TH Elevation: 1332 ft.
Low Elevation: 841 ft.
Distance: 12.03 mi. (my FR230)
Elevation Gain: 992 ft. (estimate)
Start Time: 1:28pm
End Time 3:52pm
This was one of those trails that I'd never heard, never even seen a hint of it on any map, and out of the blue I saw someone posting about it on a Trail-runners facebook group and their pictures had me hooked. Several expansive views with some growing fall colors and it looked great. Even better, I was going to be headed towards Boyne a week or so after I saw the photos and so it would all work out perfectly.
As usual, I started to research the trail and looked for KML/GPX track info from others to see what it all looked like. I found that their is a 20-mile loop if one is so inclined. At the western end is the Pinney Bridge Camgpround which is a hike-in only campground. I'd read several reports of individuals who backpack it and that alone makes this sound worthwhile.
I set out to trail-run on a free afternoon that I had and to target 12-15 miles. It was tempting to target the full 9 miles out to the Pinney Bridge campground and back but I wasn't sure time would allow it. It was also enticing to see that this northern part of the loop trail was also on the North Country Trail, one that I had hiked in a few small sections earlier this summer.
The parking lot was easy to find driving in from the highway US131. I headed downhill on a relatively steep trail and this ran into a junction with the NCT. From there it was a trail-run south on the south-side of the Jordan River. The trail hugged the side of a hill slope for the first mile or two. About two miles in the trail seemed to divert from its original trail and went back and forth in the woods. It seems they are now avoiding a wet marshy area on the trail with this new diversion.
At 4 miles in the trail hits a road where it crosses over the Jordan River on a bridge, follows the road perhaps 2/10 of a mile and then returns to the woods now on the north side of the River. I followed on the north side for another two miles until I realized I still had 2+ miles to go to the campground and timewise I was near my halfway point.
I backtracked to the road and bridge crossing and then about 4/10 of a mile from the road I took a right turn at the junction. This leads on a "shortcut" trail that heads to the southern half of the loop. This would shave about a mile off my return mileage. It was an uphill climb to gain the ridge again and at its crest I gained the south end of the loop trail. At this point I was only about a mile from the trailhead. It was in here that I passed my first people of the day probably running into a dozen different dayhikers.
At the end I found Deadman's Hill overlook where I was surprised with views I hadn't ever seen in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. Quite a treat to get a hilltop with views over trees. It made this trail a real treat. Definitely one to come back to for another trail-run or even to backpack the whole loop.
I have a track and waypoints from the hike all contained in a KML file that you are welcome to download and use (at your own risk). The red track is my own from Oct. 11 and the blue shows the rest of the loop.