A new, 70-mile state designated off-road vehicle (ORV) route running north/south through three counties and the Ottawa National Forest in the western Upper Peninsula opened Saturday.
The Ottawa Eastern Connector ORV Route begins roughly 12 miles west of Iron River and runs through Ottawa National Forest, terminating at the Bill Nicholls ORV route near Mass City. It connects to three major ORV routes: the southernmost Iron River to Marenisco Route; the central Bergland to Sidnaw Route; and the northernmost Bill Nicholls Route.
The Michigan Trails and Recreation Alliance of Land and Environment, MI-TRALE, submitted a proposal to the Ottawa National Forest and received approval in April. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources received a request to have the route designated as a state ORV route, which was approved in August.
“Local businesses along the route provide places for riders to stop off, grab a bite to eat, refuel or spend the night. It’s great for the local economy and convenient for ORV riders,” said Don Helsel, president of MI-TRALE.
State-designated ORV routes are at least 72 inches wide and may be used by ORVs of all sizes. As a state-designated route, the Ottawa Eastern Connector Route qualifies for maintenance by the Michigan DNR.
“The route is mostly tree-covered and runs through a remote area of the Upper Peninsula, utilizing county roads and forest service roads, and passing by many inland lakes and streams,” said Rob Katona, DNR Upper Peninsula trails analyst. “MI-TRALE did a lot of work over the past six years to make this happen. It took dedication and a lot of communication to lay the groundwork for this.”
A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held in the spring. An informal ride was held Saturday at Pori Junction.