Trail town title puts city on national hiking map

The Marquette area has made great strides in recent years to develop and maintain the many trails that criss-cross the area.

There are pathways for hikers, bicyclists, joggers and skiers, and they get extensive use by many of the area’s residents and visitors alike.

Perhaps the most prestigious of these trails is the North Country National Scenic Trail that slices across the Upper Peninsula, including through the city of Marquette.

In an effort to get the word out to long-distant hikers who might be considering a trek along the central U.P. section of the NCT, the city of Marquette and North Country Trail Association have entered into an agreement that designates Marquette as a “Trail Town.”

At this week’s meeting, the Marquette City Commission voted to enter into the agreement with the NCTA, which throws the city’s support behind the Trail Town concept and allows the designation to be used.

That designation puts Marquette on the map – literally – of the North Country Trail, which is a 4,600-mile pathway that runs from New York to North Dakota.

When hikers see there is a Trail Town in the central U.P., they will know Marquette is a place to take a break, restock their supplies and perform some of the more routine tasks, such as doing their laundry.

For hikers traveling west from Marquette on the trail this is especially important, seeing the next town on the NCT is Ironwood – 150 miles away.

The section of the NCT that runs through the central U.P. didn’t just happen on its own, either, but is the result of a lot of hard work by a dedicated group of volunteers who belong to the North Country Trail Hikers, which is the local chapter of the NCTA.

For several years the chapter has developed and maintained portions of the section it oversees, which runs from the Rock River Road in Alger County west to Long Lake outlet west of Craig Lake State Park in Baraga County.

Chapter members have also been active in promoting the trail, with those efforts getting a major boost this week with the Trail Town designation.