It’s late Spring along the trail in the Lower Peninsula: the season for Canada geese to introduce their offspring.
The Manistee River is a premier trailside habitat, a fine spot for spotting a Bald Eagle on patrol high above the River.
Or a dying Salmon that had come up the River to spawn.
Enormous White pine in Taquamenon State Park would provide enough lumber for five houses.
The trail is being constructed by the volunteers of the North Country Trail Association.
A trail crew from the Western Michigan, one of 25 chapters and nine affiliate hiking organizations creating and maintaining the North Country Trail. Like this trail crew from the Western Michigan Chapter.
The Western Michigan Chapter is allied with the Association’s 24 other chapters (including 11 in Michigan) and these affiliates: In New York: • Finger Lakes Trail Conference In Pennsylvania: •Rachel Carlson Trails Conservancy •Butler Outdoor Club In Ohio: •Buckeye Trail Association •NW Ohio Rails to Trails Association In Michigan: •Friends of the Jordan River Hatchery In Minnesota: •Superior Hiking Trail Association •Border Trail Route Association •Kekekabic Trail Club •Parks and Trail Council of Minnesota
Most of the construction is accomplished with hand tools. Crosscut saws are a favorite even with big logs because U.S. Forest Service rules prohibit the use of chain saws except by certified sawyers.
A significant number of these certified sawyers are women who have completed the Forest Service’s rigorous training program.
Yes, we shoveled, too Some of our Western Michigan chapter members have cared for their sections of trail since Congress authorized the NCT in 1980.
In Minnesota, a tired trail crew gets a little help from the Conservation Corps.
Volunteers create a connection to the North Country Trail. Like the Birch Grove Loop Trail north of White Cloud in the Manistee National Forest. Near population centers, chapters often build loops for easy day hikes.
The new loop gives access to the Loda Lake wildflower sanctuary with its spectacular display of water lilies.
Volunteers not only have to build trail but clean up and repair it like in this flood aftermath project.
Or removing eyesores from the trail side like this junker tossed into a ravine in the Lowell State Game Area.
Testosterone-fueled machines, like all-terrain vehicles, ORVs and dirt bikes can raise havoc. Unfortunately, signs don’t discourage all the boys and their toys.
Yet the volunteers persist, even building a bridge through a driving rain storm.
Let’s head out on the NCT, blue blazes will show the way.
Or the snowy splendor along the Boardman River in Grand Traverse.
There’s warm shelter in the old Birch Grove School near White Cloud.
The historic schoolhouse, built in the lumbering era and restored by the Western Michigan Chapter, serves as an overnight stop, training facility and jumping off point for many favorite day hikes along the trail.
Back on the trail, along Highbanks Lake in Newaygo County.
And Conlon Lake, another among the scores of lakes in the Manistee National Forest, visited by the trail.
Farther north, bench in the High Rollaways section, high over the Manistee River Valley, was built by volunteers.
Photographs by Dave Alexander Jo Anne Baron Clare Cain Mike Dallos Matt Davis Tom Gilbert Paul Haan John Heiam Dave Kenyon Bill Menke Roger Meyer Lynn Moore Corey Morse Peggy Muzzall Andrew Mytys Aaron Phipps Sharon Phipps Ryan Sim Bart Smith Candy Stackable Werner Veit Joan Young Maps by Matt Rowbotham