The Copper Harbor Trails might be best known for epic mountain biking, but that's not all there is to do around here. The Keweenaw also has dozens of miles of excellent hiking trails for people of all abilities. From scenic vistas to craggy shorelines and everything in between, there is something for everyone. All of the trails on this list are hiking-only (as well as trail running and snowshoeing). All hiking trails in the Copper Harbor area are free and open to the public.
The following are some of our favorite hikes to do when visiting Copper Harbor. For a complete guide of where to hike and how to get there, pick up a copy of the Walking Paths & Protected Areas of the Keweenaw guide. It's an incredible resource that every hiker and nature lover should have!
Located high above the southern shoreline of Lake Superior, Bare Bluff gives hikers a beautiful view out over Bete Grise and the undeveloped landscape beyond Montreal Falls. A looped trail takes you to the top of the steep cliffs before returning via a rugged traverse across the talus slopes beneath the bluff. The forests in this area are dense mature hardwoods and mixed conifers, the perfect place to get lost in your thoughts. This trail is not the easiest and has substantial elevation change. The access road to this area is rough and low ground clearance vehicles are not recommended. Owned and managed by the Michigan Nature Association.
Expansive white sand beaches in the Keweenaw? You betcha! The Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District's Bete Grise Preserve is a collaborative effort between several conservation partners in the region that protected several thousand acres of high-quality wetlands inland from Lake Superior. Along the shoreline at Bete Grise South is a lengthy, undeveloped sandy beach on Bete Grise that is a perfect getaway from the more popular beaches in the Keweenaw. An interpretive forest nature trail parallels the shoreline, or choose to get sand between your toes by hiking the 'singing' sands on a sunny day.
A visit to Copper Harbor is not complete without checking out the old growth white pines at Estivant Pines. Spared the saw when the Keweenaw was clear-cut a century ago, these towering giants are the biggest trees by far in the Keweenaw and among the largest in Michigan. Two family-friendly looped trails take you through the massive groves. Owned and managed by the Michigan Nature Association.
This expansive State Park has a little bit of everything for all types of Keweenaw adventurer. Whether you come for the history, shoreline, lakes, camping, or solitude, Fort Wilkins checks the box. Best of all, everything is connected by a network of hiking trails getting you to and from where you want to go! Many of these trails are wide, crushed gravel paths that are perfect for families. Other trails are narrower, twisting through rocky, rooty woods on their way to hidden lighthouse views or secret fishing spots. It will take you all day to explore what Fort Wilkins has to offer.
The Mary MacDonald Preserve at Horseshoe Harbor is one of the wildest shorelines around. Protecting 5 miles of rugged Lake Superior shoreline across 1,200 acres, you'll be hard pressed to find a more remote feeling place to enjoy the calmness (or fury) of the Big Lake. A short woods trail from an established parking area will take you to the lake. The road to this location is often muddy and low ground clearance vehicles are not recommended. Owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy.
If you're looking for a quick stop to dip your feet in Lake Superior, look no further than Hunters Point. Located just west of downtown Copper Harbor, you can either drive to the developed parking area (restrooms included!) or walk along the crushed gravel paths right from your motel or campground. A boardwalk takes you right to the shoreline, while rocky trails loop around a narrow peninsula. This location is a rock picker's dream. Keep your eyes peeled for agates and other treasurers because you never know what might wash up!
The lower portion of the mixed-use trail Garden Brook as well as East Woopidy Woo pass through this Michigan Nature Association protected area. But did you know that there's a dedicated hiking trail as well? This nature sanctuary stretches from US-41 down to the Garden Brook creek and all the way up and over Brockway Mountain Drive, giving nature enthusiasts a glimpse of several high-quality habitat types native to this area. The ridgetop hiking trail skirts the edge of the bluff before returning through wind-battered oaks to a small trailhead parking area.
The Michigan Nature Association has worked hard over the years to protect the Brockway Mountain ridgeline and keep it open to the public. Among their successes is the James H. Klipfel Memorial Nature Sanctuary, which features a beautiful 3/4 mile hiking path with huge views of the surrounding landscape. Besides taking in the vast forests and Lake Superior views, this nature sanctuary is a prime viewing point for the annual spring migration of thousands of birds along the Keweenaw Peninsula.
A 400-acre nature area located near the western terminus of Brockway Mountain Drive, the Lake Bailey Wildlife Sanctuary begins with a hike through a dense cedar stand near the base of the hill. Watch out for springs! Eventually the trail starts gaining in elevation, passing through abundant northern hardwood forests interspersed with views of Brockway to the east. Be sure to check out the falls on the Silver River after your visit. This sanctuary is managed by the local chapter of the Michigan Audubon Society.
Located outside of Eagle Harbor, this 3-mile, one-way hike takes you to one of the best views in all of the Keweenaw. The trail passes through a variety of forest types before emerging on a wind-scarred bald devoid of trees. Take in the huge 360° views out over the landscape, but watch your step because the south side of the bluff has a substantial cliff! A popular hike in summer (hiking or trail running) or winter (snowshoeing or skiing), there is parking at the bottom of the trail near the Eagle Harbor Township fire hall. This special place is owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy.
Located west of Eagle Harbor, this dream-like trail will take you up and down a series of sandy dunes just inland from Great Sand Bay. Upon the dunes you'll find beautiful twisted red pines and dense mats of lichen, while near their base the habitats are comprised of marshes teeming with life. In spring this area is a popular stopping point for migrating waterfowl. This hike is best experienced in fall when there are far fewer bugs around. Further trails connect to additional protected lands stretching all the way to Eagle Harbor. Owned and managed by the Michigan Nature Association.