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Houghton: the perfect walking town

With spring coming up, I’ve been getting out more often. My favorite type of exercising is walking since it requires no money and not much gear if you’re walking in fair weather or during the day. I live on campus and it’s certainly a nice place to walk about. Without even leaving the inner circle of campus, you could still get a good workout going in loops. Yet, there’s a whole town to the west of campus to enjoy.

It’s no secret Houghton is buried in history. In fact, the entire Keweenaw has tons of mining and industrial history outside of the mine shafts. Buildings in Houghton’s downtown still carry the brickwork they were laid in since the late 1880s to early 1920s. The atmosphere of Houghton is rustic, allowing for a small-town charm while remaining relatively large. Walking down the street makes me feel like part of this larger history. Meanwhile, buildings like the Douglass House loom above, monuments to the ideas discussed and drinks shared over the past hundred years. It’s a part of history I get to engage with for a few minutes as I make my way through town.

Along the canal, there’s a perfect bike/walking trail that runs parallel to downtown. Right on the waterfront, the Soo Line Trail gives residents of Houghton a place to enjoy the fresh air and steep bluffs of the shore. In the morning, its trail lies in the direction of the sunrise, allowing for a peaceful stroll towards the canal’s opening. The Trail goes through Prince’s Point, a popular park below Michigan Tech on the canal’s edge. It’s a great place to rest for a few minutes and catch my breath, while enjoying the nature around me. 

When I do my evening walks, I always head towards the waterfront to the northwest of Houghton. The Portage Canal Lift Bridge greets me as I walk between Surplus Outlet and The Ambassador. After passing underneath the bridge, I’m greeted with a bright sunset and small houses to my left. To my right lies the wooden pier where boats moor during the summer. Compared to downtown Houghton, there’s no bustle and fast-pace impressed on me. Instead, it gives me time to sit down, take pictures of the canal and Hancock, and enjoy the warm sunshine on my skin. If heaven could exist on Earth, this part of Houghton would be included.

For those living up here or coming to town, Houghton is the perfect place to get some miles in, whether you’re walking or jogging. Its brick streets and looming buildings give a historic atmosphere. There’s also the Soo Line Trail running right along the canal’s side. As a destination, the waterfront park on the west side of Houghton is perfect with its boardwalk. Of course, other towns like Hancock and Calumet can be good places to walk about, but they don’t have their main streets in an idyllic location like Houghton’s.

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