Hiawatha Shore to Shore Trail Directions

Trail Head #1

(Mackinaw City to Brevort Lake Park - 21 miles) The trail begins at the phone located on the entrance way to the north bound lane of I-75, at the Mackinac Bridge in Mackinaw City. This five mile section of  trail can only be walked from north to south on Labor Day of each year, when about 70,000 people make the journey. Otherwise, hikers can take a ferry boat from Mackinaw City to Mackinac Island and then to St.Ignace, or a shuttle service is available across the bridge. For shuttle, use the phone at the trail head and call the Makinac Bridge Authority at 906-643-7600. Shuttle cost is $2.00 per person, the service is available during daylight hours. On the north end of the bridge, you pick up the trail at the information center located just north of the toll plaza. Hiking up a hill composed of broken chards of limestone, there are several views of the Straits of Mackinac and the Bridge. The limestone in this area is known as the Mackinac Collapse Breccia and probably became broken into fragments as deposits of aromatic petroleum escaped from underneath over millions of years. Hiking through Straits State Park, go north on Church Street to Business I-75, then north 0.4 miles to the beginning of the board walk. Follow this along the water front to the Museum of Objibway Culture. Take Marquette Street one block west to the intersection with the ‘old railroad grade’. Turn right (north) and follow the grade passing under I-75. The grade eventually intersects Cheeseman Road then Castle Rock Road (a total of five miles). The certified trail begins at the intersection with Castle Rock Road and enters the forest to the left. It meanders through old dune structures covered with large red and white pines. These dunes are remnants of a  time when Lake Michigan was more than thirty feet above current levels. At several points you will be able to see the lake to the south. One can imagine how much has changed as the water continues to recede from levels following the Wisconsin Glacial Epoch (circa 12,000 years ago). In fact, Chain Lake, Round Lake and Brevort Lake where once bays of Lake Michigan. Water for filtering is available at Pointe Aux Chenes R. and the Brevort R. Excellent artesian water is available at Brevort Lake Park, across from Boedine Bay on Brevort Lake. Wilderness camping spots are available at Pt. Aux Chenes R., Brevort R., Brevort Dam and on the south side of Brevort Lake before Brevort Lake Park. Straits State Park, and Brevort Lake Park are excellent group or trailer camping sites.

 

Trail Head #2

(Brevort Lake Park to Trout Brook Pond - 21.2 miles)

The Little Brevort River is crossed at the Bridge on Brevort Camp Road. The trail picks up 0.2 miles north on the east (right) side of the road and meanders through red pines planted by the Civilian Conservation Corp in the 1930’s.  About 0.5 miles north of the junction with Worth Road there is a foot bridge over Silver Creek. The terrain changes to mixed northern hardwoods,  then back to red pines after crossing the gas line just south of Burma Road. An excellent day hike is from Brevort Lake Park to Worth Road or from Worth road to Burma Road. An area for wilderness camping is near the foot bridge over the Carp River or two miles upstream at Flat Rock Falls. There are wet sections north of the Carp but a board walk has been built. At M123 it is 6.4 miles southeast to Moran where a general store, post office and bar can be found. Once across M123, go north on the abandoned railroad grade 0.5 miles. The trail picks up on the north side of Bissel Creek and crosses the Mackinac Wilderness Area. This is a remote section and quiet hikers might see a variety of wildlife. Good day hikes are from M123 to Kenneth Road, from Kenneth road to East Lake Road or from East Lake Road to H40 at Trout Brook Pond. Filterable water is available from the Carp R., the North Branch, and at Trout Brook Pond. Two miles north of Guard Lake the trail passes an  example of Ordovician Age Limestone (circa 500 million years ago). This outcrop was once part of a reef in a large sea that covered lower Michigan and northern Ohio. It is contiguous with the Niagara Escarpment, the same limestone sedimentary bedrock that forms the northern coast of Lake Michigan, the Manitoulin Island Archipelago,  the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario and the reason there is a falls at Niagara. Careful searching may produce fossils of Trilobites, Brachiopods and early Rugose Corrals. About 1.8 miles north the trail crosses Little Bear Creek over a beaver dam some 300 feet in length. Cedar and mixed pines predominate until the north side of Big Bear Creek. There are nice wilderness campsites on the western side of Guard Lake, the north end of the crossing over Little Bear Creek and on the north side of Trout Brook Pond. At H40, it is 11.3 miles west to Trout Lake where a general store, laundromat, restaurant, post office, bar and lodging can be found.

 

Trail Head#3

(Trout Brook Pond to Soldier Lake - 18.4 miles) The trail goes along the north side of Trout Brook Pond but can be accessed from the parking loop on the southeast side of the pond. The access trail crosses along the top of the earthen dam on the downstream end of the impoundment (listen for the spillway). The trail winds through red pine and mixed northern hardwoods, crosses the Wisconsin Central RR track and parallels Biscuit Creek crossing at Spur Road. Look for beaver along Biscuit Creek. North of the Biscuit the trail follows two-tracks until the Pine River Bridge. There is a nice primitive camp site at the Pine River though it is also used by car campers, hunters and fisherman in season. The trail parallels the Pine on the north side, crossing Dick Road then Lone Pine Road. It follows the edge of Betchler Lake swamp for 3.5 miles before crossing Dick Road once again and passing through undulating mixed pine forests to Soldier Lake. The small lakes in this area are examples of kettle lakes which were formed by collapsing wedges of glacial ice during the melting of the Wisconsin Epoch (circa 12,000 years ago). Well water and camping are available at Soldier Lake. Filterable water can be obtained from Biscuit C. and the Pine R. This section of trail is also good for hunting Morel mushrooms in spring. Look in cut over aspen groves following warm rains in late May. At M28 it is 4.5 miles west to Strongs where there is a general store, postal services, a bar, a restaurant and lodging.

 

Trail Head #4

(Soldier Lake to the mouth of Naomikong Creek - 13.4 miles)

The trail is gentle and rolling through sandy jack pine plains changing to various stands of aspen, mixed pine and northern hardwoods. Board walks have been constructed over wet areas to minimize impact on these soils. The Byway paralleling Lake Superior is known locally as the Curley Lewis Highway. Curley was a Paradise road commissioner who spent many years advocating for lakeshore drive and it finally happened. The parking lot where the trail crosses this road is known as the Shallows Parking Lot and the trail from this point to a 100 foot suspension bridge over Naomikong Creek is ADA approved. This is a very pleasant picnic or day spot with a beautiful beach. Camping is prohibited between the Byway and the beach so look for a place south of the road if you choose to camp in this area. Swimming is pleasant when the water warms up which sometimes is as late as early August. Filterable water is available from Naomikong Creek or Lake Superior. There is a small artesian well located about three miles west of the mouth of Naomikong, at the Bark Dock parking lot. A small general store and a restaurant that specializes in Lake Superior whitefish, menominee and trout is located 13.7 miles east.

 

Trailhead #5 (see next page)

(Naomikong Creek to Lower Tahquemenon Falls - 21.1 miles)

Once the trail leaves Hiawatha National Forest, there are several uncertified sections that will probably change as improvements are made. For now, you can walk the trail or the beach from Naomikong Creek [Ojibway - Shoal waters where the trout spawn] to the Bark Dock (about three miles west) by Ankodosh Creek [Ojibway - Translation unknown. May refer to an ancient family name], and then follow the certified trail 3.3 miles to M123 where you enter the lands of Tahquamenon River State Park. Attempting to walk the Lake Superior beach all the way to the mouth of the Tahquamenon River is ill advised. At this time, when you reach M123, the trail is coincident with a snowmobile trail that parallels the east side of the highway and crosses the river at the bridge just upstream from the mouth.  The certified trail resumes on the north side of the river, following Tahqua Road for five miles. About 1.6 miles after Cheney Creek, it enters the woods going west, through a remote and beautiful area of large red and white pines. Special places for exploration include Camp Ten Lakes, where the trail meets the Tahquamenon River north of Timber Lost, and near Cabin Lake. This is one of the two areas on the Shore To Shore section of the trail where the quiet hiker may be able to view moose, bear or bald eagles up close. Since this is State Park, camping is only permitted at the Lower Falls Campground where water and shower facilities are available in season. There is a convenience store one mile east of the Lower Falls on M123. Laundry, restaurants, a bar, postal services, a library and rooms are available 9.9 miles east at Paradise.

 

Trail Head #6

(Lower Tahquamenon Falls to Culhane Lake Campground - 21.6 miles)

This is a beautiful section of the trail. Starting at the Lower Falls on the Tahquamenon River [Ojibway, 1. “Be Careful River” or 2. Drinking River], the trail is coincident for 4.0 miles with the Tahquamenon River Trail  to the Upper Falls. There is a restaurant/brewery at the Upper Falls Parking Lot and worth a visit if it’s that time of the day. The Upper Falls are formed due to an erosion resident layer of Cambrian Sandstone (circa 570 million years ago). Fossils from this period of time indicate an explosion of life in shallow seas, especially of varieties of Arthropod (early crab-like crustaceans and forerunners of spiders/insects). This sandstone is most likely the only remnant of very ancient mountains that once existed to the north and west of this area. At the Upper Falls the trail is coincident with the Big Pines Trail. Several white pines exceeding four hundred years age can be viewed as one travels north of M123. Day hikes off the trail, on the Wilderness Loop and the Clark Lake Loop are well worth the aside. The North Country Trail proper resumes 3.2 miles north of M123 and follows ridges through large red  pines and patches of white birch. There are wet sections but nothing impassible if one is nimble. This is another area where the quiet hiker may view bear, moose or sandhill cranes if traveling quietly. There are beautiful wild flowers in season as well as plentiful blueberries in mid-July. There are two excellent wilderness campsites in areas that overlook Loon Lake and a number of ridges with stately old growth red pine forests and giant hemlocks. About 0.8 miles from the Little Two Hearted River the trail enters private land and follows CR500 until it crosses the river. Day hikers will find the section from the Upper Falls to CR500 a wonderful short excursion with excellent opportunities for photography, berry picking, viewing wildlife and finding solitude beneath ancient trees. Once past the Little Two Hearted, the trail meanders 1.5 miles through mixed red pines and northern hardwoods and connects with an old railroad grade heading north, crosses Swamp Lake Road and 2.4 miles later, crosses the Little Two Hearted once again. The trail follows the river on the east side before crossing CR500 yet again, climbing a steep hill and on past Parcell Lakes and Dry Lakes to Culhane Lake State Forest Campground. This is a beautiful place to camp with well water, swimming and nice rustic camp sites.

 

Trail Head #7

(Culhane Lake Campground to the mouth of the Big Two Hearted River - 4.7 miles.) There is another good campsite where the trail intersects the Little Two Hearted River 0.5 miles north of the Culhane Lake Campground. The trail meanders along the east side of the river and becomes coincident with a two-track eventually crossing the river at the bridge on Little Lake Harbor Road. The certified trail picks up again just west of the river and follows a fairly straight course 3.0 miles west through dunes to the State Forest Campground at the mouth of the Big Two Hearted River. There is a cable bridge that crosses the river in the campground. Food supplies are available up the hill at the Rainbow Lodge General Store. Well water is available at the campground. The Lake Superior beach in this area is very good for hunting agates and other semiprecious stones. These agates formed in vesicles in volcanic lavas from the Kewanawin Epoch (circa 1.1 billion years ago). There are also excellent examples of banded iron formation, iron deposited in sediments prior to the time when the earths atmosphere contained enough oxygen to allow the iron to rust. Many of the flesh colored pieces of granite (orthoclase felspar granites) were transported to this area by glaciers. Most are from the Canadian Shield (circa 2 billion years old). A casual glance across the expanse of Lake Superior might stagger the imagination when one  considers that this might be the oldest triple junction rift zone known to exist on the earths surface. Seismic evidence indicates there are sediments filling a crack in the earths crust that extends more than 30.000 feet below the present lake bottom.

 

Camping. Almost the entire Shore-To-Shore section of the NCT runs through Federal or State Forest. There are excellent designated campgrounds with water and showers at St.Ignace State Park, Brevort Lake Park, and Tahquamenon State Park. There is a fee per night. Along the trail, camping is permitted on National Forest Lands but must be at least 50 feet from a body of water. Camping on State of Michigan Lands requires a permit obtained from the Department of Natural Resources. Campfires are permitted unless during extreme fire conditions. Common safety procedures should be followed and include bare ground, a safety ring if you can find rocks, and removal of fuels from around the fire. Fire wood is defined as dead and down wood. Be advised that trail campsites must be at least ˝ mile from a designated campground. Always practice no-trace camping techniques and bury human waste at least 100 feet from a water course.  It is best practice to keep all food out of tents and to hang food from a tree at night to discourage an encounter with black bears.

 

Fishing. Fishing for brook trout and rainbow trout is good in many of the small streams you will cross. A fishing license is required. There are runs of steelhead, salmon, brown trout, walleye  and menominee in the spring or fall. The best rivers include the Carp, the Pine, the Tahquamenon, the Shelldrake, the Little Two Hearted and the Big Two Hearted. Special regulations apply in some of these rivers. 

 

Permitted Uses. All segments of the NCT are open to travel by foot for walking, hiking, or backpacking. Cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and jogging are also allowed. Bicycling and motorized use is not allowed.

 

Trail Marking. Certified sections of the NCT are signed with “blue plastic diamonds”. Two blue diamonds indicates a change in direction.

 

Water. Unless obtained from rain, a pump or artesian well, all water should be filtered, boiled or treated. It should be assumed that Giardia and Cryptosporidium are present in all stream and lake water.    

 

For More Information. An excellent map, The Hiawatha National Forest Michigan Meridian-1989 is available for six dollars from the U.S. Forest Service located three miles west of St. Ignace on US-2 (906-643-7900). The Shore-To-Shore Chapter also maintains a website at http://www.northcountrytrail.org/hss/index.htm.

 

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