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 the Keweenaw experience or check out our in-depth guide for planning your Copper Country hiking experience.
There are so many options to choose from, but here are four “can’t miss” hikes in the Keweenaw:
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.
If you’re driving along US 41 between Houghton and Marquette, the Canyon Falls Roadside Park is ideal hike to see an impressive waterfall and unique geology. The easy trail, complete with some boardwalk areas, allows you to view the “Grand Canyon of the Upper Peninsula”: the 15-foot Canyon Falls along the black Sturgeon River and gorge.
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.
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.
Towering 730 feet above Lake Superior in northern Keweenaw County near Eagle Harbor and Lake Bailey, this hike offers spectacular panoramic views of Lake Superior and the Keweenaw Peninsula. The hike up Mt. Baldy is a steady, uphill 3-mile climb, so it’s not for the faint of heart. It can take 2 hours to reach the summit, but the views of Lake Superior and the Keweenaw Peninsula are well worth it! With a watchful eye and binoculars, you may spot local inhabitants such as black bear, snowshoe hare, peregrine falcon, ruffed grouse, golden-crowned kinglet, black-throated green warbler, and yellow-rumped warbler.
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: