Hancock Trails Club completes map, sign and sustainability project at Maasto Hiihto/Churning Rapids
Finding your way around the Maasto Hiihto and Churning Rapids trail system has gotten much easier. The Hancock Trails Club (formerly known as the Keweenaw Nordic Ski Club) completed a two-year effort to improve the wayfinding and sustainability of the Maasto Hiihto and Churning Rapids trail system.
A large portion of the funding came from the Copper Shores Community Health Foundation. Other support for the $27,000 project came from the Keweenaw Land Trust, MJO Construction, Studio 13 and from club funds. Copper Shores provided a $16,875 grant as part of the foundation's Community Recreational Facilities and Resources request for proposals. Copper Shores Community Health Foundation's mission is to positively influence a more healthful community through enhanced philanthropy and collaboration. The foundation serves Baraga, Houghton, Keweenaw and Ontonagon counties.
The project included documenting each of the 100 intersections in the trail system and developing and installing directional signs and maps. Intersection signs are numbered and the GPS coordinates of each have been provided to area emergency services. The club also improved the sustainability of several trails by adding gravel, culverts or re-routing where appropriate.
“We consistently received comments about people getting lost on the trail system,” said Club President Jay Green. “The existing signage was close to 20 years old, and we’ve developed new trails and intersections since that time. This new system has separate summer and winter maps, along with trail directional signs, posted at every intersection, with emergency contact information.”
Green said that the sustainability work will make for improved and earlier grooming in the winter and provide a better surface for cross country skiing. The grant also helped improve some summer trails, mainly single track for mountain biking and hiking.
“We’ve already received substantial positive feedback concerning the new signs and maps,” he said. “Summer users have also told us they are enjoying the trail improvements.”
The Hancock Trails Club serves as the steward for the Maasto Hiihto and Churning Rapids trail system in close partnership with the City of Hancock. A volunteer board of directors oversees the annual trail improvements and provides winter grooming for skiing, snow biking, and snowshoeing. The club relies primarily on memberships for its operations.
The Maasto Hiihto and Churning Rapids trail system also enjoys a partnership with the City of Hancock, Hancock Township and more than 15 private property owners. Churning Rapids (roughly the north half of the trail system) includes more than 1,000 acres, much of which is in a conservation easement, providing public access in perpetuity. That land is still privately owned with the easement held by the Keweenaw Land Trust.
For more information about the club or trails, keweenawnordic.org.