Show care to saturated local trails

Tryg Solberg/For the Mining Gazette Shown is an example of a trail rutted by a bicycle.

Trails in the Keweenaw have made a lot of headway towards summer conditions with an early departure of winter. Although trails are typically well-drained in the area, the spring always presents some drainage challenges. Dirt singletrack trails are especially affected by these changing conditions. These include trails such as those at Maasto Hiito in Hancock, the Tech Trails in Houghton or Swedetown in Calumet. Freeze-thaw cycles can create very soft conditions until trails are fully thawed. Most local trails have had the frost come up and are beginning to dry out.

Many trails still have some wet spots in low-lying areas and snow pockets are still hidden in some well-shaded areas. Walking or biking on muddy trails can create ruts or footprints that get compacted and remain until a shovel or compactor fixes the spot. If an entire trail is rutted, this can become an unruly project for trails that have limited staff, volunteers or budget to fix.

If a trail has an extended length of muddy conditions where bike tires or shoes sink in, consider turning around and finding a trail on higher ground or south facing. If there is a small patch of mud that may remain for the summer season, go through, not around as to not create a widened trail. Wider ski trails often have the ability to walk around these smaller mud patches without leaving the trail surface.

If trail damage is avoided in the early season, the effects could carry through the rest of the summer season. It’s a great time of the year to ease back into summer activities on flatter roads and return to dirt trails when they’re dry. If you have any interest in volunteering at any local trails, visit their websites below:

Maasto Hiito: https://www.cityofhancock.com/recreation-maasto.php

Michigan Tech Trails: https://www.michigantechrecreation.com/trails/index

Swedetown Trails: https://swedetowntrails.org/volunteer/#:~:text=Volunteer%20at%20Swedetown&text=We%20clear%20obstacles%20from%20trails,mountain%20bike%20race%20in%20August.


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