Take a trip through the heart of "Copper Country" on the Hancock/Calumet Trail. When more than three-quarters of the nation's copper came from this region of the Keweenaw Peninsula, Mineral Range Railroad cars hauled hard-rock copper along this route. Today the rolling corridor is home to 13.4 miles of trail that also goes by the names "Jack Stevens Calumet-Hancock Rail Trail" and "Snowmobile Trail #17."
The Portage Lift Bridge, the heaviest and widest double-decked vertical lift bridge in the world, serves as the backdrop for the southern end of the trail, but it is more convenient to park and start your journey from just west of the bridge at Hancock's Porvoo Park. Faced with starting a climb cold from the park, you might want to warm up your legs by heading first over to the lift bridge to visit Turtle Garden and Labyrinth Park. Check out the sights, then hit the trail.
The first few miles within the city of Hancock from Porvoo Park are paveda rarity for Upper Peninsula rail-trailsand steep. As you huff and puff up the incline you can appreciate the energy required to move trains up this hill. Coasting downhill on your return will soon put a smile on your face, and so will this: the trail levels off near mile 4.
After leaving the asphalt surface in Hancock, the trail alternates between crushed stone and dirt, and you sail past numerous ponds, wetlands, fishing spots, piles of mine tailings and other relics of the copper-mining era.
As you approach the Calumet area the trail skirts the Swedetown Recreation Area and Swedetown Trails. Formerly just for cross-country skiers, these trails now welcome mountain bikers too. Closer to downtown Calumet an old railroad bridge frames the boarded up Mineral Range depot. This idle bridge now stands as a gateway to Calumet for trail users as they pass beneath it. The depot is a logical ending point for the trail.
Calumet is the headquarters for the Keweenaw National Historical Park that preserves and celebrates the mining history of Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula. If you're interested in learning about this area when copper was king, pick up a brochure and take a walking tour of the historical downtown. Summer visitors have greater opportunities for enjoyment, when the seasonally operated heritage center and the Coppertown Mining Museum are open.
Parking and Trail Access
Hancock's Provo Park is located along the Portage Lake Ship Canal at the base of Tezcuco Street in the city of Hancock. To start at the northern end in Calumet, take US 41 north and turn left on 6th Street. Turn left on Elm Street to reach the trailhead by old depot.
To start at the southern end in Hancock, take US 41 or State Route M-26 north to cross the Portage Lake Lift Bridge; exit right (east) along the ramp for M-26 and turn right at the first access road to loop under the Lift Bridge to the trailhead. Or, continue west along Navy Street to park at Porvoo Park at the end of Tezcuco Street.