Houghton County

Houghton County has a broad spectrum of trail opportunities throughout the County, from long-distance trails to local loops, with recognition and promotion of the area as a mountain biking mecca. Most non-motorized systems, including those used for mountain biking, are well established as cross-country ski trails as well. Some trails and pathways are suitable for road bicycling as well, as noted below. Finally, several communities have historical walking tour routes: Calumet, Hancock, Houghton, and Laurium.

Following is a listing of local trails of all types listed by unit of government, with long-distance trails listed separately. Trails in Houghton County are listed and described below. Most of these are trails over land; water trails are denoted with Waves.

Calumet Township:

  • Calumet Dam Area contains walking trails are interspersed with campsites.
  • Gardner’s Creek Nature Trail is 1-mile-long interpretive path located in the CLK School Forest across Lakeshore Drive from the Calumet Township Park west of town.Swedetown Ski Trails Signs
  • Swedetown Trails are located in the 2,000-acre Swedetown Recreation Area owned by Calumet Township and the North Houghton County Water Authority. In snow season, more than 30 kilometers (20 miles) of trails are groomed for skating and classic skiing. Plenty of trails are intermediate, with more challenging options also available. There are 6 kilometers of back country trails designated for classic skiing only. Two snowshoe trails totaling 6.4 kilometers offer great scenic views. The ski trail network can be accessed from two trailheads with plowed parking. One of these has a Chalet with wax area, drinking water, restrooms, skier lounge, and snacks, as well as knowledgeable local hosts. Off-season, the network includes more than 20 miles of mapped and marked single track mountain bike trails as well as hiking and running trails.

Chassell Township:

  • Chassell Ski/Snowshoe Trails are made up of two 5-kilometer/3-mile loops, 1 kilometer/0.6 mile of which is lighted, for skiing and snowshoeing. The trails are groomed daily in winter. Mountain biking is permitted.
  • Sturgeon River Sloughs Wildlife Area is a Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR)-owned area split into two units. The south unit  is located off Highway U.S. 41 at the end of Arnheim Road seven miles south of Chassell. The unit includes the 1.5-mile Bert deVriendt Nature Trail and observation platform for wildlife viewing opportunities.
  • Waves Sturgeon River has a several-mile slow, quiet segment upstream of its mouth at the Portage Waterway. Sturgeon River Road parallels much of this segment, and public access is easy at Highway U.S. 41 and the downstream Chassell Township Park.

Duncan Township:

  • Davison Lakes Hunter Walking Trail is an 8.5-mile hiking trail system made up of a 6.1-mile loop plus two shorter cutoffs. Wildlife viewing opportunities abound in a 640-acre section of land. The trail is located at the end of 5-mile road off Gardner Road north of Trout Creek. The trailhead is marked and gated at a small parking area. This trail is made up of old dirt roads that are now mostly reclaimed by plant growth. The trails are mowed only once a year and become heavily overgrown by late summer. In addition, parts of the trail cross over wetlands and can become muddy and difficult to traverse. Part of this trail network crosses wetlands A map is posted on site and also available here.
  • Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness: See hiking trail listing on the Baraga County page.

Elm River Township:

  • Twin Lakes Nature Trail begins in the Twin Lakes State Park campground and crosses Highway M-26 to a 24-kilometer/1.5-mile loop with two scenic overlooks from which Lake Superior can be seen on clear days. The trail can be used for both hiking and cross-country skiing but is ungroomed.

Franklin Township:

  • Paavola Wetlands Preserve contains six distinct trails totaling 2.6 miles pass through easy hiking terrain which may, however, become soggy at times. Trails cover a variety of environs with diverse wildlife viewing opportunities. One trail passes through an old farm field where an abandoned building lies. The preserve is located on No. 9 Road east off U.S. 41 just north of Hancock’s Quincy Hill. Visitors are urged to Leave No Trace.

City of Hancock:

  • Hancock Middle/High School Nature Trail is located on the school campus in northern Hancock.
  • Hancock Trail is a segment of the Jack Stevens Trail throughout Houghton County. In the city, the trail is a paved and hybrid paved/unpaved segment allowing for motorized and non-motorized use. In winter it is primarily a snowmobile trail. The trail extends from the Portage Lake Lift Bridge to just north of Ingot Street. The trail overall is under DNR jurisdiction.
  • Maasto Hiihto Trails are segregated between some groomed for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing and others used only for hiking and mountain biking. Multiple trail types are included: singletrack, two-track, and gravel roads; all are non-motorized. The trails are groomed in winter (totaling 25 kilometers/15 miles) and actively maintained in summer, primarily by volunteers. Land is in a combination of private and public ownership. The Maasto Hiihto system has two trailheads in the city: the Houghton County Fairgrounds, which has a chalet and is tailored to skiers, and the Maasto Hiihto Swedetown Creek BridgeCity of Hancock Public Works garage on Tomasi Road, an entry point that is suitable for all trail uses. Churning rapids has a trailhead on Christianson Road off M-203.

 Hancock Township:

  • Maasto Hiihto/Churning Rapids Trails: are segregated between some groomed for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing and others used only for hiking and mountain biking. Multiple trail types are included: singletrack, two-track, and gravel roads; all are non-motorized. The trails are groomed in winter (totaling 25 kilometers/15 miles) and actively maintained in summer, primarily by volunteers. Land is in a combination of private and public ownership. The Maasto Hiihto system has two trailheads in the city: the Houghton County Fairgrounds, which has a chalet and is tailored to skiers, and the City of Hancock Public Works garage on Tomasi Road, an entry point that is suitable for all trail uses. Churning rapids has a trailhead on Christianson Road off M-203.
  • McLain State Park Hiking/Ski Trail is a 2.5-kilometer/4-mile loop hiking trail that is also groomed for skiing and snowshoeing in winter. The trail skirts Bear Lake and Lake Superior at two points and offers wildlife viewing opportunities at the former.

City of Houghton:Houghton Waterfront Path

  • Houghton/Portage Township School Forest off Sharon Avenue in Houghton is a 27-acre tract with a barrier-free interpretive nature trail. The trail is accessible May 1 through October 30.
  • Houghton Waterfront Trail is a 4.5-mile paved multi-use trail bordering the Portage Waterway in Houghton. The trail is used for non-motorized activities – including running, jogging, and road bicycling – in summer and snowmobiling in winter. The trail connects the Houghton Waterfront Park and Bill Nicholls Trail on the west end to the Nara Nature Park on the east end and continues as a separate unpaved (but firm-surface) trail to Chassell.
  • Michigan Tech Trails are an extensive 35-kilometer/22-mile trail system, which is attached to the Nara trails of approximately the same length, is used for hiking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, showshoeing (11.7 kilometers), and skijoring (dog-drawn skiing – 2.4 kilometers). Lighting is in place for winter use on 7.5 kilometers. The trail system is owned and operated by Michigan Technological University.
  • Nara Nature Park is a 100-acre park providing, when combined with the interconnected Michigan Tech Trails, over 50 kilometers/31 miles of hiking, mountain biking, cross-country ski, and snowshoing trails. The park chalet and parking area are located on Highway U.S. 41 in East Houghton. The system is owned by the City of Houghton. A separate Nara Nature Trail is a 6-foot-wide, 4,500-feet-long boardwalk leading from U.S. 41 to the Portage Waterway, and the three-quarter mile Peepsock Trail is a spur following Peepsock Creek to the Portage Lake shoreline. A chalet is available.

Laird Township:

  • Bob Lake National Forest Campground located off F.H. 16 six miles south of Highway M-38 on the west end of the Township gives access to two trails:
    • Beaver Lodge Trail is a 1.25-mile interpretive nature hiking  trail with a trailhead at the campground picnic area. The trail takes about 30 minutes to hike and offers diverse wildlife viewing opportunities – including beavers, of course!
    • North Country Trail passes near the campground and is accessible from a short spur of the Beaver Lodge Trail. The long-distance trail traverses Laird Township west-east, skirting the west side of the Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness at the east end of the county.
  • Old Grade Trail: See Ontonagon County trails.
  • Silver Mountain is a hill that, while reportedly only 250 feet above the surrounding plains, towers magestically over the Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness which is located just to the southeast. The top of the hill, which provides views miles around, is attained by either a 45-minute hike on a rugged trail or a long and strenuous climb of at least 250 stairs on multiple flights. The site is reached by following several well-signed gravel roads off the south side of Highway M-38 9.5 miles west of Baraga.
  • Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness: See hiking and Waves water trail listing on the Baraga County page.

Village of Lake Linden:

  • Nature Trail is a 4-kilometer/2.5-mile route used for bicycling, walking/jogging/hiking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing.

Portage Township:

  • Pilgrim River Watershed Project is a 1,382-acre publicly accessible land complex containing over six miles of hiking and mountain bike trails with two trailheads. The North Trailhead is located at the junction of Pilgrim and Paradise Roads south of the City of Houghton. The South Trailhead is located at the entrance to a logging road off Boundary Road between Superior and Paradise Roads. Further access upstream on the river is available at the entrance to a logging road off Baltic-Onkalus Road between Baltic and Superior Roads. The North and South Trails are signed and have maps at the trailheads. The North Trail is point-to-point, and the South Trail is a loop; the two overlap at sign post 2. Maps are available here.

Stanton Township:

  • Marsin Nature Preserve is a 56-acre conservation area with forests and meadows that can be seen from a 0.75-mile nature trail with opportunities for viewing songbirds and waterfowl. The preserve is located off Canal Road 7 miles south of Houghton.

Torch Lake Township:

A variety of other trail resources, including maps, trail conditions, and an event listing, are available at the Keweenaw Trails website.

Click here or on the map below for a printable PDF map and land-based trail information table.
Houghton County Trail Map
Due to the small scale and level of detail in the map, we recommend using Adobe Reader version X (10) or higher to print in tile format or to print a selected area of the map.