One of the first things the Lodge did when it switched ownership was to construct the Back 9 beginner trails. These easy trails were a much needed addition to the challenging Copper Harbor trail system. The next step in expanding the mountain bike opportunities at the Lodge was to incorporate our focus on education and learning into the development of new areas to ride. The concept of a skills loop and pump track was discussed as a place for beginner riders to come practice before heading out on to the greater trail system. It would also be a place for clinics and lessons to be held which would offer new riders a safe and accessible area to hone their skills.
The concept is that both areas would be open for the public to use with the Copper Harbor Trails Club maintaining them. The pump track and the skills loop features will be constructed of materials (and in a manner) that will complement the CCC heritage of the KML Parkitecture aesthetic. For example, some discarded stone foundations were discovered in the skills loop area during a site visit and will likely be incorporated into a ride feature.
Here are the initial conceptual plans for the skills park, from Rock Solid Trail Contracting. In this drawing you can see where the skills loop and pump track will be located on the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge property. They will be both accessed by the Back 9 Trailhead.
The project would be built in two phases. Phase 1 will consist of a family friendly mountain bike skills progression loop that will incorporate challenging features such as various jump and drop options, rock gardens, and bridges/skinnies. This area will be constructed in a manner which encourages rider progression and would incorporate the native building materials when available and practicable. In each of the skills stations there would be space for coaches to watch students and make suggestions on their riding. Phase 1 is tentatively scheduled to be built in may/June 2022.
Phase 2 will consist of a beginner and intermediate pump track. The layout will be designed in a way that is child and beginner friendly but still stimulating for intermediate riders. The planned location is close enough in proximity to the KML, so children could play without parental supervision. Phase 2 is tenatively scheduled to be built in Summer or Fall of 2022.
Time Line of Project:
- August 2020: Start discussion with Rock Solid Trail Contracting about a pump track at the Lodge
- October 2020: The discussion begins on adding a “Skills Park” in addition to the Pump Line
- April 2021: Start discussion with the Copper Harbor Trails Club (CHTC) about maintaining the Pump Track
- June 2021: Reached out to mountain bike coaches in the area for input into the design
- September 2021: On site review with Aaron Rogers of Rock Solid Trail Contracting to discuss layout and vision.
- November 2021: Original concept drawings for Skills Loop is submitted by Rock Solid Trail Contracting to the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge.
- February 2022: Rock Solid Trail Contracting design proposal submitted to Keweenaw Mountain Lodge.
- February – April 2022: Discussion continues with Rock Solid Trail Contracting. Gateway Trails and an overall KML Concept Trail Plan are proposed.
- April 2022: Skills Loop construction is postponed until 2023. Rock Solid and KML decide to work on KML’s overall Trail Concept Plan.
- June 2022: A Destination Development Grant was awarded to the Copper Harbor Trails Club for design and/or construction of the Skills Park.
- June 2022: Work begins on an overall Trail Concept Plan for the KML property.
- January 2023: KML decides to move forward without hiring Rock Solid or involving the Copper Harbor Trails Club, stating” we want to be involved in the design and building process. We want to have fun building the park, and increasing our knowledge of trail building on our staff. This helps us learn and improve our skills. In addition, following this process ensures that the end result of the bike park will fit our brand/image and will be built in a manner that fits our values.” As a result of this decision, the grant with Visit Keweenaw is cancelled by both the CHTC and KML.
- February 2023: The KML team starts shopping for mini excavators and looks into trail building courses for its team.
Current Concept Plan for the Bike Park as of February 2023:
Mountain Bike Park Skills Area_Loop - Conceptual Plan 2022 (1)