Developments at Miners Memorial Heritage Park Demonstrates Ironwood’s Commitment of Outdoor Life.

Developments at Miners Memorial Heritage Park Demonstrates Ironwood’s Commitment to Outdoor Life.

The Miners Memorial Heritage Park (MMHP) was established in the summer of 2010. Since then it has become a core recreational asset to the City of Ironwood. Its location in the center of Ironwood created an opportunity to provide trail access within a mile of 90% of the homes in Ironwood. A asset like this exists in very few communities in the US. With the support of the City, the Friends of the MMHP established a cross country ski and snowshoe trail network in the Park. In 2017, the SISU Dirt Crew reached out to the City of Ironwood to start discussing the development of purpose built mountain bike trails in the MMHP. The Dirt Crew helped put together a concept plan and estimated that there could be between 8 and 12 miles of trail. In the spring of 2018 the City of Ironwood, in partnership with the Ironwood Tourism Council, The Friends of the MMHP, The SISU Dirt Crew, and the Gogebic Range Health Foundation, applied for Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Grant in the amount of $280,000. The Ironwood Tourism Council provided $66,000 towards the match and the SISU Dirt Crew with the support of the Gogebic Range Health Foundation provided $40,000. The City dedicated $14,000 of in-kind contribution and was also in charge of managing the project. This brought the total project budget to $400,000. In the fall of 2018, City Staff traveled to Escanaba to present the project to the DNR Trust Fund Board. A couple months later the City was informed that the project would be funded and the grant agreement was processed in the Summer of 2019 with plans to start construction in 2020-2021.

With the arrival of the COVID-19 Pandemic that timeline was pushed off a year, and in the Winter of 2021 the City went out for bids for the construction of the parking lots, trailheads and the paved connector trail that connects the MMHP to the Iron Belle Trail. Snow Country Construction won the bid and by the end of the Summer of 2021 this portion of the project was completed. The City moved on to bidding out trail construction in the winter of 2022. Flowtrack Mountain Bike Trails out of Marquette, MI won the bid for the 10 miles of mountain bike trail construction and started to build in late May of 2022. By the end of summer 2022, 9 miles of the trail were completed. By the end of the 2023 summer the last mile of trail and the terrain/pump track will be completed.

Throughout the build people have been able to enjoy the trails on foot and on bikes. The 906 Adventure Team utilizes the trail system for their Youth Adventure Mountain Bike Program during the summer. In the winter snowshoers have been enjoying the trail, and the SISU Dirt Crew purchased a SnowDog Trail groomer to groom the trails for winter fat biking. Already the trails have become an incredible asset. There are multiple trailheads that connect the trails to the many neighborhoods of Ironwood, and the Downtown City Square is two blocks from accessing the west end of the trail system. You can park your car downtown (surrounded by shopping and eating opportunities) and jump right on the trails.

This incredible project would not have been possible without the financial support of the Ironwood Tourism Council, SISU Dirt Crew, and the Gogebic Range Health Foundation. The hard work and support of the Friends of the MMHP has helped create an incredible asset for the City of Ironwood.

Thomas Bergman
Community Development Director