Burt Lake Trail - Spring 2016 Update

Phase one of the Burt Lake Trail was completed in the fall of 2013. Five miles of trail consisting of separated crushed limestone and paved shoulders runs from Maple Bay Road on Brutus Road to Hogsback Road on West Burt Lake Road. Funding for the trail came from a MDOT Transportation Enhancement Fund grant, a Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF) grant, and a local match of $140,000 which was raised from a large number of Burt Township, Cheboygan and Emmet County residents and visitors and major donors including The Burt Lake Preservation Association (BLPA), The Tri-County Bicycle Association DALMAC Fund, Hospitalists of Northern Michigan, Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Foundation, Straits Area Community Foundation, Citizens National Bank, Xcel Physical Therapy, Indian River and the Indian River Kayak/Bike Biathlon.

The first 5 miles of trail have held up well with modifications on 3 hills to prevent erosion. Volunteers are providing minor maintenance for the trail including raking, grading, sweeping and litter pick up. Burt Township is the grantee for the state grants and is responsible for the maintenance of the trail and has been working cooperatively with the Cheboygan County Road Commission to keep the trail in satisfactory condition.

The Burt LakeTrailhead and Little Traverse Conservancy (LTC) parking lot at Chaboiganing was improved with Recreational Passport Funds and volunteer labor in 2015. LTC agreed to plow the lot this past winter and groomed the conservancy trails including parts of the Burt Lake Trail and adjacent Colonial Point trails for cross country skiing.

In July 2015 the Michigander Bicycle Tour including over 400 participants used the Burt Lake Trail as a connector bike route from Topinabee to Brutus on their route from Cheboygan to Harbor Springs. Many residents and visitors have biked, jogged, trained and walked on the trail since its Grand Opening in August, 2013. In addition the University of Michigan Men and Women Cross Country teams have used the Burt Lake Trail as part of their preseason training.

2016 UPDATE:

Phase two of the Burt Lake Trail is underway. A new Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant was submitted on April 1, 2016. In addition to the MNRTF grant an MDOT Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) grant was also submitted in Spring, 2016. TAP is a competitive grant program that funds projects such as multi-use paths that enhance Michigan's non-motorized transportation system and provides safe alternative transportation options. Grant awards will be announced in December, 2016. If the grants are awarded to Burt Township a $75,000 local match is necessary.

Trail Committee members have been working with University of Michigan management for several years to determine a northern connector route for the Burt Lake Trail. Conversation and planning has moved forward with the University of Michigan providing a letter of intent for an easement to allow a separated trail from West Burt Lake Road at Hogsback along Riggsville Road to East Burt Lake Road at Birchwood Road. This would extend the present Burt Lake Trail an additional 3 miles and is planned as a separated paved trail.  Donations can be accepted now for the next phase of the Burt Lake Trail by sending contributions to the Top of Michigan Trails Council designating funds to the Burt Lake Trail.


Construction Questions
Additional questions or concerns regarding construction can be emailed to Steve Vorenkamp:  Construction updates will be posted on this webpage.

Pledges and donations will continue to be collected and used for this and the next phase of trail construction along Riggsville Road and East Burt Lake Road. Please consider a tax deductible contribution to the Burt Lake Trail.

1. Checks should be made out to: Top of Michigan Trails Council - Burt Lake Trail.

Print the Donation form below and mail it with your donation today. You can also visit and make an online donation to the Burt Lake Trail.

Checks should be made out to: Top of Michigan Trails Council - Burt Lake Trail.

Print the Donation form below and mail it with your donation today!

Contribution Form

2. Pay with Credit Card Online directly.
Please choose to donate to Burt Lake Trail

Contributions are tax deductible
thanks to the Top of Michigan Trail Council, a 501(c)3 organization. If you have questions please contact any committee member or Burt Lake Trail Committee Chair, Steve Vorenkamp at

Burt Township Pedestrian Trail and future connector trail of the Petoskey to
Mackinaw City Trail and the North Central State Trail (Gaylord to Mackinaw City)

Please click on the Trail Events Button on the Right for complete event details.



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Trail Feasibility Study PDF

September 2008
Burt Township Feasibility Study

August 2009
Engineering Study

April 2010
DNR Grant Application

December 2010
MNRTF Grant Award of $398,500
for Burt Lake Trail

2011 MDOT TE Grant Application

June 2012
Trail Construction Phase 1

September 2015
Target Date for Trail Completion

Future plans for the BURT LAKE TRAIL:
When completed the Burt Lake Trail will connect the North Central State Trail to the North Western State Trail creating a 75+ mile looped trail. The Burt Lake Trail will also connect to the state endorsed Iron-Belle Trail. The IRON-BELLE TRAIL is a planned bike route from Belle Isle in southern Michigan to Iron Mountain in the northern peninsula utilizing part of the North Central State Trail.  Future segments of the Burt Lake Trail will include widened shoulders along present roads and separated pathways when possible.

The past 20 years has seen a tremendous growth of trails in Northern Michigan including many collaborative efforts among state and federal agencies, municipalities, and organizations. Trails in our area now total over 288 miles. About 180 of these trail miles run along old railroad corridors. These multipurpose trails are non-motorized except where snowmobiles are allowed.  Chuck Nelson from Michigan State University's Department of Community Sustainability conducted a survey in 2014 of the Little Traverse Wheelway (Charlevoix to Harbor Springs), the Northwestern State Trail (Petoskey to Mackinaw) and the North Central State Trail (Gaylord to Mackinaw). The survey estimated that between Memorial Day and Labor Day over 100,000 people of all ages used these trails including 70% bikers and 30% walkers. In conclusion it was determined that trails provide alternative transportation and recreation while enhancing health, well-being and social connection.
The Burt Lake Trail is a great example of how collaborative efforts can achieve so much. The trail could not have happened without the support of many individuals, organizations, and government agencies. We look forward to the continued support and involvement of our many trail partners.

What you can do to help:

1. Become a member of the Top of Michigan Trails Council and encourage your friends and family to do the same.

2. Donate to the BURT LAKE TRAIL by sending your contributions to the Top of Michigan Trails Council/BURT LAKE TRAIL. TOMTC is a 501c.3 organization. For more information visit

3. Ride, Walk, and enjoy the wonderful Northern Michigan Trails.














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