Red Loop

The RED LOOP has the most technical sections and biggest climbs of the three loops in the park. The loop has (17) trail markers, and covers a distance of 9 miles. Starting at the trail-head (1), The Trenches introduce you to one of the many unique features of The Fort. The Trenches were dug by solders as part of the training facilities for combat troops when the Fort was a military training base. Winding through this section is like riding a twisting half pipe. Breaking out of The Trenches, you cross an old intersection of the abandon town of Lawler and enter Rocks and Roots (3). This section is flat, but twisty, with – you guessed it – a lot of rocks and roots. You will cross the equestrian trail (4) midway along this section.

Exiting Rocks and Roots takes you into an open meadow and then to The Gravel Pit. Here you will encounter the Camel Humps, a series of short ups and downs with a few twists thrown in. The trail then twists along a small stream through dense underbrush. The trail come to the water’s edge and then makes a sharp left to to climb a steep, twisty section before leveling off to meander through the woods. The trail then breaks out into the open for about 100 yards before beginning a switchback climb up Cardiac Bypass. At the top you will cross an old two track (5) and enter a new section – The Big Meadow. This section starts in the woods, but quickly enters a (you guessed it) big meadow by taking a fast downhill with a wide sweeping turn at the bottom, so keep your hands off the brakes! The trail winds through the meadow for about half a mile, then crosses another two track (6) into Frog Holler. Granny’s is a challenging Loop which you can bypass by taking a left on the two track at (6) and passing the exit from Granny’s (7) to continue on the Red Loop. Back to Frog Holler. This single track runs through the woods and along the edge off two small swales that are home to thousands of frogs – including tree frogs, leopard frogs, bull frogs and more. This section of trail is a delight in the spring and most of the summer as these thousands of frogs create a chorus of amazing variety and intensity that literally surrounds you from the trees and swales. The trail makes a hard left on a descent and begins a series of short, steep climbs – summiting in an old barn foundation. Another hard left brings you onto the original starting point of Granny’s Garden. Granny’s winds across ravines that are a part of an ancient glacial moraine, with lots of drops and climbs, log crossings and other technical challenges. A final downhill drop exits Granny’s (7) and begins a short climb on two track known as D.O.A.. The road levels out at the top and after about 100 yards, it forks to the right (8), back into singletrack for a sweeping cruise through the Sleepy Hollow section. When riding near dusk or later keep an eye out for a headless horseman in this deep and dark section of trail. At (9), a sharp left back onto an old two track (Deliverance) makes for a fast quarter mile to (10). A sharp right for another quarter mile on the straight shot known as Zoom-Zoom which ends in a very, very twisty arrival at (11). Check for oncoming horses and go straight across the equestrian trail. This section begins as a sweeping sections, slightly downhill. Next you’ll encounter a skills option built across a large fallen cherry tree. If you haven’t ridden it before, take the bypass on the left and check out the backside before riding it. You then begin a descent that becomes faster and steeper as you go, ending with No Fear Chute – a fast combination of left, right, and left again high banked turns. No Fear ends by crossing the Green loop at The Table Top (12) – Reese Road. Next – The Amusement Park. This was the first section of singletrack developed by and for mountain bikers in 1995 as a demonstration project to convince the DNR that a mountain bike trail system, built and maintained by its users would be a big draw to the Recreation Area. Little did we know. We built it and they came – doubling the day use of the park within three years. Visits by thousands of bikers from as far away as California, Colorado, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin added to the regulars from Battle Creek, Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids in beyond to make Fort Custer one of the top 50 trail systems in the U.S. The Amusement Park meanders along the south shore of Eagle Lake with great views of the lake and several steep ups and downs including The Demon Drop a steep flagstone paved gully crossing. Next two very close encounters with the lake and a twisting route through Dances With Trees leads to a steep climb up and away from the lake. A shortcut out can be taken by making a right rather than a left at (13). Or, you can continue twisting through the woods to exit the Amusement Park at (14). Turn right onto a long, straight two track downhill leading to The Peninsula (15). The Peninsula was made a hiker-only trail with the adoption of the horse / bike trail separation in the Spring of 2012. Keep to the left at this intersection and ride to the entrance of Crazy Beaver Loop (16). This section loops around a large spring-fed pond with great scenery and swans in the summer. A beaver used to call this pond home, but she had no place to build a dam (no inlet or outlet stream) and in four years she had felled all the poplar trees (preferred food source and building materials) and had literally eaten herself out of house and home. This is Crazy Beaver Loop! There’s a couple of climbs and technical downhills and a final ride through another set of technical trenches before exiting where a left at (17) will return you to the trailhead in about a quarter mile.