Uncover History with Iron Ore Heritage Bike Tours in the Upper Peninsula

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is full of rich history to uncover. And with heritage bike tours available throughout July, there’s no better time to explore the area. Troy Henderson, a historian with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, gives us an inside look at what bike tour attendees will discover.

The iron industry on the Marquette Range is a big story to tell. There are museums like the one I work at, the Michigan Iron Industry Museum, which exhibits the iron industry in Michigan from its pioneer roots to the present.  There are also many physical historical sites connected to the iron industry that you can actually stand in front of and observe.  We are offering iron ore heritage bike tours that give visitors the best of both worlds.

In July, the Michigan Iron Industry Museum will host several iron ore heritage bike tours along the new segment of the Iron Ore Heritage Trail.  We will start each tour at the museum with an orientation of the Carp River forge site, where the first ore was smelted on the Marquette Range in the 1840s.

From the museum, we will bike westward on a crushed limestone aggregate trail toward the Jackson Mine in Negaunee, where miners broke up and transported the ore that was smelted at the Carp River forge.  This forested portion of the trail grades uphill to Negaunee.

Before reaching “Old Towne” Negaunee, a segment of town that was once abandoned and relocated due to the caving potential of the underground mine shafts, we will see some good examples of the iconic sandstone architecture of the Lake Superior region.

Today the trail from “Old Towne” Negaunee westward toward Ishpeming looks like a park, but it was once a mixed residential and industrial landscape.  We will pass by foundational remnants of that landscape on this segment to the tour, including a stop at the historic Jackson Mine pit.  Here, drill markings can still be seen on the walls of iron ore that were bored over a century ago.

Before the turnaround point we will pass an old stone hoist house, the curious circular foundation of a railroad turntable, and Jasper Knob.  Within view of Cliffs Shaft, the iconic pyramidal shaft head frames that dominate the Ishpeming landscape, we will turn around for the return trip.

Bikers will have all earned a delicious lunch on the return trip from Negaunee’s Midtown Bakery and Café, where we will have a chance to explore “Old Towne” Negaunee in a little more detail.  After lunch, it is downhill back to the Michigan Iron Industry Museum.

The Iron Ore Heritage Bike tours will take place July 11, 18, and 25.  Each tour will start at 10 a.m. and the total route is approximately 15 miles.  The fee is $20 per participant, which includes lunch and a Michigan Iron Industry Museum souvenir.  Pre-registration is required, and space is limited per tour.  Find the registration form at michigan.gov/ironindustrymuseum and view the online calendar for July.

For more information about the tours or the Michigan Iron Industry Museum, contact the museum office at 906-475-7857 or e-mail Troy Henderson at hendersont7@michigan.gov.

Troy Henderson is a DNR historian with the Michigan Historical Center.  He is the site historian of Fayette Historic Town Site and his headquartered at the Michigan Iron Industry Museum.    

Enjoy 1,300 Scenic Miles of Biking Trails in Michigan

Spring is upon us, which hopefully means the warm weather is here to stay! Spring and summer months in Michigan are the perfect time to get out and enjoy the great outdoors. One great activity for people of all ages is bicycle riding – whether it be riding around Mackinac Island looking at the scenery or on a rigorous ride in the Upper Peninsula.

Take a look at the listing below for a sampling of what Michigan’s trails have to offer, and learn more in the video on biking from the Pure Michigan summer video series.

A complete listing of Michigan’s 1,300 miles of bike trails can be found on michigan.org.


 

City of Marquette – Bike Path

The city of Marquette maintains over 12 miles of paved bike trails which lead you through some of the most beautiful scenic areas in the country. The path leads the bikers along the shores of Lake Superior, past boating marinas, north to Presque Isle – a 328 acre park and to a large outdoor pool with a waterslide (no charge). The park continues along the Tourist Park Campground and Picnic Area and wooded areas surround the path to the south area of Marquette. More information and a trail map are available here.

Kalamazoo River Valley Trail

The Kalamazoo River Valley Trail will encompass 35 miles of trail throughout Kalamazoo County. Kalamazoo will be a regional hub, connecting Battle Creek to Lake Michigan, D Ave. to Portage, and eventually Lake Michigan to Lake Huron. This existing trail and planned trails in other counties will enable you to connect more than 140 miles of trail – connecting together the Battle Creek Linear Park, the Kal-Haven Trail and Portage Bicentennial Park Trail. Currently, there are 17 miles complete of this non-motorized, paved-asphalt trail. Click here for more information.

Petoskey to Mackinac Trail

The Petoskey to Mackinac Trail consists of 35 miles of mostly dirt and cinder trail that passes through Conway, Oden, Ponshewaing, Alanson, Brutus, Pellston, Van, Levering, and Carp Lake to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Trailhead in Mackinaw City. The DNR is currently working to fill in the “gaps” in the trail between Oden and Alanson. The surface is currently “unimproved” railroad ballast and gravel. Some sections are in excellent shape while others are tough going for the cyclist, making for a bit of a challenge. The entire trail is bikeable with a hybrid or mountain bike. Carp Lake and Mackinaw City on the north end are especially suitable as staging areas for off trail excursions onto lightly traveled local (paved and gravel) roads, some of which connect to the Cheboygan to Mackinaw City segment of the Gaylord to Mackinaw City Trail. Visit the website for more information.

Stony Creek Metropark

The Stony Creek Metro Park is a scenic 4,461 acre park with hilly terrain enhanced by the beautiful 500-acre Stony Creek Lake. The park includes a nature center, picnic areas, beaches, a disc (Frisbee) golf course, boat launch, fitness trail and golf course. One of the highlights of the park is the paved 6.2 mile Hike-Bike trail and over 10 miles of paved roadways provide scenic drives in all seasons and the fall color is particularly beautiful.

The Detroit Riverfront

When fully completed, the Detroit International RiverWalk will span 5 ½ miles of the Detroit Riverfront, from the Ambassador Bridge to Gabriel Richard Park, just east of the Belle Isle Bridge. Currently, 2 ½ miles of East Riverfront is complete and open to the public. The park makes a nice scenic ride in the city and connects to the Dequindre Cut adding 1.35 miles more of paved trail. Visit the website for more information.

Betsie Valley Trail

The Betsie Valley Trail is 22.3 miles long and extends from Frankfort through Elberta and Beulah to Thompsonville in Benzie County Michigan. From Frankfort to Beulah it is non-motorized. All of it is excellent for bicycles and pedestrian use. The length of the trail makes it a great for bicyclists of all abilities because you can extend or shorten your trip based on skill level. The trail runs through some gorgeous scenery.

Do you have a favorite bike trail or ride in Michigan? Share with us below!

Biking in Pure Michigan

Did you know that May is National Bike Month? In honor of that, we thought it would be fun to roundup some of Michigan’s bike trails. With more than 1,300 miles of bike trails of Pure Michigan, there are plenty of options to explore.

To learn more about biking in Michigan, visit michigan.org.

Paint Creek Trail
From the City of Rochester north through the City of Rochester Hills, Oakland Township, Orion Township, and the Village of Lake Orion, the Paint Creek Trail follows the Paint Creek as it meanders through fields, prairies, woodlands, and marshlands. Approximately 8.9 miles long by 8 feet wide, the trail’s all-weather limestone surface makes it ideal for year-round activity.

Potawatomi Trail
The Pinckney Recreation Area is an ideal destination for picnicking, fishing, boating, and of course – bike riding along the Potawatomi Trail. The area includes modern campsites, rustic camping and backpack camping along the trail, making it the perfect spot for a weekend long adventure.

Bald Mountain Loops
If you’re interested in mountain biking, check out the Bald Mountain Loops at the Bald Mountain Recreation Area. The picturesque park area has some of the steepest hills and most rugged terrain in southeastern Michigan, and includes 15 miles of marked hiking and biking trails.

Copper Harbor Trails
Award-winning Copper Harbor Trails offers a variety of natural obstacles, challenging climbs and fun downhills. Located at the northern tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula in Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula, riders can enjoy scenic streams, woods and rock bluffs along the trails.

Lakeshore Trail
The Lakeshore Trail offers riders scenery of Lake Michigan, Muskegon Lake, dunes, parks, and the City of Muskegon. The nearly 10 mile, paved Lakeshore Trail is designed to provide users a convenient, relaxing and safe cycling environment, ideal for beginners with plenty of places to park and rest along the trail. The trail also gives riders pedestrian access to historic and maritime attractions, dining venues, lodging options and seasonal festivals.