Trail Talk: Network down spine of Keweenaw envisioned

Graham Jaehnig/Daily Mining Gazette Calumet Township Supervisor Paul Lehto looks over a document containing his ideas on a cooperative effort to develop and expand extensive trail systems between the township and Keweenaw County.

CALUMET TOWNSHIP — As Keweenaw County moves forward with development and expansion of recreational trails, plans of a trail from Copper Harbor to the village of Calumet is now the focus of the Copper Harbor Trails Club.

The trail would necessarily have to pass over Calumet Township property, and Township Supervisor Paul Lehto said his board is supportive of cooperation with governments and organizations in extending trails both north and south and broadening plans and ideas.

“Building a walking trail along the spine of the Keweenaw is a great idea,” Lehto said. “It’s been out there for a long time. And I could see that going from Bumbletown Hill going to the cliff, and stay on the spine of the Keweenaw, so you wind up at the east bluff, past Copper Harbor.”

Leah Polzien, executive director of Calumet village’s Downtown Development Authority, also recently expressed a desire to work with Keweenaw County on developing village’s trails to connect with Keweenaw County’s extensive system.

Lehto said Polzien organized a meeting with the Keweenaw National Park, as well as other local planners and organizers, including Lehto.

“We were all supposed to bring something to the meeting about trails,” he said. “She had the meeting over at the park headquarters”

Lehto said the document he provided focused primarily on the township’s Swedetown ski trails, and what they could offer and provide to a trail project that would embrace recreation enthusiasts year-round.

Lehto’s document states there are 100 miles of groomed trails north of the Portage Lake Lift Bridge, and the trail from Hancock to the Centennial Heights Road in Calumet Township is owned by the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and trails north of Calumet into Keweenaw County are on one-year easements.

Lehto said the DNR also has a program to purchase easements on existing trails, while at the same time, is negotiating with The Rohatyn Group (TRG, formerly GMO) to acquire permanent easements on TRG property, mostly in Keweenaw County.

The potential exists to create extensive trail systems that include all outdoor enthusiasts, Lehto said.