DNR Details Houghton-Hancock Area Holiday Trail Closures: Miles of trails, state parks, boating access sites, recreational facilities remain open

Contact: John Pepin, Deputy Public Information Officer, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, pepinj@michigan.gov, 906-226-1352

July 3, 2018

A little over three weeks after devastating flooding struck parts of Houghton County, work continues to re-open state designated recreational trails and boating access sites damaged heavily during the June 17 storm.
“We are working to re-open trails as soon as it is safe to do so,” said Ron Yesney, DNR Upper Peninsula trails coordinator. “However, there are some places with tremendous damage remaining. These areas have been closed, while several trails have been re-opened and are ready to enjoy.”
DNR conservation officers are patrolling the closed sections of trails.
“Some people have been bypassing trails closures and, in doing so, are violating a state land use order,” Yesney said. “These people are putting themselves at risk of extreme danger. There are unstable edges to stay clear of. Those bypassing trails closures are also subject to being ticketed.”
Here is the latest trails status:
Motorized Trails:
  • The Bill Nicholls ORV route is open from Mass City to South Range. South Range is 4 miles south of Houghton. It is not possible to get into the city of Houghton or across the Portage Lift Bridge on an ORV.  
  • The Hancock to Calumet ORV route is open, with some local reroutes within the city of Hancock.
  • All ORV routes north of Calumet are open. The storm damage in Keweenaw County was more limited than in Houghton County.
  • The Lake Linden ORV route is closed. It is not possible to reach Dollar Bay, Hubbell, or Lake Linden on an ORV. There are severe, deep washouts in this area. Do not attempt passage.
  • The Freda Grade ORV route is closed. 
Non-motorized Trails:  
  • The Houghton to Chassell rail-trail is closed. There are many washouts and the Pilgrim River Bridge has been damaged. Do not attempt passage.
Moving forward, the DNR is working on a construction plan to reopen the Bill Nicholls trail into Houghton.
“We are focused on getting these damaged trail routes open to regain connection between Ontonagon, Houghton, and Keweenaw counties,” Yesney said.  
The DNR is also working on engineering and repairs on the Lake Linden route, Freda Grade route, and the Houghton to Chassell trail.
“These projects will take significant engineering, funding, and time to complete,” Yesney said.
Over the past several days, the DNR re-opened its Otter Lake and Otter Lake Dam boating access sites. The Lily Pond, Boston Pond and Boot Jack boating access sites were damaged significantly and remain closed. However, more than 30 sites remain open in Houghton County, with a dozen more in Keweenaw County.
“The health and safety issues associated with our state-designated trails have been taking priority, but we are starting the assessment concerning these boating access sites and what we need to do to get them back open,” said Doug Rich, western U.P. district supervisor for the DNR’s Parks and Recreation Division.
Visitors to F.J. McLain State Park will need to reach the park from the north along M-203, because of a washout south of the park. However, all state parks and state forest campgrounds in the area remain open and operating.
The DNR was initially forced to close about 60 miles of state-managed recreation trails in Houghton County. Some of the trail segments that had less damage have since been repaired, graded and re-opened.
“We also want to let area visitors know that the vast majority of local recreation facilities are still open for business,” said Jeff Kakuk, western U.P trails specialist for the DNR’s Parks and Recreation Division. “The Copper Country has miles and miles of back roads and local trails that weren’t significantly affected by the rain.”
The Father’s Day storm dumped 7 inches of rain on some parts of Houghton County over a nine-hour period. Damage to state-managed facilities in the area was assessed at just under $20 million.
The SEOC is the emergency operations center for the state of Michigan. Located in Lansing, the SEOC is overseen by the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division and coordinates response and recovery efforts by state agencies and local government.  The SEOC is staffed by members of state agencies for decision making and information coordination during disasters or emergencies in the state of Michigan.