Current Trail Status: Most trails Open, Some on Hold
The Copper Harbor Trails Club is excited to announce that a large number of trails are reopening to the public. Our trail network is now very close to being fully operational once again and we look forward to having you in Copper Harbor soon! The majority of our trail network is currently open. Last update: June 7, 2021.
The last few months have seen quite a few land access issues come up, from land being bought and sold to liability concerns around existing trails. Several of these challenges all collided with an early spring, and people were looking to ride at a time when snow would normally still be on the trails. Talk about bad timing!
The bulk of the temporary trail closures revolved around liability concerns from Keweenaw County and Grant Township. Both of these units of government were concerned that they could be sued for injuries that take place on our trails, and requested a delayed opening until their concerns could be addressed. We spent the time educating our local officials on our liability insurance and protections provided by the Michigan Natural Resources and Environmental Protection act, usually known as the Recreational Use Statute.
To avoid all possibility of liability exposure Keweenaw County decided to sell 383 acres of public land to the now-privately-operated Keweenaw Mountain Lodge. As part of the deal, the Copper Harbor Trails Club negotiated a trail easement to protect the trails on this land in perpetuity. Additionally, a deed restriction from 1943 will continue to require the property only be used for public purposes. The sale will hopefully close soon. In the meantime, CHTC and the County have entered into a short-term License Agreement to open most of our trails. Our double-black diamond trails will remain closed until the sale is completed.
Grant Township is still reviewing their insurance and liability concerns but we hope to soon be able to open all trails on their property as well. Overflow in particular will remain closed until the all-clear has been given, and we are working hard to make that happen as quickly as possible. The trail may remain closed until crews from Rock Solid complete a previously planned rehabilitation of the 8-year-old trail.
We also had to renegotiate a land use agreement with a private landowner at the heart of our system after a portion of their land was sold. The finishing touches are being put together on this updated agreement, but in the meantime Downtown, Stairway to Heaven, Here We Go, Der We Went, and the lower portion of Garden Brook below the East Woopidy Woo intersection will remain closed. We hope to be able to reopen some of these to hiking or reroute them soon.
It’s been a difficult spring and we appreciate your patience as we work through these challenges. We look forward to seeing you on the trail soon and hope for calmer times in the months ahead. Thanks for sticking with us!
Even though we're at the end of the road in the U.P., we are not immune from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses closed temporarily, schools shuttered, and people quickly moved to working from home in an effort to halt the virus in its tracks. As with everything related to this potentially deadly illness, we ask that you follow some simple recommendations and guidelines to keep yourself, your friends, and our community healthy.
- If you have recently been ill, near someone that was ill, or are not feeling 100%, please refrain from traveling. There is no shame in staying at home until you feel well.
- Local businesses are trying their best to balance personal safety while welcoming customers. Respect businesses that require masks to be worn. It’s not a major burden and does a lot to show that you care not only about those around you, but also our trails. Our community and trails cannot thrive if we are battling a potentially deadly virus, nor can you visit if we are down for the count. Many in our community are at-risk; treat them as you would your friends or family.
- Local businesses are constantly adapting to changing regulations and are doing their best to keep their staff and patrons healthy and their establishment viable. Hours and availability are subject to change and will likely be different than in years past. Check-in before you go to ensure you are familiar with the current situation.
- Lodging may be scarce due to overwhelming demand to escape to rural areas perceived to be less risky for travel. If you cannot make a reservation, consider visiting at a less-busy time of year. Fewer people = lower risk = more fun on the trails.
On-Trail COVID-19 Safety
If you do find yourself in Copper Harbor, there are some simple things you can do to keep you and others safe. You are probably doing many of these things already! The rest are easy to implement into your routine and will benefit all of us if followed correctly.
- Keep your distance: Maintain at least 6’ distance from those around you not in your immediate party.
- Pass safely: If approaching another trail user from behind, call out ahead of time that you would like to pass. Give them time to find a suitable location to do so safely, and do not tailgate them closely. If approaching head on, stop well ahead and coordinate a pass. When passing, try to maintain at least 6’ distance. This may require stepping off of the trail in a safe area.
- Dial down the rad factor: Now is not the time to try anything new or outside your comfort zone. Not only will your injury put essential emergency personnel at risk, it will draw away resources from potentially treating patients with COVID-19. Save that big jump for another day.
- Pack a mask: Be sure to have a mask with you in case you need to interact with others on the trail. This is particularly important if you must assist with an injury or are injured yourself.
- Break wisely: If you pause to take a break, be sure to allow ample space for people to pass outside of the 6’ buffer.