City of CLARE recognizes Green Pine Lake Trails Restorations

In a wonderful newspaper article, the city of Clare, Michigan, recognized and complimented the efforts of all the Volunteers who came out to help Restore the Boy Scouts created Trails at Green Pine Lake. Ausable State Forest area. After many years of abandonment, the extensive Trails, Boardwalks, Bridges and Map posts had fallen into disrepair, making much of the area un-navicable.




Mark Wilson, our director here at Hiking North/Central Michigan, started this project with a number of GPS hikes to get an idea of just where the last of the Trails existed. He was assisted by a number of people, including Scout Master Jeff from Ortonville. This allowed a good Map to be created to start the ball rolling.

Mark got together with the Friends of Clare county and organized a Trails Restoration on Saturday, 4/21/13. The Groups who turned out worked very hard and some even stayed overnight at the Mud Lake Campground to continue the work the following day.

A big stop for the Group was a local Beaver who decided he needed to Dam up one of the creeks and flood out an entire section of the Trail. The DNR will be removing the Beaver so further work can continue, and the whole project can be finished up this summer. Look for the next weekend scheduled Trails Restorations coming soon. This one will be scheduled for the entire weekend, with free Camping supplied by the DNR at Mud Lake Campground nearby.



Green Pine LK.Restorations Reviewed

GroupAnother job well done Gang. It’s great when people can get together and save something worth saving. Those Trails out at Green Pine Lake are worth saving. The Scouts thought it was worth their time in constructing all those bridges and Boardwalks, many years ago. It is worth making sure they stay around as long as possible. Even if the local Beaver has other ideas.

Mark sent me a short review of the weekend, so here we go……..


All:    Just a quick update on the trail restoration day.

First of all, thank you to all involved for all the support.

 After some great coffee and rolls provided by the Clare County Friends group, and a quick safety briefing Saturday morning we headed out on the trail with 16 people. We split into two groups and headed in different directions on the loops with plans to meet up at Green Pine Lake for lunch.  We had beautiful and comfortable weather, and more importantly we had no injuries. The two groups got back together at Green Pine Lake for lunch, shared the mornings progress and planed the afternoons activities. It was nice to see a Loon on Green Pine Lake during lunch and apparently the group that took the west leg of the loop saw a coyote up close and personal.  On the large loop we found that the beavers have been very active this spring and have completely closed a section of the large loop. I had one party from Hiking Michigan that stayed at the Mud Lake Campground they wanted to work today as well, so my daughter and I joined them to work on the Mud Lake connector trail today.

Please note all the work that was accomplished over the last 3 days.

·         The small loop off the M-115 parking lot is re-blazed and all of the brushy areas have been cleared.

·         The large loop excluding small section in the beaver dam area has been re-blazed. (Thank you to Rich and Chris from the DNR for marking a good portion of the large loop last fall.)

·         Several areas that were significantly overgrown on the large loop have also been cleared.

·         The small nature trail loop at Mud Lake has been cleared and re-blazed.

·         The connector trail to Mud Lake is re-blazed except for a small section that is near the intersection of Cook and Adams roads. (I’ll plan on taking care of that when I get more paint)  

It was nice to meet a group of hikers on the connector trail today as I was out burning up the last couple cans of paint.

I have asked the Hiking Michigan folks to post all their photos here.!/media/set/?set=a.401732259924911.1073741827.149820138449459&type=1








To keep places like Green Pine Lake, a place that many people will be able to enjoy for many years to come, it takes constant work and attention. Than You Rosie, Larry, Peggy, Lani, Kim, Hal, Jane, Rich, Chris, Mark, Dylan and all the others I missed here. (Mark will fill in those names later) (We are not big on full last names in the various Trails & Volunteer work we do here at Hiking Michigan) THE PROJECT IS THE REWARD!                                 Rob – HIKING MICHIGAN  


Here are some items that we need to consider for the next project weekend. 

·         Address the Beaver Dam issue on the large loop

·         Replace broken boards and railings on bridges and boardwalks

·         There was some logging done within the last year that has affected the Mud Lake connector trail in a couple areas that need some significant clean up done. (The trail is however still well marked and usable at this time.)

·         Get the wooden signs back up at the trailheads and intersections.

·         Explore adding one more bridge over a small stream on the Mud Lake connector trail

I think the trail has a lot of potential for summer use this coming summer. The small loop off M-115 offers a nice little day hike that is now well defined. The short Nature Trail loop at Mud Lake offers the same. For people looking for a bigger challenge, to hike from the lot on 115 to Mud Lake via the east leg of the large loop and the Mud Lake connector would be a very challenging hike, but one that can be done now on a well marked trail.  I’m personally very satisfied with the accomplishments of this weekend.

Thanks again to all!

Happy Trails,

Mark Wilson


North/Central Branch

8175 23 Mile Road

Evart MI 49631

Cell: 231-250-2071


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THANK YOU AGAIN……to all you hard workers who donated your time and money to make this first Trails Restoration at Green Pine Lake happen. I have said this hundreds of time before…..Michigan has the very best Volunteers ANYWHERE. They give so much for ALL the people of our beautiful state!

Thanks for all the pictures too. 🙂 I collected them from all over Facebook and the NET and put as many as I could find, right here in the Slideshow. Very Cool to see what all of you did and accomplished.

Unique Opportunities Coming

Our director for the North/Central Hiking Michigan group has been a very busy man this last Winter. Mark Wilson has become the head of EVART Parks & Recreation, contributing his outdoor knowledge and talents to his community in many ways. Starting with the development of a number of new Park Trails, a Snow Shoeing group, and a number of programs that keep the Parks & Rec. appeal for all ages and different types of individuals.

Well……he has put together something for April 27th that will not only be an interesting experience for many people, but will do something that will affect so many others, for years to come. Mark and associate Hal have managed to put together, along with CLARE county and the DNR, the start of the restoration of the abandon Trails system out at Green Pine Lake, in the Ausable State Forest area, Clare County, Michigan.

This area, NorthEast of the city of EVART, was originally developed by local Scouts from Trails creations, to Boardwalks , Bridges and Signage. It was beautiful in it’s heyday. But it now stands in ill repair. But it was not to late to save this beautiful area. So that is just what has been organized.

On April 27th, Phase 1 begins with Trails trimming and some Signage repainting. There will also be some further GPSing of the trails and area, for a final new Map of the entire Trails system there. Which means that everyone participating in this 1st Phase of work will get experience at Trails restorations, Trails building, Trails Maintenance, Area surveying and analysis, and the logging of specific work and maintenance to be performed. A planning scheme for the complete restoration of an entire Trails system area. Great Fun and experience for anyone interested in just how it all works……the Trails we hike and just take for granted on how there are just there for us.

I have just wrote this little tease because I just could not help myself with the excitement of what was going to start to take place at what could have been a wonderful Trails network, so abandoned that it would soon be un-restorable. So……in the nick of time, three groups will come together and make what once was an Eagle Scouts mission, continue to be a reality. Hiking Michigan North/Central, CLARE County Parks & Rec. and our State DNR, all working together for the best interest of all the people. Does’nt get much better then that.

Look for more details and a full write up on all the Plans coming in Phases, for the Green Pine Lake Trails. This area adjoins the famous “Lost Lake Scouting Camp” area. One of the most beautiful an extensive Scouting Camp in Michigan. We will have more details shortly. I just couldn’t wait. 🙂



MUD Lake & Green Pine Lake Trails

We have had alot of responses to Mark’s investigations out at the Green Pine Lake & Mud Lake Trails. We have updated the new maps for the area, and hope to do some Trails maintenance and restoration out along both Trails this Spring. Below you will find one of Mark’s reports on the area.GREEN PINE LAKE MAPGreenPineLake

Posted on June 2, 2012 by 

In either case it was about a year ago that my friend Hal told me about a trail system that was only a few miles from where we live. He said that he and his wife used this trail on occasion, but it appeared to be an underutilized and neglected trail.  I was finally able to get time to go hike this trail with Hal a couple of days ago, on what turned out to be a great day for hiking. The conditions were exactly what we want for a day of hiking… cool, a bit cloudy, with few bugs.

We started our hike at the Big Mud Lake State Forest campground several miles west of M-66 and north of US Highway 10. I know the name Big Mud Lake sounds rather unappealing, but I hope you can trust me when I say the area is very appealing if you are a person who enjoys big woods, quiet lakes, and the universal solitude that nature provides. This area has all of the above and more!

The trail head at the campground is not well-marked, but easily found straight east of the parking area. The trail starts out looking as though it is going to be well-groomed with a nice wide bed of crushed limestone leading you to the first of the trail map signs mounted on double posts. The signs are not fancy by any stretch of the word at first glance, but after you look them over closely you will begin to appreciate the craftsmanship once you take note of the small tag at the bottom of each sign that informs you that the sign and the trail system was an Eagle Scout project of a Boy Scout named Steve Reed of troop 695 in Farwell Michigan, in the year 2000.

These hand-made signs are located at both trail-heads, as well as at each intersection of the trail system. There are some scale issues with the map on these signs, but one gets a general understanding of the overall system at a glance.

One can see on the map below that the trail system consists of a small loop trail near the Big Mud Lake campground, with a long connector trail that runs to the east to connect with two larger loops. The southern loop is the larger of the two loops at about 5 miles. The loops both connect in the area of Green Pine Lake. The northern loop is a 2.5 mile loop that can be accessed from a parking area off of M-115 at Pike Lake.

On the far eastern part of the trail near the Mud Lake Campground there is a small loop that would constitute about a ¾ mile hike if you were to hike it by itself. The north leg of this loop goes up through some DNR food plots that have been seeded to rye for this year. This would be a great little hike for campers staying at the campground with ample opportunity to see wildlife.

Our hike this day took the southern leg of this small loop on the trip out to the western section of the trail, and we would pick up the northern leg of this small loop on the way back in. The first mile or so of the trail is in a cedar swamp area that was loaded with wildflowers. We even ran across a few beautiful examples of Lady Slippers, we also passed by a number of species of fern, finding a couple that are rather uncommon for this area.

The connector trail from the campground at Mud Lake out to the first of the larger loops is actually about 3 and 1/4 miles in total length, and goes from the wet swampy area near the campground into a range of varying habitats.

I’m sure that 12 years ago the trail was well-marked throughout its entirety. Today the trail may be very discernible in one section, but can be very overgrown and confusing in other areas.  There were several areas where we had to stop and really search for a trail, or trail marker, but only on one occasion did we actually overshoot the trail and have to back track several hundred yards to pick the markers up again. The trail appears to have been blazed with the official blue triangular foot trail plastic placards years ago, but many are missing or broken now, so don’t count on having them at regular intervals along the trail. As the middle section of this trail system exists today, it is very advisable to take your time through this section and make sure that you are looking for trail markings as you move along the system as it is very easy to overshot a turn in the trail.

In many cases the blue paint blazing has faded to the point of being barely visible, and the triangular trail placards are long gone. Some kindhearted individual has over the last couple years carried a blue spray-paint can along the trail remarking some of the areas that are fading away and without this good Samaritan, I’m afraid that some parts of the trail would be completely lost and overgrown by now.







Arriving at the western intersection of the largest of the loops in the system, in what appears to be the least utilized part of the trail system, we found the 3rd trail map sign that was also in need of some maintenance.

This is a very beautiful area that is very secluded along an old beaver pond where the understory becomes very thick with tag alder, and the trail becomes very hard to keep track of so you must pay close attention to the few markings that remain here.

A couple of items of note here are that the map board is oriented so that north is at the bottom of the map, also this  board depicts a cut-off trail that would drop to the south of the “You are here” point, but we could find no sign of such a trail

Hiking north up the western edge of the larger loop we found the most overgrown area of the trail system. Wet boots and tangled briers were the name of the game for a short section that lead us along the top of an old beaver dam.  It was a bit of a struggle to push through this area but the views across the old beaver pond were well worth the effort.

In the midst of this Tag Alder, briers and thick brush was a stream crossing foot bridge that had suffered some frost heaving damage over the years, but it is still very navigable. On this bridge we found another plaque noting that the bridge was the Eagle Scout project of John Ball of Troop 622 in June of 2001. What a project this bridge must have been. I have no clue the distance to the nearest area that a truck could have delivered lumber to, but I’m sure some young Scouts must have hand carried a lot of lumber for a long distance to get it to the site of this bridge.

Both ends of the bridge are nearly over grown with brush and this area around this bridge could easily cause a hiker who is faint of heart to turn-round and head back from whence he came.  But should they choose that lesser option they would missed some very spectacular views of a very unique area.

Continuing up the western side of the larger loop we again passed through a range of habitats finding many points of interest along the way. We also found short sections of trail that were on old two-track roads that make walking a breeze.

After connecting with the smaller of the two loops we continued north up the western side of that loop towards the parking area at M-115 which is the northern most point of the trail system. This area consists of sandy soil and a mix of mature and scrub oak underbrush where the trail can be easily lost if one is not paying attention to markings.

The parking area at M-115 is nothing more than a small gravel area that would serve 10 or 12 cars but hidden back in the brush are the remains of an old State forest campground that are interesting to explore. Also just to the east of the parking area is the beautiful Pike Lake that has a drive in park area located on its east side


We back-tracked the same trail south until we found the northern most trail map sign that we had passed on the way in to the parking area. This location is the junction that will connect you to the eastern leg of the smaller northern loop. This leg heads around the south end of Pike Lake through the remnants of an old clear-cut that is now very thick.  We found evidence of an active beaver along the swampy area on the south end of Pike Lake.

This leg of the trail was one of the few places that we found evidence of some recent trail maintenance. There were areas where the brush had been clearly cut back from the trail and in one area the trail even appeared to have been widen by cutting brush back 3 or 4 feet on both sides.  Much of this trail was along a high sandy ridge through a 10 or 12-year-old clear-cut, and we found some interesting flowers along this section as well.

Once we arrived at the next trail connector sign we decide that it was getting late in the day and we would take the short connector between the large and small loops to reconnect with the trail that we came in on and head back to Mud Lake. This short connector trail is one that I’m glad that we didn’t pass up. It brings you around the north side of Green Pine Lake. Green Pine is a wonderfully isolated little lake that looks like it would be loaded with fish that have never seen a lure.

The area around Green Pine Lake is so inviting and we did happen to find evidence of campfires in the area. After pulling ourselves away from Green Pine we headed towards the next trail intersection and back into the very overgrown beaver pond area were we would again have to keep our eyes open for the old trail markers.

We made it back to the main connector trail that we had come in from Mud Lake on and started our return trip back on that trail.

We fumbled the trail one time on the return to the parking area, but we quickly got back on track.

At the end of the day we had logged just over 11 miles, and had we taken in the last leg of the larger loop we would have logged in the neighborhood of 15 or 16 miles. So all in all a great trail with many options for day hikes.

This is a spectacular trail system that I plan to use more in the near future, and I would certainly encourage others to explore this challenging trail system as well.  I’m told that there is a group in the Farwell area that maintains this trail. It would be my hope that Hiking Michigan could sometime in the future work with this group to help keep this trail alive. It’s a shame to have such a gorgeous natural resource remain unseen and unused. I can’t seem to find that this trail system is publicized anyplace, so plan on seeing more from me about this trail in the future.

Feel free to contact me with any question regarding this trail


So here it is again. More Volunteer talk. But I cannot help myself, because these days, the Volunteers do some of the most important work in so many different areas of society. Recently, after a post concerning the lack of attention from our DNR towards the state’s biggest problem, Invasive Species, someone Commented on the posting. The Comment said that many Volunteers need some sort of payback to be there as a Volunteer. That is what sparked this particular posting.

The Comment went on to say that an incentive or small trinket would help get even more Volunteers to come out and help. In this case, we are talking about doing physical work in the outdoors, either pulling up Invasive plants or hauling heavy things around. I guess I have seen some Volunteers over the years, who came out for the prize, but how inexpensive it was to award that prize, for so much work gained from those kind of Volunteers.

I have seen far more Volunteers who come to a scheduled work detail, with absolutely no expectations of getting anything, but the Camaraderie of fellow Volunteers and the self satisfaction of doing some greater good, for no rewards and just the knowledge that so many other people will benefit from the Volunteer groups efforts.

Volunteerism is the way these days. It used to be that the Non-Profit Group is where we got special things done as a Community or Society. But the money to support these Group, the Grants and in many cases, the poor focus of these Non-Profit groups has caused them to be very non-functional, and unable to take the money given them and use it in a conscientious manner. To much going for the salaries of the Groups officers. Or most of the money goes to office space, salaries, Marketing, etc. and only a very small percentage ever makes it to the “Cause”. This is not always the case. But it has become the norm.

The best Bang for the Buck, comes from these Volunteer groups. Our own DNR depends on Volunteers only, to combat the state’s biggest Natural Resources problem, in Invasive Species. They also rely on Volunteers mostly, to maintain the single-track Foot Trails in most of our Parks. The entire Stewardship division of the DNR is made up of just a few organizing Rangers, who’s job it is to round up enough Volunteers to perform all the needs that fall under Natural resources Stewardship. Now that says alot for the Volunteer.

Think about that for just a moment………the people of Michigan rely on Volunteers to battle our state’s biggest Natural Resources problem, it’s complete state-wide Natural Resources Stewardship programs, and Trails Maintenance for most of the Parks. WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Thank You very much Volunteers.

But getting back to the premise here. Besides this Blog posting about the Volunteers, and other minor articles, very few to no names are used, to recognize these very important Volunteers. Would we get even more participation if we gave every Volunteer for specific tasks, a “Patch” or a PIN, celebrating the duties completed and deeds well done? A Pin or Patch that these Volunteers could present proudly on their outdoor shirts or Packs.

I would like to here from all of you on this subject. Let me know what you think here. Would these trinkets bring in even more Volunteers for various important Natural Resources projects? Would it make any difference to YOU, the regular Volunteer already? Please let me know here.

Hiking Michigan has already designed out a few different Pins and Patches for various Volunteers, for a number of upcoming projects set for next Spring of 2013. We are starting the New Year off with assisting our North/Central director Mark Wilson, and his coalition of DNR personal, Clare county people and the city of Evart Parks & Rec., in restoring and repairing a series of Trails at a Clare county Park called Green Pine Lake Trails. Just like the Scouts, everyone who participates as a Volunteer will receive a commemorative PIN, of their efforts to restore this entire abandoned area, to it’s once beautiful self.