Mountain Biking and Hiking 2023 Season Recap

Mountain biking, hiking, and trail running are some of the many reasons why people venture north to the Keweenaw. There are a plethora of trail systems across the Keweenaw Peninsula however the trails around Copper Harbor are the most well-known for people coming from around the world. At the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge, we have the Outdoor Activity Center (OAC), which acts as a basecamp and information center for people staying at the Lodge. The OAC team prides itself in providing a great experience for those individuals, with a focus on helping them be adventuresome and get in touch with nature. This is inline with the resort’s focus on outdoor activities, rustic worldly food, and education.

The 2022-2023 winter season was a strange one for weather. There was a rain event every month and almost a foot of snow came down in the beginning of May. This quickly melted and preparations of the trails began. The trails are maintained by both the Copper Harbor Trails Club and the KML team. The KML team went immediately to work marking, signing and clearing for the Back 9 Endurance Run which takes place over the Memorial Day Weekend. This 12/24-hour endurance run brings runners from across the region. For 2023, thirty nine runners came out to challenge themselves and to connect with nature. Mother Nature rewarded runners with a beautiful warm and clear weekend.

The beginning of the summer of 2023 was a buggy one. The weird winter and spring weather created many water stashes that were favorable breeding areas for blackflies and mosquitoes. Black Fly males hatched around May 25th and the biting females showed up on May 30th. We have a few tricks up our sleeve to avoid them, like long sleeves or running fast or riding your bike even faster (ha!). Other options to minimize the bugs is to wear protective clothing or hike along the shoreline of Lake Superior where you will usually find a breeze. The bugs usually subside sometime in June when we all take a collective sigh of relief.

For the summer of 2023 we continued with the educational component to the Morning Miles hikes. The Morning Miles hikes take place at 10am on both Tuesday and Thursdays throughout the summer and fall season. On Thursdays, lead guide Amy O utilized her degree in Recreation and Tourism (and a minor in Environmental Studies) to lead an interpretive hike. She discussed everything from plant identification to the history of the Lodge. The most frequent Morning Mile hike was down the Dancing Bear Trail and up the historic Red Trail. This 3 mile loop has some fascinating geology as it runs under some conglomerate rock cliffs and along two different ridges. We also incorporated Leave No Trace ethics into the talks and pushed for guests to be mindful of their surroundings and other guests. The OAC team also created two handouts for guests to take along on their hikes: picture guides to some of the flora and fauna found on the KML property.

Supply chain issues in the bike industry finally leveled out and we were able to round out our fleet of full suspension Trek Fuel Ex 8s, we added an extra small, another small and another extra large bike to our quiver. We feel this is an ideal bike for guests to explore the rocky and rooty trails of the Copper Harbor Trail System. For kids bikes we added another two Roscoes 24 bringing our total to six Trek Roscoes 24s and 2 Trek Precalibers. Our first bike rental was on May 21st and the last was on October 21st.

With every bike rental we send out we offer instruction to the rider about the newer components on the bike that they might not be familiar with. This includes use of the one-by shifting system and the dropper post. The OAC staff takes it one step further where we take the time and show the guests some basic riding skills that are appropriate for the Copper Harbor Trail System. If we have a chance we will ride them over to the Back 9 Trails to make sure they are operating the bike properly. This season I was also able to offer Beginner Mountain Bike Skills with Coach Chris on Saturday mornings a few times. This class covers just a few mountain bike fundamentals like body position and reading the trail.

Run the Keweenaw is a multi day trail running event that took place on July 8th and 9th and brought runners to different trail systems on the Keweenaw Peninsula. Events included a 6k Mt. Baldy Summit Run, 10K Copper Harbor Trails Challenge, 10K Copper Harbor Trails Non-Competitive Run/Hike, 2K Junior Trail Run, 25K Carl Olson Memorial Adventure Run, and 50k Keweenaw Trail Ultra and a stage race consisting of multiple runs. The runs in Copper Harbor used parts of the KML property and we were happy to help host this fun event.

Another big silent sports event in Copper Harbor is Trails Fest held over the Labor Day Weekend. The Keweenaw Mountain Lodge was title sponsor of the event for 2021 and 2022. During the spring of 2023 the Copper Harbor Trails Club (CHTC) and the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge (KML) mutually agreed for the Lodge to move on from the title sponsorship of Trails Fest. The Keweenaw Mountain Lodge title sponsorship started when the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge stepped up to take over late in the season in 2021. This now lets both organizations to focus on core competencies and joint future collaborative projects. One collaborative project that started on the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge property in 2022 was building a new Emergency Route. This route would allow an ATV with a gurney to access the base of Danimal and Flying Squirrel. Work will continue on this route into 2024. It was great to see the success of the CHTC’s 30th Annual Trails Fest which provided a weekend of great races along with some of the best weather of the year.

After the excitement of Trails Fest and the Labor Day weekend we rolled (and ran) into the fall season at the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge. This is some of the nicest time of year to come and hike and ride on the trails that surround the Lodge. The fall colors peaked out in late October, later than most years, with some of the nicest weather of the season available to those that waited to visit. We closed the bike wash and tool tree on October 25th and started to prepare the winter trails for the upcoming season of cross country skiing and snowshoeing. Snow will be here before we know it.

Update 12/29/2023

KML lodging guests rented a bike and went for a mountain bike ride on December 29, 2023.

KML team members went for a Christmas Eve ride on the Flow Trail.

The mountain biking and hiking season has been extended this season! The fall weather has been warm with very little snow. Recent rains have melted all the snow on the ground as of December 29th. It’s great to see people enjoying getting outside.

[ to read the 2022 and 2021 recaps ]

 


Chris Guibert: I have a strong passion for all things outdoors and have worked as a tour guide and professional photographer for the last twenty five years. As the Lead of Outdoor Activities at the Mountain Lodge I want make sure you and your family have a great experience while staying and playing. Please feel free to ask me any questions about the trails, regional activities and local secrets.