by Mike Modrzynski (Falcon Guides)
© Mike Modrzynski/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.
Hiked the northern half of the loop from Shoepac Lake to Pine Grove Campground. Plenty of nice scenery covering almost all of the northern Michigan ecosystems: Hardwood forest, swamps, lakes, streams, and more. Only possible complaint was that there were several miles of trail that were very overgrown and required bushwacking through chest-high thorns and ferns. That being said, I'd gladly do this hike again.
I really loved this trail. Escpecially the last thirty miles or so from Dog lake flooding to the Town corner lake camp ground. I did the entire hike in four days and was completely exhausted....it is a long way. And also the sign that says bridge out over the black river I found that they had enough of the new bridge built to get over, saving a 3.5 mile detour, I never saw one person on this trail the whole way. HAPPY TRAILS.
This trail should rate high because of its upkeep, scenary, and diversity. Beginning a grass lakes between the Pine Grove and Pigeon Bridge cg's are two routes south when one can choose the "Shingle Mills Pathway" as I did. This trail mileage and on south to Tin Shanty Rd reminded me of the NCT in Manistee NF. Continuing SE a thru hiker needs a road detour because a foot bridge is out over the Black River, however I hiked this beautiful high hill area above the river and back again, it is worth the roundtrip, instead of the detour if time permits. Picking up on the south bank of river going east-southeast follows the river for a short way then climbs up to Growley Hill and finally Rattlesnake Hill and reminded me of the Knobstone Trail in south Indiana, really. Some of this same area reminded me of the NCT along the Manistee River Valley too, without the river view but with the valley and distant ridges beyond. I only had time to go to Clear Lake roundtriping in 5 days, I'm 62 years old, but the next few warm days and I'll be back. The fifth day I saw Elk along Roth Rd. The trail just north of Grass Lake suffered a blow-down, and it was intense enough that I could not find trail to go clockwise as I planned, thus counterclock wise became my only choice. Day hikers without a vehicle spotter can use bike on seasonal roads to complete round trips. Pigeon Valley SF has a good map and one can be bought from the Pathway site that I highly recommend, I bought it for $4.75 and used it everyday.
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