Shamelessly lifted from my blog...
Back in June, I fell in love with a trail. The High Country Pathway to be exact. This trail is located north of Atlanta MI, is 80 miles in length, and has been declared an "Epic Ride" by the International Mountain Bike Association. The trail conquered me after only 28.5 miles in June. I learned a valuable lesson related to growlers of Docs ESB and bottles of Oberon on the eve of a long ride, and vowed to return.
I took a vacation day on Friday, left home before 10am, and had camp set up by 3. Looking for a way to enjoy a couple hours, I loaded up my camelpack, got changed, and set out riding. I chose to ride the section from the campground (Clear Lake State Park) up to Tomahawk Lake, east of M33. A gradual downslope took me out of the park, across M33, and after a left at the fork, I was headed North.
The first section was a series of climbs, perfectly makeable in my 36:20 gearing, that led to a little overlook.
At the top of this little section looking back.
About the post title "The Blue Dots": this trail is blazed by a series of blue dots. No blue dots - you're lost. Note the blue dot above my bike in the proceeding photo.
For the climbing, I was rewarded with a couple of fast decents, followed by a couple little climbs. The trail popped out onto a logging road, which I took to the left for about a hundred yards... no blue dots. Turn around, backtrack, and there less than 20 feet to the right of where I emerged onto the logging road... a blue dot. OK, back on track, and this diversion only cost a couple minutes.
Here, the trail ran through the lowlands, and followed a very old railroad grade. Here was also the first section of boardwalk I'd encounter this weekend.
Reads: "Note the vegitative changes caused by the railroad grade built in 1895.
Boardwalks: I rode this stretch, rode a few others, and walked some.
The trail opened up some after the RR grade, and I passed the location of the logging town of McPhee.
Things stayed open for a while, passing through a stand of jack pine. After this stretch, things got very thick and overgrown for a bit over a mile.
There is a trail here amongst these ferns, trust me.
This led to a clearcut, more trail through a pine stand, and then a slightly rolling section as I approached the Tomahawk Creek Flooding, a very scenic lake.
On the edge of a clearcut. Very rough trail surface through here.
The trail ran along a low ridge on the east side of the flooding. Very nice riding here; smooth, no face-slappers, good flow.
Tomahawk Creek Flooding.
A small but well placed stump played "photographer for this shot of me with the flooding in the background.
After this point, the trail ran through a long clearcut, picked up a dirt/sand road for a quarter mile, and went through a more open stretch of woods. Eventually I came to Tomahawk Lake Road, which I took to M33. M33 brought me south back to camp, through perhaps the worst stretch of the ride: road, southbound, and into a fairly strong south wind.
When I arrived at camp, others had shown up and set up tents. I took a quick shower, and spent the evening hanging out by the fire in preparation for the main ride the next day, the HCP Fall Fun 50.
To Be Continued...
Here is a map of the trail for your reference. Clear Lake State Park is located in the southeast portion, near where the trail crosses M33. Friday's ride took me up to Tomahawk Lake Road, in the northeast portion. The "Fall Fun 50" begins where the trail crosses Osmun Road, in the northeast portion, and we ride counterclockwise back to the campground.
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