High Country Pathway

Onaway, Michigan 49765

High Country Pathway

High Country Pathway Professional Review and Guide

"A 70-mile loop through some of the most diverse environments in Michigan. Veteran hikers have labeled the High Country Pathway "The Hike Assembled By Committee," since the terrain and habitat change abruptly and constantly. The complete loop takes an experienced hiker nearly seven days to complete, provided he or she doesn't make too many stops to fish or take note of the diverse flora and fauna along the trail. Wet and wild, flat and hilly are just a few of the possible combinations to be found along the 70-mile-long pathway —and that's before you include the possible combinations mentioned above.

It is not uncommon to observe white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, or black bears, along with a host of other small animals, along the trail. Eagles and ospreys soar over the region, and more than a hundred other species of birds call this area home. One of the best brook trout streams in the Midwest, the Black River, flows through the area. The Pigeon River and McMasters Creek are also good trout fisheries. Lakes encountered along the trail offer fishing for everything from rainbow trout and pan fish to northern pike and bass. Special attractions: wildlife and fishing."

High Country Pathway Reviews

4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars
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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.

High Country Pathway Photos

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Trail Information

Nearby City
100 feet
Elevation Gain
Trail Type
Skill Level
Late summer, because of fewer flying insects to interfere with a hiker's enjoyment. Fall colors paint a beautiful panorama, but the area attracts hunters from mid-September until snow blocks access to smaller roads in the area.
Department of natural Resources, Region II Headquarters, 517-275-5151
Local Contacts
It takes nine USGS quads to cover the High Country trail system: Onaway, Tower, Afton, Lake Geneva, Silver Lake, Hardwood Lake, Atlanta, Hetherton, and Saunders Creek.
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Jul 2018