Rebuilding the Keweenaw Trail System

HOUGHTON COUNTY — With many uncertainties still surround the derivative effects from the Father’s Day Flood in Houghton County,  one area of repair that is currently being addressed is tourism.

Many folks come to the Keweenaw Peninsula to enjoy motorsports and the outdoors and with many trails still closed, The Department of Natural Resources is asking for patience and wants to remind residents that they are repairing those trails as quickly as possible.

“We continue to work diligently to repair the trails and to make them safe and to reopen them for the public. We’re continuing to move forward. We know that the trails are very important to people in the area for tourism and for livelihood. And of course, people are already eyeing the snowmobile season coming up. We’re working as hard as we can to try to get trails repaired and safe so they can be reopened.” Said John Pepin of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Trails that are currently closed include the Chassell to Houghton trail, The Frida Grade, And the Lake Linden Grade is also Closed south of Norman Road.

“We still have several sections of trail that are closed and will remain closed for quite some time as well as three boating access sites.” Pepin added.

Those Boating sites are: Jack Boot, Boston Pond, and Lilly Pond and could remain closed for most of the summer due to initial damage resulting from last month’s flooding. But there are still plenty of access sites through out the Keweenaw that are open and available for public use.

“McLain State Park Remains open although it is accessible on M–203 only from the north. The south still remains closed because of a washout there.” He also said.

As the Department has been doing their best to restore trail ways in the past month, yesterday’s rainfall has made things a little difficult.

“Some of the repairs that we have completed along trail systems have held, and sustained this latest rainfall event. In other areas the rainfall and the runoff have negatively affected the work that we had done.” Pepin stated.

Current assessments calculate trail damage at 19.9 million dollars.

“We have been able to reopen some segments with additional reroutes in the City of Hancock. But in some places that initial flood event, some call it a 500 year flood… You’re talking about dramatic washouts in these trails that are severe. It will take a lot of time and work and a lot of money to repair those.” Said, Pepin.

One thing that the department asks of the public is to not use the trails as a dump site.

“We want folks to contact their local waste management authorities to find out where they should be dumping. We have noticed some dumping of refuse on some of the trails which could lead to more problems. We strongly encourage folks to consult their local waste management authority to find out where they can legally be dumping their refuse and debris from the flood events.” He concluded.

Many legal dumpsites have been created along M–26 from Ripley to Lake Linden.