Iron Ore Heritage Trail a regional attraction worthy of upgrades

One of the crown jewels in the region’s trail system, the Iron Ore Heritage Trail, received many upgrades in 2016, and more appear to be on the way.

The Ishpeming City Council last week heard about the trail’s improvements from Carol Fulsher, administrator of the Iron Ore Heritage Recreation Authority.

Last year’s upgrades included a bridge in Humboldt Township — where a culvert was washed out — and paving of a 2-mile section of trail east of Negaunee.

What helps make the Iron Ore Heritage Trail unique are the interpretive signs educating trail users about the region’s iron history.

So, 10 more interpretive signs put in last year between the city of Negaunee and Marquette Township can only add to the trail’s special appeal.

Another unique amenity along the trail was installed in 2016 near the Marquette Commons: a “fixstation” where trail-traveling cyclists can make minor repairs to their bicycles.

However, it helps if people have good access to the trail. The Iron Ore Heritage Trail was aided in another way last year, with the authority partnering with Marquette and Chocolay townships and the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund for connecting trails from trailheads at Marquette Township’s Schwemwood Park and the Chocolay Lions Field to the trail.

Trail upgrades are expected to continue, with more shelters along the trail proposed. Those shelters would be along stretches that aren’t near towns or businesses, so they certainly would help trail users get out of inclement weather when there are relatively few options.

However, when there is traffic, another planned addition — street-crossing signs for people traversing the trail — should help. The public also wants to see more restrooms, and why they are necessary is obvious.

Trails, like buildings and streets, need to be constantly maintained beyond just making sure they’re paved, mowed or kept free from hazards. They need things like interpretive signs and shelters to make them easier for travelers to use.

Considering the Iron Ore Heritage Trail goes from Republic to Chocolay Township, it attracts many users who have the opportunity to exercise in a beautiful setting.

We applaud the improvements recently made to the trail, and hope it gets the upgrades it needs.