Noquemanon Trail Network offers safe way to enjoy outdoors

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Peter Smedley/NW

Rayna Sherbinow

As the fall semester begins at NMU there are going to be some changes on campus like face masks, reduced class sizes and canceled events, to name a few. Despite these deviations from the norm, there are still ways for students to have fun and stay active.

Anyone looking to escape to the great outdoors for a while may consider using the Noquemanon Trail Network (NTN). The network comprises seven trail systems throughout the U.P., which are developed and maintained by the nonprofit organization. 

Lori Hauswirth has been executive director of the NTN for two and a half years. The outdoor experience helps draw students to Marquette, Hauswirth said.

“NMU recognized that and wanted to help support our efforts and make sure that the trails are available to the students,” Hauswirth said.

NMU is partnered with the NTN, allowing students free access to the trail network. Trail maps and other information are available on the NMU Rec Sports website.

Students can check out fat tire bikes to use on the trails from NMU Rec Sports. It’s free, but the process  has changed slightly to take proper precautions against COVID-19. 

Helmets are sanitized after use and left to sit for three days before they can be used again, and bikes are wiped down. As for requesting equipment, the process is simple, said Tricia Bush, the associate director of campus recreation at NMU. Students can fill out a form on the Rec Sports website https://www.nmu.edu/recsports/equipment-rental and wait for a response.

“It’s just a quick, basic form,” Bush said. “They need their I.N., their name, their email, phone number, and then they put in their height because we do have different sized bikes, and then the requested date and time of pickup.”

It’s best for students to submit requests in advance, Bush said.

Even without a bike, there are many ways to enjoy the NTN. It’s important to keep the safety procedures in mind when enjoying the trail.

Scott Jordan is an associate professor for NMU’s Outdoor Recreation Leadership and Management Program. People on the trails should practice social distancing and maintain a six-foot to ten-foot distance between each other, said Jordan.

“If you’re closer than that, have a mask available that you can put on,” Jordan said.

As long as students practice social distancing and avoid large groups, the NTN is a great resource for students this year, Jordan said.

“We have such a great natural atmosphere in the Marquette area and we can get to the trails just directly from the school,” Jordan said.

More people are using the NTN lately. Usage has doubled on some trails, said Jordan. As more people go out and explore, students should learn how to stay safe and become familiar with their surroundings. Hauswirth recommends a mobile app called Trailforks, which allows users to access maps without cell service. It is important to let someone know where you’re going and when you plan to return, said Hauswirth.

In addition to safety, trail etiquette is something to keep in mind when using the NTN. Avoid using the trails during or immediately after heavy rainfall. This gives the trails time to drain and prevents erosion and other potential problems.

Students should be mindful of their surroundings and other people when using the trail network. When meeting someone else, bikers should yield to anyone traveling on foot; people who are descending are to yield to people who are ascending. 

Hauswirth notes that there are many other places to explore in the U.P. For example, students can visit Little Presque Isle, or check out the Range Area Mountain Bike Association trails in Ishpeming.

“There are the trails within the NTN network, but there’s also places to go hiking to see waterfalls,” Hauswirth said. “I think there’s just a lot of exploring that will allow kids to get outside and be safe yet stay healthy.”


More information about the Noquemanon Trail Network can be found online at https://noquetrails.org/.