WATERSMEET -Watersmeet Township, Wilderness Lakes Trails, Inc. and the Ottawa National Forest are pleased to announce that the revitalized Agonikak National Recreation Trail is now available for public use.
The 12-mile Agonikak (A-gon-i-kak) Trail connects the Watersmeet Town Park and the Ottawa National Forest Visitor Center to the town of Land O' Lakes, Wis.
The Agonikak Trail is a major component of the 38-mile Wilderness Lakes Trails' bike and pedestrian system that will traverse two states (Michigan and Wisconsin) and encircle the Sylvania Wilderness Area once completed.
The Agonikak Trail is a 12-mile bike and pedestrian route that connects the Watersmeet Town Park and the Ottawa National Forest Visitor Center to the town of Land O’ Lakes, Wis.
"This has been a remarkable project," said Alan Piel, Michigan director of Wilderness Lakes Trails, Inc. "It demonstrates what our governments on the federal, tribal, state and local levels, working in concert with local businesses, non-profit organizations and individual donors can accomplish for the benefit of residents and visitors."
The $1.4 million project was funded primarily through three separate grants from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund totaling $1.04 million.
The Ottawa National Forest provided $100,000 in funds through the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act, prepared the project's Environmental Assessment and provided a bridge design, construction materials and invaluable support through the course of construction.
The Lac Vieux Desert Tribe and other donors contributed the remaining balance (approximately $80,000) of the required matching funds.
Watersmeet Township provided the conduit for receiving grants and dispersing funds. Its monetary investment in the project was $57,000 dispersed over four years, approximately 4 percent of the total project cost.
In addition to the above the Michigan Department of Transportation added three miles of 8-foot paved shoulders while resurfacing U.S. 45 to make trail access from local roads safer.
Logan Jacisin, a Boy Scout for Troop 323 in Ironwood, designed, built and installed two bike cleaning stations at trail heads on the Agonikak Trail. This was Logan's Eagle Scout project which he developed to help keep the trail free of non-native invasive plants.
"The trail is 10 to 12 feet wide, with compacted gravel resulting in a very smooth uniform surface," said Piel. "A 40-foot pedestrian/bicycle bridge was constructed to cross a picturesque section of Duck Creek, one-half mile south of U.S. 2."
The 12-mile trail is well-suited for walking and hiking and is very bicycle-friendly, although riders of skinny-tired road bikes may prefer using the "road bike route" shown on the "biking and hiking map" downloadable at www.wildlakes.org.
The initial reworking of the Agonikak Trail began in the fall of 2008, as part of a National Public Lands Day project. Local volunteers from the Land O' Lakes Fish and Game Club in conjunction with the Ottawa National Forest revived the neglected trail by setting sign posts and brushing the trail. This first stage of the Agonikak Trail restoration allowed immediate use by hikers, mountain bikers and cross country skiers.
Today, that trail has been transformed into 12 miles of what every outdoor enthusiast searches for: scenic beauty, with some challenging hills surrounded by remote lakes and forests of the serene Northwoods. A downloadable map of the entire Wilderness Lakes Trail System is available at www.wildlakes.org.
Information is also available from the Ottawa National Forest Visitor Center in Watersmeet.