There’s no better time to go for a hike in the Keweenaw than autumn. Not only do our endless forests put on a show that’s among the best in the Midwest, the bug season has passed and wearing flannel every day is finally acceptable again. Let’s just say that fall in the Keweenaw rules.
Where’s the best place to enjoy a fall hike in the Copper Country? We’ve put together some options for you and your family to check out next time you’re up north to visit. Fill up your thermos with some hot cocoa or cold cider, grab a donut, and let’s go!
What’s better than gigantic old growth white pines buried deep in the Keweenaw? A canopy of oranges, reds, and yellows enveloping each of the massive pines in a warm embrace! The contrast of each tree species is heightened by the sheer enormity of the trees that can be found here. Whether you check out both of the loops through this special place or just poke your head in for a quick peek, Estivant Pines cannot be beaten. Some parts of the trail are suitable for families with small children, while other areas are more rugged and require sturdy boots to explore. Just getting to Estivant Pines is part of the adventure as you traverse narrow gravel roads snaking beneath the most vibrant tunnel of trees around.
Redwyn Dunes and George Hite Dunes & Marshes
Time to take advantage of the lack of bugs, big time! The Redwyn Dunes Nature Sanctuary and George Hite Dunes & Marshes Preserve are located just inland from Great Sand Bay and are connected by a scenic one-mile trail. This area is beautiful to visit year-round but can be thick with bugs due to the abundance of marshes and wetlands that dot the landscape. Come fall though, the insects die off making this area a picture-perfect destination before dinner at The Fitz. The trail rises and falls along pine-covered sand dunes, occasionally reaching high enough to give you a glimpse out over the surrounding forest. Look for the Redwyn Dunes sign along M-26 just south of the Great Sand Bay parking lot.
If you thought the views from Brockway Mountain were spectacular, wait ‘til you get a load of this one! Located just outside of Eagle Harbor, the hike to the summit of Mount Baldy should not be missed. This three-mile hike (one-way, mind you) will take you from near lake level all the way to the summit high above the landscape, affording you immense 360° views. On one side you have sheer cliffs that drop away to the forest far below, while on the other you have a long slope all the way to Lake Superior. Catch it at peak fall colors and there is no better place to check out our endless forests. Plan a few hours to tackle this moderate hike. If the wind is light, the summit makes a great place for a picnic!
No trip to the Keweenaw is complete without a trip to Hungarian Falls. Doesn’t matter what season! Fall is particularly lovely for obvious reasons. Something about falling leaves and water make for a great tandem. Hungarian Falls has three distinct waterfalls on one short hike, each with its own flavor and unique scenery. The lowermost falls have a truly epic view out through a deep gorge that is bathed in color at peak fall colors. Best of all, you’re only within 10-15 minutes from Houghton, Hancock, and Calumet, making this a quick stop for an afternoon adventure with your family from just about anywhere.
Pilgrim Community Forest
One of the most straightforward forest hikes around, this no-nonsense trek will scratch that itch to get out in the woods without getting too technical or far from town. At roughly 2.5 miles one-way, it’s also one of the longer hikes on this list. Although there aren’t any big views or giant waterfalls to check out at the Pilgrim Community Forest, what it lacks in spectacular scenes it more than makes up for by being a safe, reliable option for a dog walk or spot to lose yourself (but not literally) in the mature forests along its trail. You’ll reach the Pilgrim River at a couple of points along the way, otherwise it’s just you and hundreds of acres of forest to set your mind at ease. Breathe in those crispy leaves! This hike is just five minutes from downtown Houghton which makes it the easiest to access on this list.
Sturgeon River Falls
The southernmost place on this list is a remote but popular waterfall at the bottom of the Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness Area. No vehicles are allowed in the wilderness here, making for a truly natural place where you can experience the landscape as it has always been. The falls are set in a narrow notch where the entire width of the river is constricted to just a few dozen feet wide, concentrating its power to great effect. The gorge walls are blanketed in an array of colorful trees with absolutely no development in sight. Talk about gorgeous! No, we won’t apologize for that. Be aware that this hike takes you down a steep hill that you’ll need to climb back up to return to your vehicle.
While exploring the Keweenaw please be respectful while visiting these nature areas by practicing leave no trace principles, staying on public property, and avoid actions that put yourself or others at risk. Please visit our Responsible Recreation section for tips and guidance.