Letters

Letters 05-02-2016

Facts About Trails I would like to correct some misinformation provided in Kristi Kates’ article about the Shore-to-Shore Trail in your April 18 issue. The Shore-to-Shore Trail is not the longest continuous trail in the Lower Peninsula. That honor belongs to the North Country Trail (NCT), which stretches for over 400 miles in the Lower Peninsula. In fact, 100 miles of the NCT is within a 30-minute drive of Traverse City, and is maintained by the Grand Traverse Hiking Club...

North Korea Is Bluffing I eagerly read Jack Segal’s columns and attend his lectures whenever possible. However, I think his April 24th column falls into an all too common trap. He casually refers to a nuclear-armed North Korea when there is no proof whatever that North Korea has any such weapons. Sure, they have set off some underground explosions but so what? Tonga could do that. Every nuclear-armed country on Earth has carried out at least one aboveground test, just to prove they could do it if for no other reason. All we have is North Korea’s word for their supposed capabilities, which is no proof at all...

Double Dipping? In Greg Shy’s recent letter, he indicated that his Social Security benefit was being unfairly reduced simply due to the fact that he worked for the government. Somehow I think something is missing here. As I read it this law is only for those who worked for the government and are getting a pension from us generous taxpayers. Now Greg wants his pension and he also wants a full measure of Social Security benefits even though he did not pay into Social Security...

Critical Thinking Needed Our media gives ample coverage to some presidential candidates calling each other a liar and a sleaze bag. While entertaining to some, this certainly should lower one’s respect for either candidate. This race to the bottom comes as no surprise given their lack of respect for the rigors of critical thinking. The world’s esteemed scientists take great steps to preserve the integrity of their findings. Not only are their findings peer reviewed by fellow experts in their specialty, whenever possible the findings are cross-checked by independent studies...

Home · Articles · News · Features · The Jordan River Valley
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The Jordan River Valley

Mike Terrell - June 8th, 2009
The Jordan River Valley:
a ‘Promised Land’ for Hikers


By Mike Terrell 6/8/09

The 18,000-acre Jordan River Valley, which is part of the Mackinaw State Forest, is one of my favorite natural areas in the Lower Peninsula, especially spring and early summer. Any season is beautiful in the valley, but in May and June colorful wildflowers and trillium carpet the forest floor and marsh marigolds sprout along the river’s banks and little grass islands.
But beware the bugs this time of year. You almost need a net over your hat to ward off the pesky little bugs that like to orbit around your head, black flies and mosquitoes included. You need at least a good bug spray. When I visited there in mid-May to do a little hiking with my labs, while, of course, looking for a few morels, I forgot the spray and spent most of my time waving my hat around my head. But the views from the high ridges were beautiful, and I did find a few woodland fungi, despite the insects.
The Jordan River was Michigan’s first federally-designated Wild and Scenic River, and as you hike along the Jordan River Pathway, drive along Pinney Bridge Road or view the valley from its two prominent overlooks–Deadman’s Hill and Landslide Overlook–you can easily see why.

ONE OF THE BEST
When you stand at Deadman’s Hill overlooking the valley on its eastern end, the beauty of nature unfolds before you. The headwaters of the Jordan River, 435 feet below you, are just starting to form; the valley stretches out in front of you and endless ridges blend into the horizon. On a warm, sunny day you may spot eagles floating over the valley on thermal currents. It’s one of the best views in the Lower Peninsula. The turnoff for the overlook is off U.S. 131 about 12 miles north of Mancelona.
A new DNR sign at the overlook explains the name Deadman’s Hill. A young lumberjack lost his life in 1910 while attempting to drive a team of horses with a load of lumber down the steep slope into the valley. He’s been immortalized at the trailhead.
The 18-mile Jordan River Pathway, which circles around the valley, begins on the north side of the parking area for the overlook. Hike the trail and you’ll find a rustic campground located exactly at the halfway point, which is located along a ridgeline above Pinney Bridge at the western end of the valley. It’s the most popular backpacking trail in the northern Lower Peninsula, attracting over 3,000 backpackers annually. Perfect for an overnight outing, it can be busy on weekends. Midweek you will often have it to yourself. It’s rugged enough –with several ridge climbs–to test your mettle. And, don’t forget that at the end of your hike, you climb over 400 feet out of the valley to get back to the top of Deadman’s Overlook.

WHAT TO EXPECT
Most of the day is spent skirting the banks of the swift-flowing river, or climbing ridgelines to panoramic overlooks of the valley. There’s a lot of up and down, but it’s worth the effort. The views will make you forget the sore knees.
Along the way you will likely see fly fishers plying the Jordan, a blue-ribbon trout stream, for resident brook trout. A host of critters such as beaver, mink, otters, herons and numerous waterfowl along the river and raccoons and deer may also be seen. Hike quietly, be observant and you will be rewarded. The valley is full of wildlife.
For those who aren’t into backpacking, there’s also a three-mile loop from Deadman’s Hill that descends to the valley floor along the beginning stages of the river and back up. A microcosm of the longer trail, it provides a good hike with a long uphill climb at the end.
Tags on trees along the trail identify the many species that make up this extensive forest system. Adder’s Tongue, a.k.a. Yellow Trout Lilly, and Spiderwort will be blooming along the edge of the woods and thickets. Marsh marigolds grow in vivid yellow colonies along the trail and edges of the streams.
Within a mile after leaving the trailhead on top of the ridge you come to a platform built over five little feeder streams that merge into one large feeder stream. This watershed, covering over 100,000 acres, has over 30 major tributaries that form the main river.

PROMISED LAND?
I often think about how 19th century settlers to this land may have stood on the ridges and, looking down into this lush valley with its river system, proclaimed it the river to the “promised land”–the Jordan River. I don’t know how it got its name; this is just speculation.
As you continue to hike along the tributary it soon feeds into the main river. In about a half-mile you reach signpost five which points the way on a spur trail that intersects the Pathway within a half-mile on its way back to the top. Continue a short distance on up the long trail and you come to a series of boardwalks that traverse a large beaver dam.
If you aren’t into hiking and hill-climbing there’s the 12-mile Pinney Bridge dirt road that cuts through the heart of the valley, paralleling the river much of the way. It’s rough but drivable for most vehicles, and there are numerous spots to pull off and walk along the edge of the beautiful, wild Jordan River.
I enjoy the valley in all seasons. Fall is also an exquisite time to visit. It’s one of the better color shows in the Lower Peninsula when broad splashes of reds, yellows, and oranges dash the woodlands. Winter is deep and quiet. Its silence and beauty can be appreciated by cross-country skiers and snowshoers. It’s my promised land.

 
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