We’re not sure who scheduled National Take a Hike Day in mid-November, but they obviously weren’t hunters or accustomed to northern Michigan’s weather! If you choose to head out today, you may need winter boots and be sure to wear bright colors. Whether you’re hiking today or daydreaming about your next adventure, let this list of our favorite natural areas in Gaylord, Michigan serve as inspiration to embrace being All Outdoors!
Jordan Valley Pathway
While Deadman’s Hill overlook at the trailhead of this 18-mile loop is known for offering one of the most stunning vistas in our area, the view from the valley floor might just knock your hiking boots off as well. If you’re not up for the full trek, you can take the quick 3-mile down and back loop from the parking lot or don your backpack and make a weekend of it.
Louis M. Groen Nature Preserve
This pretty parcel just east of Gaylord is filled with four seasons of fun! The network of trails stretching over almost 800 acres will lead you through fields, valleys, heavily forested woodlands, rolling hills and past Johannesburg Lake. Envision the lumbering era of long ago as you walk along historical buildings and sawmill equipment used by the Johannesburg Manufacturing Company.
Mere blocks from downtown Gaylord, this 100-acre oasis consists of both paved and unpaved pathways to suite your hiking tastes. Meander along the leaf-strewn loveliness of Aspen Park past a quaint beaver pond, or venture in another direction for a glimpse at our City Elk Park. Better yet, do both.
Pigeon River Country State Forest Trails
The Pigeon River Country State Forest is filled with endless miles and hours of adventure! Backpackers and back-country hikers prefer the extensive High Country Pathway, while day-trippers can choose from loops varying from 1 – 12 miles in length on the Shingle Mill Pathway. Although known for some muddy stretches, Pickerel Lake Pathway is short, sweet and loops all the way around its namesake lake. You can also trek out on the Towerman’s Watch Trail and visit the Witness Tree, a scenic beaver pond, the P.S. Lovejoy Monument and the site of the former Pigeon River Middle Fire Tower.
Sturgeon River Preserve
This might just be our favorite place to stretch our legs when we’re short on time. Packed into this 1-mile loop, you’ll find a boardwalk running along the rushing Sturgeon River, hilly terrain flocked with cedars and pine, a small field of lush ferns and abundant wildlife. Believe it or not, you can even break the Sturgeon River Preserve into shorter segments…but why would you want to?
Lace up your hiking boots, wear layers for warmth (top it off with some orange!) and remember to stay hydrated even when it’s chilly outside. The best part about November hiking is that with a quick switch over to snowshoes, unexpected flurries won’t interfere with your plans. Stay active and gear up for some winter fun coming your way soon!