Northern: Upper Penninsula Trails

For posting trail-specific conditions and problems

Postby STP300 » September 28th, 2006, 10:48 am

Hey Dan & Jonathan,

First of all let me state that my total riding experience up here has been limited to (2) MTB rides. :D So, for me to have/give an opinion on what's going on up here would be pretty stupid. Now that my disclaimer is out of the way let me give you my opinion? :wink:

I could see why someone visiting the U.P. would get the impression that the locals aren't concerned that visitors know where the trail is. My first impression would be that the locals have a small loyal, local riding community and they aren't concerned with outside apperances. (Again this impression is limited to (2) rides with Ishpeming locals) It appears that Marquette has formerly organized it's MTB community to make their trail system visitor friendly. I planned on going to Marquette MTN today and trying to ride that trail system without a local guide. I will write a post when I can get that done.

What comes to mind when riding with these men and women is "if it isn't broken don't fix it." These people ride together and make trails and share them with whomever rides with them. So, my suggestion would be if you visit, and want to ride up here that you ride with the locals. I would feel like a complete dumbass to suggest to these people that they put signs up and stuff. (I formed this opinion only after spending a couple of hours with them, 'I got it')

I did ask several riders about the MMBA, and they all sorta had a general idea of what the MMBA was... Then they would say things like "people up here aren't apart of the MMBA" and I would reply back "Yeah, because you guys don't join!" Then I say things like "You know, There are a couple thousand members..." I don't think it computes to them...

These people don't appear to have an agenda or any axe to grind, it's just that the community is small and the local government let's them do whatever they want. So, these people do whatever they want. Wouldn't you? So, why would you muck it up and get all nerdy with it, if you didn't have to? Makes since to me.

Maybe if I spent a couple years up here I might actually understand how it works up here. As for now I think I'll shut up and ride.

Ed
"You miss 100% of the shots you never take."
Wayne Gretzky
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Postby JonathanGennick » September 28th, 2006, 11:00 am

STP300 wrote:I planned on going to Marquette MTN today and trying to ride that trail system without a local guide. I will write a post when I can get that done.


Are you still in the area? Call me, if you like, if you happen to come through Munising. I'll PM you my phone number. I'd at least have coffee w/you. I can't ride today, because I'm on call with the ambulance service, and not tomorrow because that's when I hope to go to Marquette to get my bike back from the shop (no bikey, no ridey :-)). Weekend's open though. (Disclaimer, I am old and slow).
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Postby Dan_Harrison » September 28th, 2006, 11:06 am

Thanks, Ed. That's a very insightful post.
The scene in Ishpeming sounds still very much at the grassroots stage, which is where its ultimate strength will always be.
Marquette is further along the curve, but came from the same direction. Once the locals realized that they had a marketable tourism experience, they took the steps to make it more user-friendly for visitors. If Ishpeming finds itself in that position, then things like signage, MMBA affiliation and all that will be adopted, because the time will be right and it will all make sense.
In the meantime, enjoy your time-machine trip back to circa 1990!
Dan
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Postby STP300 » September 29th, 2006, 11:14 am

Rode Marquette South Trails Thursday Evening.

Rode a trail called Carp Lake? Anyway trail was well posted and I wound up riding to the top of Marquette mountain and descending the downhill MTB course, Very Cool!

Anyway, Regardless of the rain the trail was in good condition with no standing water. Temperatures were in the low 50's.

Looks like next week will be warmer and I plan on focusing on the Marquette area. Also, going to try to bring a more donwhill oriented bike to ride next week. With rainy conditions, disc brakes are a must up here...

Updates when available.
Ed
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Postby JonathanGennick » September 30th, 2006, 6:42 pm

Ed's report inspired me, so this afternoon I threw the bike in the back of van, drove over to Marquette, and took a ride on the Carp River loop myself. Wow! It was my first time on Marquette's trail system. I'd have given my eye-teeth for such a system in Detroit when I was growing up. The best I had then were some trails on the railroad right-of-way by my home. I sure hope the people in Marquette know what they have, because they sure as heck are lucky to have a system like they've got, and right in the city limits too. Very cool trail system.

I parked at the trailhead behind the sewer plant and prison. From there, the first half-a-mile or so is sharply uphill. I have to admit, I had to stop and catch my wind a few times. The weight from the backpack I was carrying with gear in case I got caught out in the rain or after dark, or got lost didn't help things any. The steepness does ease off a bit, but it's generally uphill all the way to the tops of ski lifts on Marquette Mountain. There's a very nice view looking out over town and Lake Superior from the top of a ski run called "Renegade".

Trail is signed in only one direction. I don't really like trails to be unidirectional. Oh well.

Signage could have been better in spots. The confidence markers completely disappeared once I got within site of the ski lifts, leaving me uncertain as to which path was the "right" one. I finally ended up just going (flying!) down a service road to the lodge. Then I followed the highway from the lodge to another trailhead, and from there I managed to hop back onto the Carp River trail again.

Some intersections aren't marked as well as they could be. At one point I had to puzzle at an intersection having two arrows pointing in opposite directions. And at the trailhead it wasn't immediately obvious that I needed to cross the bridge over the Carp River. However, nothing is so confusing that a little bit of thought won't get it sorted out. I only had to backtrack a couple of times.

There seem to be a fair number of unmarked trails in the area. Would be fun to explore them someday.

In the lodge parking lot I met two downhillers who had come all the way from Minneapolis to ride the mountain. I was surprised they'd come so far. I guess Marquette is indeed becomming a "destination".

On the way back home, a bit of irony hit me. I put in two hours of driving time today for about an hour-and-a-half on the trails. I'm not sure what to make of that. Next time maybe I need to increase the ratio of riding to driving :-).

Ed is right about disk brakes. Would've been nice to have had them. It didn't rain on me, but ground and brush were very wet from recent rain, and thus my rims were wet, which made the run down the ski hill a bit "interesting". I don't know that I've ever had to pull so hard on my brake handles before. Good run down to the ski lodge though. And it wasn't long after I got back on the trail again before I had a fantastic, twisty run through the woods back to my van. I felt well-rewarded for my uphill slog.
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Valley Spur

Postby JonathanGennick » September 30th, 2006, 6:46 pm

I also rode some of the Valley Spur biking trails today w/my wife and son. Not sure anyone from beyond here cares about those, but Trail #4 is in good shape, and someone's recently cut back some of the encroaching brush.

The Valley Spur trails are all doubletrack, btw. The trail system is essentially superimposed over old logging trails.
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Trolls

Postby Di_bear » September 30th, 2006, 8:13 pm

JonathanGennick wrote:I'm not sure I believe in the whole "yooper/troll" schism. I hear the word "troll" a lot, but always in good fun. When I moved up here six years back, I never got the sense that the locals were bothered by the fact that I wasn't born here. Sure, it takes awhile to meet people and really get to know them, and to know the area, but I've never felt excluded or discriminated against. Maybe I've just had exceptionally good luck.


I've heard the troll thing a lot more in Marquette County than here in Houghton. Of course, a lot of the people responsible for building these trails are Michigan Tech students and grads/transplants. There's a huge sense of community among mountain bikers here....oh, and a lot of them take weekly trips down to Marquette mountain.
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Fall Colors

Postby Di_bear » September 30th, 2006, 8:28 pm

I rode Churning Rapids today. The trail system is basically built into the side of a hill (very simplified description of it), so it allows for really good drainage and the greater part of the system is NOT muddy. I rode to the lookout point and could clearly see over the colorful trees to Lake Superior. It was stunning!

No standing water on the greater part of the Pow-Pow trails, so you can ride those great banked turns until your heart's content. Great Oaks was also a rush. (I did the system twice it was so much fun.) The section between Finney Creek and Thoroughfare is pretty messy, though.
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Mount Marquette Loop, Marquette, MI

Postby JonathanGennick » October 10th, 2006, 9:03 pm

Had to make a run into Marquette for something today, so I threw the bike into the back of the van and managed to ride the Mount Marquette loop before driving back home. It was my first time on that loop, and only my second time on the Noquemanon Trail Network (which I can never seem to spell correctly).

Trail conditions: dry, dirty, rooty, rocky, leafy. Snow is in the forecast though, so by Thursday you might have to add "snowy" to that list. Seriously, I don't know what else to say about conditions. The trail looked to be in fine shape. Nothing that I saw struck me as a maintenance issue.

About 2/3rds of the way around the loop from the trailhead near Marquette Mountain Ski area, I noticed a house with a yard only some 20 feet or so from the trail. What lucky people. I hope whoever lives there is a mountain-biker.

The Mount Marquette loop really challenged me. I don't know how it compares to mountain-bike trails in general, but it's a world of difference from the old logging trails I ride nearer to home. It's actually dangerous! Rocks, roots, steep drops, narrow bridges higher than I want to fall, steep downhills where the slightest error would send me on a head first plunge into rock. Today's ride was a real eye-opener, but in a good way. It was a good ride.
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Michigan Tech Trail Map

Postby Di_bear » October 26th, 2006, 11:07 pm

Not sure where to post this or who to contact...

The Michigan Tech trail map link in the Trail Guide is null and void. The new link is:

http://www.aux.mtu.edu/rec/ccski/trailmapbike.html
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Re: Michigan Tech Trail Map

Postby Todd Scott » October 26th, 2006, 11:18 pm

Di_bear wrote:Not sure where to post this or who to contact...

The Michigan Tech trail map link in the Trail Guide is null and void. The new link is:

http://www.aux.mtu.edu/rec/ccski/trailmapbike.html


Thanks! It's now fixed.
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Postby Di_bear » October 28th, 2006, 7:34 pm

I GOT MY BIKE BACK TODAY!!! :D :D :D :D :D

No loose sand or dust. The trails are well packed and ready for speed.

The Ring loops are all great. Dragon has a little water puddle right next to the Dragon bridge.

Outer loop - great condition, some mud and some water on the ascent (going clockwise).

Inner loop - no mud? Can't remember - fun ride. Tree down after the banked turn going to the right, across a bridge, up a hill, and across the ski trail on the descent going clockwise. I couldn't move it so I stacked up some sticks to make a jump out of it.

Time trail is simply perfect.

Couldn't ride Barking Frog or Hairy Toad - ran out of daylight.
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Postby Di_bear » October 30th, 2006, 7:32 pm

Many parts of the trails have been raked. Hairy Toad and Barking Frog are in very good condition - you can even see the rocks and roots (probably a good thing since that's all those trails are made of). There is a HUGE pine tree down across the trail on the School Forest Loop just before Hairy Toad (going counter-clockwise). You'll just have to figure out how to get around it. There's kind of a little trail forming in the leaves. There is a lot of debris on the trails from the high winds. I cleared some derailleur-damaging sticks ;-) off, and I managed to pull two trees off the trails. Fallen tree on Inner Loop mentioned in previous post is still there, but you can ride over it.

Ring, Dragon, Inner/Twilight Zone, Time Trail - all good.

Outer Loop - little muddy parts are drying up.

No loose sand on any trails - great fun!

Did not ride Troll, Ent, Gnome, Elf, or Hobbit - so watch for fallen trees and branches.
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Tech Trails

Postby Di_bear » November 24th, 2006, 5:36 pm

Did NOT ride Ring, Troll, Ent, Gnome, Elf, or Hobbit. Those trails are all *beep* because of the work they've been doing on them. Maybe I don't know anything, but they've pretty much destroyed those trails unnecessarily in preparation for ski season.

Time Trial, Hairy Toad, Barking Frog, School Forest, Dragon, Outer Loop, Bobled Loop, and Inner (Twilight Zone) Loop are all excellent. They look like they've been raked (no leaves in most spots) and the trees that have fallen across the trails have been sawed. :-D The one on Inner Loop where I made a log jump is still there. I've gotten some positive feedback on that. I think I'll stack it on the side going up next time I'm out.

Trails are FAST! There was a little mud on Dragon, but that's typical.
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Postby Di_bear » December 2nd, 2006, 4:55 pm

Email sent out to everyone:

... and all -

Please consider not riding on the Tech Trails as we are starting our ski
grooming and the Tech Nordic team is planning a race for Sunday
morning. If you need to ride out there, please use the rec. trails on
the other side of Pilgrim Road.

Thanks.


I checked out the trail head and classic skiing is definitely a go. Someone was skate-skiing today. They haven't rolled the trail, so I figured it wasn't worth it to take my skis out - I don't have rock skis (except for classic skiing) and I didn't want to work on technique for classic. I just wanted to go fast. So I grabbed a pizza, came home, and am going to shovel pretty shortly. ;-)
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