“A concatenation of all that is rocky, rooty, and North Shorish at Michigan Tech Trails.
— jeff parker
This ride incorporates the challenging wooden features of Time Trial and Dragon Loop
and the natural rock and water features of Hairy Toad and Barking Frog Loop
into one test of balance and skill. Terrain is pretty flat with only a few very short, steep rocky climbs at west end.
Starting out at the main trailhead, just follow the red arrows to complete this route. The ride starts behind you on Time Trail Loop by the big rock as you face the 3D map. Time Trail has dozens of quality student built wooden features to test your balance and agility. Curving skinnies, 30 foot long straight skinnies, turtlebacks, the spectacular Dorkscrew, the infamous Mark's Mustache Ride, numerous small ramps up and down rocks, a gap jump, an elevated railroad tie, the occasional rock pile - they're all here.
Half way through Time Trial, you'll turn right onto Hairy Toad for a sampling of the natural terrain the tops the Keweenaw Penninsula - scattered rocks and degraded bedrock with a thin scree of soil - often mixed with water. Again, very little elevation change as you ride 14 inch by 30 foot boardwalks over wetlands, curve over rock piles, ford a rock garden spangled stream twice, all under stunted black ash, birch, and balsam forest.
As you approach the west end near Houghton High School, there begin to be a few short, steep rocky climbs and descents and the ratio of rock to soil increases. You'll scramble over a rock pile from copper mining days past, scoot down a short section of abandoned narrow gauge railroad, then work your back through the boardwalks and wet rock gardens before turning right onto Barking Frog.
Barking Frog is like Hairy Toad, but with a bit more flow and speed. The boardwalks are a bit wider, the turns not so tortured, but the rocks are still there. Barking Frog traverses all manner of ecosystem - cedar swamp to abandoned rocky field (how did they farm this stuff?) to dense cedar woods, into the damp black ash glades, back to cedars, across another field and back to Hairy Toad.
After the short remaining section of Hairy Toad, you return to Time Trial to change it up again with wooden features, then cross and join a short section of the Sure Would flow trail just below the dual slalom course, but then veer right onto Dragon Loop
Crossing Pilgrim Road, Dragon is another legacy trail at Tech. The original wooden features have long since rotted away, but the students have diligently replaced then with new treated lumber versions of the super narrow elevated skinnies, boardwalks, and the like, including the Dragon Bridge which is a humped, winding skinny 6 inches wide and over 100 feet long 30 inches above a wetland. On the back side you'll come to a pair of gap jumps in a small meadow, mixed with compression dips through old exploratory mining pits, before swinging back across the road and making the short return to the trailhead on the Tecumseh ski trail.
History & Background
Much of this ride is through abandoned copper mining country, where you'll see exploratory pits, poor rock piles, abandoned railroad grades, and the like.