Keweenaw ATV Trails
You’ve got a full fuel tank and your tire pressure is just right. So which of the Keweenaw’s 160 miles of trail are you planning to check out?
There’s no better way to access the Keweenaw’s natural wonders, terrain, and history than by ATV or SxS. Glide along the coast of Lake Superior or ride through ghost towns hidden among the vast Keweenaw forestlands. Trails on the peninsula run from Mass City in the south all the way to Copper Harbor in the north. Many of the trails use old railway grades that were built to transport copper ore and timber during the Copper Country’s mining heyday. Most of our communities can be accessed by trail with plenty of opportunities for fuel stops, dining, and lodging.
So grab an ATV Map, buckle up, and read on for tips, recommendations, and resources to plan your off-road tour of the Copper Country.
There are some experiences you just shouldn’t pass up. Here are a few that our locals recommend:
- High Rock Bay Photo Op: Perhaps one of the most “Instagram-able” locations (that means “photo-worthy” in young-person speak) in the Keweenaw, riders should make the trip up to Copper Harbor and take the trail to High Rock Bay. You’ll be rewarded with epic views of Lake Superior at the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula. Seldom visited by most tourists, this breathtaking ride takes you along old logging trails and is well worth the effort.
- Get Out on the Big Lake: Lake Superior is the world’s largest body of freshwater containing nearly 10% of Earth’s fresh surface water. In fact, it contains as much water as all the other great lakes combined…plus three more Lake Eries (and they call it a “great” lake…). You can access the best of the great lakes by ORV and visit some pretty impressive sites like Fish Cove.
- Visit a Ghost Town: As you ride along our trails, you’ll pass through quiet ruins of former mining towns that churned out copper ore back in the 1800s and early 1900s. Much of the original stone and brick structures have been reclaimed by nature, but you can’t miss the towering smokestacks that mark forming mining activities like smelters. If you choose to explore these areas, be very careful as the structures are almost completely unmaintained and unstable.
- Sample the Local Brews: Whether it’s Michigan’s northernmost brewery in Copper Harbor or arguably Michigan’s oldest bar, the Keweenaw has a pretty impressive line-up of watering holes. Enjoy responsibly.
Planning Tips for Your Keweenaw ATV Experience
Plan, Plan, and Plan Some More
You can put a lot of miles on our ORV when traveling along the Keweenaw. With more than 160 miles of trail, it’s best to plan ahead and make sure you know where you can fuel up and grab a bite to eat. It can be a long walk to the nearest gas station. As you drive north, you will encounter areas with little or no cell service, so do not rely on your phone to show for navigation. Be sure to chart your course and bring a map. You can download a Keweenaw ATV map or we can mail you one if you submit a request.
Trail Closures and Updates
Trails are periodically closed for repairs, safety, and commercial activity. Before you head out make sure to check with the Michigan DNR for updates on all current closures. The Keweenaw ATV Club will also post trail updates on their Facebook page and further details are available from their website.
Due to the lack of available detours, some closures may be listed as ‘No Reroute Available’. Be prepared to trailer your equipment around these sections. Do not attempt to ride on closed trails, they have been barricaded off for the safety of the public. Always stay on signed trails. Remember, nowhere in Michigan can you ride on designated “M” or “US” highways. Be aware of where you are permitted to operate an ATV/ORV before you go. Each county has local ordinances that may allow ORV operation on select roadways. Before you ride on a roadway, check with the local sheriff’s office or a county office to verify roads open to ORV use.
Get Your Permit
Trails from Mass City to Calumet are State of Michigan DNR Rail-Trails and are multi-use. That means other non-motorized users may be on the trail. Get your Michigan DNR ATV license online or use this map to find a local retailer to purchase licenses and permits. Doing so helps to provide financial resources to keep our trails in top shape.
How to Cross the Portage Lake Lift Bridge
The Portage Lake Lift Bridge is the only way (at least “by land”) to cross the Portage Canal from Houghton to Hancock. You can trailer across the bridge, but it’s a lot more fun to ride your ORV under it! But you’ll need an escort if you choose to cross on your SxS or ATV.
The City of Houghton Police Department will give off-road vehicles escorts across the Portage Lake Lift Bridge. Please call 906-482-2121 from the intersection of Trail #3 and the Canal Road. You’ll be asked to sign a waiver and the officers will open the gate and allow you to go through the City of Houghton’s RV Park.
ATV Escort Times
Officers provide ATV escorts seven days a week, provided they are available, at the following times:
- 9:15 a.m.
- 2:15 p.m.
- 7:15 p.m.
ATV’s and side-by-sides only. Sorry, no jeeps, pickups, full-size vehicles, converted 4X4s or dirt bikes. Minimum of 2 machines to be escorted.
Stay on the Trail
The Keweenaw’s ATV trail system is built on state and privately owned land. It’s through the trust and generosity of private landowners that we have the permission of crossing their property. It can be revoked at any time. Please…pretty please, stay on the trail.
If you’re hauling a trailer and need parking to access a trailhead public parking is available at the following locations: Copper Harbor, AmericInn of Calumet, The Vansville Bar in Phoenix, The Ramada Inn of Hancock, Lac La Belle Lodge, and Kauppi’s Marina in Gay.
Rentals & Equipment