2017-09-28 / Front Page

ATVs Will Cross Bridge Saturday

Trek the Mighty Mac at St. Ignace
By Erich T. Doerr

The third-annual Trek the Mighty Mac off-road vehicle (ORV) crossing of the Mackinac Bridge will take place at St. Ignace Saturday, September 30. The crossing is for both all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and off-road motorcycles, bringing their operators to the Straits area to enjoy its trails and hospitality.

“We’re going to have a really good event this year,” said St. Ignace Visitors Bureau Director Quincy Ranville. “We’ve got a group of regulars now who are coming every year.”

Saturday’s parade will travel from the Darrow Brothers Excavating gravel pit in Mackinaw City northbound over the Mackinac Bridge to St. Ignace’s Little Bear East Arena. The procession will begin at 11 a.m. following a pre-ride meeting for participants at 10 a.m. The parade will likely last somewhere between one hour to 90 minutes.

The registration numbers for this year’s crossing are a little lower than last year, but about 400 to 500 vehicles and 700 people had already been signed up for the crossing last week in the leadup to closure of registration Friday, September 22. Visitors Bureau Assistant Director Bridgett Sorenson said the participation numbers for this year’s crossing will likely be close to that of its 2016 incarnation when 750 vehicles and 1,200 people took part. The first Trek in 2015 attracted 2,400 people aboard 1,340 vehicles.

The parade route will begin at the gravel pit Saturday morning and head into Mackinaw City on West Central Avenue before turning onto Nicolet Street to access the Mackinac Bridge. Once the ORVs reach the Upper Peninsula they will turn off I- 75 at the St. Ignace Welcome Center and cross into the city via a scenic off-road trail through the Straits State Park. The route will travel past the Lakeside Cemetery and American Legion Park on its way to using State Street to reach Little Bear East. The Trek is notable as the only time all year the state park allows ORVs to be used there.

“It’s definitely a treat,” Mrs. Ranville said of riding the short trail section.

All of the ORVs for the Trek will likely be trailered to Mackinaw City for the crossing. Registration, packet pickups, and ORV technical inspections will be available at the gravel pit from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, September 29. Participants will be able to leave their ORVs overnight in Mackinaw City; the storage area will be illuminated and guarded by security staff. Buses travelling back to the start line will run scheduled routes to pick up participants from all St. Ignace hotels, motels, and campgrounds between 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. Those staying at private residences or outside of St. Ignace should arrange their own transportation to the starting line.

A new feature this year will be a reception Friday, September 29, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Mackinac Grille restaurant in St. Ignace. The event will include snacks, a cash bar, a silent auction, and door prizes. It will also be open to the public, although non-Trek participants are not eligible for prizes. Mrs. Ranville said the Friday night gathering replaces some of the Saturday post-ride events of the previous Trek events, as much of the participants’ feedback showed more of a desire to go ride area trails after the bridge crossing.

The ride is open to both regular and side-by-side ATVs and all models of off-road motorcycles. The ride does not allow dune buggies, golf carts, or either three-wheeled or amphibious ARGO ATVs to take part. Every vehicle taking part in the ride will be subject to a technical inspection to prove its safety and suitability to the route. The ORVs are required to have functioning lights, Michigan Department of Natural Resources ORV stickers, and operate at a sound level no louder than 94 decibels. Vehicles must be no more than 72 inches wide to make the crossing so they will be able to fit through the barriers to enter the trail at the state park. A majority of the vehicles in the parade will likely be side-by-side models, many carrying additional passengers.

“They keep getting bigger and fancier,” Mrs. Ranville said.

Once the parade concludes at the arena, there will be a private lunch for its participants. A silent auction, awards, and door prizes will be available. The live music and beer tent of past years has been phased out. Most Trek participants will hit the area trails after the crossing. There are no official post-Trek rides planned, but many will ride out to Trout Lake, where the Carol’s Corral Cancer Foundation is planning a hot dog cookout and bonfire.

Good locations to watch the parade will be at the St. Ignace Welcome Center and along State Street in downtown St. Ignace. Mrs. Ranville recommends watching the parade from the lake side of State Street, since the ORVs will be in the northbound lane.

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