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.