Newaygo and Mecosta County plan on building 40-mile loop by 2016
Posted by Dan Meloy on January 28th, 2015
NEW TRAIL: Representative from Newaygo and Mecosta counties are working on building a
40-mile loop for mountain biking, using the Hardy Dam as part of the trail.
BIG RAPIDS — Mountain bikers might have a new trail to explore in Northern Michigan.
They’ll just have to wait until 2016.Representatives from Newaygo and Mecosta counties have been meeting to discuss a proposed mountain biking trail around Hardy Dam Pond.
The trail was first proposed by Newaygo County Big Prairie Township Supervisor Dave Wright,
but after looking into the idea of a path, he took the plan to Newaygo County Administrator Tobi
Newaygo County commissioners discussed what to do about the proposed trail, and the county
reached out to Mecosta County for additional support, leading to the proposed 40-mile loop that
would go through both counties.
The trail would circumnavigate the Hardy Dam Pond, with the dam and 8 Mile Road serving as
crossings. The trail is designed to go through various campgrounds in the area and could be a
major draw for tourists. Most of the property around the pond is owned by Consumers Energy, with two-thirds of the
land in Newaygo County and the rest in Mecosta County. Michigan State University Extension did an economic assessment study on the proposed trail, which stated the path is expected to generate “modest economic impacts”.
The report estimated the trail would contribute less than a 0.5 percent increase in overall economic activity, but could generate approximately 70 additional jobs in tourism-related establishments.
The group found MSU Extension’s report favorable and contacted the Michigan Mountain
Biking Association, which walked the trail and returned with a $1.2 million estimate
“Once we got an estimate from the Michigan Biking Association, things got more realistic,” said
Eric O’Neil, Mecosta County commissioner. “Any time you estimate, you estimate construction
on the high side. And we plan on having volunteers to cut back a little on labor costs.”
Before the first patch of trail can be built, the group needs approval from the Michigan
Department of Transportation, since the 8 Mile Road Bridge is on a state highway, and also the
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which monitors and regulates what can be constructed
on Consumer’s property.
“For the FERC license to operate the Harvey Dam, we have a land management project,” said
Rich Castle, Consumers Energy natural resources administrator. “It’s a document that provides
what we can and cannot do. Anytime we get a proposal, we have to review that proposal with the
standards that are part of the land management guidelines.”
Lake estimates a best-case scenario is approvals are granted in 2015 and constriction begins in
In the meantime, the group is tackling the other major obstacle to this project: money.
“Our goal right now is to talk to foundations that might be interested,” Lake said. “We’ve
reached out to the Fremont and Mecosta foundations for support and Consumers has expressed
The group plans to ask each county for $150,000 upfront to encourage more municipalities and
group to donate to the project and hopes for $250,000 in private donations. The group of 25 to 30
people meets regularly to discuss fundraising and getting approval, with their next planned
meeting in March.
“Even if you only build half of it, people could still use some of the trail,” O’Neil said. “We are
still in talks about funding. People don’t want to commit money until their approval, but
Consumers won’t approve until there is funding.”
Once the trail is completed, it will include more than 100 bridges, slopes, and a view of the pond
that O’Neil said will be a big tourist draw for both Newaygo and Mecosta counties.
“One of the guys from the International Mountain Biking Association said this will not only be
one of the premier trails in the Midwest, but the whole country. The economic impact could
mean a lot to the area, and it would be a cool addition to our community.”
We are just days into the new year, the snow finally showed up (hopefully, to stay this time) and time for the January, WMMBA Member Meeting!
Many of us made a few resolutions for the new year, ride more, ride at night, get involved with the WMMBA, etc…
We want to help you keep those resolutions.
This Wednesday night, we will be meeting at the Indian Trails Golf Course. With the new snow on the ground, Indian Trails will have their groomed fat bike course open and ready for the season and we would like you to help us ride it in.
Afterward, the club house will be open, with roaring fire to warm you back up, beverages available on tap and yes, there will be food!
Central District Cyclery will be serving up the food! They’ll have roast pig, vegetarian beens and all the other fixings as well!
Central District Cyclery will also be contributing $15 towards any new WMMBA membership! We’ve spoke with a lot of you who are on the fence about becoming a WMMBA member and CDC would like to make it a bit easier to jump on board. We’ll be there to answer questions about membership and tell you about some of the great things the WMMBA has lined up for the year.
So, grab your fat bike, grab your friends, bring your appetite and join us on Wednesday, January 14th, 2015. Ride time starts at 6pm, food starts at 7pm and meeting time is 7:30 (ish).
Lights and helmets are required on he course, so bring them, please.
Don’t have a fat bike? There will be demos on hand! Don’t want to ride? Join us for the meeting! See you then!
Getting fat in the city!
Indian Trails Golf Course, 2776 Kalamazoo Ave SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49507 There are 3 loops of groomed trails for fat bikes (4-5 miles).
Will be an ask for a suggested donation of $5 toward grooming. Once groomed, trails will be open to the public.
Every Wednesday night in January and February the clubhouse will be open 6p-10p. Which means the bar will be open and the fireplace stoked!
Come ride, then warm up with friends!
Wahlfield, Merrell and Luton trails are closed until further notice. The chain will be put up and locked tomorrow a.m. The rain can not drain through the frozen ground and riding it will cause trail damage and widening worse than ever! Go ride the Ski Area, Yankee or Ionia instead