Distance: 3.5 km
General Location: Copper Harbor, MI
The Estivant Pines Nature Preserve tract is believed to be the last stand of virgin white pine in the Upper Peninsula. This nature sanctuary includes 504 acres of virgin northern hardwoods with groves of eastern white pine. Besides the old-growth pines, features include 256 plant species with 10 species of orchids, some 85 nesting bird species, and large mammals.
From Hancock take US-41 to Copper Harbor. At the junction of US-41 and M-26 travel 0.2 miles East and turn right (south) towards Lake Manganese. Follow the signs to Estivant pines. You will go through a private campground and resort, then the road splits to the south and turns to gravel. Follow the many signs for Estivant Pines. The road in is a bit rough, but passable if you drive very carefully.
The trailhead has a small parking area and a sign about the sanctuary’s history with a map of the loop trails. Open year-round for hiking, cross country skiing (ungroomed), and snowshoeing, these trails are in a Michigan Nature Association Sanctuary and all sanctuary rules apply. Collecting plants, seeds, or animals of any kind is strictly forbidden. Stay on established trails. Only foot traffic is allowed – the use of all motorized vehicles or mountain bikes is prohibited. No hunting, fishing, trapping, camping, campfires, or pets are permitted. Carry out all refuse. Practice Leave No Trace Techniques.
Three trail loop combinations give the hiker a choice of 1 mile, 1.2 mile, or 2.5-mile loops over rugged terrain. Cathedral and Memorial Loop combine the Cathedral and the Memorial Grove Loops gives the hiker a longer loop to enjoy this nature sanctuary. For an easier hike start with the Cathedral Pines and come down the Memorial Loop, and of course, if you want a harder hike start from the Memorial loop side.
The Cathedral Grove Loop section is said to have some of the biggest and oldest pine, measuring over four feet in diameter, they are 125 feet tall and 500 years old. The Memorial Grove Loop takes you through a large grove of younger, 200-year-old pine which grew in after a fire. Along this trail, you will pass red oak over 40 inches in diameter. Walking through this sanctuary gives you a view of what Michigan looked like before logging began back in the 1800s.