Keweenaw Trail Systems

Updated: March 1, 2011

With six trail systems within 100 miles and three of those systems separated by just five miles, riders in the Keweenaw are a lucky bunch.

The information provided here is short and sweet. We've provided a brief description of the individual trail systems along with clickable geo coordinates to get you to the trail heads and links to trail maps. Note that most trail systems also provide very good on-trail maps and signage to keep you on course.

Great trails don't just happen. Lots of blood, sweat, tears goes into the construction of each inch of trail. And cash. Though constructed mainly with volunteer labor (Copper Harbor being the notable exception), it takes money to purchase tools and fuel. In addition, a number of local organizations are working to ensure that land access is preserved (development happens everywhere, including the Keweenaw), and those efforts don't come cheap. If you enjoy the riding, consider making a contribution to the groups that maintain the trails or to those that make it possible for the trails to exist in the first place. As we all know, trails disappear.

Copper Harbor Trails

Location: Copper Harbor, Michigan
Coordinates: 47.467,-87.889, 47.460,-87.909
Trails: 25 miles of singletrack; downhill shuttles

The 25-mile (and growing) trail system was recently awarded EPIC status by IMBA, placing the trails among the best in the world. The name of the game is climbing in Copper Harbor. Of course, you get what you pay for, and there are plenty of opportunities to cash in your hard-earned climbing chips. A healthy mix of hard-pack, boardwalk, and jackhammer-hewn trail makes for a (mostly) smooth ride. A full suspension bike might be nice in places (particularly if riding the downhill course), but a hardtail (29") won't beat you up too badly. Check out the Copper Harbor Trails website for the interactive trail map with video produced by Harry Media.

Swedetown Trails

Location: Calumet, Michigan
Coordinates: 47.238,-88.464, 47.244,-88.520
Trails: 25+ miles of singletrack

The finely crafted Swedetown trails, mostly gentle and tending towards the flatter side, are always a pleasure to ride. Hidden in the nooks and cranies of the lower trails are a few roller coasters that demand solid handling skills. You'll survive just fine on a hard tail, but your back might thank you if you break out the full suspension rig as the rocks and roots take their toll. The trails are very singlespeed friendly. This is probably the only trail system in the area where a reasonably fit singlespeeder can comfortably push a 2:1 (29") (or more). Note that there are some very steep pitches in the lower reaches of the trail system and 2:1 might blow your knees to shreds.

Maasto Hiihto / Churning Rapids

Location: Hancock, Michigan
Coordinates: 47.238,-88.464, 47.180,-88.614, 47.141,-88.592
Trails: 25+ miles of singletrack
and two-track

Home to the annual Keweenaw Chain Drive Festival, the trails feature impressive benchwork, blazing downhills, and endless climbs. While there are few rocky stretches, the rocks tend to be of the baby head type with low risk of cutting-type punctures (pinch flats are an issue). The trails can be accessed at several different locations: Hancock cemetery, Christenson Road and near Portage Hospital in Hancock (the above coordinates are listed in this order). Singlespeed recommendation: 32x18 or 19. More gear inches if you're into pain, cortisone, or are skipping the hills.

Michigan Tech

Location: Houghton, Michigan
Coordinates: 47.109,-88.553 (main trail head), 47.103,-88.517, 47.104,-88.555
Trails: 25+ miles of singletrack
and ski trail

Situated on more than 500 acres of Michigan Tech and city property, the system's 25 miles of trail can be accessed within minutes from anywhere in Houghton at several different trail heads The Tech Trails have a bit of a Jeckyll and Hyde personality: Dr. Jekyll is the old friend who steers you down the winding turns and gentle slopes of the lower trails. Mr. Hyde rears his head on the technically challenging upper trails, which are riddled with roots, skill-testing rock gardens and diabolical, man-made trail features. A fit singlespeed rider can easily get by with a 32x17.

Pilgrim River Watershed

Location: Houghton, Michigan
Coordinates: 47.087,-88.553
Trails: 3 miles of singletrack
(under construction)

Upon entering the Pilgrim River Watershed Trails, located less than a mile from the Michigan Tech trail head, a person might think they've been teleported out of the Keweenaw and dropped in the middle of Ohio's Mohican River Valley. Or someplace equally as exotic. The stands of tall hardwood trees and rolling hills give the trails a feel unlike anything else in the Keweenaw. Though only three miles of trail have been constructed thus far, the planned 10+ mile trail system is certain to be spectacular. Singlespeeding it? Try a 32x19 for starters.

Adventure Mining Company

Location: Greenland, Michigan (near Ontonagon)
Coordinates: 46.780,-89.086
Trails: 10+ miles of singletrack
(under construction)

Located 40 miles SW of Houghton off of M-38 just past the M-26/M-26 junction, the Adventure Mine Company trails in Greenland are, in a word, challenging. The ruthlessly steep ups, insanely steep downs, and rock gardens galore place this trail at the top of the Keweenaw pain list and have made more than one rigid singlespeed rider beg for a fully suspended, geared ride. To experience the trail in all of its glory, including a .5 mile stretch through an abandoned copper mine, be sure to hit the Miner's Revenge race in mid July. Singlespeed? 32x19 (minimum) and prepare to suffer.