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DNR, Wakefield city leaders exploring Gogebic County snowmobile trail re-route

A possible re-route of a major snowmobile connector trail in the Upper Peninsula is the focus of ongoing conversations between the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the city of Wakefield in Gogebic County.

“We’re working closely with the city of Wakefield to come up with the best long-term solution for re-routing what’s known as snowmobile Trail No. 2, which is the main east-west connector across the western Upper Peninsula,” said Ron Yesney, U.P. trails coordinator for the DNR.

About two miles of the snowmobile route currently run through Wakefield, along old U.S. Highway 2, and has led to traffic and safety concerns, Yesney said.

“The use of this section of the trail comes with its difficulties, including traffic management, snow placement and close proximity to houses and water infrastructure,” he said.

Up until last year, this section of snowmobile route ran north of the city – it traveled through privately owned land with permission from the owners. But current owners of this private parcel – home to a ski hill and resort – no longer wished to have the route run through their property. This meant re-routing through Wakefield.

Now, re-routing the two-mile section poses a challenge, Yesney said, because “there are no present alternatives.”

“There are no easy solutions,” he said, “but we’re committed to working closely with the city to see about a solution that could work for the community as well as snowmobilers traveling the route.”

DNR Parks and Recreation Division officials and city leaders met earlier this fall and plan to continue working toward a solution.

"The city of Wakefield is committed to supporting motorized sports in our community and recognizes the importance of providing safe and sustainable routes for enthusiasts,” said Wakefield City Manager Robert Brown, Jr. “We are working closely with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to identify and develop trails that meet the needs of both riders and the general public.”

Yesney said, “Snowmobile trail number 2 has been in place for decades and has been a main corridor that connects the community and brings people to local businesses. It has a lot of importance in that regard.”

State-designated trails are open to snowmobiling Dec. 1-March 31 and trail grooming occurs when there is enough snow on the ground. The snowmobile program is 100% funded with trail permit dollars.