Bill Nicholls Multi-Use Snowmobile and ATV Trail in the Keweenaw Peninsula
Food and Lodging on the
The end points of the trail are at
Houghton and Adventure Mountain, near of Mass City, MI.
ATV and Snowmobile Multi-Use Trail
If you are looking for a rail trail in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan that is scenic and challenging, this could be the trail for you. After all, how many rail-trails have Adventure Mountain and the old Adventure Mine as a trailhead?
Abandoned in 1972 by the Copper Range Railroad, this corridor has served primarily as a snowmobile and ATV trail since its acquisition by the Department of Natural Resources in 1974.
The trail begins on Canal Drive, west of downtown Houghton, and parking is available at Veramize Park (south of the trail) along the Portage Lake Ship Canal. From the park, go up the hill on Lake Avenue and turn right on Canal Drive. The trail starts on the south side of the road.
The trail turns south about 11/2 miles later, where a scenic overlook offers views of the Portage Lake Ship Canal. Beyond the overlook the trail continues to climb for another 2.5 miles, you will cross your first road before approaching some houses.
A mile beyond the houses, the trail splits and you should stay to the right. The trail splits again 0.3 miles later at a location known as Mill Mine Junction. Here you veer to the left. The trail to the right is the Freda Trail.
A couple of miles south of South Range, outside the community of Painesdale, the trail enters an area heavily impacted by mining activities. The trail passes old ruins and mine tailings as well as an old Copper Range Railroad rail car. The trail continues past another old mining operation and through a tunnel of trees. Then, with a tower as your beacon, you arrive at the community of Toivola, which offers a restaurant and a small grocery store. This is nearly nine miles outside of South Range.
Twin Lakes is the highest snowfall area in the midwest with an average snowfall of 390 inches. The snowfall in this part of the country is perfect for snowmobiling. It isn't measured in inches, it's measured by feet ! (usually around 16-20 feet between December and April.)
The trail continues on for about 15.5 miles to the trailhead at Adventure Mountain. Near the park, the trail parallels M-26 for a few miles. After crossing M-26 you will enter the trail's most scenic section, which stretches nearly 11 miles. The highlights include crossing the Firesteel River (on three successive steel bridges that total 1,288 feet in length and have a maximum clearance over the water of 85 feet).
After crossing the bridges, the trail crosses M-38 less than two miles after the last bridge and then splits a half-mile later. Stay to the right, although it looks as if you should go to the left. This section is quite rugged. Look for a sign that points you to the right. From here the trail goes cross-country for 1.5 miles to the trailhead at Adventure Mountain.
The Bill Nicholls Trail is also open for ATVing and mountain biking. There are connecting trails and back roads to use in the Mass City area that connect to the Rockland to Bergland Trail. Please use designated trails and back roads and not the snowmobile trails.
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