New western U.P. trail a positive for all concerned

Just in time for the fall color season, a new 70-mile Ottawa Eastern Connector off-road vehicle route opened recently in the western Upper Peninsula, providing an important link for three established ORV trail routes in the area.

We think this new trail will bring with it new opportunities for tourism and increased visitation to western Upper Peninsula communities and the Ottawa National Forest. We also think the tenacity of the Michigan Trails and Recreation Alliance of Land and Environment has finally paid off after years of working with federal and state officials to create a north-south trail connector for the region.

In April, MI-TRALE received approval for its proposal for the new route. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources approved a request in August to have the new route designated as a state ORV route. The trail opened Aug. 31. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be scheduled next May.

This great new trail will be maintained by the DNR and is open to any off-road vehicles. The Ottawa Eastern Connector runs south from near Greenland in Ontonagon County, through Rousseau in Houghton County to Sidnaw and south to a point about 12 miles north of Iron River in Iron County.

While also traversing the Ottawa National Forest, the new trail connects three east-west ORV routes including the Bill Nicholls route in the north, the Bergland to Sidnaw route in the central part of the area and the Iron River to Marenisco route in the south.

“Local businesses along the route provide places for riders to stop off, grab a bite to eat, refuel or spend the night,” said Don Helsel, president of MI-TRALE. “It’s great for the local economy and convenient for ORV riders.”

We agree and we welcome the cooperative effort involved to create this fantastic new trail for the western U.P. Congratulations.