Natural Surface Trail

Michigan’s Dragon at Hardy Dam is a natural surface trail that is being constructed with three trail specifications.  All trail specifications use a full bench design to minimize water runoff and impact on the natural environment.  The three types of trail surface being built include the following:

Natural Surface Trail Wide

A smooth, low sinuosity and minimal rolling contour trail with long sight-lines that appeal to all pedestrian and mountain bike ability levels. Trail use density may be high due to the proximity of access points and/or developed facilities. The final trail location should maximize views of the lake and minimize views of neighboring properties, facilities, and roads.  These sections have a trail corridor width of 72″-96″ with a final trail tread width of a maximum of 48”.

Natural Surface Cross County

A somewhat rough, moderate sinuosity and moderate rolling contour trail with potentially limited sight-lines and/or high exposure. Trail use densities may be somewhat lower due to distances from access points and/or developed facilities and trail should be developed with a higher “backcountry” aesthetic. The final trail location should focus on the edge of topographic grade breaks, with tread regularly rolling off, then back up to the top of the break. Lake views can focus on specific locations where highest quality panoramas exist and views of private property should be minimized to the greatest extent practicable.  These sections have a trail corridor width of 36″-48″ with a final trail tread width of 24″- 36”.

Natural Surface Mountain Bike Optimized

A highly sinuous and high rolling contour trail sculpted for optimizing the experience of mountain biking. Sight-lines and feature height should be determined by the potential for two-way traffic in the area. The final trail location should focus on field-fit features and the consequent potential exit speeds/direction.  These sections have a trail corridor width of 36″-48’ with a final trail tread width of 24″- 36”.


Boardwalk is an effective way to cross some types of bogs, shallow marshes, and wooded wetlands. It uses sawed and treated lumber to elevate the trail tread above wet areas that are not feasible to drain. It provides a hardened surface that lasts for many years due to the use of heartwood cedar decking. The walking surface is parallel to the direction of the trail, and the support structures (sills) rest directly on the ground. The use of board walk is utilized since a wet, muddy trail and the damage caused by hiking/biking directly through wetlands is undesirable. Boardwalk bridges on the dragon can range from as little as 10 feet to hundreds of feet long for crossing swamps and wet areas.

ADA Accessibility

Michigan’s Dragon at Hardy Dam is a mountain bike optimized recreational trail that will be open to multi-use non-motorized traffic.  A section of the trail will be constructed to exceed ADA standards and allow people of all abilities to enjoy the Dragon.  This section will begin at a facility that has accessible parking and trail access. The accessible trail segment is still in the design phase, and more information about the design and location will be posted in the future.

Rocks-"Rock Armor"

Rock armoring effectively hardens the trail tread across short wet areas, mud holes or in areas to create a unique trail feature. Suitable large, flat stones that are firmly set so that they do not move.  Rock Armoring can be a less expensive, most durable solution to problem wet areas.  Stone found on site can be used, but most times stone is brought to the construction site in very large sections.  In addition to use in wet areas, stone is also used when building footbridge abutments along the trail.


Michigan’s Dragon will include a large number of bridges.  Most of these bridges will consist of pre-engineered truss bridges like the one pictured here.  The interesting thing about these bridges is that they are made out of fiberglass.  Fiberglass bridges typically require no ongoing maintenance.  Fiberglass bridges do not rust, rot, and are not subject to insect damage. Bridge sections can even be buried directly into the soil. Fiberglass materials are not affected by high humidity or other harsh environments.  Fiberglass bridges are also engineered to be just as strong, if not stronger, than a typical footbridge.


Michigan’s Dragon encircles 4,000 acres of Hardy Pond that boast some of the best natural areas and scenic views in the state.  The Dragon is designed to showcase our areas pristine natural resources by providing 13 scenic overlook areas for our trail users to enjoy the picturesque views. 

Cross the World's Third Largest Earthen Dam

Bike across the the world’s third largest earthen dam with spectacular views of the river valley.

The Hardy Pond, formed by the dam is a nearly 4,000 acre lake with more than 2,000 campsites and countless outdoor recreation opportunities on more than 5,000 acres of surrounding Consumers Energy property made available for the public to enjoy by Consumers Energy in partnership with the Michigan DNR, Newaygo and Mecosta Counties, Big Prairie Township and many private small business owners.