Last year there was a record number of people using hiking and biking trails.
According to the National Park and Recreation Association, trail usage increased by 50 to 100 percent nationwide. On site, the numbers skyrocketed with more than 600 people using Mount Charlevoix. McSauba Trail on just one evening during a candlelit winter hike. That number doubled the highest numbers from the previous year.
“Everyone went outside last year,” said Kent Knorr, director of the Charlevoix Leisure Department. “They came out even in winter,” he added.
The city of Charlevoix and the surrounding communities have numerous cycling and hiking trails that connect many different parts of the region. These trails are multi-purpose, non-motorized trails that can typically be used for running, hiking, biking, roller blading, snowmobiling, and horse riding. Many of these routes can be used all year round, either for cycling in summer or for cross-country skiing in winter.
However, using hiking trails wasn’t the only activity that reflected people’s increasing love of the outdoors during the pandemic. The number of visitors and usage increased in all of the city’s recreational areas – including beaches, biking, hiking, sledding, snowshoeing, kayaking, canoeing, and paddling.
Revenue for the city’s marina, golf course, ski slope, skate park, day camp, and farmers market also rose, Knorr said.
The city has the vision of further connecting and further developing the network of paths and the other available leisure opportunities. The route from Charlevoix to Boyne City is under construction. A grant application was recently made to the state to develop a trail off Michigan Beach.
This year, a new dog park and kayak launch will be developed at Ferry Beach.
Public contribution to be sought
The city will shortly be soliciting contributions from the public to the development of new hiking trails and other recreational activities when they update the Charlevoix Recreational Master Plan. According to Knorr, at some point in May, polls will be sent out and public gatherings will be held to gauge people’s sentiments regarding further development of the trails and parks.
The information collected is used to update the current leisure schedule and to reflect current ideas and initiatives.
In advance of the city’s efforts, Knorr urged residents to go out and see what the city has to offer.
“This would be a great time for people to access what we have to offer so they can come up with good ideas for future use,” he said.
The city’s recreation map, which outlines all of the city’s recreational areas and activities, is currently available at www.charlevoixmi.gov.
Hiking trails in the Charlevoix region that you can experience today:
Mt McSauba Recreation Area
The hiking trails at Mt. The McSauba Recreation Area includes nearly four miles of sand dune and woodland and 2,800 feet of Lake Michigan shoreline. The recreation area also has an 18-hole disc golf course.
The Lake to Lake Trail is a three mile long path that connects Lake Charlevoix to Lake Michigan to the south of the city. This trail is not motorized and can be accessed either from Fisherman’s Island State Park or from a trailhead on the M-66.
The little traverse wheelway
The Little Traverse Wheelway is a 42 km, non-motorized, paved path that stretches across Petoskey from Charlevoix to Harbor Springs. This trail features a boardwalk that bridges a wetland area and direct access to the water at several locations along the shoreline of Lake Michigan, including two roadside parks.
Fisherman’s Island State Park
Located just a few miles south of town, Fisherman’s Island State Park is not just an island, but a 2,678-acre park with five miles of Lake Michigan shoreline. The park encompasses a tiny island, Fisherman’s Island, which is currently connected to the mainland due to low lake levels.