3rd Edition of Walking Paths Release

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3rd Edition of Walking Paths & Protected Areas of the Keweenaw

Walking Paths cover

Walking Paths & Protected Areas of the Keweenaw is a guide that features publicly accessible nature and wildlife sanctuaries, preserves, and parks located in Houghton and Keweenaw Counties on Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula that have been protected through citizen action and private initiative.

These special places provide both residents and visitors the opportunity to encounter a variety of native habitats, interesting plant species, and unique geological features in this nothernmost part of Michigan, as well as a glimpse of Michigan before European settlement and the nineteenth century copper boom. These are places where natural processes can unfold with minimal human interruption or alteration.

List of Sanctuaries in Walking Paths 3rd Ed. 2


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Protecting Brockway Mountain

Earlier this year, MNA confirmed an option to purchase an additional 77 acres of land adjacent to the James H. Klipfel Memorial Nature Sanctuary along the Keweenaw Peninsula’s famed Brockway Mountain Drive.

In order to purchase this land and protect it forever, MNA will need to raise more than $150,000 by December 24, 2014. If MNA can make this happen, the total protected area around Brockway Mountain’s summit will total 557 acres, including a recent acquisition by Eagle Harbor Township.

Brockway Mountain and Brockway Mountain Drive. Photo by Charlie Eshbach

Brockway Mountain and Brockway Mountain Drive. Photo by Charlie Eshbach

Brockway Mountain provides semi-alpine habitat for various grasses, sedges and wildflowers, including purple cliff-brake fern and the green adder’s mouth orchid. It also provides one of the best opportunities in Michigan to observe raptors during their spring migration.

Brockway Mountain Drive has been described as one of the most scenic coastal drives in the United States. With an elevation of 1,320 feet, the drive offers stunning views of Lake Superior and the surrounding Keweenaw Peninsula, including views of Copper Harbor, Eagle Harbor and the peninsula’s vast forests and sparkling inland lakes.

The drive was designed in 1932 and construction began in 1933 with funding from the federal government’s Works Progress Administration (WPA). It opened on October 14, 1933 and quickly became a popular destination for motorists. In December 1938, the Ironwood Daily Globe declared that “at least one million persons” had traveled on the road the first five years it was open, sparking a tourist boom in the area.

Brockway Mountain Drive is the highest scenic road between the Alleghenies and the Rockies and plays a vital role in the tourist economy of Keweenaw County. Protecting the beauty of the Brockway Mountain and Brockway Mountain Drive benefits both wildlife and the local community.

If you would like to help protect the critical habitat and beautiful outlooks on Brockway Mountain by donating funds toward MNA’s purchase of the additional 77 acres now under option, please contact MNA’s Executive Director Garret Johnson at (866) 223-2231, or gjohnson@michigannature.org.

Experience Brockway Mountain Drive this Spring!

By Allie Jarrell

Thimbleberry Flower. Photo courtesy of Alan Vernon, Wikimedia Commons.

Travel + Leisure Magazine recently named Brockway Mountain Drive one of America’s Best Spring Drives! This scenic drive is nine miles long and features more than 700 types of wildflowers, including some of Michigan’s rarest flora.

Brockway Mountain Drive is the highest road in the Midwest and offers breathtaking views of Lake Superior and the jagged cliffs along the Upper Michigan coastline. Among the many varieties of plants you can find patches of wild strawberries as well as rare flowers like thimbleberry, heart-leaved anica, wild lilac, and small blue-eyed Mary. Travel + Leisure writer Briana Fasone recommends stopping along the Keweenaw Peninsula to enjoy orchids, running rivers and migrating hawks that often linger around the bird-watching point in mid-April.

Wood Lily spotted at the James Dorion Rooks Memorial Nature Sanctuary. Photo: Charles Eshbach

Since 1973 MNA has been involved with conserving land in Keweenaw County, and now owns a total of 15 nature sanctuaries there including four Brockway Mountain Drive properties. Brockway is the region’s prime spot for springtime flora, and we recommend hiking through the sanctuaries to fully enjoy the spring colors and fragrances! For more information about visiting MNA’s Keweenaw and Brockway sanctuaries, you can visit our website or check out this online sanctuary guide!