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Hiking the Upper Peninsula
with Steve & Sue

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Ashford Lake Pathway

 

Ashford Lake Pathway map


Ashford Lake Pathway

Bruno's Run

Days River Pathway

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A little known, possibly old, DNR hiking and cross country skiing trail north of Manistique in Schoolcraft County. www.visitmanistique.com/ashfordlake.shtml

We have only explored Loop1 on snowshoes thus far, and not sure that Loops 2 and 3 are still there (we'll check that out when the snow is gone). But it was a nice walk and a pleasant woods. There is no information on the Pathway to be found online, other than that listing on the Manistique Tourism Council site, so I don't know if this is a no longer maintained trail or just a minimally managed trail. But without any trail markers it can be a little challenging to be sure you are on the right path so be sure to take a compass, and the map, if you decide to explore this one. 


February 26, 2021 -- A New Trail!

I happened upon a new trail mentioned on the Manistique Tourism Council website. They had information on several area hiking and cross country ski trails and I spied one I hadn't heard of -- Ashford Lake Pathway, a DNR nine mile, three loop cross country ski and hiking trail. And only 30 miles from home! We definitely had to check this out. I couldn't find any other information on it online, including at the DNR website. There is a boat launch on Ashford Lake and that was listed, but not the trail. But the Manistique site  included a map and the Pathway looked easy to find. So when we had to go into town yesterday we decided to take along snowshoes and packs and drive up to see what this not-promoted trail looked like.

It was a good day for it - just below freezing so the snow wouldn't be too sticky, cloudy but not much wind. We found the trail head, or at least what we assumed was the trail head. It was a generously plowed out area anyway and at the right spot on the road. There were no signs, no trail markers, no outhouse. Well, we didn't really expect the latter, though that is always a nice touch. And the tower noted on the map appeared to be in the wrong place but that can happen.

We walked over the lowest plow-bank and there did appear to be a set of ski track. And it looked like a snowmobile had been through and packed down the trail earlier. Though it had snowed since they had been there we could still see the tracks. We decided this had to be the trail. We'd follow it anyway and hope it was. So we put on our snowshoes and packs and followed the light track of the skiier on down the path, hoping they had only gone on the 3 mile Loop1. We didn't want to inadvertently end up on the 6 mile Loop 2, or 9 mile Loop 3. But without any trail markers it was a possibility, especially on a trail we weren't familiar with.

Ashford Lake Pathway snowshoeing FebruaryWe found the area to be nicely rolling with various aged mixed hardwood stands, some more recently logged than others, most quite thick with young re-growth, a few thin areas. We could hear a processor working not too far away so it appeared logging was ongoing [later in the walk we came upon logging equipment and pickups parked by a plowed road that the trail crosses]. But it was a pleasant woods to walk through and the final southwest part of Loop1 in particular went through an older, not recently logged and really nice woods. According to the map the trail does go near to Ashford Lake but we didn't see it. 

The snowshoeing wasn't too difficult, though we did trade off leading and breaking trail. The ski tracks faded now and then but they were easy to follow. There were several trails or logging roads that crossed the main trail but they were snow covered and hadn't had any traffic. We really appreciated the snowmobiler and skiier having gone before to give us something to follow!

The map was good and we made use of the compass now and then to confirm we were on the right track. And the skiier (and snowmobiler) had indeed gone around Loop1 and not headed off onto Loop2. The wide trail (likely a logging or ATV road) was well cleared so someone has kept it up. And the parking area was large and well plowed. We speculated on the lack of signage or information. Was this an old trail that the DNR has abandoned? Maybe someone local is keeping it cleared for local use? Maybe this is simply a "primitive" trail, kept cleared but no extras. Whatever the reason it was a very nice trail, we appreciated it being cleared, and we enjoyed our walk. Three miles was plenty for us on snowshoes but we plan to go back when we can walk the ground and see if the other Loops are there and find-able.

When we got home we looked up the area on Google Satellite Maps and found the missing tower. The old "radio tower" noted on the map was gone but you could see the small cleared area where it had been. There obviously has been a newer and much larger tower built since then (it is quite obvious) but it is to the west instead of east of the trailhead. One can only see traces of the trail on the Satellite image and there are different logging roads but that would happen since those temporary roads come and go over the years. But M94 and Ashford Lake and the trailhead parking space is there the same as on the old map, though the small loop of road around the old tower which was labeled "tower road" is now called "Ashford Lake Road".




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Copyright 2021 by Susan Robishaw and Stephen Schmeck
 



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Have you read  "Frost Dancing - Tips from a Northern Gardener"? A fun short read.

or "Homesteading Adventures"    Creating our backwoods homestead--the first 20 years.

and "Growing Berries for Food and Fun"   A journey you can use in your own garden.
 

updated 10/06/2019

 

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