Family Outdoor Weekend Oct. 7 and 8

The Michigan Nature Association and the Western U.P. Center for Math, Science and Environmental Education are hosting a family outdoor weekend from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 7 and 8.

For more information on the Family Outdoor Weekend in the Keweenaw, contact Joan Chadde at 487-3341. No registration is needed for this event.

Families are invited to visit four of the 18 Michigan Nature Association nature sanctuaries on the Keweenaw Peninsula: Estivant Pines, Redwyn’s Dunes, Gratiot Lake and Keweenaw Shore. These sanctuaries are easy to find and have well-marked, kid-friendly trails with interesting geology and unique natural environments to explore. The sanctuaries also offer a great way for families to enjoy the beauty of the Copper Country. The nature sanctuaries are open year-round for non-motorized recreation and public enjoyment.

As a special bonus for family weekend, outdoor science activities will be conducted by Michigan Tech students along the trail at each sanctuary. The experiments include "In Search of Wildlife," "Making Wildlife Track Casts," "Plant Identification," "Find the Biggest White Pine" and "What Rock Is This?"

The stewards at each sanctuary will be at the trailhead to greet visitors and provide trail maps. To encourage families to visit more than one nature sanctuary, children will be able to submit their name to a nature prize drawing to be conducted Sunday afternoon at each site. Meaning the more you hike, the better your chances of winning.

Below are the directions and descriptions of each of the nature sanctuaries:

Redwyn’s Dunes Nature Sanctuary
Directions: Follow M-26 about 3.5 miles north of Eagle River or 4 miles south of Eagle Harbor. The sanctuary is across from Great Sand Bay and has a large sign marking the entrance.

Redwyn’s Dunes offers a pleasant hike as it loops along the shore of several dune ponds. These catch basins fill in the spring and are home to many breeding frogs and toads. In spring and fall, these basins make a favorite over-night stop for migrating geese and other water fowl. The new one-mile loop trail starts and ends on the east side of the road, across the highway from Lake Superior.

Keweenaw Shore Nature Sanctuary
Directions: Follow M-26 six miles north of Eagle Harbor, past Brockway Mountain Drive, and park at the Esrey Park picnic area. The walking trail begins on the south side of M-26, across from Esrey Park. The Esrey Park picnic area offers visitors a pleasant place to stop, eat lunch or enjoy a Lake Superior sunset.

Keweenaw Shore offers one of the most interesting short trails in the Keweenaw. The 1.5 mile roundtrip trail traverses the backbone of the Keweenaw, climbing up and over a ridge to Brockway Mountain Drive. Hikers return to the trailhead by retracing their steps. This sanctuary is ideal for families and offers a worthwhile educational hike for students.

Gratiot Lake Nature Sanctuary
Directions: Follow US-41 north to the sign for Mount Gratiot and Gratiot Lake. Turn right. When you reach the bottom of the hill, turn left and drive a 1/2 mile along the lake to the DNR boat access site on the lake. Park here and cross the road to begin your hike.

The 1.5-mile roundtrip trail climbs nearly 400 feet through maple hardwood forest to the top of a bluff overlooking Gratiot Lake. This sanctuary offers the hiker a spectacular view of the surrounding landscape, which is especially striking in the fall. A beautiful cascading waterfall is hidden not far off the trail within this 100-acre sanctuary.

Estivant Pines Nature Sanctuary
Directions: From Houghton-Hancock, follow US-41 or M-26, north to Copper Harbor. At the junction of US-41 and M-26, travel .2 miles through the town of Copper Harbor to the community center and turn right onto the road to Lake Manganese. Follow signs to Estivant Pines.

Estivant Pines boasts one of the largest tracts of old-growth white pine east of the Mississippi River. Walk beneath 500-year-old pines that tower more than 100 feet overhead and are three to five feet in diameter. There is a choice of three loop trails over moderately-rugged terrain.

The Michigan Nature Association, established in 1952, is dedicated to protecting examples of Michigan's unique natural habitats and rare or endangered species. Due to many generous donations, the MNA now has 170 nature sanctuaries statewide located in almost every Michigan county, totaling more than 8500 acres. MNA’s nature sanctuaries are open to the public for hiking, nature-viewing and educational purposes. To learn more, visit or call (517) 655-5655


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