Sault residents can start hiking in their own backyard

The Little Leaf Preserve trail, another recently opened trail in Sault Ste. Marie, was created in partnership with the Little Traverse Conservancy.
The Little Leaf Preserve trail, another recently opened trail in Sault Ste. Marie, was created in partnership with the Little Traverse Conservancy.

SAULT STE. MARIE — Sault residents will have more access than ever to outdoor trails with the addition of a new and expanding trail system in the city.

Between Three Mile Road and the Sault Ste. Marie Municipal Airport, there is a large section of land called Ashmun Creek. Most of the area remains unused and filled with trees and waterways, but soon outdoor enthusiasts will be able to enjoy the fresh air without having to leave city limits.

The Little Traverse Conservancy is teaming up with O.U.T. House Consortium to create an entire connected trail system to the city, starting with the opening of a bridge this weekend.

On Sunday, Dec. 4, the Kevin and Pam Cooper Bridge is hosting its grand opening ceremony, which will open public access to the bridge and the new Ashmun Creek trail.

The project began when O.U.T. House Consortium founders Ken and Wilda Hopper decided they wanted to use the nearby land, that remain unused, to create another trail system for locals to use. The Hoppers created the consortium as a way to help maintain and protect local trails. Currently, the group maintains three trail systems and several different trails within those systems.

With help from donations from locals, including Kevin and Pam Cooper and Eagle Scout Troop 105, the consortium partnered with the Little Traverse Conservancy to buy the land needed to create the new trail system. The donations also helped build a new bridge connecting the trail to public area.

"Kevin and Pam were an integral part of helping us," said Wilda Hopper. "They're huge supporters of the consortium and provided a majority of the donated funds."

Just north of a group of buildings off of Three Mile Road, Eagle Scout Haydn Jones and his troop helped clear over a mile of trail on the other end of a makeshift bridge which helped them cross the creek.

Now, the trail is finished and a new permanent bridge has been installed at the head of the trail.

This Sunday, Dec. 4, the trail and bridge will officially open to the public with a ribbon cutting ceremony.

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In addition to this bridge and trail, O.U.T. House Consortium and the Little Traverse Conservancy will be working together to add more trails to the system and connect them over the next few years.

"The reason why we chose that spot is because there are 300 plus acres of beautiful wooded land in our own backyard of Sault Ste. Marie, and the topography there is amazing," said Wilda Hopper. "So our vision is to not only have a hiking trail there, but also to create mountain biking trails and other connected trails."

In the next few years, the groups plan to add a second walking trail next to the new one, a new biking only trail connected to the new walking trail and bridge, and to connect these trails with the existing Ashmun Creek trail that has fallen into disuse in recent years.

The consortium has taken the job of restoring the old trail and connecting it to the new trails to make a new, lengthy trail system inside city limits.

— Contact Brendan Wiesner: BWiesner@Sooeveningnews.com

This article originally appeared on The Sault News: Sault Ste. Marie residents can start hiking in their own backyard