CHEBOYGAN COUNTY — A hilly 150-acre parcel with scenic views of both Mullett and Burt lakes will be the home of new hiking and biking trails in Cheboygan County.
The trail development and preservation of the property is possible thanks to Mark Melvin, who had been looking for land to protect in Cheboygan County.
“This is just one more extraordinary piece of land that is now permanently protected for everyone’s benefit, because of his generosity,” said Kieran Fleming, executive director of the Little Traverse Conservancy.
According to the Little Traverse Conservancy, Melvin and his real estate agent were struggling to find land that met all the desired criteria. That’s when a new property became available.
“He told me he had found a special place located between Mullett and Burt lakes, a place where you can see both lakes from the high points of the land when the leaves are off,” Melvin said in a press release. “He had my attention there!”
After consulting the topographic map — which revealed how hilly the 150-acre parcel was — Melvin decided he wanted to purchase and protect it through the Little Traverse Conservancy.
“I was looking for a protected land where we could create designed mountain bike trails,” he said.
Melvin’s daughter Kathleen, who lives in California, had recently introduced him to the sport and he thought this part of northeastern lower Michigan could benefit from a trail.
“It’s like, ‘If you build it, they will come,’” said Emily Hughes, chief development officer for the conservancy.
Hughes pointed to the success of nearby Boyne City’s development of mountain bike trails as proof that people are interested in seeing trails like this in the region.
“So many people are using those trails, and so the people who already ride in our area are like ‘Let’s have more trails up here so I don’t have to drive from Harbor Springs or Cheboygan to Boyne City to get to good trails.’ We’re kind of answering the demand in our service area to try and get more trails to get people on the land,” she said.
Hughes added that the conservancy’s Tanton Family Working Forest Reserve east of Petoskey — the location of the conservancy’s only current mountain bike trail — is among their most used preserves.
Preliminary plans for the Melvin Family Biking and Hiking Trails will include two separate trail systems: one dedicated to hiking and the other to mountain biking. Both trails will take advantage of the elevation changes on the property to offer views and recreation.
“Right now, we’re just in the planning stages for the trail,” Hughes said. “We’re going to get an official bid next month in February to see exactly what the trail builder can do and how much it will cost … It’s very much in the preliminary stage on that end.”
Hughes said they plan to start construction in the summer, and are currently fundraising for the project. So far, $100,000 of the needed $300,000 has been committed.
Those interested in supporting this project can contact Hughes at (231) 347-0991 or email@example.com.
— Contact Jillian Fellows at firstname.lastname@example.org.