Big M Recreation Area

Why it’s great trail for seasoned backpacker/hiker…

Not really considered an overnight camping destination , however, with 10+ joint loops, the opportunities are nearly endless to create a complete day in the woods. The terrain varies from easy to difficult.

Why it’s great trail for mountain biking/winter fat tire biking…

Known as one of the top biking destinations in the lower peninsula, the Big-M Recreation area is known for the outer loop. A 25-mile one way single track loop. The Big-M also features one of the area’s first groomed FAT tire/winter single track.

Why it’s a great trail for the Cross Country Skier…

With 18+ miles of groomed Nordic (classic) skiing, along three difficulty levels of trails (easy, moderate and advanced) this terrain is perfect for the winter sports enthusiast. There is also the warming shelter, which is frequently open, so join your fellow winter sports enthusiasts and enjoy a break and share stories.


Trail Description

The Big “M” trail is a 37.9 mile loop trail system located in a canopy of hardwoods off of M-55 between Manistee and Wellston. The trail offers a variety of terrain to challenge every biking and skiing experience level as you traverse up and down hills through the woods. The North Country Trail also runs right through the Big-M Trail network, so access is abundant. The two primary access locations are: the Udell Trailhead (this is right off M-55 and is perfect for accessing the outer loop for endurance hiking and mtb biking). For the inner trail network, access from the primary Big-M trailhead along Udell Hills Road.

Difficulty: Moderate

Trail Amenities/Quick Look:

  • Natural/Hard Pack Surface (warm months)
  • Groomed Classic Nordic Skiing (winter months)
  • Groomed Fat Tire Loop (winter months)
  • Information Station
  • Trail Markers/Maps
  • Warming Shelter
  • Fire Ring
  • Fee for parking

Trailhead Locations

Trailhead - Big M Recreation Area

Trailhead - Udell Trailhead


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Unplug. Explore. Michigan's Great Outdoors.

The Michigan's Great Outdoors collaborative consists of five Northern Michigan counties all working together to promote tourism in the region.  With so many hiking, biking, winter sports, and ORV trails in the region that dynamically connect these counties, this site is devoted to educate the first-time visitor to the region looking to explore the great outdoors for the first time.  We welcome you to browse this site and explore all this region has to offer.