WAKEFIELD, Mich. (WJMN) – A stretch of snowmobile trail in the western UP managed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Gogebic Range Trail Authority (GRTA) will likely no longer be accessible to the public following a change in ownership of the land along which the trail runs, according to the DNR.

The affected route is Trail Number 2, which runs in the western UP from the western tip of Gogebic County to the Michigan-Wisconsin border in Iron County south of Stager Lake. Specifically, the stretch of the trail that will no longer be accessible is a section running between Wakefield and Ironwood on property now owned by Snowriver Mountain Resort.

Snowriver Mountain Resort, formerly known as Big Snow Resorts northwest of Wakefield, announced in a September 13 email that the resort would no longer allow snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle operation on resort property, according to the DNR.

In a statement from Snowriver Mountain Resort, it said they, “met with the snowmobile club representatives, city officials and others over the last few weeks. Unfortunately our insurance carrier would not insure our operations to cover the trail should an incident occur on our property.  Numerous alternatives were offered including other routes.”

The closure will eliminate access between Wakefield and Ironwood, impacting residents west of Wakefield as Trail Number 2 is the only DNR-managed trail to the west of Wakefield in the UP. You can find a full map of DNR-managed trails in Michigan here.

“We understand that property owners have the right to revoke access to their land,” said Ron Yesney, DNR Upper Peninsula trails coordinator. “Nearly 50% of our snowmobile trails are on private land, however, this particular closure puts snowmobiling opportunities and connectivity in the western U.P. in a tough spot.”

The DNR says it is working with community officials and the GRTA to find a different route, but that it faces hurdles to do so, including the Black River, Plymouth Pit, large concentrations of private land holdings, and high-traffic roadways between Wakefield and Bessemer.

While officials work to find an alternate route the DNR says is remains willing to work with Snowriver Mountain Resort to find a solution should the resort reconsider its position.