MARQUETTE - Michigan's Upper Peninsula has always been known for its exceptional outdoor recreation but there is one form of recreation that has been somewhat in the shadows and is now looking to take the spotlight - hiking.
The Superior Shoreline chapter of the North Country Trail Association manages several miles of trail. While the Pictured Rocks route is familiar to most, not many are aware of the some 3,000 miles on either side of the national lakeshore that are strictly foot trails.
"I realized a lot of people in the U.P. did not know that the North Country Trail was a 4,700-mile trail," said Timothy Hass, president of the Superior Shoreline Chapter.
A portion of North Country Trail west of the Devil's Logslide on the Lake Superior shore. The Superior Shoreline chapter of the North Country Trail Association is encouraging more hikers to explore these trails on either side of Pictured Rocks. (Photo by Sari Hughes)
Determined to motivate more people and get the word out, Hass has created a trail challenge with the idea being to encourage hikers to visit the Superior Shoreline's website, where waypointed maps are available.
A list of instructions and downloadable GPX files - a map data exchange format - are also provided.
From there, participants hike various sections of trail and then email their progress to the SSC, which posts the achievements on its website.
The SSC's trail section begins at the mouth of the Two-Hearted River on the east and follows along to the shore of Lake Superior, through Pictured Rocks and Munising. It then proceeds to Rock River Road west of Munising.
Hass said this goal is not just for the Superior Shoreline Chapter; they hope to put the challenge into effect for the entire NCTA. He added that so far the response has been good, with many people emailing about the challenge.
"People are not realizing the gem that we have out there," Hass said. "Too much work has been put into these trails. We'd hate to see it fall apart ... the more people that get out on the trails, the more recognition received and the more we can hopefully expand."
As of Thursday, SSC member Sari Hughes was the first to complete the challenge.
Those interested in the challenge can visit the NCTA website at www.northcountrytrail.org/ssc.
There is no deadline to complete one or more sections of trail.
Abbey Hauswirth can be reached at 228-2500, extension 240.