Copper Harbor—and all around the Keweenaw—should be at the top of your list of mountain biking destinations.
The Keweenaw’s many mountain biking trail systems have gained regional and even national notoriety over the recent years, and we’re thrilled to share with visitors what local mountain bike enthusiasts have been raving about for decades.
Mountain biking has always been one of our favorite activities here because it’s so accessible and a great way to explore the Keweenaw’s natural beauty. With over 645 miles of trails ranging from beginner to expert, there’s something for everyone. If you’re staying at one of our cabins, you’re a mere three miles away from Copper Harbor, the jumping-off point to the famed Copper Harbor Trail System! And a really fun area to explore for experts and now—with the new beginning trails and weekly hosted rides—it’s a perfect place to learn!
No bike? No problem
Keweenaw Adventure Company offers rentals and expert advice from their team of local mountain bike enthusiasts and guides so you can get on the trails in no time. There are also several options for guided mountain bike tours around the UP so you can skip the planning and gear toting altogether.
Copper Harbor Trail System
Copper Harbor Trails are designated a Silver Level Ride Center by the International Mountain Biking Association—one of 10 trails in the world to earn this coveted ranking. The 37 miles of sweet single-track are free to use and open to the public, thanks to Copper Harbor Trails Association who drive the fundraising and volunteer program.
Trails are accessible from several locations throughout the Copper Harbor area. Learn more about this epic trail system and plan your trip using the resources offered by the Copper Harbor Trails Club.
A trail for everyone
Copper Harbor has riding for all skill levels and riding styles. Downhill tracks, flow trails, traditional cross country, and burly technical options come in a broad mixture of everything from green runs to true double black diamond runs. If you want to earn your turns, take advantage of the vast number of grade reversals minimizing the amount of sustained climbing.
Beginner’s trails and organized group rides
Located in the heart of the Copper Harbor Trails system, the family-friendly Back 9 Trails at the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge are a great place to start because they’re easily rideable for all levels of riders. These beginner-level (green) trails enable everyone to ride their bikes, and improve their skills.
The Keweenaw Mountain Lodge also offers free guided rides throughout the week. There is no cost and no registration necessary. If you don’t have your own bike, you can rent one from them. Check out their full schedule here.
Mountain biking in the Keweenaw (Calumet and Houghton areas)
The Houghton mountain biking scene is most well-known for two significant trail systems: Maasto Hiihto and Churning Rapids Trail System, and Michigan Tech Trails and Nara Nature Park. Houghton and Marquette making the list of top Bicycle Friendly Communities in the nation by the League of American Bicyclists.
Near Calumet you’ll find 85 miles of trail, with the most noteworthy being the Swedetown Singletrack. It’s claimed to be the best singlespeed terrain in the area, and a great place for less experienced riders to familiarize themselves with singletrack riding. Folks also love this trail for the wildlife viewing.
Hike Swedetown Recreation Area
Sport junkies, rejoice! This public recreation area is the Keweenaw’s premier playground for all things mud-splattering, teeth-rattling, and heart-pounding. Swedetown’s 1,900 forested acres are interspersed with hand-built single-track trails for running, hiking, mountain biking, and dog walking.
Michigan Tech Trails
The Michigan Tech trails and Nara Park trails provide 23 miles miles of wide-track and technical trails ranging from beginner to advanced, making this a fun area no matter your experience level.
For a real glimpse into what it’s like riding here in the fall, check out this biking video at the Tech Trails, courtesy of Eric Issacs, a former Michigan Tech student cycling club member. Michigan Tech Trails are operated by Michigan Tech University’s Recreation department and cycling club.
Maasto Hiihto and Churning Rapids
Near Hancock, you’ll find 30 miles of trails that make up the Maasto Hiihto and Churning Rapids Trail System. They’re mainly intermediate but with several beginner and advanced options. Its scenic forest and stream make for a beautiful ride.
Marquette area mountain biking
Marquette offers a whopping 110 miles of trail broken up into three main areas: the Harlow Lake Trail System, Marquette Trails North, and Marquette Trails South. Layered in single-track mountain biking trails, this area rarely sees the same number of bikers as trails closer to town. The trails range from beginner, casual rides to highly technical, free ride trails. The views of the lake and surrounding wilderness from atop of the many granite rock outcroppings make for a very scenic ride.
In Bike Mag’s article, “A Mountain Biker’s Guide To Marquette,” Marquette is touted as having “…perfect dirt, prime weather for riding, and a tapestry of colors from the foliage season.” Check out the article for a full run-down of each of these three areas. The Noquemanon Trail Network is a great local resource for more info about the trails here.
Because Trails in Marquette offers camps and clinics, educational talks, small group and individual lessons, and trail tours with a local guide. Their founder started up the annual Copper Harbor Women’s Weekend, one of the premier women’s mountain biking clinics in the Midwest.
Races, clinics, and rides
The Keweenaw mountain biking community loves their events, and there’s probably one happening during your visit. Below is a comprehensive list, and the Copper Harbor Trails Club and U.P. Mountain Biking are excellent event resources.
Events in the Keweenaw Peninsula
|Big Boy Clinic||Copper Harbor|
|Women’s Weekend||Copper Harbor|
|Bell’s Beer Copper Harbor Trails Fest||Copper Harbor|
|Great Deer Chase||Calumet|
|Experience the Keweenaw||Hancock + More locations!|
Outside the Keweenaw Peninsula
|Marquette Trails Festival||Marquette|
|Because Trails Mountain Bike Camp||Marquette|
|Miner’s Revenge Race||Greenland|
|Ore to Shore Mountain Bike Epic||Marquette|
|Copper Peak Trails Fest||Ironwood|
|Marji Gesick Races||Marquette|
|U.P. Cross Races||Multiple Locations|
|Wild Side of the Noque Snow Bike Race||Marquette|
Stay in touch
We’d love to hear from you about your mountain biking adventures on the U.P., so please reach out. If you’re looking for lodging or have any questions about planning your trip, we can help with that too—we love hosting and sharing our favorite parts of this magical place. We hope to see you soon in the Keweenaw!
Fresh Coast Tip
Please note that the group photos in this article were taken pre-COVID. Tour companies have limited the number of guests and are taking appropriate precautions per CDC guidelines and state regulations.
Header photo: Greg Maino