Burt Lake Trail

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 grants through MDOT Transportation Enhancement Funds, the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF), and a local match of $140,000 which was raised from a large number of residents of Burt Township, as well as residents and visitors from Cheboygan and Emmet County.  Groups  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 also contributed to the construction of the trail.

Trail Status

A new section of trail opened in May 2020 and  consists of 1.8 miles of paved trail starting on West Burt Lake Road near Hogsback where it connects with the first five miles of trail. The trail then runs through University of Michigan Biological Station property along Riggsville Road to East Burt Lake Road where it ends. The committee is grateful for the easement U of M provided to make this trail possible. The trail runs through the “Gorge” where beautiful hiking trails make for an enjoyable side trip.

The first five miles of trail have been continually improved by paving short sections subject to erosion and maintenance provided by the Burt Lake Trail maintenance committee who keeps the trail in great condition.

Phase three of the trail is under construction as of Sept. 2021.  Phase three will continue along East Burt Lake Road as an off-road paved trail and finally meet up with phase four when complete. Phase four of the trail was completed by the Cheboygan County Road Commission in the summer of 2020. This section of trail is paved shoulders running along East Burt Lake Road starting at Birchwood to Hoppies (corner of Burt-Mullet Road). With the completion of phase three in 2021, you’ll be able to bike from Maple Bay to Hoppies Restaurant on East Burt Lake all on the Burt Lake 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. Designate that your funds are to be directed to the Burt Lake Trail!

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 pre-season training.

Future Plans for 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, a planned bike route from Belle Isle in southern Michigan to Iron Mountain in the Upper 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 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 contribution to the Top of Michigan Trails Council. TOMTC is a 501c.3 organization. You’ll find it very easy to donate HERE. Online donations should email Becca (btn@trailscouncil.org) in order to designate your donation to the Burt Lake Trail.
  3. Ride, walk, and enjoy the wonderful Northern Michigan Trails.

View Handbook here.