The Brockway Mountain Nature Sanctuary was acquired by the Michigan Nature Association in 1979 and was renamed after James Dorion Rooks of Copper Harbor in 2005. Jim Rooks was a well-known naturalist, an avid birder, environmental educator and nature interpreter in Copper Harbor. He shared his great love for nature and the Keweenaw through guided nature hikes and through many efforts to interpret, educate about, and conserve special places in the Keweenaw.
Garden Brook traverses the sanctuary, with its headwaters in the Klipfel Memorial Nature Sanctuary which then flows to Lake Fanny Hooe. Garden Brook is truly a “babbling brook” that is easily crossed on foot in late summer.
The exposed ridgeline of Brockway Mountain subjects plants to the full force of winds off Lake Superior, creating a microclimate reminiscent of an arboreal climate. The trees near the top of the ridge are stunted in growth due to the harsh conditions. Trees present in the sanctuary include red oak, sugar maple, aspen, and chokecherry.
The sanctuary was established to protect some unusual species of plants that are found in Michigan only in Keweenaw County. These plants are more typical of northern climates in Canadian arboreal and arctic regions. The heart-leaved arnica is one of the plants which grows on the sanctuary. It is a perennial with perky bright yellow daisy-like flowers.
Forest plants that can be found in the sanctuary include hepaticas, nodding trillium and club mosses. Colorful flowers can also be found near the roadside, especially downy yellow violet and sweet white violet.
At the end of summer, visitors are greeted by purple flowering asters, white blooming everlastings and bright yellow goldenrods.
The south side of the sanctuary is crossed by the Copper Harbor mountain bike trail system. There is also a new hiking trail off of Brockway Mountain!
Planning Your Visit:
The end of summer in the sanctuary brings colorful wildflowers while spring offers glorious views of blooming shrubs.
How to Get There:
From Calumet, follow US-41 north 35 miles to Copper Harbor. Look for the MNA sign on the left (north) side of the highway, and park in the designated parking area at the trailhead.
For additional information, contact the MNA office at (866) 223-2231.