Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Road Trip Day 4; Switchback Ridge Scenic Foot Trail, Brevort Michigan, Upper Peninsula

I was eager to get some hiking in this day because we were on a beautiful lake, with dunes and forest all around us. Fortunately, the campground we happened upon also had a great hiking trail called the Switchback Ridge Scenic Foot Trail. This trail continued for at least 5 miles around Little Brevort Lake. We hiked 1.2 miles from our campground to the South Unit campground, which was closed down, on the other side of Little Brevort Lake and then back following the same trail. Along the way we hiked in thick, wet, forests, sunny sand dunes and up and down hills through the woods.

Getting there: The trail we took starts at the campground located just off Hwy 2, two miles northeast of the small ‘town’ of Brevort. Follow the signs to the “North Brevort Campground, North Unit” just 2 miles off Hwy 2 on Worth Road; it’s also accessible from Ozark Road. We found this campground after noticing the sign while driving west on Hwy 2, and we followed the well marked signs from Hwy 2 to the campground. Click here for the park website. Across from site number 8, next to the pit toilet is the trailhead sign for Switchback Ridge.
The Journey; The trail starts in a dense forest thick with ferns and foliage along the forest floor and numerous streams crossing the path. There is about a quarter mile of wood planks for walking on during this wet stretch of trail. Take care not to slip on the wet wood, and continue on the overgrown trail for about a 1/3 of a mile until you reach the stairs and sand dunes. The trail is well marked with blue markers on many trees, and the trees are even painted with blue dots to lead you on your way. It was easy to follow the numerous markers through the dense forest. Once you reach the sand dunes climb up the short distance to the top of the dune to overlook the valley beyond; continue following the blue markers to another set of stairs leading you back into the forest. Near the stairs is a huge patch of wild raspberries that I picked before continuing into the woods on the trail. At this point the trail is on the ridge above the lake and you can see some pretty views peeking through the trees out to the water; you can already see the campground and boat launch across the lake.

The trail continued climbing up and down hills through the forest; there was a trail split along the way and we continued left following the trail down the hill toward the water. Eventually the trail splits again and to the right a service road can be seen, we turned toward the road which leads us to the closed down South Unit Campground on the lake. You can again see the North Campground and boat launch across the lake. There is a pit toilet here and another boat launch, but vehicles cannot turn down this road as the gate is closed, it’s only accessible by foot. The Switchback Ridge Trail continues for an additional 3.5 miles through the woods and around the lake, but we turned around and took the same trail back at this point. The hike to the campground and back took about 1.5 hours, and was about 2.5 miles in total. We did hike slowly and stopped often to take photos, eat raspberries or to climb dunes.

Our next destination was to find a campground outside of Manistique, Michigan and we were eager to hit the road and eat some fresh fish at a local bar and grill in Manistique. Our next destination was camping and hiking in historic Fayette State Park, Michigan.

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