Portage River Keweenaw waterway

Chassell, Michigan

Recreation and Attractions
Chassell is located on Chassell Bay, within the Keweenaw Waterway
which separates the Upper Peninsula of Michigan from the Keweenaw Peninsula.
The Chassell Centennial Park is located on the south end of Portage Lake and features 900' of shoreline, a boat launch and dock, fishing pier, swimming beach, picnic area and shelter, wetlands walkway, and a children't playground. From US-41, turn east on 3rd Street.
Park on the Keweenaw Waterway

Sturgeon River Slough
The Sturgeon River Slough begins 1 mile south of Chassell. These huge wetlands are the headwaters of the mighty Sturgeon River that roams throughout the central Upper Peninsula.

The slough has been developed with the aid of many wildlife clubs and is managed by the DNR. This part of the slough has the 1.5 mile De VriendtNature Trail. A great place for bird and animal watching.

At the De Vriendt Nature Trail, follow the interpretive signs, climb the observation deck and enjoy this nesting place for Canada geese, mallards, wood ducks, black ducks, and blue-winged teal. Eagles, blue herons, and osprey are seen here regularly. Beavers, muskrats and other water loving creatures are in abundance.

Further south of Chassell (8 miles) turn right at Arnheim Road and drive into a larger area of Sturgeon River Slough. Wildlife is everywhere. Drive into the slough at dawn or dusk and you will see an overwhelming number of deer. Drive very slowly. The slough is ideal for paddling, photography, and bird watching. Hunting and fishing are permitted here during the regular state seasons. Hunters, be sure of your game identification, Conservation Officers are everywhere throughout the slough. Please wear hunter orange clothing after Sept 1.

Portage Entry Park
South of Chassell, if you go east on the Portage Entry Road, you will find a delightful little park, boat ramp, commercial fishing boats and a view of the Portage Entry Lighthouse just across the Portage River. This spot was originally an Ojibwa fishing village. Located just inside the Keweenaw Waterway, this was an early harbor of refuge for boats fleeing the wrath of Lake Superior.


The fishing boats you will see are not what you would expect. These are working boats, bringing in the Lake Superior Whitefish and Trout daily. When you go out for a fish lunch or dinner, these fresh fish are on your table. Fresh fish may also be purchased at fish markets in Hancock.

Hanka Homestead
You might want to visit the Hanka Homestead, which is a small, self-sufficient Finnish farm, established in 1896, that has been unaltered and preserved as a farming museum. It is located 8 miles south of Chassell and west on Arnheim Road. The farm in open during the summer. Call (906) 353-7116 for more information. The Hanka Homestead is in the same area as the Sturgeon River Slough, but you will come to the homestead first.

If your interest leans to history of the old mining days, the town of Painesdale is just west of Chassell on Chassell Road. Here you will see the Champion Mine company town with many of the old houses still in use and the Champion #4 Shaft-Rockhouse built in 1902.

Champion #4 Copper Mine Shaft-Rockhouse

This is the oldest shaft house that is still standing in the Keweenaw and reminds you of the days when copper was king. The Champion #4 speaks of the men that lived and died blasting, tramming, hoisting, and crushing the copper rock that fed the area's economy.

You can also see some of the other old mining buildings, railway equipment, poor rock piles and private homes related to the mining era in the vicinity of the mine shaft. This mine ceased operations in 1967.

Painesdale copper mine shaft

Keweenaw Waterway Lower Entry Light, also called the Portage Lake East Entry Light is located on a concrete pier by the town of Jacobsville, on the north side of Portage Lake. This light can be viewed from Jacobsville or  the Portage Entry Roads south of Chassell.

Keweenaw Water Trail
Canoe or Kayak the Keweenaw Water Trail as you follow the Keweenaw Waterway from Keweenaw Bay near Baraga to the North Entry near McLain State Park (map and information). The Keweenaw Waterway is the waterway between Houghton and Hancock, separating the Keweenaw Peninsula from the rest of the Upper Peninsula.

The Portage Waterway Segment is an excellent venue for viewing historic mine workings. In the mid-1800's the Keweenaw was internationally known as the source of the world's purest "native" copper. Native copper occurs in a metallic state within the earth, and deposits of native copper are rare. Copper mining led to extensive development of the Keweenaw Peninsula, and Keweenaw and Houghton Counties had over 100,000 residents at the turn of the century.

Snowmobile rentals for the Chassell area:
Houghton Powersports/Ride North in Atlantic Mine

The Chassell-Houghton snowmobile trail on the old railroad grade is open. Please check with your lodging host for information about the Chassell trails.

Snowmobile the Keweenaw Peninsula from Chassell. The Chassell Trail, (#15) to Painesdale is presently closed near town, but you can use back roads or trailer your sleds west of town and pick up the famed Bill Nichols Trail that runs from Mass City to Houghton. Turn right for Houghton or turn left and take the trail towards Ontonagon. Detailed maps available from Chassell businesses. The Chassell-Baraga Trail is open.

From Houghton, cross the two level bridge on the bottom level and pick up the Stevens Trail North outside of Hancock.

Mount Ripley Downhill Skiing
Downhill ski enthusiasts can have a great day at Mount Ripley in Hancock. This steep ski area features a chair lift, bar lift, instruction, rental, ski shop, food, and a tobogganing and snowboard area. Call (906) 487-2340 for snow conditions and more information.

Cross Country Skiing
Cross country ski on the many trails, including the 8K groomed cross country trail that starts in Chassell. Maps are available locally and the trails are well marked.


Chassell Michigan

Chassell Lodging & Businesses

The Keweenaw Peninsula

Snowmobiling in the Keweenaw Peninsula

Houghton and Hancock, MI


Upper Peninsula Towns and Cities
Upper Peninsula Food and Lodging
Back to the Upper Peninsula Traveler
Back to Exploring the North Home Page


Photos: Portage Waterway & Painesdale Mine by Mary Deloria

Copyright 2000, by vivisn wood, the webmaster for Exploring the North. All Rights Reserved. Except as permitted under the Copyright Act of 1976, as Amended, this web site may not be reproduced in whole or in part in any manner. Unless authorized by the webmaster of Exploring the North, Inc., reproduction of any web page or pages on the Exploring the North website for placement on the internet is a copyright infringement. All right, title and interest in and to the material on our web pages, the web site, in whole or in part, and in and to this url and the urls contained within, is the property of vivian wood, the webmaster for Exploring the North, Inc. Website created on an Apple G-4.