Don't wait for another day. When you have nice weather, sunny skies, take the ride. Brockaway Mountain is a pleasant half day trip from Copper Harbor to Eagle Harbor or back. You'll have breathtaking view of Copper Harbor and the surrounding wilderness of the Upper Peninsula. For more pictures, see my Brockaway Mountain Travelogue.
An I do mean trip. The Lighthouse can be reached by private roads. All of which are closed to the public. But the trip across the harbor brings so many more things with it that it is worth the cost.
The boat captain provides information about Copper Harbor, the lake and the events of the area. As you approach the lighthouse, you feel the isolation that this location once had all year and still retains through 9 months of the year. A guide will take you around the grounds and point out how this site became Copper Harbor, when the future of copper was to be bound up further south in Calumet and Houghton/Hancock.
In rough weather they don't make the trip. When the weather is less than calm, they have a cover that protects you from the spray and the cold breeze. Kids love the trip across the harbor in the open boat.
The Copper Harbor Lighthouse has marked the entrance to this harbor since 1849. This was one of the first lighthouses authorized by Congress to be constructed on Lake Superior after the discovery of copper put new demands on Lake Superior shipping. Government light keepers and their families staffed this light well into the 20th century. Today you can visit this light to learn of its history, see the period rooms and exhibits, as well as walk short interpretive trails. The tours of the Copper Harbor Lighthouse begin at the Copper Harbor Marina, 1/2 mile west of Copper Harbor, off M-26. You will board a small boat to be transported to the lighthouse. Allow about 2 hours to tour the lighthouse and the keepers dwelling. This site is partially accessible to the handicapped. Tours are given Memorial Day through Labor Day weather permitting. For current schedule and fee information call Fort Wilkins State Park.
Photos 2 - 5 give you views of the tour boat, and additional views of the lighthouse.
Estivant Pines Sanctuary located three miles south of Copper Harbor contains a 377-acre stand of old growth Eastern White Pine trees growing in a biologically diverse mixture of northern hardwoods and boreal species. This wilderness tract has trails that allow you to wander through part of the sanctuary and enjoy the quite of a U.P. forest.
From the Copper Harbor Marina take the short hiking trail that comes off of the parking lot there. It is a pleasant walk that will take you along Hunter’s Point to the shores of Lake Superior and to the rocky, Agate Beach. Hunter’s Point can be found in the west end of the harbor, creating a natural barrier against the storms of Lake Superior. The trail was established with the purchase of Hunter’s Point by Grant Township with the help of many visitors to Copper Harbor, as well as an agreement with private landowners allowing hikers to cross over the private roads. The Keweenaw Peninsula and Copper Harbor is a rocky land with many small peninsulas and volcanic layers. Hunter’s Point is one example of these old volcanic fingers that extend into Lake Superior. Enjoy the forest, birds, and lovely bay as well as the shore of Lake Superior as you walk this trail. My first photo shows you the sign to look for after you park at the Marina. The other photos will show you views you will see as you hike the trail.
Fort Wilkins State Park/Historical Museum Complex is another of the Keweenaw National Historical Park Cooperating Sites. Located just beyond Copper Harbor on US-41 it is open daily from mid–May to Mid-October. This is a well preserved, living History museum. Fort Wilkins was built in 1844 and although it was only in use for a few years, it represents a good example of a nineteenth century military post. Costumed interpreters portraying life as it was over 150 years ago will help to complete the feeling of the times. Fort Wilkins State Park also houses a modern seasonal campground. In the winter cross-country ski and snowmobile trails may be found in the state park.
While in Copper Harbor, enjoy Lake Superior with a sunset cruise aboard the Isle Royale Queen IV. The Isle Royal Queen operates their evening cruise July 4th to Labor Day, departing at 8:30 p.m. The skipper and narrator are long time residents of Copper Harbor and will tell you about the Great Lakes shipping, local history, and ecology. So sit back, and enjoy this one and a half hour evening cruise, which will take you out onto Lake Superior to watch the sun set and maybe see a freighter close-up. Using their radar, the Queen can scan for freighters in the area, and then if there is one close by they can chase it down, as the ferry is faster than the huge ships. If you are lucky enough to come near a big ocean going ship, also called saltiest, the six-story superstructure vessels with its lights aglow will awe you. It will be an experience you will never forget. Using a radio to communicate with the ship, you will learn what the ship is carrying and where it is headed. They could be only going to Wisconsin, but they could be headed for Europe. Be sure to bring a jacket, and if you want a seat on the deck, arrive early, otherwise you will be seated inside, which might be preferred on a cool windy evening. The Isle Royal Queen is a 149 passenger ship that also makes daily trips to Isle Royal National Park. (See my Off the Beaten Path tip).
Lake Superior and the surrounding woodlands can be viewed along the 9.5 mile Brockway Mountain Drive, which is located west of Copper Harbor off of M-26 between Copper Harbor and Eagle Harbor. This drive takes you to the top of the highest elevation in the area to give you a panoramic view. Ok, I my home town for most of the year is Cody, Wyoming, and for me this isn't a REAL Mountain. But shhhhh, don't tell the locals that. It is, however, a very beautiful mountain like view similar to those seen in the eastern part of the U.S. The view you see in my photo was taken on a hazy, fall day. In the distance along the skyline you can see Lake Superior.
Rent your own sea kayaks to explore the scenic waters in Copper Harbor or the shores of Lake Superior either on your own or with one of the Keweenaw Adventure Company’s tours. You can even take a sea kayak tour if you have no experience at all in a Kayak. If you take the Porter’s Island Paddle you will have a two and a half hour introduction to sea kayaking. This choice will give you basic instruction, and a bit of the Copper Harbor history. The Agate Harbor Paddle will take you to a chain of barrier islands, finger bays, a ship wreck, and the arach rock. This trip is a half a day adventure that is run on Wednesday and Sunday mornings. You will need to reserve 24 hours ahead. In 2007 the cost was $79 and included lunch. The Bare Bluff Paddle is a full day trip that will take you to some of the Keweenaw’s most beautiful scenery including sea caves, arches, sea stacks, a 600 foot cliff, and a water fall. This tour is run Tuesday and Saturday mornings . You must reserve 24 hours in advance. The trip in 2007 cost $104 and included lunch.
If you take one of these tours be sure to bring drinking water, a sun hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, a jacket, sorts or a swimsuit, shoes that you feel you can get wet. You may also wish to bring a camera.
If you are up for a really big adventure, you may wish to try tours that include a number of days and nights. You must reserve one of these at least 3 weeks in advance, and pay a 50% deposit. There is a two person minimum for these tours. The Isle Royal trip is a true wilderness experience in Isle Royal National Park. This tour ranges from 4 to 8 days. The Keweenaw Water Trail ranges from 3 to 6 days and will take you to the waters of the Keweenaw Point and a chance to explore the uninhabited wilderness of the mainland.
About 15 miles from Copper Harbor is Mount Bohemia ski run. It's a pretty advanced run that is comparable to skiing you might find in the Rocky Mountains. check out the super-cool ski huts at the bottom of the runs!
On you way up to Copper Harbor you will drive past an area called Brockway Mountain drive. Be sure to stop and enjoy the breathtaking view!