View Full Version : Anyone live in Michigan?

Feb. 18, 2010, 12:47 PM
My husband and I will be moving away from Maryland when we retire. His family is in MI, mine is in Oregon. If I could afford to buy a nice place in Oregon it would be my first choice for sure as a place to relocate to. But real estate is much more affordable in MI. As an endurance/trail rider/horse crazy person, my first concern is good riding, as in lots of state forests and National forests.

Would love to hear from Michigan trail riders about their opinions of the riding in MI. I refuse to move to a location with poor trail access! We were just discussing our future move last night.


Diamond Jake
Feb. 18, 2010, 01:16 PM
You might want to start out by specifying lower penninsula (sp)or upper?

Feb. 18, 2010, 02:55 PM
Bonnie, I lived there my whole life until re-locating due to husband's career change 2 years ago (to NE Ohio).

If you are into competitive distance riding (either endurance or CTR), Michigan has a ton of rides. I think they are second only to CA in number of rides. However, unless you are in certain areas, it is generally flat. Check out GLDRA (great lakes distance riding association - www.gldrami.org) for schedule.

Tons of state/federal land compared to many other states.

And, as you said, affordable.

We are considering moving back. We originally lived in SW Michigan, outside of Grand Rapids. If we move back, we are considering SE Michigan (ideally situated between Waterloo and Brighton for trail riding - it is hillier there than SW) or NE Michigan (traverse city/petosky area). But I really liked the Grand Rapids area as well. If you are retiring (meaning don't need to look for a job), I would definitely point you towards Traverse City or Petoskey. Winters are tough both places but there are a ton of outdoor sports all year long and all kinds of stuff going on in the summer. Smack dab in the middle of state/federal forest land. You could easily find a place to keep horses that borders forest land and ride from your backyard up there. A little tougher to find that kind of setup farther south (but not undoable).

Winters can be tough, tougher, or hibernate until spring toughest, depending on where you are in the state. However, I don't think there are many prettier areas to ride than northern LP in the summer. If you like the water, there is always a good beach close by too! We are toying with relocating South, but given the affordable cost of living and beautiful summers in Michigan, I'm leaning back that way.

Don't have much experience with the UP, although my husband has done some primitive backpacking up there.

In case you can't tell, I miss it there!

Feel free to PM me for more info, especially if you know specifically where in MI you are looking at.

Feb. 18, 2010, 02:55 PM
You are so right! Lower MI. I'd like to be in an area that has hills, rolling terrain. I was looking at the area north of Grand Rapids. It would be a bad drive from the relatives in the Lansing area but looks like it would be an area with lot's of forest access.
What are winter like for trail riders? What are snow levels like? What about soil types? Are there areas with sandy loam? I hate struggling with greasy, clay soils. Would you brag about the area you live in to other horse people or do you dream about living elsewhere?


Feb. 18, 2010, 05:38 PM
Bonnie, if you are looking north of GR, you are getting into the sand and moving away from the clay. (The same is true when you go west toward the shoreline). That was one thing I hated (OK, the ONLY thing I hated) about my property - I was SE of GR, and we had lots of mud issue. The trails at Hungerford, for example, are a nice sandy soil but not too deep; get farther north and if we have a dry summer the sand can get quite deep. No hills though until you get farther north. (I regularly go to bed, breakfast and barn in Petoskey and there are some nice hills up there). Hungerford was one of my favorite places to ride - a decent day trip on the weekends and the bugs never got bad there.

The area in SE MI I like (which would be considerably closer to Lansing; look on the map for Waterloo Recreation Area) are considerably more hilly and actual somewhat rocky. They have some mud there (I've also ridden at Brighton) but it isn't nearly as bad as what I was used to back in GR. However, I've never kept horses there, only camped/ridden in the area.

What other things do you like to do? Rockford, which is north of GR, has blossomed into a lovely town with art festivals, good restaurants, and good grocery stores. Cedar Springs & Sparta area are both a little hick but very close to Rockford with more affordable housing prices (and property taxes) After Rockford, there isn't much until you hit the lakeshore cities.

I've seen you post here before about rides near you - are you going to be at OD this year, or at the training clinics for OD? If so, we could hook up and I could give you the scoop in person.

Feb. 18, 2010, 06:04 PM
I grew up learning to ride in Lansing and Traverse City. In the summers, I mostly rode around Lansing, as that is where my dad lived, but I went to school in Traverse City, so I did my September-June riding there. I have many fabulous memories of trail riding in Northern Michigan, including one particular memory of riding in a river near "Ranch Rudolph" with my 4-H club.

The thing to keep in mind about all parts of Michigan is that going just a few miles can change your "climate" drastically, especially when you're within twenty miles or so of a Great Lake--and all of Michigan is within 88 miles of at least one Great Lake (yay 3rd Grad Social Studies!). Due to the sand dunes of the nw lower peninsula, some parts can be very sandy and almost desert-like, and some parts can be swampy and densely forrested. For example, the barn where I initially took lessons was nestled against a forest and a low spot that got a little swampy, and the insects were a nightmare. It was so muddy that on my thirteenth birthday (thirteen years ago tomorrow!), my foot sank all the way through the mud, the mud spilled over inside my mucking boots, and my foot got stuck. I toppled over into a foot of mud and manure. In February.

But then the barn where I kept my free lease during high school, approximately five miles away, was on top of a sandy hill and was "high and dry" with plenty of wind, so the climate there was totally different. No flies! No mud! No indoor arena . . . But I still got plenty of winter riding in. I always rode bareback in the winter because the body heat helped both of our muscles work better, and the BO just plowed a 20m circle in the outdoor ring. It was boring, but it was exercise.

I will say that the car-centric nature of Michigan means that you see far fewer horses even on dirt roads than you do in the horsey parts of VA and MD. My dad and step-mom live on a dirt road with 4-5 horse properties within two miles, and I think I've seen people riding on the roads maybe ten times in fifteen years.

God, I'm SO homesick. Forget DC, I want to go home.

Oh, and finally, Gladwin County (closer to Lake Huron than Lake Michigan) has some really nice trails too; it's just this massive state forest with some open grassy areas.

Feb. 18, 2010, 07:40 PM
We moved here from Toledo in 1997. We have 20 acres adjacent to 10,000 acres of state land. Benzie Co. has lots and lots of forest and trails. The prices are very good right now because so many people are out of work and leaving the state. Winters are interesting. We have an indoor arena which is a must if you want to keep riding. We also board horses and the arena helps there too. Last winter I swear we had 3' of snow on the roof of the house. It's a trade off I guess. I would rather have the snow than mudslides, tornadoes and floods. Things are very spread out here. Lots of people keep their horses at home because land is reasonable. But it's peaceful, quiet and I enjoy all the wildlife. I could never do another town again.
Good luck.

Feb. 19, 2010, 09:18 PM
We moved last year from Kalamazoo to TN. There are decent riding areas within a few hours, not much in Kalamazoo itself that is good terrain...