Paddling

They don't make lakes much better than Lake Superior - hence the name.  The Big Lake is home to a healthy freshwater fishery that provides regional restaurants with delicious catches nearly year-round (if the lake is ice-free, the boats run).  The same can also be said for paddlers along the Keweenaw Water Trail.  Circumnavigating the Keweenaw Peninsula, this "trail" takes paddlers on a journey unlike any other here in the Midwest.  From craggy cliffs and sea stacks to globally significant coastal wetlands abundant with wildlife, the Keweenaw's shoreline always has something new to offer.  The forests and lake change by the season, ensuring no two trips are ever the same.

After the Michigan Department of Natural Resources purchased several thousand acres of undeveloped shoreline near the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula in the early 2000s, a working group was created to determine how best to use this wild landscape for recreation.  In 2005 a plan was developed that included a wide array of recreational assets: access roads for motorized traffic, hiking and biking trails, and primitive campsites for users of all types.  These lakeshore campsites were sited 5-10 miles apart with paddlers in mind, primarily at easy take-out points.  Safe places to get off the lake are important in case of sudden weather changes, something we are all too familiar with when the Big Lake begins acting up.  This would open up the landscape not only for land-based users, but for those who want to enjoy it from the lake as well.

However, like many plans much of it has remained unfulfilled.  With few resources at its disposal dedicated to recreational development in this wild place, the DNR has so far been unable to implement its grand vision for this scenic natural resource.  As a result, well-managed campsites are few and far between and little more than a flat spot hacked into the forest by an opportunistic (or desperate) adventurer.  Or, worse, shared with rowdy visitors who take advantage of remote beaches with no enforcement of unruly behavior.  Until we can encourage the DNR to truly get behind its recreation plan, the Keweenaw Water Trail cannot live up to its full potential.

Join the KORC today and help us push the DNR to take on the challenge!  Together we can make the public lands at the tip of the Keweenaw safe and accessible for all.

© 2019-2020 Keweenaw Outdoor Recreation Coalition.

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