Improvements to National Forest Mountain Bike Trails

October 13, 2017

Gladstone, MI — Over the course of the past 5 months, Hiawatha National Forest has implemented significant improvements for mountain bike riders using Bruno’s Run Hiking/Mountain Biking Trail and Valley Spur Mountain Bike Trail. The trail improvements will benefit the resource and support the local recreation economy.

According to Mark Bender, Forest Service Recreation Technician and trails coordinator, 2.1 miles of new single track trail were added to the Valley Spur Trail system. Meanwhile, at Bruno’s Run Trail, 3,400 feet of trail were completed, including re-routes that address erosion and trail design problems.

Partners, including Superior Watershed Partnership and Munising Bay Trail Network, contributed significantly to the trailwork accomplishments.

For instance, Superior Watershed Partnership (SWP) contributed labor through a Great Lakes Conservation Corp trail crew. On the Bruno’s Run Trail project, where heavy use on steep hills resulted in the need to adjust the trail layout, the SWP crew contributed 218 hours of labor while assisting with over 2,900 feet of trailwork. The crew contributed 193 hours at Valley Spur, assisting with Munising Bay Trail Network’s effort to add single track mountain bike opportunities to the existing Valley Spur trail system.

“The work accomplished by all our partners will be enjoyed by local and non-local visitors alike,” said Bender, who noted the UP’s mountain bike trail systems attract riders from all over the country.

In addition to the recreation benefit of the projects, the re-routes reduce erosion and improve sustainability of the trails, said Bender, who oversees all trails on the National Forest’s West Zone.

As one piece of its multiple use priorities, the US Forest Service strives to deliver economic, environmental and social benefits to the public – a contribution Hiawatha National Forest personnel take seriously. As of 2014, it was estimated that recreation on Hiawatha National Forest contributed about 240 jobs in the local area, resulting in an influx of $5.3 million of labor income into nearby communities.

The Forest Service partnered with SWP through a “challenge cost share agreement”, which means that each party contributed various resources to the effort. SWP contributed a paid Great Lakes Conservation Corp trail crew leader and crew consisting of crew members aged 25 and under. SWP also provided the crew’s safety equipment. Since 2000, SWP’s GLCC crews have worked across jurisdictional boundaries in all fifteen counties of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to implement high priority hands-on conservation and restoration projects within three Great Lakes watersheds (Lakes Superior, Michigan and Huron). GLCC crew members gain experience in a wide range of conservation and community projects.

Hiawatha National Forest staff provided tools and also laid out the trail and oversaw the crew’s work to ensure technical aspects of trail design and resource protection were addressed.

According to International Mountain Bike Association statistics, approximately 40 million people participate in mountain biking annually in the United States. The Outdoor Industry Association states that in 2016 biking (including road biking, Mountain biking and BMX) was the third most popular outdoor activity (among those aged six and above) by participation rate, and the second most popular by frequency of participation. For more information about mountain biking opportunities on Hiawatha National Forest, contact one of our local offices or visit our webpage: https://www.fs.usda.gov/activity/hiawatha/recreation/bicycling/?recid=13267&actid=24.

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