Oh, wait! I am trying to do this for a living. Too bad I can't live on 5 cents a day!
Black Lake- partly in the Manistee National Forest
Today I went to check out the eastern end of this idea of mine. Drove down a dirt "road" to try to reach Black Lake. I think I could have made it all the way, but reached a corner of a loop I wanted to check out... one of the two branches was bound to go all the way through!
So I locked the car and hopped on my bike continuing down one of the forks through really deep sand ruts. But they only lasted a little while, and I kept making choices at Forest Roads (FR) with numbers that didn't match my map, but always working my way east. Pretty soon I got to Benson Road, a real county road (so far so good). Next I wanted to find another FR that headed east again to connect with the North Country Trail. Rode up and down Benson and finally took the only road going in the right direction. It ended at a logging site about 1/2 mile into the woods. And I'd had to walk the bike over a bunch of slash piles.
Let's see... turn around and walk the bike back, then ride around via roads, OR... walk on through the woods to get to Campbell Road. Well, the woods were pretty flat and fairly open. So I bushwhack-walked the bike through to the road! Found the other end of the road that I wanted and rode it back west... it dead ends at a cabin, so I guess that option won't work. Went back to Campbell Road and rode east on a FR till it crossed the NCT. What used to be dense woods here is now a clearcut due to salvage after big winds we had here last year. It's kinda sad, but there are now a couple of nice views. When it stops looking so raw, it might be something of a nice addition to the closed-in woods of most of the trail.
Then I needed to ride back to the car. So I rode back up to County Line and went west till I found FR 8367 and took it south. There were a LOT of junctions, but most of them had carsonite posts with FR numbers, so without much trouble I found Black Lake, and then back to the car.
Just one more out and back, after driving another 1/2 mile to connect to Koenig Road. This is starting to look like a viable route.
And what could be better than exploring on a warm fall day? The old 2-tracks are covered in brown crunchy leaves. I really like riding my bike down the old tracks. Only had to walk in a few places where the sand was too loose. Approximate distance: 14 miles! I am one happy, old, 10-year-old tonight.
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