Scouts invited to participate in June 3 Iron Belle Trail challenge

For the third year in a row, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is challenging Scouting groups across the state to lace up their boots, grab their water bottles, and take part in the Iron Belle Challenge 3, set for Saturday, June 3.

The challenge is an annual DNR-sponsored hiking event, offered in conjunction with National Trails Day in June, to highlight the Iron Belle Trail’s hiking and bicycling routes running between Belle Isle in Detroit all the way to Ironwood in the western end of the Upper Peninsula. The trail offers a 1,273-mile hiking route and a 791-mile bicycling route, providing plenty of stretches of scenic hiking trails for Scouts to explore.

“The past two years we have had great participation from both the Boy Scouts of America and the Girl Scouts USA,” said Ray Rustem, DNR youth programs specialist. “The Iron Belle Challenge has welcomed Scouts to hike all over the state, in locations like Detroit, Battle Creek, Cheboygan and Ironwood, to name just a few.”

Rustem said last year’s hike attracted nearly 1,100 hikers who trekked more than 6,000 miles.

Hikers along the Iron Belle can find all kinds of pathways, from paved multipurpose routes to rugged backcountry trails that wind through state forests and along the shorelines of Michigan’s Great Lakes. Much of the hiking trail lies along the North Country National Scenic Trail that is part of the National Park Service national trail routes.

All Scouts who participate in the Iron Belle Challenge 3 will receive a commemorative patch. For an even bigger challenge, participants are invited to return to the trail Saturday, Sept. 23 (National Public Lands Day), to complete a stewardship activity and earn a special rocker for the patch.

For more information about the Iron Belle Challenge 3 or to register a Scout troop, visit the DNR website at www.michigan.gov/dnrscouting or contact Ray Rustem at rustemr@michigan.gov or 517-284-6070. Learn more about the Iron Belle Trail by exploring an interactive map at www.michigan.gov/ironbelle.