The past year has been very busy for the Keweenaw Nordic Ski Club, now the Hancock Trails Club. In 2023 besides completing several trail improvements, the club completed a name change. Earlier in the year, the KNSC became the Hancock Trails Club, to reflect the changing needs of the community outdoor recreation club and improved access to biking and hiking trails around the Maasto Hiihto trail system. Club Treasurer, John Diebel, says that the area has already received great reviews of the new hiking and biking trail overlooking the Portage Lake. And he adds that regular visitors say they can’t wait until snow returns to the Keweenaw Peninsula. So they can get back out onto their skis and enjoy sections that were impacted by flooding in 2018.
“Once things freeze up and snow continues to fall, they’ll be open for skiing. And the people who haven’t seen them are going to be impressed by the new bridges. Along with a 550-foot boardwalk that replaces some bridges that were washed out. It’s spectacular when you see it and we are proud of that. Some other things have been going on, with help from some of our funds and help with the Klugness Family Foundation, we’ve been able to build a new Skyway Trail. Which loops around the Hancock Cemetery so to speak. And ties in with some of the trails on the north end of Churning Rapids – Maasto Hiihto trails area. That is not a skiing trail, it’s a hiking a biking trail. And it’s built on the north side of Portage Lake on the west side of Hancock. There are spectacular views.” – John Diebel, Treasurer, Hancock Trails Club
During COVID, the club saw a spike in membership. Which Diebel says has cooled off. However, he notes that many people during that time began to take outdoor recreation more seriously as a therapeutic way of dealing with life’s stress. In recent years there have been studies suggesting that more time spent outdoors correlates with improved mental health and overall physical well-being.
“I guess we could go on and on. But it self evident from some of the studies that physical exercise can improve blood pressure, and help improve the health impacts of diabetes. There are just so many lifestyle-related illnesses that the foundation recognizes that rather than help treat people after their health declines. We try to get them started through a living lifestyle with outdoor recreation. And as we all know too. During our long snowy winters up here in the Copper Country, you have to get outside and somehow make your peace, and learn to love the snow, or you’re in serious trouble up here. I think the foundation recognizes that we do have these trail systems, they’re a blessing. We get people out there, get them moving, get them outside with their friends. A chance to socialize. One of the reasons we’ve had social events at the trails is to get people outdoors with friends and see what good things can happen by getting used to regular trail use. For your mind and your body.” – John Diebel, Treasurer, Hancock Trails Club
Giving Tuesday with the Copper Shores Community Health Foundation last year raised over 650,000 dollars from individuals in the community and from friends of the Keweenaw Peninsula. Annually the foundation has provided a match sum to add to the day of giving’s total. Adding up to over 2.7 million dollars spread throughout the copper country over the past six years. Find more information about Giving Tuesday with the Copper Shores Community Health Foundation here, and more about the Hancock Trails Club here.