Projects & News
What Are We Up To?
A lot happens every year with the Copper Harbor Trails, and if it weren't for our in-house historian Sam Raymond we'd have forgotten most if it years ago. In the interest of keeping our followers up-to-date on what's going on and as a log for future trail buffs, we've compiled a long list of what we've completed over the years. There's a lot that's missing from the early days that we're hoping to fill in more soon. Ongoing projects are lumped into the most recent year, while others are included in the year they were completed. Looking for more info? Send us a message and we'd be happy to give you the full scoop!
2021 & Ongoing
After scaling back our programs in 2020 due to COVID uncertainties, 2021 promises to be a much busier year than usual. Here's what we have on the docket for this coming season.
- Rebuild all of Daisy Dukes. Work will include rebuilding the small jumps, berms, and rollers that made it such a fun trail for so many people.
- Rework the portions of Overflow that haven't been touched since it was built in 2013. This will entail rebuilding berms that have degraded, removing some of the loose chunder, and eliminating social lines.
- Establish a short raised connector from the bottom of The Flow to the Hunters Point Pathway to encourage people to ride the trail and side roads to downtown instead of the busy M-26 corridor.
- Construct a beginner crushed gravel path from the Back 9 Trails near the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge all the way to Manganese Falls. This trail will be useable by all levels of rider/hiker/runner and will be available for ski & snowshoe grooming in the winter. It will be an excellent climbing trail when built. Funded in part by the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development and Lizard Skins.
- Continue working on the red tape for the Keweenaw Point Trail Phase III (more in-depth updates here)
- Rebuild the entirety of Flying Squirrel. It's getting tired and we want it fresh again!
- Wrapping up work on the bridge over Union Creek on the Owl Eyes segment of the Keweenaw Point Trail near East Bluff.
- Completing the purchase of land to protect a portion of our trails in perpetuity (more in-depth updates here)
And those are just our trail-related projects! We're also bringing back all of our big events this year, heading up several volunteer days, hiring two Summer Trail Workers to keep our trails in prime condition, and much more beyond our usual day-to-day action. Stay tuned for more info soon!
Did we mention we're working with the Keweenaw Outdoor Recreation Coalition to expand the Keweenaw Tip Recreation Area by more than 16,000 acres? That's a lot of room for more trails of every variety.
Life during COVID meant we were forced to cancel our two biggest events, Experience the Keweenaw and the Copper Harbor Trails Fest, for the first time ever. Our two clinics adapted to the challenge and were held without incident. Despite being locked down for months, we still were able to lead several major volunteer workdays on our trails. We fixed up the Flow/Overflow intersection to give riders clearer options for avoiding the Gap Jump, removed the aging boardwalks beneath the upper Garden Brook waterfall, and replaced the skinny temporary bridges on Phase II of the Keweenaw Point Trail with proper spans for an intermediate trail. Rock Solid completed work on Magic Carpet over on East Bluff, creating the best climbing trail you'll ever ride. They also extended the Point Trail via the trail Owl Eyes, connecting Summer School to the end of Phase II and creating one nearly-continous trail from Copper Harbor to High Rock Bay.
We established the Back 9 Trails at the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge in 2019, adding a few easy loops for new or beginner riders to explore. To connect these to the rest of our system, we built the flow trail Cabin Life as a parallel alternative to Blue Trail. Cabin Life was constructed with funds from the Portage Health Foundation. Around this time Rock Solid Trail Contracting began working on their East Bluff Bike Park project, adding the trails Summer School and Flo'Rion. CHTC rebuilt the rest of Danimal to be wider, bigger, and safer. The Flow also saw some quick polish to eliminate some of the wear and tear that had emerged over years. Finally, West Woopidy Woo was reworked to become an exciting, fast flow trail on par with the best trails in our system. As if that wasn't enough, we also hired our first full-time Trails & Stewardship Intern, Ash Berton, to keep our trails in excellent shape thorugh the summer.
CHTC hired its second Executive Director, Nathan Miller, to lead our efforts in Copper Harbor. We built Raptor Ridge in 2018 as a fun, flowy alternative to On The Edge. Raptor Ridge was funded in part through the Keweenaw Community Foundation. As part of this project, Rock Solid also added a surprise extension onto Danimal so that it begins at Raptor Ridge and continues over West Woopidy Woo via a high bridge/drop combo. We also received funding to assist with the launch of the Churning Rapids Snow Bike Trails, purchasing a new snowmobile to help with their grooming. Finally, we adopted the Singletrack Flyers youth mountain biking initiative, a program designed to get more local kids on mountain bikes and learning the skills they need to tackle challenges both big and small.
The Copper Harbor Trails Fest hit its 25th year in 2018!
Construction wrapped up on Phase II of the Keweenaw Point Trail. These 5.5 miles did not come easy! Trail users can now access High Rock Bay almost entirely by singletrack trail and remote logging roads.
The lower portion of Garden Brook was rebuilt into a fast, flowy masterpiece that highlights the superb terrain along the Garden Brook valley. Also at this time a hiking-only trail loop was contructed along the Brockway Mountain bluff within the Michigan Nature Association's James Dorion Rooks Nature Sanctuary.
Approximately 2.5 miles were constructed for Phase I of the Keweenaw Point Trail. Financial support for project courtesy of the Steven C. Leuthold Family Foundation, Plum Creek Foundation, and Michigan DNR Partnership Grant. Not to be outdone by our women riders, the Big Boy Clinic started up this year to give men a chance to perfect their skills too. Better late than never, guys!
We're a National Recreation Trail! We also hosted the Singlespeed USA races on our trails this year. Finally, one era ended and another began: we eliminated our in-house trail workers and decided to contract with a new firm in town directly to do the work. Rock Solid Trail Contracting was born!
The birth of a giant: The Copper Harbor Trails were chosen for a Bell Built Grant to construct our monstrous downhill trail, Overflow. The small jump trail Daisy Dukes was added around this time as well. We used funds from a USDA - Rural Development RBEG program grant to purchase a new excavator and other trail implements to allow our five trail builders to construct trail even more efficiently. In 2013 we kicked off our Women's Weekend Clinic (then Ladies Weekend) with the help of Lindsey Richter from Ladies AllRide. Getting more women on bikes, one crazy weekend at a time!
Keep reaching! Copper Harbor hit the Silver-level Ride Center with IMBA, recognition only shared with 14 other trail systems in the world. IMBA also recognized our trail The Flow with a Flow Country Trail Award. We hired our first Executive Director in 2012, Lori Hauswirth, to tackle the day-to-day operations of the organization. Finally, to cap off this year-of-years we partnered with Bell's Beer to host the newly-renamed Copper Harbor Trails Fest.
Danimal and Flying Squirrel were built in 2012, giving big-air lovers a place to find their wings.
Movin' On Up: We became a Bronze-level Ride Center with IMBA! Bullwinkle was built around this time, offering visitors a longer route through the land west of the Lodge as they descend the hillside.
The year we threw down our shovels and finally bought our first mini-excavator! The trail miles would begin adding up quickly with the addition of The Flow and On The Edge. Around this time we invested $10,000 into an endowment fund at the Keweenaw Community Foundation to generate long-term benefits for the organization. CHTC also joined the IMBA Chapter program and launched a 9-hole disc golf course at the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge.
The International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) recognized Copper Harbor Trails as one of their premier Epic Rides. The corresponding bump in notoriety for excellence was swift. We followed this up by launching our donor program with local businesses that were seeing the benefits of increased ridership in the Keweenaw.
Woopidy Woo was built in 2009, creating a loop along the southern face of Brockway Mountain that connected to Garden Brook on either end. The rough and tumble Mango trail and our beefy downhill chunkfest Downtown were also completed in 2009.
The Copper Harbor Trails Society, Inc. was officially recognized as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. We immediately stopped calling ourselves Society and adopted Club instead. Our EIN is 26-2959858 in case you want to look us up. We're legit and your donations may be tax deductible! In 2008 we also hired our first trail staff to do the dirty work for us.
Later in 2008 we wrapped up construction of Stairway to Heaven and Here We Go, completing the hand-built trail sector atop the hill. To celebrate the occasion, a trailhead was established in the Township Park in downtown.
Say Hello and Der We Went were added to the map. A true network was beginning to unfold!
Trail mania set in. De Deet (now Chipmunk Run), Simeh, and Dza Beet were built.
The first version of the trail Garden Brook was built, connecting an old hiking trail through the Michigan Nature Association's James Dorion Rooks Nature Sanctuary with the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge. Right from the start this has always been one of our longest trails. Ma Maki also was built in 2005.
We received our first national exposure for the Copper Harbor trails in the August issue of National Geographic Adventure magazine with their Mission Superior story. We're on the map!
The original version of Dancing Bear was built under the rocky outcrops south of the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge.
A post-race cookout, live music, and beer was added to the Fat Tire Festival. Now we've got a party. Additional singletrack trail development continued during this period as bikes became more capable and volunteers grew in numbers.
On the eve of a new millennium, the Fat Tire Festival race course changed from 2-track and logging roads to primarily singletrack trails. The finish line was moved from Clark Mine to the Township Park to create more of a spectator scene, setting the stage for the revelry that would continue for the next few decades. Around this time Paul's Plunge and the hidden trail Black Bear were added as cross-country ski trails. Later they'd be rolled into the singletrack trail system.
The first Fat Trails Festival was held. 30 participants raced around the logging roads and two-tracks surrounding Copper Harbor, kicking off a movement that shows no sign of slowing down.
Kamikaze, a cross-country ski trail, was developed along the southern shore of Lake Fanny Hooe. For a few decades this route brought visitors into the dense cedar forests opposite Fort Wilkins. Eventually the trail was left to grow wild again after maintenance of the often wet trail proved too difficult to keep up with. Maybe someday we'll reopen this historic and beautiful corridor...
Red Trail, the first official hiking trail in the Copper Harbor area, was established during the construction of the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge. Eventually the trail was integrated into the area's tourist amenities and was added to visitor maps. The rugged pathway brought hikers from the Lodge down to Lake Manganese, traversing the rocky ridgelines and scenic forests. Later it was rolled into our singletrack trail system and modified so that mountain bikers could enjoy the trail as well.