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Keweenaw Peninsula

Keweenaw Peninsula: All Trails Point North

For pure enjoyment and world class snowmobile trail riding.  Look north to Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula.

The picturesque trails and scenic overlooks abound in arguably the best snowmobile trail system in the Midwest. With an average snowfall of 250 inches and over 230 miles of groomed trails that start just 15 miles south of Houghton Michigan and reach the top of the Keweenaw at Copper Harbor. Riders find themselves engulfed in scenic natural beauty and a winter riding adventure that seems endless.

Mother nature blesses this playground with an abundance of snow. But the manicuring of Keweenaw’s wondrous winter world is the responsibility of the Keweenaw Snowmobile Club.

The Keweenaw Trails Services d.b.a. Keweenaw Snowmobile Club is a nonprofit organization, located in Calumet MI., responsible for grooming and maintaining 235 miles of snowmobile trails. The system runs from Toivola (about 15 miles south of Houghton) to Copper Harbor and extending further to the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula. 235 miles of groomed trails, that’s like grooming from Calumet to Green Bay, Wi., and when two shifts are needed that is equal to turning around in Green Bay and heading back.

They have a fleet of five state-of-the-art groomers and a select team of dedicated and experienced trail groomers. Backing them up are a dedicated and knowledgeable team of volunteers. Snowmobile enthusiast that give of their time, talent, and treasure to provide the riding enthusiast with an unforgettable experience. The club works very hard building positive relationships with landowners, land managers both public and private, local business owners, politicians, law enforcement agencies, charities, and many others.

With that responsibility comes the challenge of continued success and growth. 

We are talking about 8 percent of all the trails combined in the U.P. Financially can the Keweenaw Snowmobile Club survive in the present as well as the future?

How can the club which has taken on the task of maintaining the largest trail system in the state of Michigan survive?

To understand the financial challenges, lets step back a bit in time. Back to earlier times when the snowmobile tourism industry started to take off.  When the Keweenaw Peninsula was not a winter fun destination. Fortunately, in the late 1970’s a pioneering group of local business owners from Houghton, Calumet, and Laurium, pooled their resources and formed the Keweenaw Peninsula Chamber of Commerce. They recognized the need to promote a growing winter tourism opportunity. Working together, a hotel room tax mechanism was created, and that revenue was dedicated to building and maintaining a snowmobile trail network.

At the same time relationships were established with landowners that allowed property access and the use of old rail beds.  Shortly after, progressive leaders in the DNR established a revenue generating trail pass program that is dedicated to assist in the maintenance of club trail systems. A true user fee.

Enthusiasm was in the air, trail riders came, people laid off in the winter months were able to find employment as groomers. And the club grew its trail system to where it is today.

But all was not rosy, as the club grew its span of responsibility, financial support has not kept up. The room tax assessment revenue that was originally created for promoting the local growth of snowmobile tourism has all but dried up. Hotel revenue has been affected these past two years and the managing entity that controls the room tax assessment revenue has redirected those funds. 

The DNR which is charged with control of revenue generated from trail stickers, allocates the funds on certain criteria. One of major concern is, that a club is supplemented based on miles of trails groomed. Unfortunately, the methodology used to allocate the funds treats the approximate 132 snowmobile clubs, (SnowGoer magazine list) in the state equally. By that, a club with one groomer and say 30 miles of trail is scored the same as the Keweenaw Snowmobile Club with 235 miles of groomed trails and 5 groomers. Which creates a great disparity in the allocation of revenue needed to cover operational costs.

Certainly, there are financial challenges the Keweenaw Snowmobile club faces.  But like the copper miners of days past who faced the adversities underground, the club continues to build for the future. A new groomer maintenance building is currently under construction. All being done with donations, an army of volunteers, and the support of generous contractors.  The bulk of operational cost are covered by the trail sticker revenue and donations.

How can you and I help?

Become a member, Join, there is strength in numbers. Becoming a member of the Keweenaw Snowmobile club helps that you and like-minded individuals can continue riding the trails, have input on the trails, support the local community, and ensure that the amazing trails of the Keweenaw are here for future generations.

Below is the link to The Keweenaw Snowmobile Club. There you will find investment opportunities on memberships, donating towards the completion of the new groomer maintenance facility and club information.

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