I got lost on the Green Pine Lakes Pathway in Clare County, Michigan. Twice. Heck, I got lost just trying to find the place.
Now getting lost is not a big deal for me. I can get lost on my way to the my bathroom. That’s why, when I go on a hike, I generally go where there is a broad path and a well-marked trail. None of that “take the path least traveled” crap for me. Give me well-traveled anytime. And deserted. I hate to run into people when I walk, but that’s a different topic…
Anyway, my walk that day stated out well, well–it did once I found the right spot. My first attempt to find the pathway had taken me to the State Forest Camp ground at Mud Lake. It’s a pretty lake and nice campground and the Green Pine pathway does connect to the campground. However, the connector path is several miles long and several miles from where I wanted to be. Luckily, there was a nice map of the trail created as an Eagle Scout project. So, after reviewing the map I climbed back into my dirty Ford Freestyle and finally found the right parking lot on M-115, and within sight of Lake George Road. I parked I grabbed my camera, cursed myself for forgetting water and headed off down the trail An identical map by the same Scout was located down the path so I oriented myself and began to walk the level path.
It’s a pretty trail and the first section was easy to navigate. Trees had blue paint and blue medal markers on them and since there was nobody around but me, I was having a grand time. Then I got to the second loop around Green Pine Lake and things started to go awry. The trail narrowed and about the time I got to a couple off-kilter wooden bridges almost impassable due to vegetation, the markers had disappeared. That left me to flounder about in the dense woods. Although normally when I flounder about in the woods I worry about my bleached bones being found years later, I wasn’t too worried in this case since the sun was out and I could navigate (somewhat) using that. I also had my cell phone with me.
Eventually, the missing blue paint was replaced by red paint and I followed that out to a dirt road and walked the road until it intersected with Lake George Rd. I walked Lake George Rd. for a while and when I figured I was parallel with the part of the Green Pine trail that would take me back to my car I headed cross-country to intersect it. Dumb move given my lack of navigational abilities and woodland skills.
Anyway, once back in the dense woods I mistook a couple of deer trails for the path, wandered/floundered through the remains of a lake bed, through some heavy brush, found evidence of some long-ago beavers and, after 30 minutes, ended up back on Lake George Rd. not far from where I had gone in. At that point, I threw in the towel and walked the road to my car and headed home without incident.
It was a good walk but I wouldn’t do it again and I wouldn’t advise anyone else to do that second loop around Green Pine Lake. I DO plan to go back in the near future and walk the first loop. I think I can do that one. Only this time I will take water, a compass and a map. One can only cheat death so many times.
June 2012 Update: I received a comment from Mark who has a Hiking Michigan-North/Central Region blog. He walked the trail just recently and also posted an entry about his experience.
I’ve been trying to drum up some attention to this trail, as well as get some maintenance on it. I have a solid GPS track of all but a 1 mile section on the larger loop where the trail is too overgrown to even find old markings. This sounds like the area where things may have gone wrong for you. I didn’t know the name of the trail until today. I’d been calling it the Mud Lake Trail.