Old Growth Red Pines Trail

 

This trail winds its way through the Red Pines Natural Area. The pathway threads its way through rolling terrain in a natural area that has not been altered by the hand of man since European explorers rediscovered it. At one time, this grove of old-growth red pines and jack pines, was home to the largest red pine in Michigan, a former National Champion red pine. That old champion pine is no longer living, but there are several gigantic members of the species, still standing in this forest.

old growth red pines trail

The trail is about 1 ½ miles long. There is a wonderful variety of plant life and tree species, in addition to the towering red pines. At more than a dozen spots on the trail, the DNR has installed interpretive signs and benches. The signs greatly enhance the experience for novices and experienced hikers alike. The information provided makes it possible to understand the forest as a living thing, with a history and a future. The walk is silent, due to the pine needles covering the ground; each step on this walking trail releases more of the pine scent, that fills the air.  The trail is popular for cross-country skiing as well.

This 34-acre grove of virgin red pine, is one of the best stands left in the mid-west portion of the United States. It is an excellent example of the virgin pine forest, that once covered this part of Michigan. As you walk through the stand, there are points where you are completely surrounded by giant trees. When you reach the center point of the grove, it is easy to imagine that you have traveled to the past, back to the time when the great forests covered all of Northern Michigan. There is evidence of the great fires that swept through in 1798, 1888, and 1928, yet, the towering pines remain.