Hiking Trails

Hiking Trails & Nature Areas

Bucket-List Hikes | Planning Tips | 36 Hiking Trails & Nature Areas

Between every two pines there is a doorway to a new world. – John Muir

Explore the Keweenaw’s countless pristine natural areas, wildlife sanctuaries, and preserves scattered across the peninsula.  From breathtaking views and serene escapes to heart-pounding climbs, the Keweenaw’s wildlands are vast and inspiring all year long. Read on for local recommendations on making the most of Keweenaw experience or check out our in-depth guide for planning your Copper Country hiking experience

Locals Recommendations: Keweenaw Bucket-List Hikes

There are so many options to choose from, but here are four “can’t miss” hikes in the Keweenaw:

Greenstone Ridge Trail

Greenstone Ridge Trail in Isle Royale National Park

Hiking on Isle Royale | Photo Courtesy of Instagram fan rachelsabin

Consistently rated as one of the top hikes in Michigan (and across the country), the Greenstone Ridge Trail in Isle Royale National Park checks off all the boxes for hiking enthusiasts.  If you follow the Greenstone Ridge all the way from Windigo in the west to Rock Harbor in the east, you’ll have covered 43 miles. Unless you’re a marathon hiker, it’ll take about four days to complete it. So be prepared to filter your own water and pack a tent. But the Greenstone Ridge promises breathtaking vistas of northern Lake Superior: thick white pine forests, granite outcroppings, broad expanses of the Big Lake and, if you’re lucky, a few moose.

  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Distance: 43 miles (one way)
  • Stewardship: U.S. National Park System
  • How to get there:  Take the ferry from Copper Harbor or jump on a seaplane departing from Houghton to reach the National Park.  Head east out of Rock Harbor on the Rock Harbor Trail. Hike 0.2 miles east of Three Mile Campground and head north on the Mount Franklin Trail for 2.0 miles to the intersections with the Greenstone Ridge Trail.  

Bare Bluff (Russell and Miriam Grinnell Memorial Nature Sanctuary)

A couple enjoys a scenic view of Lake Superior at Bare Bluff

“Bare Bluff” hike at the Russell and Miriam Grinnell Memorial Nature Sanctuary

This one’s a no brainer.  With amazing views of Lake Superior and steep, rugged terrain that will work up a sweat, visitors from around the country come to the Keweenaw for a shot at Bare Bluff.  Located a few miles away from Montreal Falls, you can make a full day experience exploring this 3-mile trail.  Summit the 588-foot giant monolith rising above the “big lake” to enjoy a 180-degree panoramic view.

  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Distance: 3-mile loop
  • Stewardship: Michigan Nature Association
  • How to get there:  Drive north from Houghton on US 41. Eleven miles south of Copper Harbor, turn right at the sign for Lac La Belle and Mount Bohemia Ski Area. Drive about 5 miles to Lac La Belle, turn left on the Bete Gris Road and drive about 3 miles to the Smith Fisheries Road and turn left. While marked private, Smith Fisheries Road may be used to access the sanctuary.  Please note that this is a steep, unpaved private road, which should not be used from November 1 through Memorial Day. Carpooling is strongly encouraged. Travel another 2.25 miles and bear to the right, to the parking area marked with an MNA sanctuary sign. 

Estivant Pines Wilderness Nature Sanctuary

Estivant Pines

Estivant Pines – Photo by Kyle Rokos

Estivant Pines make up the largest tract of old-growth Eastern White Pine preserved in the state of Michigan.  Walk among 300-year-old giant pines that reach 125 feet in height and 3-5 feet in diameter!  The two-loop trail offers a gently rolling and leisurely hike, and the dense old-growth forest canopy provides habitat for 85 species of birds. One pine on this loop was determined to have germinated around 1695 after a wildfire swept the ridge. Near the trail, there are several aboriginal copper mine pits dug 3,000-4,000 years ago, worked with stone hammers by indigenous peoples.  

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 3-mile loop
  • Stewardship: Michigan Nature Association
  • How to get there: Follow US-41 east through Copper Harbor and turn right into 2nd Street at the Community Center (also called Manganese Road). Follow 2nd Street for 1.2 miles, bearing left onto Clark Mine Road (look for signs for Estivant Pines). Travel another 0.65 miles to the parking area on the right and the trailhead and more parking on the left.  

Black Creek Nature Sanctuary

Black Creek Nature Santurary

Black Creek Nature Sanctuary. Image courtesy of Nathan Miller.

The Black Creek Nature Sanctuary offers 4.8 miles of gentle trail through varied landscapes like sand dunes and mixed forest featuring giant white birch, conifers, and lowland hardwoods. While not as well known as the first two recommendations, this nature sanctuary will not disappoint. Located near Calumet, the jewel of the hike is the picturesque lagoon formed by the convergence of Black Creek and Hills Creek near 1,500 feet of spectacular Lake Superior shoreline.  Visitors with a keen eye will likely spot beaver dams, along with other local wildlife like whitetail deer.  

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 4.8-mile round trip
  • Stewardship: Michigan Nature Association
  • How to get there: From US-41 on the north end of Calumet, turn west onto M-203, and travel about 1.25 miles to Tamarack Waterworks Road and turn right. Travel 2.5 miles on Tamarack Waterworks Road to Cedar Bay Road and turn right again.  Follow Cedar Bay Road approximately 2.5 miles until reaching the Black Creek parking area and trailhead on the right.

Tips for Planning Your Keweenaw Hiking Experience

Unlike many outdoor recreation activities, it doesn’t take any particular skill set or equipment to enjoy a memorable hike in the Keweenaw. But like most things, a little planning goes a long way to avoiding some rookie mistakes and maximizing your experience. Here are a few tips before setting out on your Keweenaw hiking adventure:

  • Get to Know Your Options:  We gave you a few great recommendations above, but there’s really no shortage of great trails and nature areas in Copper Country.  But if you’re looking for some details to help select the perfect hike, be sure to grab your copy of Walking Paths & Protected Areas of the Keweenaw.  You’ll find it an invaluable resource!  
  • Check the Weather:  Take a look at the forecast before you head out and dress appropriately.  You can still have an amazing hike even if it rains, but it’ll go a lot better if you brought a rain jacket!
  • Protect Your Feet:  Okay, so there’s at least one essential piece of gear you need: a good pair of worn-in hiking boots. You don’t want blisters half-way through the hike and you’ll need that extra traction if you walking over rocks along the trail.  Throw in a pair of good socks too.  Hats and sunglasses are optional, but welcome on a sunny day.
  • Beware of Bugs:  Yeah, those mosquitos and black flies can be pesky in late spring/early summer. If you’re going through forested areas or near rivers and streams, do yourself a favor and bring some bug repellant.
  • Stay on the Trails: In may be tempting to stray from the trail as you explore a new area, but please don’t.  Besides reducing the risk of getting lost, it’ll also protect everyone’s access to some of the most scenic areas in the Keweenaw.  Many of our trails cross private lands, and we jeopardize losing this access if visitors mistakenly trespass onto private property.

36 Hiking Trails and Nature Areas to Explore          

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18350 Highway M-203
Hancock, MI 49930 US

Phone: (906) 482-0278
Region: Hancock
Website

90 sites on Lake Superior. Open mid-May to mid-October.
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Red Brick Road
Houghton, MI 49931 US

Phone: (906) 482-0820
E-Mail Address: marsin@keweenawlandtrust.org
Region: Houghton
Website

The late Mary Sinish grew up in the Keweenaw, spending summers along the Portage Waterway on her familys land. Mrs. Sinish donated 40 acres to the Keweenaw Land Trust with the intention of making ...
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Copper Harbor, MI 49918 US

Phone: (906) 225-0399
Region: Copper Harbor
Website

This moderate, flat trail is at the northernmost tip of the Keweenaw. The 1,433 acre preserve, locally known as Horseshoe Harbor, is the largest and highest quality mainland preserve for bedrock b ...
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Franklin St
Houghton, MI 49931 US

Phone: (906) 482-0820
E-Mail Address: info@keweenawlandtrust.org
Region: Houghton
Website

A touch of nature close to home is the result of a generous bequest from Marilyn Mason. Marilyn was inspired by the land protection, stewardship and education efforts of the Keweenaw Land Trust. U ...
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E Sharon Avenue
Houghton, MI 49931 US

Region: Houghton
Website

The Michigan Tech trail system accommodates all levels of skiers, bikers, and hikers—from beginner to advanced.
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Eagle Harbor, MI 49950 US

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