I happened to be in South East Michigan to attend a conference and while many of my colleagues were making plans to go out to eat or get some drinks I was scouring the internet for places to walk in the woods. I thought it might be interesting to check out Belle Isle as it is supposed to be the Start / Terminus for the Iron Belle Trail but decided not to for several reasons.
I don’t know the area
There doesn’t appear to be a terminus only a loop on Belle Isle
I wanted to get AWAY from traffic and people, not CLOSER
I don’t know the area and don’t want to get murdered
Most wild areas appeared to be some distance from my conference but I noticed that there was an REI store nearby and I could jet out and stare at gear I wanted to buy for a couple of hours. I then logged into Meetup, a site I had just recently signed up to meet other hikers, climbers, adventurers. So I checked into my room, changed, and drove to the muster point in the Brighton Recreation Area
I arrived a little early and happened to see these pretty red birds. I discovered that I was parked int he wrong spot when after trudging around for a bit no one else seemed to be showing up so I rechecked the Meetup and found that I had the wrong location and was about a half mile away from where the hike was supposed to meet. I hurriedly jumped in my car and drove to the proper site and met up with the group.
I met Just Joe and we had introductions all around and our number totaled 16.
The group took off at a nice clip averaging between 3 and 3.5 miles per hour and Beth, the leader dutifully stopped at each trail crossing or long uphill to keep the group together.
I chatted with Peter who was from the area and we excitedly talked about out west adventures, he said he was going to go and spend some time in Utah in the next few months and go some of the places he hadn’t in Zion and Bryce. I asked him where he was originally from based on his accent I guessed Australia and he confirmed. Being from Australia where there is a lot of warm dry areas he would be well equipped for the west!
I chatted with Ray for a bit and we talked about his adventure in Scotland and I was really interested in The Great Outdoors Challenge that he participated in and planned on putting together a team for in the future. He also said he would be doing some hiking up north along the Manistee!
Overall it was a great way to spend a couple hours with new friends and was much better than going out to dinner and drinks because this is the sort of thing that soothes the soul!
Trail: Brighton Recreation Area
Distance: 5.4 Miles
Bugs: Could be during warmer seasons but none on this trip
Trail Conditions: No notable wet spots, I don’t remember any particular hill so there are no notable hills. No overlooks or views.
Trail Use: Hiking / Biking (short section) / Hiking Only (most of loop), Great for a walk in the woods near a metro area.
Notes: There are regular benches and trail markers. The trail is very easy to follow and we only experienced a couple of downed trees. The trail was otherwise well maintained and the majority is not open to Mountain Bikers although we did run into some on the trail. There was a broken bench at around mile 4 but all other structures seemed to be in good repair. This would be a great place to hike when you are in town and need something to do but I would not have come directly to this location had there not been a meetup group with people to meet.
Started the day with a stack of waffles. A good warm breakfast before crosschecking our gear is always a good idea.
Met Duane in the parking lot near the ORV trailhead shortly after 8:00 AM. We waited and discussed the weather, nuclear energy, and his Now dear departed truck.
at 8:30 we piled into my truck and made our Way to the intersection of the NCT and cinder hill Rd.
Our snowshoes sunk into the snow yet kept us 5 or 6 inches aloft the ground, leaving the truck behind amid the buzzing snowmobiles we set out. Duane constantly taking photos and me taking photos of he taking photos we made our way meandering through the snow covered branches.
Our conversation died as it left us as the fresh virgin snow absorbed all sound around us and we heard nothing but the whipping wind far above in the treetops and the occasional whine of an engine in the distance.
Linus broke trail for us for the first half mile or so and exhausted plopped down for a rest and we took a photo op. shortly thereafter Duane plopped down on accident because his snowshoes were less familiar to him than his feet.
Picking our way along the trail relying heavily on the blue blazes we found them often snow covered or difficult to pick out and at one point we completely lost the trail in a section that badly needs re-blazing.
Once we reached Whispering pines drive we took a selfie because that’s just what you do these days…right?
We stopped at Bocook rd to have lunch, Linus and I had Cheese and Crackers and I had a Frosted Gingerbread Cliff bar (which by the way is very, very good) and Duane had some bars of the Cliff variety.
By this point, I had stripped and stowed my outer layer
as we proceeded into a section that I had re-blazed i constantly pointed out to Duane my handiwork until we came across one blaze that someone was unhappy with.
Shortly thereafter when crossing a snowmobile trail, we stopped for a drink of water and heard voices. Coming up the trail behind us we saw Bill and Bob Courtois. We chatted a bit and they commented on how nicely we had broken trail for them. We graciously allowed them to lead and those guys can move, that or we were tired.
They had left their car near the Scholl Rd Trail Crossing.
We ventured on through the snow until we crossed a Snowmobile Highway, Knowing we were nearly back we trudged on to the car. We drove back to the truck and took our funny hats picture.
Oh another Duane fall:
Wanderlust: 4.8 Miles
Daydreaming: 5 Hours 38 Minutes
Fauna: Homo Sapiens on Snowmobiles and on Snowshoes
Brewed and stowed 32oz coffee in my handy Nalgine bottle and once we loaded up we headed to the Mancelona Rd Trail head. We waited a bit and found it looked like it would be a solo hike. Drove down
to Starvation Lake Rd. I spied a unique Pavement to Gravel sign that struck me as funny so I took a
We arrived at the trail/road crossing, strapped on our packs and struck out after we snapped a quick picture.
We left out snowshoes behind, the snow wasn’t deep enough for them to be made of much use and would be more of a hindrance than advantage. The Trail ran along through rows of old CCC forest. The trees towered majestically above us as they lined up standing at attention.
After traveling for just a short while we scared a flock of turkeys who being unable to cope with the 4 to 6 inches of snow took flight. Although I know turkey’s have the ability to fly I had never actually seen turkeys fly. It was both amazing and comical like giant feathered bowling balls floating upward.
The lined forest gave way to trees ordered by nature, where seeds fall or sky opens until we crossed an unnamed road perpendicular to Sand Lake rd. Across this unimproved road the forest had been clear cut and other than a carsonite marking the trail / road crossing. Crossing the road the trail was hidden by the snow and impossible to see in the criss-crossing limbs left behind by the logging operation that had laid waste to the area. I spied a sea green blaze that was followed by another. I checked our location and the map and these off color blazes were moving in the correct direction so we decided to follow them till they ran out and then make a decision. After trudging a bit we did finally see a blue blaze, not boundary blue, looked more like royal or ford blue but it was blue and a more defined trail.
The trail wound through a younger forest with a mix of trees and with fresh snow deadening our footfalls it was very quiet. On occasion the whine of a snow-machine would pierce the cloak of silence enveloping us. Crossing a small meadow I heard something familiar but foreign. At first I thought it was turkeys and I stopped and asked little dude to listen with me. It was over head behind us we looked and he saw a flock of geese. Finally heading south for the winter, a really big flock.
Making it to sand lake Little Dude and I took a photo and he decided to make a snow angel. On the north end of Sand lake the trail follows Sand Lake Rd which is an unimproved road that has a dead end at sand lake but in the past
Click for video
had gone around the lake. we . This trail is also joined by surrounding trails in two miles it travels toward Mancelona Rd. As we neared the last 100 Meters four snowmobiliers passed us and asked if we needed a ride they were nice and continued on and we hopped in the truck and headed back.