Defining Grade A

Over the past decade, Aaron Rogers has gone from a backwoods rumor to the Upper Midwest’s premier trial builder, with his work appearing everywhere from his hometown of Copper Harbor, MI to Bentonville, AR, and beyond.

Defining Grade A Beyond the Best with Aaron Rogers

In the far reaches of the Upper Midwest trail-building scene, one name is repeated over and over.

That name is Aaron Rogers, and you’ll find him at the end of the road.

More specifically, the end of Michigan’s State Highway 41. Driving north through the Keweenaw Peninsula, on the south shore of Lake Superior, you’ll reach the highway’s first stop sign about an hour past Calumet, in the small town of Copper Harbor. You’ll reach the end a few hundred yards past that.

A decade ago, “the Harbor” (population 88) was mainly a stop for tourists on driving tours of Lake Superior or loading canoes onto the ferry for Isle Royal National Park, but by the early 2000s that flow had become a trickle. The community needed to find a new way to survive, a difficult task for a place essentially located at the edge of nowhere.

Aaron, however, had an idea—or, more accurately, a vision. Aaron moved to the area in 2005, and while working as a bike mechanic he realized Copper Harbor had the potential to be a world-class mountain biking hotspot that would attract riders from around the country to this little corner of the Upper Midwest. There was just one problem. Those world-class trails didn’t exist, at least not in the necessary quality or quantity.

A decade later, Copper Harbor hasn’t just become a model of world-class trails, but it’s also become an example of what such trails can provide, culturally and economically, for similar communities across the country. Aaron and his incredible trail-building skills were—and still are—integral to that remarkable Midwest transformation, pushing the craft from a tiny town at the end of the road.

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