Wilderness Recreation: Public uses planned for Brockway area

Photo from eyeonmichigan.com Eagle Harbor Township’s Brockway Mountain Drive is a popular route for local residents and tourists alike, including hikers, mountain bikers and ATVs to access the mountain’s terrain. One of the concerns regarding this traffic is the narrow road and shoulder width.

MOHAWK — When the Keweenaw County Board passed its all-terrain vehicle (ATV) ordinance, Brockway Mountain was not considered, because there were no businesses or residences along Brockway Mountain Drive, Keweenaw County Road Commissioner Ron Olson said.

All of that may be subject to change. Eagle Harbor Township has been working on a master plan for the summit of Brockway Mountain for approximately a year.

Using a Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant, the township purchased the summit of the mountain in 2013, along with the accompanying 320 acres, states the township’s website. The township committed the property in perpetuity to recreational uses and public benefit, according to the Brockway Mountain Summit Master Plan.

It has become part of an approximately 4,500-acre Keweenaw Coastal Wildlife Corridor. The corridor extends between the village of Eagle Harbor on the west and Copper Harbor on the east, with the summit of Brockway Mountain the most visible portion of the corridor.

The drive, the plan states, allows access by automobile, which supports the Copper Country Trails National Byways Plan and offers people who normally would not be able to access the inner coastal wilderness a “front-row seat.”

The Brockway Mountain Drive and its 60-foot-wide easement are owned by the Keweenaw County Road Commission, which holds concerns over ATV use on the drive, largely because of damage to the road’s shoulders. Additionally, as with the township, the road presents safety issues.

“During the warmer months,” the plan states, “cyclists and hikers also visit the Brockway Mountain Summit, but this is challenging and somewhat dangerous because of the lack of shoulders on much of Brockway Mountain Drive.”

Although the county ordinance for ATV use does not currently include the mountain drive, the plan does list among its many stakeholders, trail clubs — snowmobile, ORV (off-road vehicles) and mountain biking, which includes the Keweenaw ATV Club.

Club members were advised by the commission at Monday’s meeting to consult with the county attorney to look into any exceptions that would allow ATVs to use M-26 to access the mountain drive, as there are currently no authorized trails in the immediate vicinity of the drive.