Root cutting project protects local trails

Top of Michigan Trails Council (TOMTC), along with local units of government, have made a good dent in an important trail maintenance project in 2017.  The project addresses a problem that exists on paved trails in Charlevoix and Emmet counties: tree roots beneath the trail are causing the asphalt to erupt, creating bumps and cracks on the surface that are a hazard to trail users.

5H Irrigation and Maintenance of Petoskey was awarded a contract to complete the work, which involved using a vibratory plow with a 12” blade to cut the roots on approximately 30 miles of asphalt trail surface on the Little Traverse Wheelway and the North Western State Trails.

This work was begun in August on a section of the Wheelway near Bay Harbor, and the process was refined to continue work on the paved portion of the North Western State Trail (from M-119 in Petoskey to Terrace Street in Alanson) in November.

The cost for this work will be shared by TOMTC, Bear Creek, Little Traverse, Littlefield, Resort townships and the City of Petoskey. The Trails Council has received a large donation from a private donor to cover part of their share of the cost, but the organization is seeking support from trail users as well.

Tony Hoffman of 5H Irrigation reports that the process involves coordinating and obtaining necessary clearances from Miss Dig to locate and avoid utilities along the trail. He reports that he will be working on the segment of the Wheelway from M 119 to Division Road in the spring, and will also be cutting roots on the segment from Konle Road to Harbor Springs.

Hoffman commented, “These trails are well used by cyclists and pedestrians, and I know this because I use the North Western trail myself. It’s important that trail users not take them for granted. There is a cost to keeping them maintained.”

Jeff Winegard, Executive Director of TOMTC will continue to work with Prall to oversee this project, coordinating with local jurisdictions. The need for ongoing root cutting in the future will also be emphasized, and townships and other jurisdictions represented along the trails will be asked to build trail maintenance costs into future budgets.

Winegard stated, “These trails are an economic asset to our area, and it’s important that we maintain them so that they will be available for all to enjoy safely for many years to come.  A study done by MSU determined that trail users on the Little Traverse Wheelway spent an additional $750,000 annually in our area.”

For more information on the project, contact Winegard at (231) 348-8280, or email To support TOMTC’s trail maintenance mission, visit Financial support can also be mailed to 1687 M 119, Petoskey, MI 49770.

A video of the root cutting process can be found HERE.