By Paul Beachnau
We are so blessed to live in a four-season community. Just when we run out of patience with one season, we are able to look forward to the next with renewed vigor. With the first official day of spring behind us, I am enthusiastically joining the “let’s hurry up and get this snow melted!” bandwagon. It was a long winter with abundant snow – perfect for the many winter recreation pursuits that our visitors enjoy. However, now we are able to look forward to warmer seasons and transition over to our bountiful spring activities.
Otsego County is home to some of the best biking trails in Michigan. The North Central Trail that extends from Gaylord 62 miles north to Mackinaw City is one of the most scenic trails in the Midwest. The viewscapes from this trail, numerous crossings of the Sturgeon River and abundant wildlife make it one of the crown jewels of trails. I can’t wait to get out and experience the sun on my back and gentle breeze on my face as I enjoy the northern Michigan landscape laden with trillium and dark green groundcover.
This spring will also mark the opening of the trail extension south along Otsego Lake all the way to Waters, as well as the initiation of a new trailhead in downtown Gaylord. This extension culminates the herculean effort of many local agencies and organizations.
As the ice melts, it will open up our 90+ lakes in Otsego County for boating, fishing and enjoying all types of water sports. With numerous boat launches, Otsego County is a haven for kayaking, canoeing and paddle boarding. There is nothing more relaxing and enjoyable than gently paddling along a quiet, pristine lake shore.
What were just a few weeks ago outstanding snowshoe trails will transform into some of the finest and most scenic hiking trails in our state. Some of my favorites are Aspen Park, the Shingle Mill Pathway in the Pigeon River State Forest, Dead Man’s Hill east of Elmira and Pine Baron Pathway just west of Gaylord.
The melting of our abundant snow will give way to greening open fields perfect for our elk herd. This creates many viewing possibilities north of Otsego County near the Pigeon River State Forest. Thanks to excellent wildlife management by the DNR, our elk herd continues to thrive. We are blessed to have such an outstanding natural resource in our backyard. It amazes me how many people don’t realize Michigan has one of the largest elk herds east of the Mississippi River.
Of course, warm temps, sunny skies and gentle, warm rain also brings along with it the elusive and magical morel mushroom. If there was ever a better symbol for spring weather, I can’t think of it. This delightful mushroom is as much fun to look for as it is to find. Our plentiful state land holdings offer up unlimited opportunities for foraging for nature’s spring delicacy.
As much as I love winter and all it has to offer in the Gaylord area, I will always delight in the first signs of spring. A brief and lovely precursor to the summer months we are all anticipating, spring once again draws everyone outside to enjoy what our pristine community has to offer.