult," this looped trail is a must-ride for the intermediate to advanced mountain biker.
The journey kicks off near Jasper Ridge Brewery, making it a convenient option for a post-ride celebration. No amenities are offered at the trailhead, so plan ahead.
Right from the get-go, the trail hooks you with its old-school, hand-built singletrack. In various stretches, the trail confronts you with exciting yet challenging rock sections that demand both skill and courage. The climb named "Sissy Pants" is an example that will test your mettle. There are also sections where rooty climbs stand in your way, making the ride even more adventurous. The trail has its smoother, more flowy stretches, allowing for momentary respite before another adrenaline-inducing segment begins.
Riders should be prepared for some frustrating moments when it comes to navigation. The trail often intersects roads or diverges into 2-tracks without any signage, causing confusion and wasting time. Riders have reported losing an hour or more attempting to find the trail again. Improvements seem to be in the works, but for now, consider bringing a GPS or a reliable trail map.
Some technical sections end abruptly at roads, so it's advised to watch out for cars, even though no signs currently warn riders of this hazard.
The proximity of Cognition Brewery elevates this trail to a near-perfect rating. Once you've conquered the loop, or bailed out if need be, the option for a craft beer is just around the corner.
Despite some navigational hiccups, the Red Earth Classic Trails offer an immensely rewarding ride that satisfies a thirst for technical complexity and fast-paced fun. With improved signage, this trail could easily become one of Michigan's finest mountain biking experiences. Whether you're an Ishpeming local or an adventurous traveler, it's time to make this trail a priority.