GAOA – Forest-wide Trails Rehab

GAOA - Trail Rehab

Great Lakes Conservation Corps Crews, as part of the Superior Watershed Partnership will be working to restore 109.4 miles of North Country National Scenic Trail, 8.5 miles of Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness Area trails, and 8.5 miles of McCormick Wilderness Area trails. The work is being done through an agreement with the Ottawa National Forest and creates 8 temporary jobs.  

Heavy winters, wind and rainstorms over the last several years have resulted in a faster accumulation of repairs, erosion, and overgrowth than partner volunteers could keep up with. Bringing the trails back up standard, and repairing and replacing erosion control soil protection features like boardwalks and log jams, will allow volunteers to keep pace with maintaining the Congressionally designated national trail and wilderness area trails. 

The trail work, funded through Great American Outdoors Act, will include replacement of boardwalk, foot logs, and erosion control structures, treadwork, heavy brushing and clearing. 

North Country National Scenic Trail 

The North Country National Scenic Trail travels about 116 miles across the Ottawa National Forest from the Eastern boundary of the Kenton Ranger District to Copper Peak Ski Hill north of Ironwood, Mi. on the Bessemer Ranger District, including 8 miles that traverses near the McCormick Wilderness. The trail is managed primarily for hiking and backpacking use. 

The North Country National Scenic Trail is the longest in the National Trails System, stretching 4,700 miles across eight states from North Dakota to Vermont.  

From the Wisconsin/Michigan state line to the eastern boundary of Craig Lake State Park is a secluded area passing by several waterfalls, lakes, rivers and streams. The trail passes through the McCormick Wilderness, and passes near the Sturgeon Gorge Wilderness.  

There are 175 miles of NCT in the Western UP, from the state border to Craig Lake State Park. 116 miles are on National Forest System land.  

Local chapters of the North Country Trail Association in this stretch are Ni-Miikanaake and Peter Wolfe Chapters.  

  • Ni-Miikanaake Chapter is responsible for 75 miles of the NCT through the Ottawa, from the Michigan/Wisconsin border to M-64. This section goes into Black River Harbor and McCormick Wilderness. 

  • The Peter Wolfe Chapter is responsible for 100 miles of trail from M-64 to Long Lake (west of Craig Lake State Park). This section has two large suspension bridges that cross the Baltimore and Ontonagon Rivers and passes near the eastern edge of the Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness. 

McCormick Wilderness 

The 16,925-acre McCormick Wilderness straddles the divide between Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. McCormick's water is what draws most visitors, with the Huron, Dead and Pahokee Rivers, and the Yellow Dog Wild and Scenic River all have part of their headwaters within the wilderness. There are eighteen small lakes within the wilderness, several with trails leading to them from the wilderness boundary. In the northeast corner of the wilderness, the Wild and Scenic Yellow Dog River has many cascading waterfalls along its course, the jewel of which is a 30-foot drop that is the Yellow Dog Falls.  

The wilderness has several short wilderness trail sections that go to the Upper and Lower Baraga Lakes, White Deer Lake. A trail along the Yellow Dog Wild and Scenic River provides access to the Yellow Dog Falls. One short section of trail exists between lake Margaret and Bulldog Lake. Additionally, a section of the North Country National Scenic Trail along and through its southernmost border. 

Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness 

Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness Area is a 16,744-acre wilderness south of Silver Mountain.  

Throughout this rugged, steep Wilderness, the Sturgeon and Little Silver Rivers and their tributaries have carved falls, rapids, ponds, oxbows, and terraces. The Wild and Scenic Sturgeon River rushes out of the northern portion of this wilderness, over the 20 foot volcanic outcroppings of Sturgeon Falls, and through a gorge that reaches 350 feet in depth and a mile in width. 

There are few established trails in Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness, and the few overgrown logging roads are hard to find and follow. The North Country National Scenic Trail parallels the northern and eastern boundaries for about eight miles.