With 16 miles left to complete my 100 mile North Country Trail challenge, I had chosen to cut my trip to Mackinaw area short. The weather was not being my friend and I made the decision to bail and regroup. After a drive home in the rain fighting a cold, I spent a relaxing evening at home.
The next morning I awoke to find a day sunny and 80 degrees (where I had just left 40 and raining). I also felt good, I guess it is hard to keep me down for long. I wanted to do some more miles on the Trail, so I searched the map for an area not too far away. I found that there were completed sections north and south of Hillsdale, so off I went!
Westland to Hillsdale took me about two hours to drive (without any of my normal meandering). It should have been less, but the road construction crews were out in force.
The North Country Trail map showed parking by Barnard and Joe, and it was right on. It was just a small dirt lot, next to the trail; but suited it purpose.
I was expecting this trail to be paved bike path. On the drive between Jonesville and Hillsdale, I had seen a paved path right next to State Road 99. 99 is a pretty busy road, so I decided to go South from Hillsdale instead of going North back towards Jonesville.
It started out paved like I had expected. You can see the path in the picture of the parking lot. It was paved for about 1 mile.
Not far from the parking lot, the trail goes by Waterworks Park and Baw Beese Lake.
The Trail passes a little beach area and then follows a dirt road, then it heads in continuing passed the lake on a proper trail. I was excited and surprised by this, as I had expected paved bike path all the way.
The trail changes quite a bit. There were places were it was literally a tunnel of trees to areas where it went by houses, fields, farms.
I came across several of these. I believe that they were some type of mushroom, bigger than my (size 11) foot.
The trail was so enjoyable, I walked further than I had planned. I had only brought a small hip flask for water and it was getting low at four miles in. I checked my map and saw I was only about a mile away from Osseo, so I decided to push and and hope there was a store there.
Less than a mile from Osseo, you have to cross this old bridge. I am guessing it was an old railroad bridge. That would make sense as the path looked like an old railway in places.
The bridge looked kind of rickety, and you can see between the slats in the middle. Once I was on it, it felt steady.
The Trail ends at the beautifully manicured village green in Osseo. (It picks back up after about a mile road walk). It was startling to step off of the trail into this wide open space.
There were several building surrounding the green including houses, the post office and some historic-looking buildings (in disrepair). However, no stores were to be seen.
I pulled up Google Maps and walked in two directions that I thought would be promising. There were a couple of churches and a city building, but nowhere to buy a drink.
So, I headed back in to the trail backtracking towards Hillsdale. When I hit the crossing at Lake Pleasant Road, I looked south. There appeared to be a couple of big buildings that way, so I decided to try my luck. Building one was another church to which I wondered why such a small community would want three churches.
As I closed in on building two.
I thought I saw a yellow sign.
And that sign looked familiar.
For three bucks; I was able to buy some peanut M&M’s, a drink and leave some change in the donation box.
Feeling quite happy, I made the hike back to Hillsdale. On the way, I kept thinking about Osseo and how cool of a trail town it could be. If only the NCT were as popular as the Appalachian that village green could have an outfitter and a hiker-friendly restaurant. One of the historic-looking buildings could be renovated and converted to a hostel, providing thru-hikers with beds, showers and breakfast.
Although I knew the chances of the NCT pulling in enough people to cause the resurgence of Osseo’s village green were slim, it provided nice thoughts on my hike back. I imagined the NCT with groups of thru-hikers stopping and socializing at little towns all throughout Michigan.
My Gaia app showed my close to 11 miles, when I returned to the parking lot. I had taken a couple of side streets in Osseo and to go to Dollar General, so I counted 10 miles for the NCT. Not bad for an afternoon.
After the hike, I was ready to head home. But not *directly* home. I wove my way haphazardly back towards Westland, and as I did, I stumbled across Hanover.
As I drove down Main Street, my radio (set to 80’s on 8) kicked into John Mellencamp’s Small Town.
True Story. Here is a picture of main street Hanover with the Backwoods Bar and Grill in the background.
Six miles left to go!