Multi-Use Trails

Ontonagon County welcomes ATV riders on our multi-use trails!
See article below, Mi-TRALE Building A Major ORV Trail System


Ontonagon County is the starting point for ATV riders to take the Bill Nicholls multi-use trail. This trail starts at Adventure Mountain in Greenland and takes the ATV rider past many old copper mines. This trail also provides the ATV enthusiast a remarkable view from high on top of three different trestles overlooking the Flintsteel and the Firesteel Rivers. The trail continues all the way to South Range. This multi-use trail is over 40 miles long.

You will also find a scenic ATV ride from Bergland in southern Ontonagon County to Sidnaw. This trail will take you over a trestle that sits high on top of the scenic Agate waterfall. Make sure you bring your camera for this view.  This multi-use trail is also over 40 miles long.

Then there is the ATV trail that takes you from Rockland south to Bergland. This trail goes through the forest and offers the ATV rider an amazing view from a high hill. One can see Lake Superior, which is over 10 miles away, from one site on this trail. You will also see plenty of wildlife. This trail is approximately 20 miles long.

Ontonagon County offers the ATV rider the chance to ride to the mysterious Paulding Light. One can ride an ATV from one end of the county to the other end.

Plus during the Ontonagon County Fair each year, an ATV Super Challenge takes place. This is known to be the truest test of an ATV and an ATV rider’s skills. One has to go through a slalom course, then through a series of mud and water pits, not to mention climb a steep bank, and to finish it off, the ATV has to be able to stop “on a dime.”

If you want to go from the Bill Nicholls trail to the Bergland to Sidnaw multi-use trail, you can use specially designated Ontonagon County roads. Mi-TRALE (Michigan Trails and Recreation Alliance of Land and the Environment) has a map letting you know which roads in Ontonagon County are open to ATV riding. For trail maps or more information you can contact Mi-TRALE by e-mail or you can write them at: Mi-TRALE, P.O. Box 248, Ontonagon, MI 49953. The website for Mi-TRALE is:

Map of the Bill Nicholls trail

It is important for ATV riders to understand that snowmobile trails are NOT open to ATV riding, unless they are a designated ATV and/or multi-use trail. It is also important to contact Mi-TRALE regarding the ATV ordinance for use on the select designated Ontonagon County roads. Not all roads in the Ottawa National Forest are open to ATV traffic. For more information as to which roads within the Ottawa National Forest are open, contact the U.S. Forest Service Ranger Station in Ontonagon at 906-884-2411.

All ATVs in Michigan are required to have a Michigan Department of Natural Resources ORV sticker. These ORV stickers are available at different outlets. For more information as to where you can purchase the ORV sticker, along with Michigan’s ATV laws and regulations, call the Michigan Department of Natural Resources District Office in Baraga at 906-353-6651.

You really won’t find more miles of ATV riding in the Midwest than what you will find in and around Ontonagon County. Plus, Ontonagon County is the only place in the U.P. where you can ride your ATV right up to the beach. As you can see, Ontonagon County WELCOMES ATV riders!

Mi-TRALE Building A Major ORV Trail System!
Article submitted 4/8/08 by Skip Schulz

The Western Upper Peninsula of Michigan has always been known as a premier destination for snowmobiling. Now this area is quickly becoming the place to ride your ORV, thanks to the work of Michigan Trails and Recreation Alliance of Land and the Environment, commonly known as Mi-TRALE.

Mi-TRALE took over in 2001, when TRALE-UP disbanded after 10 years of building the foundation of an extensive ATV trail system. However, when Mi-TRALE formed, the organizers believed that to be successful in any trail development, they would have to include multiple trail users. Mi-TRALE started with a group of snowmobilers, ORV riders, equestrian and personal watercraft riders.

However, as the sport of ORV riding continued to grow, the group began to focus on ORV riding. We asked Mi-TRALE founder and current president Skip Schulz, “Why ‘ORV’ riding, and not ‘ATV’ riding?”

“While the side-by-side industry was in its infancy when Mi-TRALE founded, I had a strong feeling that this segment of the off-road vehicle community would increase in manufacturers building the side-by-sides, and also the sales of these units would increase. Plus we wanted to eventually bring in the 4X4 truck/SUV/Jeep community to our organization. That’s why we call our massive trail system an ‘ORV trail system,’” answered Schulz.

Mi-TRALE began by completing the popular Pioneer Trail. This is a trail that was built by the Michigan National Guard, US Army Reserves, Michigan DNR, Ottawa National Forest, and TRALE-UP. However, the trail was never finished before TRALE-UP folded. Last June, Mi-TRALE officially opened the Pioneer Trail.

This trail runs from east of Bergland to Rockland. Then in Rockland, Mi-TRALE established the new “C” Trail that connects the Pioneer Trail to the BN (Bill Nicholls) trail. Snowmobilers are quite familiar with the 3 trestles on the Bill Nicholls trail! Mi-TRALE extended the ORV riding opportunities on the BN Trail all the way to Houghton. In Houghton, the Houghton City Police has certain times where they legally escort ORV riders over the Portage Lift Bridge. Then ORV riders can continue on the JST (Jack Stevens Trail) all the way to Calumet.

This year, ORV riders will be able to ride the North Freda (NF) trail, off of the BN trail just south of Atlantic Mine. Not only will the NF be a new trail for ORV riders this year, so will another popular snowmobile trail. That is the grade from Bergland to Sidnaw. That trail is signed as the SB Trail and this summer will be a Michigan DNR Designated ORV Route, maintained by Mi-TRALE.

Hmmm … you said “route,” not “trail.” What’s the difference?

In Michigan an ORV trail has a width maximum of 50 inches. An ORV route has a width up to 72 inches, thus accommodating the side-by-sides. Other then the Baraga Plains ATV trail system, which is not maintained by Mi-TRALE, all of the Mi-TRALE riding opportunities are considered “routes.” This includes the LL Trail from Land O’ Lakes, Wisconsin, up to Watersmeet, Michigan, where the LL Trail intersects with the IRM Trail. The IRM Trail goes from Iron River to Marenisco. The IRM Trail continues east from Iron River into Wisconsin and the Eastern Upper Peninsula. Mi-TRALE will be working on extending the trail to the west from Marenisco to Wakefield. Just east of Marenisco, the trail will head north on the ES “preferred route.”

“Preferred route?” This is the designation of a local, township, or county road that is used primarily as a way to connect one trail to another. The ES Preferred Route takes an ORV rider north to where it connects to either the SB or P Trails. However, at the time of this article, Mi-TRALE sits in “limbo” hoping that Michigan House Bill 4323 will continue to allow Northern Lower Peninsula and all of the Upper Peninsula counties to establish their own ORV ordinance for operation on county roads. HB4323 passed the Michigan State House 110-0 in early 2007. It has been sitting in a Michigan State Senate Committee for over a year.

“Mi-TRALE is confident that common sense will prevail in the Michigan State Senate and HB4323 will be passed in the committee, then passed by the full Senate and signed into law by Governor Granholm,” commented Schulz.

Mi-TRALE was active in getting different counties to pass county ordinances allowing for the legal use of an ORV on county roads. Ontonagon County has the strictest ORV road ordinance in the Western U.P. The ordinance only allows for ORV riders 16 and older to ride on the preferred routes, 25 MPH speed limit, 5 a.m.-12 a.m. midnight operation, and only open from April 1 to November 30. Other western U.P. county ordinances basically only require that current Michigan DNR laws be in effect and that the county road has a shoulder.

Even with the support of the county commissioners, county road commissions, and prosecuting attorneys in regards to the safe and legal operation of an ORV on county roads, that did not stop Mi-TRALE from continuing to work on getting ORVs off of the paved roads.

“This year Mi-TRALE will officially be opening the new E Trail, which connects ORV riders from the P (Pioneer) Trail to the village of White Pine. Mi-TRALE began working on the E Trail last year, and with the permission from three different private landowners, we now have it going all the way to White Pine,” remarked Schulz.

All in all, Mi-TRALE offers ORV riders over 500 miles of signed and marked ORV trails, a signing program that the club hopes will become a role model in the State of Michigan. In an effort to keep ORV riders off of the snowmobile trails where ORV operation is not open, Mi-TRALE began a trail signing system using alphabetical letters. In Michigan the snowmobile trails use numbers. The numbers are in black on an orange background. Mi-TRALE is using black alphabetical letters on a white background.

“The club decided to go this route not just to prevent ORV riders from riding where they don’t belong, but also to help emergency and law enforcement personal know where an accident may occur,” stated Schulz. Schulz stated that this signing program has been applauded by local and county emergency and law enforcement personnel.

“We also did this so that ORV riders will know where they are riding by looking at the signs and the new western U.P. six-county ORV map,” added Schulz, an ORV map that has been in the works for a number of years. The $2.00 map will be available for the first time this summer and distributed through the advertisers on the map according to Mi-TRALE. The map shows the Michigan DNR designated trails, the Mi-TRALE signed trails, and the non-signed trails that are open to ORV riders within the Ottawa National Forest.

“If you want to include the hundreds of miles of trails you can ride an ORV in the Ottawa in addition to the 500+ miles of trails/routes that Mi-TRALE has signed, we would have close to 1,000 miles of trails open to ORV riders.”

The only question remaining is, Do you have enough free time to ride all the miles open to ORVs in the Western U.P.?