The historical past of Hancock still defines this small town tucked in the valley along the portage lake canal. Hancock is a lovely mix between the mining past and the cultural arts of the future. The cultural landmark of the Portage Canal Lift Bridge connects the towns of Hancock and Houghton. In addition, the Quincy Mine stands as a sentinel that watches over the city atop Quincy Hill. Beautiful colors beam spectacular throughout the city during the fall, and snowy slopes cover Mount Ripley Ski Area during winter.
The Quincy Mining Company founded the city of Hancock in 1859. Named after the founder of our country, John Hancock, the city quickly took on the identity of a mining town. Shops, galleries, and restaurants line the historic downtown district. In east Hancock, large beautiful Victorian homes, dating back to the mining families, line four streets.
Hancock has plenty to offer, from hiking trails to boating on Portage Canal. Many local restaurants date back generations like Gino's Restaurant and Gemignani's Italian Restaurant, which used to be the famous Coral Shop that sold pasties to miners.
Additionally, Finlandia University, formerly known as Suomi College, is spread across central and western Hancock with gorgeous historical buildings. Finlandia has been interactive with the Hancock community, turning the old St. Joseph – Portage View Hospital into classroom space and committing several floors for new business ventures through the Michigan Tech Smart Zone.
Hancock has the luxury of water and a hilly landscape that offers adventure seekers plenty. The Portage Canal is a beautiful place for all sorts of water activities, including fishing, boating, kayaking, skiing, and much more. The Canal runs west out to Lake Superior at the North Entry Lighthouse and east to Lake Superior at the South Entry Lighthouse.
The mining history is still a significant part of the community. The Quincy Mine is a must-stop if you are visiting the area. The Mine offers one of a kind tour to include the Frame House, the massive Cable House, and a trolly ride down the side of Quincy Hill and directly into the side of Mine. This a great family-friendly activity that will leave all the kids smiling.
Additionally, the Quincy Smelter Complex, built-in 1898, is open for tours. The Quincy Smelter is the best example of a 19th-century copper smelting operation left in the U.S. It features 17 buildings.
There are plenty of places to Eat, Stay, and Drink in Hancock. They offer everything a family or solo travelers need on their way to the Copper Country. The Ramada Inn sits right on Portage Channel and provides an exceptional view of Houghton, the Lift Bridge, and water activities. The Magnuson Copper Crown Motel lies right in the middle of downtown Hancock and within walking distance of restaurants that serve pasties, Italian food, and bakeries to your heart's delight.
Important to many people in the area, Hancock also has an excellent hospital, with emergency room care and clinical care at Portage View Hospital on top of Quincy Hill. Many people express their interest in knowing where to get medical help if it is needed.
Hancock has an excellent swimming beach on M- 203, just west of downtown Hancock. The beach concession rents paddleboards and kayaks, and a variety of goodies for a hot afternoon. The trails around the beach link up with their well-developed campgrounds about a ¼ miles to the north. The campgrounds serve all campers and provide opportunities for rustic camping.
There are plenty of camping and hiking opportunities around Hancock. The popular Maasto Hiihto and Churning Rapid Trails have 20 miles of beautiful trails around the city. Just north of Hancock on Lake Superior is McLain's State Park with tenting and RV sites, beach access, access to North Entry Lighthouse, and of course, the "Breakers." This an excellent campground which offers all the amenities for families and individuals.
You cannot miss out on the many waterfalls in the area, like the Hungarian Falls east of Hancock, an excellent family destination. In addition, the North and South Entry Lighthouse are not only fun to visit but offer fabulous beaches for family cookouts and swimming.
Mont Ripley Ski Area, run by Michigan Tech University, is a prominent feature on the Hancock landscape. It offers plenty of downhill skiing opportunities during the winter months. Two Chair lifts and a T-Bar lift, and a snow park all help pack the mountain every year.
Parades come at different times of the year. For example, the Parade of Nations, celebrating the many diverse cultural communities, many of which attend Michigan Technological University, takes place each fall. Each culture cooks food, and thousands of people enjoy a tasty sampling of cultural foods from around the world.
In mid-winter, the Finnish Culture hosts a week-long Heikinpava Festival, which celebrates the Finnish people's music, crafts, poetry, and art. The Festival ends with a parade down main street Hancock.
In addition, the Finnish Heritage Center features throughout the year various Finnish artwork and craft exhibitions. The Irish usually have a short parade on St. Patrick's Day celebrating their heritage.
All summer long, Hancock sponsors a small tori market featuring local vendors, farmers, and artisans.
Every July, the Annual Canal Run features a half marathon, half marathon wheelchair division, 10-mile run, 10-mile walk, 5-mile run, 5-mile blade division, 5-mile walk and 2-mile run/walk! The Canal Run begins at McLain’s State Park and finishes in downtown Hancock. The route follows M-203 along the Portage Canal and follows a flat to rolling hilly road.
The last mile is a steady climb to Quincy Street in Hancock.
Hancock and Houghton sit in the middle of the Copper Country, with Keweenaw County to its north, Baraga County to its east, and Ontonagon County to its west.
Portage Lake has many cottages for rent around the lake. Many people find the cooler climate in the summer months relaxing and a break from the heat of the southern portions of Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, and all points south. The area is unique in that it offers quick access to the theater and music experiences and then to wilderness trails for hiking or biking or fishing the many streams and rivers, and lakes throughout the area.
There are always the must-see spots, such as the Brockway Mountain Drive at the top of the Keweenaw Peninsula or the Quincy Mining Hoist. But the Seaman Museum, an internationally known rock music on the campus of Michigan Technological University, is a one-of-a-kind rock museum with specimens from around the world.
If you like tours, a Champion #4 Mine tour in Painesdale offers a unique experience of what it was like when the Mine was operational. Touring the Delaware Mine allows a person an actual walk down into a mass copper operation that occurred in the 1800s. Another tour of the Adventure Mine in Greenland in Ontonagon County enables the opportunity to engage in mining.
Silver Mountain, Arvon Mountain, and Little Mountain are beckoning every hiker an invitation to come and climb and see unique vistas in Baraga County. Bear Mountain in the Keweenaw challenges people to climb to see the vastness of Lake Superior, looking to the east towards Marquette. From the top of Bear Mountain, one can see the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula.
Take a canoe trip down the Sturgeon River by putting in at the Otter Lake Dam. Then, take the Chassell cut-off about a mile after passing under the bridge on U.S. 41. The cut-off is about ½ mile before you enter Portage Lake. You can then cross the lake to Chassell Beach, which is about another mile. The trip takes 3-5 hours of paddling.
The Keweenaw National Park, headquartered in Calumet, is connected with many historical sites throughout the Copper Country and each site is unique, offering insights into the early days of mining. Many take their vacation to travel to each of the sites to get the full flavor of the early mining experience.