We drove from McLain State Park to Copper Harbor on Sept 15. We set up camp in our beautiful pull-thru site in Fort Wilkins State Park (campsite #14 of this trip), with the best view of Lake Fanny Hooe. It was located in the newest section of the campground, with trees and plants separating each campsite. It was also the quietest, section until the end of our stay, when 4 campsites near us had multiple dogs. There were five Alaskan Malamutes on three of the sites, that howled through most of the day. There was an interesting mix of people, including a family of 8 that bathed together in Lake Fanny Hooe each morning. The park was 100% full, compared to 15%, around this time last year.
Copper Harbor did not feel crowded, but locals said it was their busiest fall season, ever. All hotels and campgrounds were full. Restaurants were seating at 50% capacity and utilizing outdoor space, due to the pandemic. Most visitors were serious mountain bikers, as Copper Harbor has one of the best trail systems in the mid-west. There were also a lot of people there for the 4X4 roads or to escape the crowds in the lower peninsula.
Our first full day, we rode our bikes to High Rock Bay. We decided to ride the road instead of taking the intermediate trail, Point Trail, since I’m not an experienced mountain biker. Sixteen miles round trip on a dirt road would be no problem, so we thought. The road was steep hills, rocks and mud. There was no part of the road that was flat or smooth. It was one of the most difficult bike rides of my life. As we approached the end I began to realized I was completely out of gas, arms burning from braking and carrying my bike around mud and over huge rocks, legs burning from climbing and working to stay on the bike, descending over rocks and gravel. All the while, there was constant traffic, logging trucks and 4X4 vehicles, many traveling to and from High Rock Bay, at scenic, remote Keweenaw Point. When we arrived, someone told us that Point Trail was easier and more fun than the road. We started the return trip on the road and some people stopped and asked if I wanted a ride. Just what I was hoping for! Whew!!!
Most days we followed a similar routine. After breakfast I would drop Dave off at a difficult trailhead. He would bike down to the campground, then we would ride some easier trails together. Most afternoons we hiked. We hiked at Hunters Point, Estivant Pines Nature Preserve, and all around Fort Wilkins. We enjoyed some sunny afternoons on the patio at Brickside Brewery and had a fabulous dinner at the Harbor Haus, overlooking Lake Superior. I ate griddle-seared whitefish and Dave had flank steak. We both agreed we would return to Copper Harbor just to have dinner there. We watched sunsets from Hunter’s Point, the top of Brockway Mountain and the fishing pier on Lake Fanny Hooe.
One day was chilly and drizzly, so we drove to Eagle Harbor. We planned to stop by Jampot, a bakery run by monks. It was featured on Under the Radar: Michigan and also recommended by a friend. When we arrived there was a long line of about 50 people, waiting to get in. Maybe next time…
The last couple of days in Copper Harbor were especially warm and sunny and the fall colors were near peak. We spent time on top of Brockway Mountain . The brewery, usually open year-round, was now closed. We’re pretty sure they temporarily ran out of beer. We were a little sad to leave and begin heading toward home, but we still had some fun stops ahead. Next stop – Marquette!