Have you ever heard the acronym MBTN or saw it somewhere and wondered what it stood for?
Munising Bay Trail Network (MBTN):
MBTN has grown from a small group of local mountain bikers with a desire to build trails they could ride locally, into an organized group that is working hard to make a difference in the community. The focus of this group is to create a non-motorized, multi-use trail system that provides a place to experience outdoor activities in all seasons. MBTN is a 501©3 non-profit organization that operates on money earned through memberships, sponsorships, donations, and fundraising. MBTN has partnered with important land managers such as The City of Munising and The USFS, whom have provided access to the land in which the trails they once dreamed of now wind through. The Munising Visitors Bureau, an important community partner, has provided monetary support to MBTN since its conception. Their support has enabled MBTN to; pursue grants requiring matched funds, organize events such as the Pictured Rocks Road Race, and hire an experienced trail builder to rough cut the trail utilizing a Kubota U17. Combining the support of these important partnerships with thousands of volunteer hours has empowered MBTN to continue expanding the trail network they envision for the community.
MBTN’s accomplishments to date illustrate the determination that this group exemplifies. At the top of the list is the completion of nearly eight miles of singletrack trail in the Valley Spur Recreation Area. This singletrack trail begins at the trailhead parking area and winds through the forested hills of Valley Spur, offering a family friendly vibe and enough mildly challenging climbs to give any bike enthusiasts a great workout. The trail work did not stop there. MBTN continued work in Munising at the cities western boundary with the construction of a 1.4 mile singletrack multi-use loop, atop the hill behind the Hillside Party Store. As of fall 2016, the 1.4 mile outer loop encompasses a newly constructed Bike Park featuring a 1500 foot jump trail with 21 rollers, 12 table top jumps, 5 large berm turns, and 1 massive (dirt to wood) bridge roller. The Bike Park also includes a Skills Loop featuring over 300 feet of wooden decked bridges, a teeter totter, log rides, and rock armored boulder features. Each of the obstacles in the skills loop offers a ride around option to accommodate a broad range of skill level.
MBTN has many other undertakings to share beyond the trail building mentioned above. This group of volunteers purchased a New Kubota U17 “mini excavator” with a thumb attachment in July 2016 to assist with their trail building efforts. The purchase of the Kubota was made possible through the USDA Rural Business Development Grant. Generous donations received from local businesses and community members enabled MBTN to meet the match required to secure the grant. MBTN members/volunteers organized a six week youth mountain bike program “MBTN Trail Kids” that was made available at no charge “FREE” to all participants. Helmets were made available to all participants as well a limited number of bikes for those that did not have their own. The purchase of the youth program equipment was made possible through grants received by Alger Regional Community Foundation and Superior Health Foundation in 2016. Additional youth equipment will be purchased in 2017 with funding received through the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians/CDC Partners to Improve Community Health. This year’s Youth Event will begin the Sunday following Labor Day (2:00 – 3:30pm) and will run for 6 consecutive weeks. MBTN became the new organizer of the Pictured Rocks Road Race in 2016 (41st annual) and successfully brought the participant level back to record numbers. The 2016 event attracted over 500 participants. The goal for 2017 is to increase participant level to 700 registered runners/walkers.
MBTN does not have any plans to slow down with plenty in the pipeline to keep them busy. The work bees (typically Tuesday’s from 4:30-6pm) will begin when the snow is gone, to complete the approximate 13 mile loop at Valley Spur. Five miles of singletrack trail, meaning hundreds of volunteer hours, will need to be completed to make it happen. Simultaneously, the Bike Park expansion will continue atop the hill with the addition of a rock armored trail and 300 feet of wooden features to be added to the Skills Loop. The first phase of the Trust Fund Trailhead/parking lot/universal access trail located on the cities western boundary began late last fall, with the construction of a parking lot in the grassy area adjacent to M28 near the Hillside Party Store. The completion of the parking lot will commence when the weather allows. The second phase which includes the Trailhead/Universal access trail is scheduled to begin when the contract bidding process ends and the contractor of choice is awarded the project. The estimated date of completion of the entire trust fund project is November 2017.
MBTN is working to gain access to public and private lands to expand the trail system. The short term goal is to connect the current trail systems together by linking the City of Munising Trail/Bike Park to the Valley Spur singletrack trail. MBTN is strategically planning additional routes to try and stay ahead, allowing time for National Environmental Policy Act analysis, and other road blocks that may hinder the process. Proposals have been submitted to the USFS for an additional 10 mile loop within Valley Spur and a 15 mile loop across the road (M94) that would link to the connector trail mentioned above. Expansion to the trail in the hills that surround the city of Munising is on the list as a future route to be pursued.
MBTN hosts several fundraising events (Pictured Rocks Days -Pizza Sale, Pictured Rocks Road Race, 4th of July raffle, Grand Island Marathon volunteers) throughout the summer to raise the funds required to continue expanding upon the trail network. Additional help from the community is welcome and encouraged. MBTN is working hard to make a difference one trail at a time. If you are interested in learning more about MBTN or becoming a volunteer, please visit mbtn.org and/or like their Facebook page.