Snowshoe and Decompress in Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula

The Keweenaw Peninsula is a snowshoer’s remote playground. It is the most northern part of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and one of the few areas in the U.S. to catch the Northern Lights, so snowshoeing opportunities are vast. In most winters, the area averages about 200 inches (508 cm) of snowfall per year, with some years exceeding more than 300 inches (760 cm)!

I had the pleasure of visiting this beautiful area of Michigan this winter to experience some of the magic. Though the 2023-2024 season has had less snowfall than average, in our experience, the area continues to provide that well-needed remote winter getaway with nature.

For your next trip to the Keweenaw Peninsula, here are a few ideas for snowshoeing and other winter activities to check out.

aerial view of the top of Mt Baldy with lake and snowshoers in background

Mt Baldy on a clear day, one of the snowshoeing adventures on the Keweenaw Peninsula. Photo: Nathan Miller

Snowshoe Trails

Due to the typical amount of snow, you can snowshoe almost anywhere on the peninsula. Below are a few recommendations to get started.

Keweenaw Mountain Lodge

Keweenaw Mountain Lodge, a historic lodge in the most northern region of the Keweenaw, offers remote groomed and ungroomed snowshoeing trails for snowshoers of all levels. With winter trails open until mid-April and snowshoe rentals on site, this privately owned and maintained lodge caters to those looking for fun and adventure in nature’s rawness. Environmentally conscious and advocates for the dark sky (great for stargazing and the Northern Lights), snowshoeing at the lodge is like taking a step back in time. In fact, the Upper Peninsula’s only Keweenaw Dark Sky Park, which is an international certification, is located at the lodge.

cabin covered in snow with trees and open sky in background

Snowshoe from your cabin onto one of several trails at the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge. The lodge can even turn off the lights for a true dark sky experience! Photo: Chris Guibert

While we visited the lodge, they hosted the Snowshoe Hare, an annual event celebrating the sport of snowshoeing. During the event, snowshoe enthusiasts, including us, participated in several guided hikes around the property and listened to educational speakers. Jim Baker of Iverson Snowshoes provided an intriguing overview of the history of snowshoeing and traditional snowshoes, and Tom Oliver of Michigan Tech University focused on wildlife, specifically the ecology of the snowshoe hare. Later that evening, as the perfect conclusion to the event, the Outdoor Activities Center at the lodge led a moonlit snowshoe hike on the lodge’s Adventurer Snowshoe Route. Though we took headlamps with us, in true Keweenaw fashion, we were encouraged to turn them off to enjoy the beauty of the dark sky (and boy, did it make a difference).

The public can also enjoy the lodge’s snowshoe or ski trails by purchasing a winter day pass. You can also reserve a space on their monthly moonlit hikes or the Upper Peninsula Dark Sky Festival on April 11-13! While at the lodge, check out the Cabin Cafe for breakfast burritos. Or, if staying the night, reserve your own private meal cooked by their fine dining chef.

snowshoers on trail covered in snow

The Adventurer Snowshoe Route in a typical winter’s snow at the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge. Photo: Visit Keweenaw

Helmut and Candis Stern Preserve

For those looking for a moderate-challenging hike, strap on your snowshoes to trek about 3 miles (4.8 km) one way to Mt. Baldy. Located in the Helmut and Candis Stern Preserve, Mt. Baldy is home to the snowshoe hare and an array of birds, including falcons, warblers, and grouse. As a “bald” area, this summit is unique because it is covered mainly by grasses and shrubs instead of forest growth.

Along the route, there are several scenic viewpoints, including a bluff with a view of Mt. Baldy. This bluff is a helpful stopping point to prep for the last mile or so of the journey. Due to the landscape, once you reach the top, Mt. Baldy offers a 360-degree view of the surrounding area on a clear day. Even on the windy day that we snowshoed this trail, the steady trek up was worth it.

two people posing on top of Mt Baldy

The trek up to the summit of Mt Baldy was challenging but worth it! Photo: Jesse Wiederhold

Mount Bohemia

Though known for its backcountry skiing and snowboarding opportunities, Mount Bohemia, on the southern shores of the Keweenaw Peninsula, also has half a dozen or so forested snowshoe trails to explore. The well-marked trails begin at the basecamp and gradually wind their way up the hill through the forest, secluded from the skiers on the mountain. If needed, you can also rent your snowshoes on the mountain.

For more snowshoeing recommendations, check out this list compiled by Visit Keweenaw.

northern lights above the trees

If the timing is right, you may even catch a view of the northern lights while snowshoeing! Photo: Visit Keweenaw

Relax and Decompress

After a full day of snowshoeing around the Keweenaw Peninsula, take some time to rest and rejuvenate those tired bones with some delicious bites and a good soaking.

Fitzgerald’s Restaurant

For some BBQ glory, try the Fitz in the northern Keweenaw in Eagle River. This place can fill up quickly with a small dining room, but it is well worth it. Chock full of smoked meats and a large alcoholic beverage selection, there is plenty to try. As a starter, the umami fries are just the ticket, followed by the brisket, pork, or mac and cheese. Also, there are options for those who are gluten-free. Since the menu rotates, you’ll find new options whenever you venture to this gem.

close up of beverage

After a full day of snowshoeing, cider at the Fitz was the perfect way to decompress. Photo: Susan Wowk

Mount Bohemia

After snowshoeing, the Nordic spa at Mount Bohemia is the ultimate way to end your day. As a true Nordic spa experience, Mount Bohemia includes hot and cold springs and areas to rejuvenate and relax, all open until midnight. For the hot experience, try their outdoor hot tub, outdoor hot pool, Finnish Sauna, or Steam Cabin. Then, after getting warm, cool off in the cold pool or Nordic waterfall.

With several bar options, you can also enjoy an alcoholic beverage as part of the experience. After spending a few hours rotating between the hot tub and the hot pool, my tense leg muscles thanked me for caring for them after our snowshoe hike up Mt Baldy.

Getting to the Keweenaw

The Keweenaw is a remote area of Michigan that gets you back into the rawness of nature. With that off-the-grid experience, extra care can be required for travel. If flying, two flights are available each day from Chicago to Houghton. If these flights are delayed or canceled due to fog, which can often be the case from the lake, you can fly into Marquette (about a two-hour drive to Houghton) as an alternative. You could also fly into the nearest major airports and then drive to the Keweenaw. The closest airports are Austin Straubel International Airport in Green Bay (a 4-hour drive) and Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport (a 5-hour drive).

Many locals to the Keweenaw are familiar with travel snafus. So, after encountering a few ourselves (including lost luggage), we were overwhelmed by the kindness and offers of help. The generosity in lending gear and flexibility made it an experience we will never forget!

For more information and to plan your next snowshoeing trip to the Keweenaw Peninsula in Michigan, check out Visit Keweenaw for recommendations.

view of snowy trees from top of Mt Baldy

Head out to find your view in the Keweenaw! Photo: Susan Wowk

About the author

Susan Wowk, sponsored by Visit Keweenaw

Susan has owned Snowshoe Magazine with her husband, Paul, since 2015. In late 2018, she became involved in writing and editing content and is now the lead editor of the publication. A true winter lover and avid snowshoer, Susan looks forward to traveling to new locations and opportunities to snowshoe and break trails every season!

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