There was a time when much of Michigan was covered by gorgeous and wild virgin timber. While the 1800s logging era transformed the state’s landscape, there are still some places that appear much as they did before Europeans arrived. One of those spots is Hartwick Pines State Park. The park contains some remnant old-growth forest and a hike through the park will take you across the serene AuSable River. Here’s why this is a hike you need to experience.
The trail is located in Hartwick Pines State Park, a 9,700-acre state park in the lower peninsula of Michigan. It’s located in Crawford County near Grayling and it’s about three hours north of Detroit.
The park is connected to Michigan’s logging history. The area was heavily logged but in the 1920s, a logging company preserved a section as a memorial to the logging industry. The section of white pines and red pines is known as the Hartwick Pines. It’s surrounded by thousands of acres of second-growth forest.
The park has the feel of Michigan before the logging era. The AuSable River Trail is a path that introduces hikers to the forest’s beauty.
The trail is 3.3 miles in length and it travels through an area of towering trees.
The trail crosses the AuSable River twice, via small bridges. The river, which means “sand river” in French, is considered one of the best trout fisheries east of the Rockies.
The forest is incredibly fragrant and you’ll hike over a bed of soft pine needles. The trail can become soft and muddy at times so be sure to wear appropriate footwear.
With the exception of one steep climb the trail is fairly flat – it’s a relatively easy hike that can be completed in about an hour. Because the trail is in a state park, you’ll need a Michigan Recreation passport to get to the trail. Learn more about the park here. If you love easy but scenic hikes, here are some more trails that won’t disappoint.
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