The long and winding trails surround the premiere wildlife of Marquette inside of its forests and neighborhoods. Though not thought to be as dangerous and underestimated as Lake Superior, the local trails have their own rules and regulations that need to be followed.
To ensure your safety on the trails, being prepared gives you the best chance. Packing an essentials kit, varying upon what activity that you’re participating in, is important trail safety information, Director of Community Services Jon Swenson said in an email. A Mountain Bike specific essentials kit might include a tube, tire irons, sidewall blowout and a pump amongst other items. A hiking specific essentials kit would have a knife, a map and compass, matches and a lighter.
Bringing a cell phone, extra clothing, snacks and water are all necessities on the trail no matter the activity. Besides bringing an essentials kit, there are plenty more ways to be prepared for a trek on Marquette’s trails.
“Everyone should do some research on the trails they plan to visit,” said Executive Director of the Noquemanon Trail Network Lori Hauswirth. “Most trails have good information online about allowable uses and guidelines, trail courtesy, and emergency information. Always let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return.”
Being aware of your surroundings and the regulations in place are important, Swenson said, including the weather forecast and hunting seasons and restrictions. Procedures to be aware of when biking/hiking include not stopping on the trail or at the start/end of a trail, being kind to everyone that you meet, not riding too close to those ahead of you, not exceeding your skill level, keeping dogs on a leash and not littering.
“One of the biggest conflicts is with dogs on trails, all dogs must be leashed on all trails in the area,” Swenson said. “Be aware of places like the Fit Strip, Presque Isle and others that do not allow dogs, also be courteous to trail users who may not like or be scared of animals. Always pack out your dog’s waste, even deep in the woods.”
There are plenty of things that students can do to stay safe, but this also means that there are things that students shouldn’t do while out on the trails. Sticking to trails you know or areas that have more users can help hikers stay on the right line, Hauswirth said. Hikers can always expand their comfort zone based on skill level or experience.
Important things that the public should take into consideration to stay safe are avoid violating the rules of the area, avoid leaving any sign that you have been in the area, pack out any trash and don’t blaze new trails, Swenson said. Presque Isle Park trails are for hiking only, with no bikes, dogs or camping allowed.
A big concern this year, unlike any other on the trails, is the spread of COVID-19. Luckily, compared to other activities, the outdoors aspect of hiking makes it safer to go out in the woods. Caution and extra distance should be used when following someone while running or biking as they produce higher rates of respiration, Swenson said.
While it’s still important to maintain social distance in any environment, it doesn’t come quite as easy for other activities.
“Trails are a low risk activity for COVID-19 exposure, it’s easy to social distance but still enjoy the company of friends. Please warn people as you approach and step to the side of the trail to give room to pass,” Hauswirth said. “Slow down when you encounter other trail users, and bikers should yield to hikers and those descending yield to those ascending.”
At the end of the day, with precaution, the trails in the Marquette area can be enjoyed abundantly. It’s even suggested.
“Marquette is fortunate to have an expansive world-class network of community trails thanks to the hard work and dedication of local volunteer-driven non-profit organizations,” Hauswirth said. “Take advantage of the trails while at NMU as they will not only take you to some very special places but they offer invaluable physical and mental health benefits.”