About Us

The Iron Ore Heritage Trail is a 47-mile, multi-use, year round trail that connects communities and people to the region’s historic sites and human stories. 35 of the 47 miles are now surfaced with either asphalt or crushed granite or limestone. That section is from Chocolay through Tilden Township and also 2.5 miles from downtown republic north to the Humboldt Township Line.  Through a multitude of interpretation methods, we can share the story of the Marquette Iron Range and our 160+ years of mining ore that changed the landscape of Marquette County and the United States.

Reaching from Republic Township to Kawbawgam Road in Chocolay Township, this surfaced and signed transportation/recreational corridor will be preserved for generations to come.  99% of the trail is now in the public’s hands through city, State or Recreation Authority ownership.  A small portion is private with lease agreements for 25-50 years.  We secured this trail for our children and grandchildren.

If you  walk, bike, run, inline skate, wander into natural places, ride a horse, cross country ski, snowmobile, consider yourself a  history buff or ride an ATV…this trail is for you! The trail is being designed for a multitude of users. Wherever possible and allowed, parallel but separate trails will be developed for motorized and non-motorized for the safety and enjoyment of both types of trail users.

This is an opportunity for our community to work together for a community asset that benefits everyone. All ages and abilities can utilize this corridor while learning about our unique natural resources and iron mining history.

Recreation

The Iron Ore Heritage Area aims to provide local residents and visitors a wide variety of outdoor activities. The 47 mile stretch that connects many small communities gets outdoor enthusiasts off of the road and onto trails. The use of the trails are geared towards the preservation and conservation of the local wildlife and past facilities.

Not only will the area provide access to the wilderness, it will act as region for outdoor exercise promoting good health. Walkers, runners, hikers, nature/wildlife observers, bicyclists, skiers, snowshoers (just to name a few), will enjoy this captured piece of history.

Education

The Iron Ore Heritage Area will be a resource for teachers and lay people looking to learn of the past and of the outdoors. Classrooms can visit different areas to learn of the local industry while gaining an understanding of the natural and cultural history.

While looking into archaeology, geology, history, and business projects, don’t forget our national history! Our iron ore ancestors dug the ore that helped the North win the Civil War, helped the U.S. build weapons for WWI and WWII, and spurred on the industrial revolution.

Economic

Through the use of community engagement we have established partnerships across jurisdictional and disciplinary boundaries. Six townships, three cities, and one county interdependent. Existing events and future activities will be hosted on the trail, providing regional tourism growth.  In 2014, the Marquette Marathon moved to the Heritage Trail starting at the Cliffs Shaft Mine Museum in Ishpeming and running towards Marquette.  The Iron Range Roll, a new event on National Trails Day every year in June is alsoheld on the trail starting at the Cliffs Shaft Mine Museum and running predominately downhill to the Marquette Commons.  Also, the Polar Roll Fat Tire Bike Race utilizes our trail between the RAMBA trails in Ishpeming and the NTN Single track trails in Marquette.  Many other smaller events are held on parts of the trail including Big Brothers/Big Sisters 2 Mile/10K Race, St. Vincent de Paul Walk for the Poor, the VFW’s Run for the Red, White and Blue, and the Marji Gesick 100.

Old buildings in the heritage area will also start coming back to life as new owners take on restoration activities.  Brewpubs, restaurants, and ice cream parlors have sprung up along the trail utilizing historic buildings. The local property values also are likely to increase (National Realtor Study finds 36% of potential home buyers want to be on a walk/bike path.)