Manistique,Haywire Grade

Haywire Grade Manistique

By Winch and Connie Diller, Contributing Writers
Winch Diller, President of the Schoolcraft County Motorized Trails Assoc. (SCMTA)

As the President of the Schoolcraft County Motorized Trails Association (SCMTA) and half of the Driver Coordinator team I am privileged to work with, and guide the training of, a great group of volunteers who continuously show their pride and dedication to the art and practice of “Trail maintenance”. We are Blessed with a diverse group whose backgrounds range from fabrication and all forms of welding to engineering, “wrenching” and administrative wizardry, They are also the best at managing low snow conditions. My tenure as Club “Prez” started in 2016, and no one seems to want my job, so I’ll continue… But I digress… Let’s talk about the TRAIL!

Manistique,Haywire Grade

Trail 2 is the “East/West” trial that runs concurrently with the Grade as it approaches and transits through the city of Manistique, MI. Access to Manistique from the trail offers a great variety of food, night life, multiple lodging choices, gas, oil and in extreme cases, repairs. Many groups base there stay in the Manistique area as it is centrally located and affords access to the U.P. trail system via the 2 trail from the city trail system. This trail connects to the #7 trail in our system that runs North/South as well. And gives access to The Palms Book State Park and the Big Springs itself.

Manistique,Haywire Grade

Manistique,Haywire Grade

‘Haywire Grade’ also known as Trail 41 is the link to the trail system that transits to the northern U.P. It is a 35-mile trail that goes through half a dozen forest “types” of hardwoods, older growth with the transition to and from these types that have water, rivers and lakes alongside the trail itself. The trail intersects with the 413 trail that connects to the 7 trail and is a popular “Loop” run on the grade. Easily identified on all map systems. While relatively flat, the trail gives access to hills “off trail” via county roads and/or U.S. Forest Service seasonal roads. As I mentioned, it being flat, it travels through some intense swampy areas and leaving the groomed trail is not advised. Yes, there are designated “Boondocking” areas and the opportunities for “off trail” are out there but, some of the swampy areas have been known to swallow machines. Let’s say its not advisable unless there’s been a real intense hard freeze and there’s a good snowpack… (read “sometime in February”)

Manistique,Haywire Grade

Manistique,Haywire Grade

‘Haywire Grade’ also known as Trail “J” is the ORV section of the trail from Manistique to Shingleton and mirrors the “41”. The trail reveals a sharp contrast from the winter months when riding through the Hiawatha National Forest areas of the trail and coming out of Manistique. There is a continuous “Canopy” through many areas of hardwoods and upland areas. The wildlife viewing and “Birding” is great, as there are many habitat changes throughout the ride. Maintaining the trail base to accommodate the various side-by-side and ORV traffic is accomplished by a tractor with various types of earth moving and earth shaping attachments as well as scheduled surface grooming throughout the ORV season as weather permits. The trail does NOT have “boondocking areas” for ORVs along the trail, so please, remain on the trail.

Manistique,Haywire Grade

Manistique,Haywire Grade

To have a great trail system requires maintaining the trails surfaces. This has been a continuous process involving trail base improvement and upgrading the various bases in locations showing the effects of traffic. We learned that a smooth trail in the winter is directly related to a smooth trail base to start out. To that end, the club, through State Grant applications, has invested well over $450K in trail maintenance and repair in my tenure with this organization.

There has been an ongoing and identified need to repair and upgrade trail surfaces every summer. Identifying these areas come from the men and women who volunteer with the club that do the work and often prep and mark the areas for the contractors who do the “heavy lifting” on these projects.

Manistique,Haywire Grade

Manistique,Haywire Grade

I mentioned grooming for informational purposes: In winter, the trail is initially “packed in “after” there is sufficient cover snow on the trail (usually 6”-8” in December) and contrary to popular opinion, there are several “Types” of snow, and they all impact how and when the grooming either starts the season or how they manage the snowfall on the trail. When the season gets going after the initial pack in and panning establishes the base for the trail, the 41 trail gets groomed daily from the Jackpine Trail head to Shingleton and the 410 into Boot Lake/M94 and from Manistique to the Jackpine Trailhead. These daily runs go on an “as needed basis. These conditions happen when there is plenty of snow ON the trail but insufficient new snow to bind and build the base. You may or may not have read or heard the term “snow science” when dealing with grooming, believe me, it’s real.

We start the ORV season as soon as possible on the Grade after “Break up”, which can be extremely wet (remember I said there were swamps along the trail?) swamp overflow can cover the trail and ANY traffic causes damage to that area of trail bed. After the runoff has subsided we grade and plane out the surface and evaluate any repairable damage and do the spring maintenance for signage and posting.

As of this writing the SCMTA has 4 separate trail repair and upgrade projects pending bids and startup. All projects are short term and are not likely to close the trail to traffic. We are proud of our trail and the trails in our system, We hope you can enjoy them as much as we do. Remember: Ride Safe, Ride Right, Ride Sober.

For more information go to our Facebook page: “Schoolcraft County Motorized Trails Association”

Find us and all kind of cool things on www.visitmanistique.com

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