COPPER HARBOR, Mich. (WJMN) – Late last week, the Copper Harbor Trails Club announced that most of its trails are open for the season. However, a handful of them is still closed due to land access and liability issues.
“We also had a couple of private landowners here in Copper Harbor,” said Executive Director Nathan Miller. “They, unfortunately, sold a little bit of land that had some of our trails on it to a new landowner who doesn’t want trails on their property, so we have to find a way around that. And then the existing landowner had a couple of different trails in mind that they wanted to make hiking only. So we’re transitioning those trails open for hikers but not mountain bikers.”
Keweenaw County and the surrounding township have expressed concern about the dangers of some of the trails.
“They started getting a little bit scared, a little bit freaked out about the mountain bike trails that we have out here. We have some significantly scary trails you could say: big drops and jumps and roll-downs, all sorts of cool features, bridges, and boardwalks. There’s a lot to spook you if you’re not familiar with that. And so the county started looking at this, and they weren’t really sure if their insurance and our insurance covered them for that,” said Miller.
Most of the big, downhill trails and jump trails are closed as the club works with the county, township, and private landowners. Miller hopes resolutions will be made in the near future, as it’s been several months since conversations began among the parties involved.
Downtown Trail starting off the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge property, Danimal Trail, Flying Squirrel Trail, and Overflow Trail are currently the ones under review for either liability concerns or on private property.
“Those are the ones with biggest jumps, and the biggest drops, and the biggest rocks and other features that if you ride those wrong or if you don’t know what you’re doing, you can get hurt on them. But, as far as we know, as far as our insurance has reviewed, and as IMBA, the International Mountain Bicycling Association has been concerned, these trails are built in a very professional manner,” said Miller.
We maintain them every year, we inspect them several times a year to make sure they’re all up to snuff. If you ride them properly and know what you’re doing, you’re definitely not going to get hurt.”