Northern Michigan trail usage up

Tin Cup Trail head sees a full parking lot. (courtesy photo)

CADILLAC -- Northern Michigan offers abundant outdoor opportunities for people to explore "Pure Michigan." 

The Manistee National Forest covers approximately 480,000 acres in Northwest Michigan. State officials are seeing an uptick in people utilizing the forest, particularly trails.

According to the Michigan DNR, there are over 13,000 miles of state designated trails in the state.

Northwest Lower Peninsula Recreational Trails Specialist Scott Slavin said the DNR is seeing a higher use of motorized and non-motorized trails compared to years past. 

"Both are seeing extremely high use," Slavin said. "We have a lot of mountain bike trails that are getting a lot of use and motorized ORV routes."

Slavin said trails in Wexford, Lake, Missaukee and Osceola counties have had an above average use.

Numbers for trail use are not known. 

"I don't have numbers and I don't think I could even make them up," Slavin said. 

He said Wexford and Missaukee county share the North Missaukee route, which is a motorized trail that has seen high use. Lake county has one of the highest uses for motorized trails. Trails like Tin Cup, Lincoln Hills and Little Manistee route have been seeing high use from trucks, UTVs and ORVs.

Non-motorized trails such as the Cadillac Pathway and Fred Meijer White Pine Trail are seeing a higher use this year from the local community for biking, walking and running.

Slavin said trail usage has gone down from a month ago, but still remains above average, even during the week. 

"People are taking their summer vacations and I would assume some folks are still laid off from their job that are out recreating," Slavin said.

In the spring, the DNR funding had been frozen for their motorized ORV clubs and non-motorized volunteer groups to maintain trails, but Slavin said trail maintenance has been resumed. 

With the trails seeing a higher usage this year, law enforcement has busy on the trails. 

"Citation numbers have been up compared to the past due to higher than average use," Slavin said.

The DNR has encouraged proper social distancing by placing signage at trail heads.

Cadillac News