Outside capital expanding Keweenaw trails tourism

Graham Jaehnig/Daily Mining Gazette Nathan Miller, executive director of the Copper Harbor Trails Club, gave an update on his organization’s activities during the past year.

EAGLE RIVER — The discussion of increasing revenues in Keweenaw County came up during an update given to the board by Nathan Miller, executive director of the Copper Harbor Trails Club, and club board member Sam Raymond during Wednesday’s County Board meeting.

Miller said last year set a record for the club, particularly with the Copper Harbor Trails Quest, over Labor Day Weekend, which had 559 registered participants, with several hundred more attending the evening entertainment.

“It was a huge boom for the local economy,” Miller said, “with thousands of extra dollars pouring in, not only to our club, but also to all our partner businesses, so that was a huge score for us.”

Miller said in 2018, the club added a couple of new trails, including Raptor Ridge, which he said connected the topside of Brockway Mountain from one side to the other, opening it to more intermediate riders.

Other trail updates are scheduled for the 2019 summer season as well, he said. This will include one of the club’s oldest trails, what he referred to as the Flow Trail, a flowing trail that winds through the woods, that provides riders an excellent experience. He said the trail has become deteriorated, because it is one of the club’s most heavily used.

“We’re going to be bringing in Rock Solid Trail Contracting to update the trail, to make it more useable, not only for mountain bikers, but hikers, bird watchers, berry pickers, really anybody who wants to get out and enjoy that trail.”

Other trail updates will include an intermediate trail up the south side of Brockway, and others for expert riders, as well as easier trails for young riders, and those who do not want risky challenges. Those trails, Miller said, are in partnership with John Mueller and the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge.

“He is totally onboard with outdoor recreation,” Miller said of Mueller, who owns the KML, “and he wants to see more trails, getting more people outside. He sees that as sort of his business format moving forward, and we want to help that move along.”

Two to three miles of easy trails will be created on the KML property, through the backside of the gulf course, Miller said.

County Commissioner Jim Vivian said he did some “compiling” in terms of the amount of money that has spent in Keweenaw County since the Mueller purchased the KML in 2018.

“I came up with a round figure of about $5 million in investment up here,” he said.

This includes the purchase of the lodge, as well as the Lake Fannie Hooe Resort coming under new management last fall, Trails End Campground and others.

That kind of capital investment is what is needed in the county, Vivian said — outside money coming into the county to rejuvenate the economy.