It's no secret that the Marquette area has become a bicycling mecca for trail riders, thanks in large part to the efforts of the Noquemanon Trail Network.
Network officials and members have been the driving force behind development of an extensive trail system that not only challenges riders from beginners to the most hardcore extreme bikers, but also highlights the natural beauty of the Marquette area.
The network includes a north trails system that courses its way through varied terrain and has been used by mountain bikers and skiers for several years, as well as the more recently developed south trails system.
Also referred to as the Heartwood system, the 40 miles of trails on the south end of town include many segments that are on the 2,400-acre Heartwood Forestland tract the city purchased in 2005.
In addition to adding trail segments, as well as constantly upgrading and maintaining the trails, the NTN is working to develop an appropriate trailhead for the south trails - an effort that gained momentum this week.
At its Monday evening meeting, the Marquette City Commission granted the NTN permission to use city property for the trailhead, which is being planned for a parcel that already serves as an informal parking lot. The land is situated off M-553 between Division Street and Marquette Mountain Ski Area.
According to the NTN website at www.noquetrails.org, the project includes constructing a pavilion with a clothes changing station, an improved parking area to accomodate more vehicles and Porta-Potty type bathroom facilities.
The network would fund the project through fundraising, with a good deal of volunteer labor and donated materials being sought, as well. The property and pavilion would be owned by the city of Marquette.
With a goal to raise about $50,000, NTN officials told commissioner about $30,000 has been raised in cash and in-kind services. In addition, an Eagle Scout project would provide six picnic tables for the pavilion.
The trailhead project is another fine example of a local organization working with government, other organizations, businesses and individuals to enhance the recreational experience in the Marquette area for residents and visitors alike.
To get involved, log on to the NTN website for more information.