~Lac Vieux Desert to L'anse Trail~
The 80+ mile Lac Vieux Desert to L'anse Trail played a significant role in the culture of the Ojibwe people prior to the 17th and 18th century. This trail provides access to the major water routes connecting Lake Superior in the north to the Mississippi via the Wisconsin River and Lake Michigan to the east. It is near Lac Vieux Desert that the three major watersheds meet, hence the current name of the Village of Watersmeet. Earliest written accounts of the trail are from French fur traders and missionaries in the 17th and 18th centuries. Explorers, government land surveyors, miners, land prospectors and loggers also used the trail in the 1930's. Tribal members continued to use the trail into the 1940's.
The main goal of the project was to identify the location of the trail, which will assist in future planning for a site management plan between the Ottawa National Forest and Lac Vieux Desert. Identifying the Lac Vieux Desert to L'anse Trail will aid in the preservation of this historically and culturally significant corridor. Lac Vieux Desert and the Keewenaw Bay Indians have formed a Trail committee with the Ottawa National Forest. This committee has been working on a General Forest Management Plan that identifies a 1/4 mile to 1/2 mile corridor on either side of the "heartline" of the trail. The condition of the trail will determine the width of the corridor from the "heartline." The Lac Vieux Desert to L'anse Trail Committee will attempt to preserve the integrity of the trail for future generations to enjoy.
The Lac Vieux Desert to L'anse Trail project is the result of a Historic Preservation Fund Grant to Indian Tribes by the National Park Service. During the year 2000, the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, in collaboration with the Ottawa National Forest, developed a historic preservation grant to identify and preserve the historically and culturally significant Lac Vieux Desert to L'anse Trail in Baraga, Houghton, Iron and Gogebic counties in the western part of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The National Park Service awarded the grant to Lac Vieux Desert in April 2001. In August of 2001, Lac Vieux Desert contracted with U.S. West Research of Salt Lake City, Utah to produce a detailed, comprehensive report and map indicating the location of the trail.