Out of the four seasons, spring gets the least amount of love from Keweenaw enthusiasts. Unlike the long days of summer, the brilliant colors of fall, or the epic snow of winter, this shoulder season is often overlooked by visitors.
But the locals know that this period is the “golden time” of living in the Keweenaw Peninsula. During the months of April, May, and June, the land reawakens from its winter slumber thanks to more sunshine and warmer temperatures. While the weather can be somewhat unpredictable, the slow pace of life mixed with more sunshine and warmer temperatures reinvigorates the Keweenaw as we march toward summer.
So what makes spring special?
AVOID THE CROWDS…
This goes without saying, because spring isn’t the most popular time of year to visit, you won’t need to share the trails very often. In early spring (late March thru April) you may still need snowshoes or skis, but by the time May rolls around, you can grab your best hiking boots or hop in your ATV. Just be sure to wait for the trails to dry out and set up before dragging the side-by-side out. You’ll also find the lack of crowds brings more lodging options with better deals and easier access to your favorite eateries.
The Keweenaw’s waterfalls roar to life as the 270+ inches of snow melt away. Waterfalls are beautiful all year-round, but they’ll never be more impressive than in April and May. The Keweenaw area has dozens of waterfalls with many accessible by car or via a short hike. Several are located deep in the Keweenaw wilderness and take a bit more planning to access. During the spring period, the forests’ understory is often still covered with a thick, but increasingly soft snow mat. So be sure to bring your snowshoes if you plan on hitting the trails.
NOTHING BITING (EXCEPT THE FISH)
Mosquitos and black flies are a nuisance in the summer, especially if you do any backcountry treks. Not so in the spring. Much like the fall, these early months are relatively bug-free, so you can leave your insect repellant behind. With that said, Northern Pike and Walleye season starts mid-May in the Upper Peninsula.
Fishing in solitude off a dock in Lake Superior
ISLE ROYALE NATIONAL PARK
Isle Royale National Park is an international attraction thanks to its untamed, natural wilderness. Won’t take my word for it? Just ask National Geographic who named Isle Royale one of the top destinations in the world for 2021. The national park opens in mid-April, and if you’re willing to tolerate the chilly temperatures, you can practically have the 45-mile long island and all its trails to yourself (Well, you’ll have to share it with the island’s wildlife residents).
Hikers at Isle Royale National Park
MAPLE SYRUP TAPPING
As snow melts, the region’s maple trees begin to produce sap which can be condensed into tasty maple syrup! Across the Keweenaw hobbyists and commercial syrup produces kick-into high gear as they rush to collect the sweet sap to help bring your pancakes to the next level. Check out how it’s done by reading Nathan Miller’s (fellow Keweenaw.info contributor) adventures in maple syrup production.
ANNUAL HAWK MIGRATION AT BROCKWAY MOUNTAIN
Each spring, approximately 10,000 soaring birds, many of the hawks, pass over the narrow tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula between March and May. On the West Bluff of Brockway Mountain, you’ll find a raptor counting station where you can observe bald eagles, peregrine falcons, and other raptor species riding thermals.
RIDE THE KEWEENAW
An annual Memorial Day Weekend extravaganza, Ride the Keweenaw encourages locals and visitors to get out on the trails and explore the region’s 90+ miles of singletrack mountain bike trails.
Starting on Friday, May 27th, take a guided ride through the caverns at Adventure Mine, checking out the bats and old mine workings along the way. On Saturday, May 28th, there’s a guided group ride at the Michigan Tech Trails. Bring the whole family because there will be a variety of rides for people of all abilities. Later in the afternoon head over to Churning Rapids and explore these backcountry trails close to home. Finally, wrap up Saturday with a late-afternoon ride on the twisty, turny, and all-ages Swedetown Trails.
On Sunday, May 29th, the riding action is all in Copper Harbor. The first Lake Superior Gravity Series Enduro of 2022 kicks off in the morning with two-stage Sport and three-stage Expert classes. Space will be limited, so register early once the full details are released!
BONUS: DARK SKIES AND NORTHERN LIGHTS
The Keweenaw is one of the best places in the lower forty-eight US states to view the northern lights and enjoy truly dark skies. Thanks to its northern latitude and low light pollution levels, visitors have a chance to gaze upon the Aurora Borealis. During the spring, night-time still comes pretty early, so you’ll have more hours of dark skies than during the summer months. Plus, the night air is quite a bit warmer than the winter.
While there are no guarantees that the Northern Lights will be active when you’re here (or that cloud cover blocks out the show), it’s hard to increase your odds without buying a ticket to Iceland or Alaska.
BONUS +1: WELCOME BACK BUSINESSES AND ATTRACTIONS
While winter brings in its fair share of visitors thanks to the Keweenaw’s epic snow, many local businesses take the cold months off. Some of our favorite restaurants, gift shops, and museums are seasonal operating exclusively during summer. These businesses reopen up during late spring, and we locals look forward to their return each year.