Downtown outdoors: Trails for mountain biking coming to Millie Hill

From left, Dickinson Trail Network members Brent Fulks, James Morrow, Karol Domitrovich, Bob Werner, Tony Hart, director Chad Susott, Kyle Lindstrom, Mimi the black Lab, Steve Veihl, Eloise Veihl and Chris Freeman stand atop Millie Hill, where they are working to provide a single-track mountain biking trail in downtown Iron Mountain. (Theresa Proudfit/Daily News photo)

IRON MOUNTAIN — Dickinson County residents soon will have a new trail system to walk, hike and bike, thanks to the efforts of the Dickinson Trail Network.

The Millie Hill Mountain Bike Trail will be non-motorized, multi-use routes built to the International Mountain Bike Association standards to ensure sustainability, erosion resistance and minimal environmental impact, said Chad Susott, director of the Dickinson Trail Network, or DTN.

The aim is to offer high-quality, single-track mountain biking in downtown Iron Mountain.

“The views from atop Millie Hill will take your breath away — then our trails won’t let you catch it,” Susott said.

The flagship phase 1 project will feature four unique routes that should appeal to mountain bikers from beginner to advanced, according to DTN.

A map shows planned routes for phase I of a non-motorized trail system on Millie Hill, with the Chapin Pit at upper left.

The group will cover the estimated $10,000 cost for trail construction, insurance for volunteers, trail maintenance and trail signage, with all labor done by volunteers.

“Our goal is to provide an excellent source of outdoor recreation that is easily accessible to local residents and combines exciting terrain with the incredible natural beauty. We hope this aids local businesses in recruiting young professionals and their families to this area. DTN also strives to attract tourists and mountain biking enthusiasts to this area and increase foot traffic and commerce to downtown Iron Mountain,” Susott said.

The safety of Millie Hill has been a concern in the community, given its mining history.

“The DTN is working closely with the city of Iron Mountain and their mine inspector to insure that potential hazards are identified, marked and fenced off as needed. Creating designated safe trails is the best way to encourage visitors to not venture off through potentially dangerous areas,” Susott noted.

He added, “Also, creating more traffic in the area, in the form of responsible community members walking, hiking and biking, has been shown to reduce crime and other nefarious activities through the community-watch effect.”

With the anticipated success of the Millie Hill project, DTN already has begun work planning Millie Hill phase II, which will be by the water tower and antennas. Phase II has the potential to create miles of trails on Millie Hill over 120 acres.

“As excited as we are about Millie Hill phase I, we can’t help but thinking about the next step, which will really be a game-changer for the area,” Susott said.

The DTN, formerly the Dickinson County Bike Path, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit group of volunteers whose mission is to build, maintain and promote non-motorized trails throughout Dickinson County.

The three pillars of the group are trails, community and partnerships, Susott said.

Dickinson Trail Network also has completed multiple portions of the Norway trail system, with an expansion planned. The trail head is at Marion Park, where the Ogee trail is located, and then connects to the Norway School Forest Loop, the Alwine connector and a proposed trail that hopefully will loop through Piers Gorge.

The long-term goal is to construct non-motorized trails that connect all of the trail heads throughout Dickinson County, beginning with a trail from Iron Mountain to Norway.

“We predict that in five years, our trail network will have a multi-million-dollar impact on the local economy,” Susott said.

He gave a nod to those who got the effort started.

“DTN has not forgotten its roots as the Dickinson County Bike Path,” Susott said. “Bob Werner, our founder and longtime president, continues the tradition of the Tour de Dickinson and focuses on the completion of the ‘Iron Belle Trail,’ which includes County Road 607, Bass Lake and Twin Falls Road in Dickinson County.”