Estivant Pines Nature Sanctuary

Trip Guide

Exploring Copper Harbor

Head to the north side of the peninsula to explore and hike the scenic Copper Harbor area. Waterfalls, nature sanctuaries, and old-growth forests make this trip every nature lover’s dream.

About Copper Harbor

47.4683°, -87.8903°

This Copper Harbor Trip Guide explores waterfalls, nature sanctuaries, old-growth forests, delicious local food, and more.

Pack binoculars (grab some from the cabin if you don’t have your own!) and wear some sturdy shoes. We recommend layering up as the weather can turn on a dime here.

Breakfast at Jamsen’s: Kick off your day with some sustenance and coffee at Jamsen’s Fish Market and Bakery , located at the waterfront landing in Copper Harbor. They’re famous for their freshly baked goods made with love from local ingredients. 15 minutes is plenty for a to-go breakfast.

Beach/Swim Hunter’s Point

This rocky point serves as the western arm of the harbor that gives Copper Harbor its name. It’s also the name of one of the Keweenaw’s most popular and accessible hikes. Starting from the parking area off M-26, a trail sheltered by old-growth cedar leads over rolling terrain through the boreal forest, following 4,800 feet of the peninsula’s northernmost coastline.

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You could easily spend 1-2 hours exploring here.

Explore Hunter’s Point: Visible from Jamsen’s and just five minutes down the road is Hunter’s Point—a 9.4-acre narrow finger of land that protects Copper Harbor from the storms of Lake Superior. It features a loop trail, pebbly beaches, and spectacular views of the lake. Bird watching, photography, and studying the many colorful and unique rock formations are just a few ways to enjoy this peaceful place. You could easily spend 1-2 hours exploring here.

Hike Manganese Falls

On an island full of beautiful waterfalls, Manganese Falls is not only one of the most unique, but also holds the distinction of being the last waterfall before you reach the tip of the Keweenaw. However, this hidden gem doesn’t reveal its beauty to just anyone. First, there’s the matter of finding the falls: the trailhead signage doesn’t appear until late spring, and the trail is hard to spot.

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5-minute pitstop, or longer if you hike down.

Pit Stop at Manganese Falls: On the way from Hunter’s Point to Estivant Pines, it’s worth checking out Manganese Falls. From a viewing platform just off the road, you’ll get a peek-a-boo view of the falls dropping 100 feet down a steep gorge through rock walls and fallen boulders. Some folks seeking a better view hike a little ways downstream. 5-minute pitstop, or longer if you hike down.

Hike Estivant Pines

Despite the buzz of ATVs along the adjoining roads, a reverent hush pervades this boreal forest sanctuary. Home to the Keweenaw’s last stand of old-growth evergreens, Estivant Pines was rescued from logging by a determined group of conservationists in 1973.

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You could easily spend 1-2 hours exploring here.

Hike at Estivant Pines Nature Sanctuary: Estivant Pines Nature Sanctuary is one of the Michigan Nature Association’s most popular sanctuaries. Come for nature walks through one of the last old-growth white pine stands in Michigan, growing more than 125 feet tall and dating back 300 years. Stay for the 85 species of birds, beautiful wildflowers, and a wide variety of ferns covering the forest floor. You could easily spend 1-2 hours exploring here.

Beginner Mountain Bike Tour: Explore Copper Harbor’s world-class mountain bike trails with the folks who know them best at Keweenaw Adventure Company! Whether you’re a novice rider (or a family of novices!) who’d like to learn, practice or refine some basic skills or an experienced rider wanting a local’s knowledge of the 38 mile plus trail system, our mountain bike tour groups are small and can be geared towards any level and ambition. 2.5 hours for the guided tour.

Fish Truck for Lunch: Head back into Copper Harbor for the best fish tacos of your life at Captain Matt’s Fish and Chips, aka “Fish Truck.” Fresh Lake Superior whitefish served al fresco has given Fish Truck a cult following of both locals and tourists alike. If you’re feeling like a beer to wash down your meal, head next door to Brickside Brewery, and Matt will deliver your meal to you there. 30 minutes is plenty, or tack on some more time to hang at the brewery.

Hike Fort Wilkins State Park

Ever wonder what life was like during the mining heyday that gave Copper Harbor its name? Fort Wilkins State Park has the answers. Built in 1844 by the U.S. government to maintain a law-abiding copper rush and run an efficient shipping system, the fort complex covers a whopping 700 acres at the crest of the peninsula.

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1 hour is plenty, more if you’re a history buff.

Explore Fort Wilkins Historic State Park: Home to one of Lake Superior’s first lighthouses—the Copper Harbor Lighthouse built in 1866—this 700-acre park is rich with historical significance. Several buildings from the original Fort Wilkins erected there in 1844 are still preserved today and are staffed by costumed personnel who portray Army life during the fort’s final summer as an active post. 1 hour is plenty, more if you’re a history buff.

Porter’s Island Paddle: Following some basic skills led by the Keweenaw Adventure Company team, test your paddling skills in and around the waters of Copper Harbor. Explore ancient rock shoreline, an uninhabited island, and learn about the history of the largest, natural harbor on the Keweenaw Peninsula. 2.5 hours for the paddle, another 30 minutes to explore the shore.

Fresh Coast Tip

Hiking shoes are recommended for walking the trails and shoreline of Mary Macdonald Preserve at Horseshoe Harbor.

Explore Mary Macdonald Preserve at Horseshoe Harbor: This 1,200-acre Nature Conservancy preserve has five miles of Lake Superior shoreline and is home to a diverse array of flora and fauna, including 11 threatened or rare species. The ancient bedrock that makes up the beach draws beachcombers and the trails into the forest make for excellent birdwatching. 2 hours can easily fly by here.

Beach/Swim High Rock Bay

The Keweenaw’s reputation as the “end of the world” probably came from a visit to High Rock Bay. Reaching this fabled destination is one of the peninsula’s greatest challenges, but it also offers some of the biggest rewards, not the least of which is bragging rights.

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It can take up to 45 minutes each way to get out there, depending on how you drive.

High Rock Bay: 4×4 Required: If you’re traveling in a 4×4 vehicle, you can hop onto the beginning of Highway 41 for eight miles down a bumpy dirt road through the forest. Your reward will be a stunning panoramic view of Lake Superior and Manitou Island at the very tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula. It can take up to 45 minutes each way to get out there, depending on how you drive.

Dinner at Harbor Haus: Harbor Haus is a German/Austrian-themed restaurant and bar offering up delicious fresh food and beautiful views of the lake from every table. Their spectacular outdoor patio is perfect for an afternoon drink and appetizers after a long day of hiking. If you’re there for dinner, you might catch the wait staff performing a ritualistic dance to welcome home the boaters when they re-enter the harbor. This occurs outside on the patio between 6:00 and 6:30 pm on days the Isle Royale Queen is running. Plan to take your time and enjoy the views.

Fresh Coast Cabins: Welcome home! We hope you enjoyed our Copper Harbor Trip Guide.

Keweenaw Peninsula Trip Guides were curated by Fresh Coast Cabins + Friends. Collectively, we have over 20 years of time spent on these roads, in these woods, and supporting this community.