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Michigan’s “Winter City”

Houghton/Hancock offers a little something for everyone and a lot for snowmobilers

Houghton, MI, founded by European Ransom Shelden, and ten years later in 1861 was incorporated as a village. The postwar boom and increasing demand for copper wiring fueled the development of Houghton in the 1860s and 1870s, remnants of which can still be seen today.

With an average of 218 inches of snow per year, and winters at times lasting into June due to the lake effect, the Houghton/Hancock area holds the distinction of having the third-most (behind Duluth and International Falls in Minnesota) days of the year below 32 °F of any incorporated city in the contiguous US, with the top temperature failing to reach freezing on 100.9 days per year. It is sometimes said that Houghton has “two seasons: winter’s here and winter’s coming.”

While that may sound crazy to some, residents take the subject of snow and winter very seriously. Houghton is one of the premier “Winter Cities” found anywhere, accommodating and celebrating winter by participating in a variety of outdoor activities.

One such outdoor activity is … you guessed it – Snowmobiling.


The Trails…

Bill Nichols Snowmobile Trail, with a terminus in Houghton, is somewhat legendary.

The Copper Range Railroad abandoned this corridor in 1972, and since 1974 after being acquired by the Department of National Resources, it has served primarily as a snowmobile and ATV trail.

Running 41 miles from Mass City to Houghton, it offers frequent visibility to wildlife and unique remnants of the old copper mining that filled the area in the 1800s. The pathway is relatively moderate in difficulty, as it passes through beautiful pine and hardwood forests and near the Twin Lakes State Park.

Groomed by a select team of dedicated and experienced trail groomers ­— sometimes twice a day — the conditions are pristine. Unbelievably, the Keweenaw Snowmobile Club averages 35,000 groomed miles each season … that is one and one half times around the world!


Eating and Drinking and Shopping

The trail terminus offers easy access to some great places to eat, drink and shop.

Check out the recently reopened Library Restaurant & Brewpub. Sit down for an amazing dinner at Joey’s Seafood and Grill.  Order the famous tostado pizza at the Ambassador Restaurant (voted #4 lunch stop in Michigan!). Or try local favorite in Hancock, Gino’s Restaurant for kind service and classic Italian comfort food.

If you love craft beer, Keewenaw Brewery is the place to go to sip on a cold beer and munch on roasted peanuts in a warm, cozy environment. Or check out the Oatmeal Espresso Stout at the Red Jacket Brewery in Calumet.

Looking to grab a unique gift or souvenir to bring back home? Chickadees, Apple Blossom Mercantile, and Michigan Made are fun places to stop and browse. 

Snowmobile Rentals

If you are looking to rent, look no further. These family-owned and operated businesses with a passion for snowmobiling offer great rentals, insights, directions and more.

• M&M Powersports

• Copper Country Rentals

• Keweenaw Snowmobile Rentals

Having been listed as a ‘100 Best Small Towns in America,” and also the birthplace of professional ice hockey in the United States when the Portage Lakers were formed in 1903, the Houghton/Hancock area offers something for everyone, and a lot for snowmobilers!

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