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Volunteers to Help Groom Black Mountain Trail

Fri, Oct  13, 2006 - By Denny Paull

Through a unique partnership between the DNR and the newly formed Black Mountain Chapter of the Thunder Bay Trail Association, cross country skiing at Black Mountain is about to get a lot better.

Black Mountain has long been considered some of the best skiing terrain in Michigan. The trail system boasts over 30 miles of rolling terrain with magnificient views of Black Lake and Lake Huron from the top of the taller ridges. Sadly, the mountain has been underutilized by both local and non local nordic skiers. Most agree that less than ideal grooming quality and frequency has been the main detractions for skiing enthusiasts. The DNR has performed well over the years given the budget and time constraints they have experienced. Unlike snowmobile trail grooming which is funded by permit sales, ski trails are dependent on a type of in-house DNR grant along with voluntary contributions. To compound the problem, donations made in the various drop boxes at Black Mountain go in a general state-wide fund and do not directly come back to the mountain. Consequently, due to time and equipment limitations, the frequency and quality of the grooming has been unreliable.

To address the grooming problem, local cross country skiers are joining with an Alpena based group called the Thunder Bay Trail Association. Now in their 10th year of successful maintenence of ski trails in Alpena, the group recently won an award for being one of the top DNR volunteer groups in the state. Together, the group will raise money through contributions, memberships, fundraisers and possibly grants to purchase and maintain snowmobile based grooming equipment. Since it is not possible to groom the entire 30 mile system with volunteers and snowmobile based equipment, thankfully, the Onaway DNR personnel will continue grooming the majority of the trail as well as clearing parking lots, while the BMC group maintains a smaller seven mile trail.This shorter course will be accessible by both the Doriva Beach Road parking lot on the Cheboygan county side and the Black Mountain Road parking lot on the presque isle county side. The section will be groomed wide with tracks offset to one side. This combination will allow both skate skiing and safer, more controlled classic skiing.

The first meeting of the BMC/TBTA will be held in conference room (a) on the third floor of the new Cheboygan Memorial Hospital building on Wednesday, October 25th at 7:00 P.M. Anyone interested in non motorized recreation at Black Mountain is strongly encouraged to attend since success will depend on numbers. Those not able to attend but interested in membership or making a donation should contact Denny Paull at 231-597-9371 or e-mail at dpaull999@sbcglobal.net.