Proposed NCT reroute near Mesick in red, existing trail and connectors in blue and black
GTH leaders have initiated talks with Consumers Energy company, the primary landowner along the proposed route for the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT). Consumers Energy has responded positively, and although formal agreements have yet to be secured, plans are moving forward.
Arlen Matsen, of GTH, writes that the reroute will proceed "from the Marilla Trailhead [on Beers Road] east towards Hodenpyl Dam. This route continues along the back-water through tall pine trees interspersed with views of the water. Crossing M-115, it will continue along the river on an abandoned railroad bed, eventually reaching M-37." Volunteer Lower Peninsula Trail Coordinator, Joan Young, has also walked portions of the proposed route and reports that the new miles will be as beautiful as any to be found in lower Michigan as the trail winds along the Pond, and the Manistee River. Camping opportunities along the route are available at several commercial, but rustic campgrounds.
From M-37, until the route rejoins the existing NCT, there is still work to be done to determine where the trail would go.
The village of Mesick is very interested in connecting to the NCT via a spur trail, to become more of a trail town. This would be a great asset for the trail as well, since there is nowhere that a long distance hiker can re-supply or take a day off at a motel so close to the trail for many miles south through the Manistee National Forest.
At the southwest end of the new route there will be changes which affect the Spirit of the Woods Chapter's trail. The northernmost 2.5 miles of existing trail in the National Forest, north of Beers Road, would no longer be a part of the NCT.
On January 10, at the Lake Bluff Audubon House in Manistee, Grand Traverse members Dick Naperala and John Heiam will present details of this plan and the current level of progress. This will be the program of the regularly scheduled chapter meeting for the Spirit of the Woods. There will be a brief business meeting at 7pm, and the program will begin at 7:30. The meeting is open to the public. The Audubon House is located at 2890 Lakeshore Road, just north of Orchard Beach State Park.
by Joan H. Young
See Spirit of the Woods Chapter of the North Country Trail Association
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