Houghton Area Parks, Trails, Historic Locations & More
Houghton is a great place for outdoor activities. Whether its bicycling, jogging, snowmobiling or cross-country skiing, an adventure awaits you when you visit the Houghton area.

Parks & Recreation Areas

Houghton's parks along Portage Lake and the Portage Canal offer scenic views, picnic areas, Waterfront Trail access and much more:
  • Raymond Kestner Waterfront Park features one of the coolest playscapes in Michigan, "Chutes and Ladders." Inspired by the board game of the same name, "Chutes and Ladders" has a series of slides, ladders and climbing areas that are very popular with kids. Rotary Pavilion offers a gathering space for family reunions and picnics. Nearby, there is a band shell and several picnic tables and restrooms. The park's sandy swimming beach is a great place to cool off on a summer day. A paved walkway along the Portage Canal provides beautiful views of the Portage Lake Lift Bridge and Hancock. Parking is available near Lakeshore Drive.

  • Houghton RV Park is located adjacent to Kestner Waterfront Park and offers convenient camping next to the Portage Canal. The RV Park can accommodate 22 recreational vehicles, and each location features 20-30-50 amp electrical service, water, sewer connection, TV cable, Wi-Fi and a covered patio with picnic table. Houghton RV Park is open from May 1 to October 7, and for reservation details, call 906-482-8745.

  • Houghton Waterfront Park is next to Kestner Waterfront Park and stretches east to the Portage Lake Lift Bridge. The park is a great spot to relax, have a picnic, and enjoy beautiful views of Hancock and the Portage Canal area. The park includes a short boardwalk and 15 boat slips on the Portage Canal for recreational boats. A boat launch is on the east side of the park, and boat trailers can be parked under the Portage Lake Lift Bridge. The Waterfront Trail passes through the park along Lakeshore Drive.

  • Bridgeview Park is just west of the Portage Lake Lift Bridge and provides a scenic spot for relaxing or picnics.

  • Huron Street Waterfront Park is located near the Portage Lake District Library, on the banks of the Portage Canal. Fishing piers and picnic tables are available at the park. Parking is located near the park.

  • East Houghton Waterfront Park is on East Lakeshore Drive, near the Super 8 Motel. The park includes picnic areas, fishing piers, boat slips and restrooms. Parking is available near Lakeshore Drive. The park offers a scenic view of Portage Lake and Mont Ripley Ski Hill.

Situated atop a hill overlooking the Portage Lake Lift Bridge, Veteran's Park is a narrow strip of land with a memorial dedicated to area service men.

On Edwards Avenue, West Houghton Neighborhood Park features an outdoor ice rink and a warming building, which are popular during the winter. A playground is located on the north side of the park.

South of downtown on Gundlach Road, Peter Bungi Recreation Complex has little league and softball fields, tennis courts, restrooms and a playground. Houghton-Portage Township Middle and High Schools are located nearby.

In downtown Houghton on Lakeshore Drive, Dee Stadium is an ice skating facility that hosts the Houghton High School Hockey team and Portage Lake Pioneers Senior Hockey team. The ice rink is open from October through April, and open skating is available on select days. For open skating schedules and rental information, see the Dee Stadium web site.

Trails and Bike Routes

Houghton's Waterfront Trail is a lengthy trail that provides terrific views of the Portage Lake Lift Bridge, Portage Canal, Hancock, and parts of downtown Houghton. The paved trail winds along Lakeshore Drive and passes through several parks, including Bridgeview Park, NARA Nature Park, Houghton Waterfront Park, Kestner Waterfront Park, and East Houghton Waterfront Park. Michigan Technological University, Dee Stadium, Portage Lake District Library, and Houghton's downtown area are easily accessible from the Waterfront Trail. The east section of the trail goes past MTU's campus and ends just south of Cottage Row; the trail section south of NARA Nature Park is mostly gravel. The western part of the trail connects to a paved trail along M-26, an area that includes many stores and restaurants. The Waterfront Trail is used for biking, hiking, jogging and roller-blading for much of the year, and for snowmobiling during the winter months.

Cyclists can use a paved, wide-shoulder bike lane along US-41 on the west end of Houghton and ride to Chassell and Baraga. The route has nice views of Portage Lake and Keweenaw Bay. The ride from MTU to Chassell is approximately 7 miles. The route from MTU to Baraga State Park is close to 28 miles.

A bike route on Sharon Avenue can take cyclists from the Michigan Tech campus to M-26, where there are numerous restaurants and stores.

Snowmobiling near Houghton is a popular activity when the snow starts to pile up. Snowmobiles can use the Portage Lake Lift Bridge during the winter to cross the Portage Canal to Hancock. There are several snowmobile trails near Houghton, which you can take you to Baraga, Ontonagon, and Freda.

One of the top engineering schools in the country, Michigan Technological University, is located in Houghton. The school's Recreational Forest has an extensive trail system near its athletic complex. All of the trail loops can be used for cross-country skiing during the winter and hiking/jogging during the rest of the year. Several trail loops can be used for mountain biking.

NARA Nature Park is located off US-41, and its trail system connects to the Recreational Forest's trails. NARA trails can be used for hiking, jogging, and cross-country skiing. The NARA Loop and Royalwood Loops can also be used for mountain biking. On the north side of US-41, NARA Nature Park has scenic boardwalk trails along the Pilgrim River. The boardwalk trails connect to the paved Waterfront Trail.

In downtown Houghton, a walking route that uses sidewalks and parts of the paved Waterfront Trail can take you past many historic spots, including Houghton County Courthouse, Douglass House, Trinity Episcopal Church, and St. Ignatius Loyola Church. Historical markers along the way describe the significance and history of landmarks and other moments during Houghton's history. Houghton's downtown area is very hilly, and at several spots along the walking route, you'll find scenic views of Hancock, the Portage Lake Lift Bridge and other parts of Houghton.

Kayaking & Boating

Portage Canal and Portage Lake are beautiful spots for kayaking and recreational boating, providing easy access to Lake Superior and Keweenaw Bay.

Kayaks and canoes can be launched from two spots in Houghton. East Houghton Waterfront Park has a kayak/canoe launch area a short distance from the parking lot. The park is east of the Portage Lake Lift Bridge and near MTU's campus. West of downtown at Houghton Waterfront Park, kayaks can be launched on to the Portage Canal near the park's boardwalk and boat slips.

Recreational boats can be launched on to the Portage Canal from the boat ramp that is west of the Portage Lake Lift Bridge. Parking for boat trailers is available under the bridge. Boat slips for transient boat docking are available at Houghton Waterfront Park and East Houghton Waterfront Park.

On the north side of the Portage Canal, Houghton County Marina in Hancock has 44 seasonal boat slips and 10 transient slips. The marina is open from May 1 through October 31. For more details, visit the Hancock section.

Just something to note: when Lake Superior is "angry" and producing surging waves, it can produce wavier conditions near the mouth of the Portage Canal.


The Keweenaw Waterway, which includes the Portage Canal and Portage Lake, is known for walleye and northern pike.

Houghton's waterfront parks provide several spots for fishing on the Portage Canal. East of the Portage Lake Lift Bridge, Huron Street Waterfront Park and and East Houghton Waterfront Park have fishing piers. West of the bridge, Houghton Waterfront Park has spots for fishing.

North of Houghton, some notable fishing lakes in the Keweenaw area include Lac La Belle, Lake Medora, and Torch Lake. Copper Harbor also hosts the annual Copper Harbor Splake Ice Fishing Tournament in March.

A valid fishing license is required to fish on Michigan lakes and waterways, and you can get a Michigan fishing license online at the Michigan DNR E-License web site and at bait shops and sporting goods stores.

More About Houghton

Houghton has many historic places. See the Historic Locations in the Houghton Area page for details about Houghton County Courthouse, Douglass House, and many other locations. You can see many of these spots by foot, walking around downtown Houghton.

North of Houghton, the Quincy Mine in Hancock is a great place to visit. The mine was once the largest producer of copper in the United States, producing 726 million pounds of copper from 1856 to 1925. The area around the mine is now a Keweenaw National Historic Park.

Michigan Technological University is located in Houghton and is known for its excellent engineering and research programs. The A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum, Michigan's official state mineral museum, is located on MTU's campus, and has over 8,000 mineral specimens are on display. MTU's hockey team plays in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, and during the winter, MTU hockey is a must see attraction at John MacInnes Ice Arena.

The ferry to Isle Royale National Park, the Ranger III, is based in Houghton and offers passenger service to the island from June 1 through September 1. The island features rugged wilderness, wetlands and scenic shoreline. Hiking, canoeing and kayaking are some of the activities to do at the park, which is 73 miles from Houghton.

On a limited basis in July and August, the Ranger III offers Keweenaw Waterway Tours, providing a 2.5 hour tour of the mainland's scenic Keweenaw Waterway.

A majority of the restaurants and stores in the Houghton area are on the west side of town, near M-26. You can find other choices in downtown Houghton on Sheldon.

Houghton has several choices for overnight stays, including small motels, brand-name hotels, and an RV campground near M-26.

You can find more restaurants, shops, and hotels on the other side of the Portage Canal in nearby Hancock.

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