can enjoy seemingly endless trails and forest roads
through the scenic wilderness of the U.P.'s national
and state forest lands. The Western Upper Peninsula
of Michigan offers off-road enthusiasts nearly infinite
riding possibilities, with hundreds of miles of scenic
and historic trails.
The Bill Nichols Trail begins in Greeland in
Ontonagon County and travels northwest for 35 miles
to south of Houghton. Riders will enjoy an exciting
trek across the Fire Steel Bridges; each trestle is
well over 100 feet above the river!
Another route, the Hancock-Calumet, is a fun-filled
trip between the two cities. An abandoned railroad grade
from Iron River east to Watersmeet and on to Marenisco
provides riders with a nearly 80-mile journey.
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MICHIGAN'S UPPER PENINSULA'S MULTI-USE TRAIL SYSTEM
Imagine a multi use trail system that was built with
the services and cooperation of the Michigan National
Guard, U.S. Army Reserve, U.S. Forest Service, Michigan
Department of Natural Resources, corporations and private
landowners, and you can well imagine the magnitude of
one of the largest multi use trail projects in the Midwest.
A truly remarkable cooperative effort between Federal,
State, and Local authorities, itis a National Role Model
project coordinated by the Ontonagon County-based organization
of Trails and Recreation Alliance of Land and the Environment
of the Upper Peninsula, better known as TRALE-UP.
TRALE-UP was founded in the early 90's by a group of
ATV enthusiasts. Originally called the Ontonagon County
ATV Club, the clubs founding members organized to ensure
that the thousands of acres of Federal and State land
would remain open to ATV's In the Western Upper Peninsula,
ATVs are the preferred mode of transportation to get
to and from deer camps, stand, and blinds. Thus, it
was important that ATV travel continue to be permitted
on public land.
From securing ATV access to public lands to building
a multi-use trail system, the driving force behind TRALE
UP has been President Jim Firkus. As the organizations
"founding father", Firkus has been the key
to the success of bringing Federal, State, and Local
Government as well as private parties together for the
benefit of ATV riders.
"If the National Guard and the Reserve wants and
needs the experience of building a road in the middle
of nowhere, I know exactly where and how they can get
that valuable training. By working with TRALE-UP, they'll
get the training and we'll get their expertise, equipment,
and most of all, the workers!" commented Firkus.
"The Guard and Reserve used their summer training
in building roads, bridges, and laying culverts. Everything
they did was with the cooperation of the Forest Service
and DNR After all, these roads will become
environmentally friendly multi-use trails that generations
will be able to use and enjoy for many, many years."
The multi-use trail system has been planned to incorporate
one of the nation's must scenic areas, Ontonagon County,
along with the region's rich mining history. The trail
system leads the ATV enthusiast to remote mining areas
of the later 1800's and early 1900's. The trail system
also features rest and picnic areas, and interpretive
geographic and historical trails.
If this isn't enough to show you why Ontonagon County's
multi-use trail system has generated the interest of
people all over the U.S., read on.
With the help of the R.L. Ryerson Company and Polaris,
TRALE-UP has been working with the organization Outdoors
Forever. Outdoors Forever is a Michigan-based organization
that works with different public and private organizations
in building off road access areas for the physically
challenged. An organization that has been an instrumental
part of the planning and development of many facets
of this multi-use trail system.
President Firkus once again led the way in providing
access for the physically challenged by building a wheelchair-accessible
overlook to the remote Agate Waterfalls in Southern
Ontonagon County, along with the beautiful "Deer
Marsh" area in Baraga County.
According to Firkus, the R.L. Ryerson Company and Polaris
not only provided ATV's to be raffled off but also a
Big Boss 6 Wheeler that was used to bring in tons of
rock and other materials to build these sights for Outdoors
Ontonagon County's multi-use trail system plans on
linking up with the hundreds of miles of pre-existing
multi-use trails, trails that include the use of numerous
abandoned railroad beds and trestles. It is a trail
system that has been built to be environmentally friendly.
Per TRALE-UP member Skip Schultz, "The trail system
has more culverts to correctly move and drain water
than the City of Milwaukee. It is amazing to see how
much long range planning has gone into this trail system.
The last thing TRALE-UP wanted was for someone to say
we are hurting the beauty of the Western U.P.
From bluffs that overlook thousands of acres, to trails
that wind through virgin forests, here is an ATV enthusiast's
ultimate destination. Ontonagon County recognizes
the value of the growing ATV community as a valuable
Before traveling in the Upper Peninsula please be sure
to check the area maps that show routes and trails to
be sure they are designated ATV trails.