Current Trail Status: Open but snowed in
Our trails are currently unavailable for mountain biking due to winter snows. Feel free to come up and hike, snowshoe, or XC backcountry ski! We'll report on any grooming activities if local volunteers take that up this season.
The Copper Harbor Trails Club has been battling a myriad of trail access issues since fall 2020, from land being bought and sold to liability concerns around existing trails. Several of these challenges are ongoing and have kept some trails from being opened. Read on to find out more. The majority of our trail network is currently open to the public. Last update: December 2, 2021.
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 went to great lengths to educate 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 attempted 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 had negotiated a trail easement to protect the trails on this land in perpetuity. Unfortunately, the DNR (which holds a deed restriction on the property), KML, and Keweenaw County could not come to an agreement on the deal. CHTC and the County did agree to a License Agreement to open most of our trails. Our double-black diamond trails will remain closed until the County is satisfied with our insurance policy. We are getting new quotes for higher limits that will meet the County and Township's insurance and liability concerns. This is a process that takes some time and we hope to have it resolved soon. Several proposals have been submitted but have so far been denied.
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. A license agreement has been drafted but has not been agreed upon yet. Overflow 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 updated agreement is still being hammered out, but in the meantime Downtown, Stairway to Heaven, Here We Go, Der We Went, and the lower portion of Garden Brook below the US-41 intersection will remain closed. A short portion of the end of Garden Brook uphill of US-41 was rerouted. Additionally, the upper, original Stairway to Heaven boardwalks were removed due to old age. They will not be replaced and the trail will be converted into a rustic hiking trail.
It’s been an extremely difficult year 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 and years ahead. Thanks for sticking with us!