On the Trail

beth.kramer and beth.kramer

After being cooped up in apartments and dorm rooms throughout the winter and surprise spring blizzards, many students are taking advantage of the warm weather to get back outside and into shape.

Marquette is home to multiple trails, which provides a scenic outdoor workout space. Carol Fulsher, recreation development specialist at the Marquette Chamber of Commerce, said the trails draw a lot of NMU students and tourists to the area.

“If you want to get off-road, your choices are endless,” Fulsher said.

Elee Kallusky, president of the Organization for Outdoor Recreation Professionals ,is passionate about using and maintaining outdoor trails, she said. She visits Marquette’s various paths throughout the year for different activities.

“My preferred mode of transportation in the winter is snowshoeing and in the summer, fall and spring it’s just hiking,” said Kallusky, a junior outdoor recreation leadership management major.

She added that her favorite part about hiking is getting the freedom to experience nature at her own pace, getting away from the city and enjoying what the woods have to offer.


If students want to get out but want to peruse more of town than just one trail, Greenways offers a self-guided tour..

Greenways is a mapping project to make Marquette more walk-able and bike-able, according to their Web site. Northern Options, a nonprofit organization dedicated to energy efficiency, funded the project through a community education grant from the State of Michigan Energy Office. The project is geared towards out-of-towners, according to their Web site.

Greenways highlights paths around town. The maps also indicate sidewalk restrooms, fountains, marinas, trailheads, snowshoe and cross-country skiing trails. The tour passes by popular exercise venues such as McCarty’s Cove, Lakeshore Boulevard, Shiras Park, the Dead River Falls, Presque Isle, South Beach and Mattson Lower Harbor Park.

Northern Option Director Jennifer Silverton was inspired to create the Greenways project in 2005 after visiting Japan and taking a self-guided tour there, according to the Web site.

Marquette Bike Path

Bikers interested in cement roads, not mountain trails, have a paved path that winds through town. The bike path stretches 12 miles and goes from Presque Isle to Founders Landing, around town by Tourist Park and ends at Shopko. In the other direction, it runs to corner of US-41 and M-28 near Chocolay Township. It is the only paved bike path in town, according to Fulsher.

“The bike path is a town favorite,” Fulsher said.

Fulsher said she is trying to get a paved bike path all the way out to Ishpeming.

Funding is also in place to put a paved path between Ishpeming and Negaunee next year. The bike path will use the old railroad grade, situated on former caving ground and pits, to connect the two cities.

Sugarloaf Mountain

Located about five miles outside Marquette’s city limits off County Road 550, Sugarloaf Mountain offers an easy and difficult trail, both of which lead to a view of Lake Superior and its surrounding wilderness. The easy trail consists of a wooden-paved path complete with stairs built into the land. The difficult trail lies directly alongside the wooden trail and allows the hiker to climb up without a carpentered walkway.

Hikers will find a stone memorial atop Sugarloaf Mountain. Boy Scout Troup One built the original memorial in 1921 to honor their assistant scoutmaster, who died in World War I.

Sugarloaf is the easiest trail to walk in Marquette, according to Fulsher, and it’s a favorite of Allison Harkness, a junior nursing major.

“The views are just as pretty as at Hogback or anywhere else in Marquette,” Harkness said.

Noquemanon Trail Network

Mountain biker Jeremiah Johnston, a senior outdoor recreation and management major said he prefers to bike at one of the trails maintained by the Noquemanon Trail Network (NTS). He has been mountain biking since he was 16.

“I always liked playing in the woods. Something about [biking] grabbed me when I tried it and never let go,” Johnston said.

He said he prefers the South Marquette trails because the view is great and they offer a challenge. The South Marquette paths feature forest, meadows, rivers and overlooks. It has four trailheads – one at Nordic Bay, one at Shiras Hills Park, one off M-554 and the West Mount Marquette trailhead. There are over 30 miles of trail loops for people to hike, bike, snowshoe or walk a pet (which has to be kept on a leash).

The other three trail systems NTS maintains include the Big Bay Trail, which is located between Marquette and Big Bay off of County Road 550.

Big Bay Trail is open to hikers and skiers only. If biking destinations are desired, head to the Saux Head Trail off of County Road 550 or the Forestville Loops, which begins in Tourist Park.

NTS executive director and NMU alumna Susan Brian said the South Marquette Trails are the best for mountain biking.

“The South Marquette trails are premier trails – they can accommodate all levels and abilities. I have so many friends [whose] reason for staying here is because of those trails alone,” Brian said.

She is working to have the ski access to the NTS be included in the student activity fee, she said. Right now, a day pass during the ski season costs a student $6 (off-ski season access is free).

Brian said she feels the change would be mutually advantageous for both students and the NTS because they would get funding to help maintain the trails and students would have variety in ski locations. But the inclusion is still in the planning stages.

Harkness said being active is important to her as a nursing student, and exercising outside is her preferred place to do it.