Michigan’s Keweenaw Water Trail is a designated route established in 1995 for sea kayakers. Nicknamed “A Superior Sports Port” by National Geographic Adventure Magazine, the Keweenaw Water Trail exemplifies this unique area for sea kayaking in Pure Michigan in the most literal sense. Surrounded by Lake Superior on three sides, the Keweenaw Peninsula showcases a rugged coastline that compares with that of the legendary Isle Royale, only without the ferryboat ride. It highlights a mixture of intermittent parks and nature preserves, lighthouses and shipwrecks and natural wonders with uninhabited wilderness between developed residential and village areas. Keweenaw Peninsula sea kayak and canoe routes are dotted by sheltered harbors along the way that offer the weary paddler the option for supplies, a hot meal or shower or lodging at a comfy inn or motel.
The premier wilderness area of the entire 110+ mile route is between Copper Harbor and Bete Gris on the northern-most end of the Peninsula. While recommended for experienced sea kayakers and canoeists due to its remoteness and exposed stretches of shoreline in the geographic center of Lake Superior, this 25-mile expedition showcases some of the Upper Peninsula’s most scenic and rugged coastal areas. Paddlers will discover amazing geoheritage and geology, including large segments of exposed bedrock with limited landing areas situated amidst cobbled rock and sand beaches, sea stacks, a waterfalls and a number of small sea caves and arches.
This segment includes a 12-mile stretch of Lake Superior shoreline acquired by the State of Michigan in 2002 that’s now designated as part of an 8000 acre State Forest. While primitive, “Leave No Trace” back country camping is allowed, paddlers should obtain a (no cost) permit from Fort Wilkins State Park in Copper Harbor prior to venturing out
Paddlers everywhere must have the proper equipment and gear, and those visiting Pure Michigan’s chilly northern waters must particularly be prepared for Lake Superior sea kayaking and canoeing! In addition to appropriate gear and safety equipment — including a VHF radio and/or GPS communication device (note: there is no cell service in most of this area), a sea kayak with front and rear floatation, a rudder or skeg and deck lines — a wetsuit (or drysuit) is highly recommended as cold water immersion and hypothermia is a risk throughout the entire paddling season in northern Michigan. It’s also important to keep a keen eye on the current marine forecast in regard to wind direction, velocity and projected wave heights, have a flexible schedule for the possibility of being wind-bound and for paddlers to have a realistic understanding of their abilities and limitations.
Exploring the numerous inland lakes near Copper Harbor is an excellent opportunity for paddling canoes, stand up paddle boards and recreational kayak. The variety of scenic and more sheltered locations relatively present less risk than adventuring out on the BIG LAKE.
Boats for use on Lake Fanny Hooe
We offer boat rentals; canoes, rowboats (no motors) and kayaks, for use on Lake Fanny Hooe by the half day and full day. A half day is four hours and a full day is eight hours. Boat rentals are offered all season long, weather permitting.
Website | Phone: 906-289-4451 | 1/4 mi south of US-41 on 2nd Street
Keweenaw Adventure Company
Get your paddle on! Join the Keweenaw Adventure Company for a Lake Superior Sea Kayak Tour – No Experience Necessary! Family-friendly rates (youth 1/2 price!). A 5-star experience and highlight of your vacation. 2.5 hour, Half-day and Full-day tours available. Choose between single or tandem sea kayaks and explore ancient volcanic shorelines, sea caves and the largest natural harbor on the Keweenaw Peninsula from the comfort of your cockpit. Professional guides prioritize safety first, and provide an unforgettably entertaining and educational experience. All gear and equipment included. Reservations recommended – will accommodate walk-ins based on availability. Visit website to book online or call to learn more.
The Keweenaw Water Trail is a designated route along Lake Superior that’s intended for use by experienced sea kayakers and includes options for shorter day trips and overnights or an ultimate 110 mile circumnavigation of the “Copper Island”. It’s important paddlers have a realistic assessment of their abilities and limitations, have properly outfitted kayaks with front and rear flotation with a rudder or skeg and have the proper gear (including a wetsuit) and safety equipment, as conditions on the Big Lake can change quickly and cold water immersion/hypothermia can be a killer.
Water/tear proof maps can be ordered thru the Keweenaw Land Trust or picked up at the Keweenaw Adventure Company once in Copper Harbor.
Kayak, Canoe & SUP
Looking to get out on-the-water? Keweenaw Adventure Company has the equipment and gear you need . Rent a canoe, sit-on-top kayak or stand-up-paddle-board to explore one of the region’s many beautiful in-land lakes. Sea kayaks (with a few prerequisites) may be rented for Lake Superior and Isle Royale expeditions. Reservations recommended – will accommodate walk-ins based on availability. Visit website to book online or call to learn more.
Boat Launch : Gasoline
Home to a full service marina offering a multiple pier docking area, diesel gas, electricity, water, ice, bathrooms, showers, parking, telephones, and a public boat launch. The marina is administered by Fort Wilkins State Park.
Phone: 906-289-4966 | M-26 just west of Copper Harbor proper.
Boat Launch : Marina
Just 15 minutes from Copper Harbor on the “south shore,” next door to Mount Bohemia, Lac La Belle is one of the largest inland lakes in the Keweenaw. On northeast side of the lake there is a state marina and boat launch, gas and additional dockage — plus some mighty good fishing, boating and paddling. Lac La Belle is linked directly to Lake Superior via a man-made channel maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and offers access to the BIG LAKE, while at the same time providing a beautiful harbor of refuge in wetland sloughs.
Located on the other side of the Keweenaw fault from Copper Harbor, the topography of this area is quite different than the “north shore,” with layers of beautiful marbled sandstone. Lac La Belle, meaning beautiful lake, is the name of the lake and the town, while the Gay-Lac La Belle Road is very scenic with many roadside parks to enjoy.
Nicknamed the “doughnut” lake, Lake Bailey is located on M-26 about 10 miles west of Copper Harbor. A public boat launch is on the lake’s eastern end. This lakes shallow and marshy nature is very scenic and a waterfowl haven. The large island in the lake’s center is accessible for day use by the public.
Boat Launch : Fishing Dock
Just a mile from downtown Copper Harbor, boaters and paddlers may access the public boat launch at nearby Fort Wilkins State Park (note: a Michigan Recreational Passport or day use permit is required for entry). Lake Fanny Hooe (pronounced “ho”) is a long, skinny lake, approximately two miles long by one quarter mile wide. Highlights include the historic military outpost at Fort Wilkins and uninhabited State Park property along the majority of the south shore. Go fishing, swimming, paddling and more, while enjoying the amazing scenery and wildlife along this lake.
Located just a mile south of town, this pristine, tiny lake warms up quickly and hosts the only sand beach in immediate proximity to Copper Harbor. It’s great on a hot summer day for swimming amidst on and in water recreating. Picnic tables and pit toilets are available too.
There is a trail along the shore of the lake and depending on the lake level, goes around the lake. The habitat in this area makes for great bird and wildlife watching. Eagles fish, loons hunt and you may see otters dining on crayfish in the lake.
Note: parking space is limited.
Just four miles south of Copper Harbor on US Hwy 41, this Canadian-like lake has a number of islands, scenic mountain views and is known to have some good fishing. Several of the islands are open to the public, however users need to respect the majority of the shoreline, as it is privately owned. It’s a beautiful lake that is perfect for paddling, fishing, boating and watching wildlife. There is a parking area and public boat launch for boating access.
About eight miles east of Copper Harbor, on the State Forest land near the tip of the peninsula, boaters, anglers and paddlers will need a 4-wheel drive vehicle to access its remote locale or be willing to portage for several miles.
This uninhabited lake is great for its solitude, its fishing and is known for its island. Primitive camping is allowed on the lake’s shore, although a user permit, available for no fee, must be obtained from Ft. Wilkins State Park. Camping is prohibited on Schlatter’s Island, although day use is permitted.