Keweenaw Heartland Park: Campgrounds to accommodate every outdoor enthusiast
EAGLE RIVER — Grant Township Supervisor Scott Wendt in his presentation to the Keweenaw County Board of Supervisors regarding a mixed-use park comprising more than 32,600 acres, admitted there are few concrete answers to questions at this time. The two primary questions put to Wendt by board members were: How will the project be funded, and do the people of Keweenaw County want it.
The proposal, admittedly, as Board Member Jim Vivian stated, is ambitious.
The proposed vision of what would be called the Keweenaw Heartlands Collaborative Park combines several elements, including conserving the pristine wilderness of Keweenaw Point, maintaining sustainable forestry, along with providing outdoor recreation that has already made Grant Township a premier vacation destination.
Wendt began his presentation outlining the envisioned campground system that would be instrumental in utilizing the extensive trail system that is part of the plan for the proposed park. The acreage under consideration is large tract, divided into four blocks of forestland composed of more than 32,500 acres that the American Forest Group has been harvesting in preparation to sell the land. According to Wendt, once purchased, the lands would be adjacent to state, county and privately-owned conservation lands that when inter-connected, would comprise the third largest public park in Michigan. Indeed, as County Commissioner Jim Vivian stated during the presentation, if created, the Heartlands Park would dwarf both the Fort Wilkins State Park and the Isle Royale National Park combined.
The park, said Wendt, will integrate a diverse and well-designed trail system, encompassing “almost every type of trail user that has been currently using the tip of the Keweenaw.” In addition to hiking, biking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, ORVs and snowmobiles, the proposal also calls for horseback riding trails. Developed and rustic campground sites, strategically located will dot the park, as well.
“Some of the recreational features that we envision occurring, and currently occurring, in the park “ Wendt said, “are hiking trails, primitive hiking trails, such as on Isle Royale, developed campgrounds, equestrian, fishing, mountain biking, various hunting, all aspects of winter sports, rustic campgrounds, all types of motorized sports, and something that is severely lacking in the Keweenaw, ADA accessible amenities.”
Wendt predicted the most significant revenue stream would come from camping. Whether campers prefer modern or primitive sites, the park’s vision includes both.
“There will be a total of approximately 450 sites that will take advantage of the natural woodlands, Lake Superior shores, the towering ridges and hills, the expansive dark sky, and untold history.”
The plan currently is the campground entrance to be located at the Resolute Campground, approximately a mile and a half into the covered road, on U.S. 41, going north from Delaware. French Annie Campground, which would be across from the Burma Trail in the upper harbor, and Little Betsy/Superior Campground.
“Each of the modern campgrounds will have all the amenities of a normal campground,” Wendt said, “including handicapped accessible sites and amenities.” Each of the modern campgrounds would contain 100 modern sites, equipped with electricity, modern showers, restrooms, picnic tables, fire pits, mini-cabins, playgrounds, camp stores and recycle centers.
Select sites, he said, will be winterized for year-round use to encourage year-round visitation. Rustic campgrounds will be interspersed across the entire parkland.
“Ones that have been identified are the Montreal, the point and Little Betsy and Silver River,” he said. “These are for hike-in only.”
Each campground will have remote tent sites, along with Isle Royale-style shelters, no electricity, and rustic restrooms, he added. Supplies must either be bicycle packed in or backpacked in from designated parking areas.
Campgrounds will have easy access to all hiking and biking trail systems. Also included in the campground system is an equestrian campground, which Wendt said will have all the amenities of a normal campground, along with amenities for livestock. This campground, he said, will serve as the trailhead for all equestrian trails.
Motorized campgrounds, he said will be off of the Resolute and will have all the amenities of a normal campground, but will have easy access to both the park trails, and the “Greater Keweenaw Park trail system.” Select sites will be winterized for year-round use.
Using the footprint from both the Ludington State Park and the Porcupine Mountains State Park, cabin rentals will be interspersed across the park in different scenic locations. Cabins will offer visitors the camping experience without having to purchase camping gear or a recreational vehicle. Select cabins will be winterized to serve as a base camp for winter activities.