DNR replaces old bridge over Canada Creek

ALLIS TOWNSHIP – There’s a new bridge over Canada Creek on the High Country Pathway, thanks to a $180,000 federal grant.

The steel span is in Allis Township over a stretch of the creek between 634 Highway and M-33. It replaced an older one that had deteriorated to an unsafe condition, Clear Lake State Park Supervisor Joe Hall said. As a result, the section of trail had been closed for some years, and hikers had to use a detour.

“It’s a nice, wide, safe bridge, so we have that section of trail reopened,” he said. “You don’t have to walk the roadways any more.”

The High Country Pathway stretches for around 80 miles, making a large loop through the Pigeon River Country State Forest and other state lands, according to the DNR. It’s meant for hiking and biking, and crosses grassy fields, wild and planted forests, wetlands and hills. It’s all in the heart of Northeast Michigan’s elk country, and crosses the Black and Pigeon rivers, both known for their wild brook trout populations.

The pathway crosses rivers and creeks in several locations, and this bridge completes a popular part, Michigan Department of Natural Resources Regional Field Planner Keith Cheli said.

“This segment in particular is just a really unique and pretty stretch,” he said. “A lot of folks get down in this location for fly fishing in Canada Creek.”

The bridge was built with a grant from the Federal Highway Administration’s Recreational Trails Program, Cheli said. No state match was required, and the 40-foot, self-weathering span was built in Grand Rapids. MacArthur Construction in Hillman did the work, with professional consulting handled by C2AE of Gaylord.

MacArthur completed the work with a budget of $84,980, leaving additional money that can be reallocated for other projects, Cheli said. They set the bridge down on a set of helical pilings used specifically for their low impact on the sensitive wetlands along the river bank.

A group of AmeriCorps volunteers recently cleared brush from and remarked the entire trail, along with redoing some smaller wetland crossings, Cheli said. Theirs was a massive effort to improve trail users’ experience and to rebuild trail infrastructure.

For more details on the High Country Pathway, visit the DNR’s page: http://ow.ly/oQVd3.

The Pigeon River Country Association’s website has more information on the state forest: www.PigeonRiver.org

Jordan Travis can be reached via email at jtravis@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5688. Follow Jordan on Twitter @jt_alpenanews.

Read his blog, A Snowball’s Chance, at www.thealpenanews.com.