Newaygo North Country Trail Section 12
By Bret Brummel
Nichols North Trailhead to 16 mile rd.
Distance: 5.67 miles
What a difference a few weeks makes in Michigan! The fall colors we witnessed on our drive up to this section of the trail were beautiful and the 40-degree morning temperature was refreshing to say the least. I’ve read that you should dress for running as if the air temperature was 20 degrees higher than the actual thermometer reading. For me, that meant I replaced a Tech performance t-shirt for a normal cotton t-shirt with some shorts. Anna thought I’d freeze. Meanwhile, she is in her running tights, long sleeve tech shirt, running jacket, and thin gloves. What a wimp!
I’m convinced Anna extended our warm-up stretches because I had made fun of her attire. By the time she was ready to go, I was cold. We crossed Cleveland Dr. and headed toward Walkup lake. The scenery was awesome. Not even a quarter mile in, and I was stopping for a picture. The trail wound its way around some marshy areas with standing water where some startled ducks flew adding to the scenery.
At the 2-mile mark, we passed some hikers on the banks of Leaf Lake. They were dressed appropriately for a hike with multiple layers, backpacks and boots. I completely understand their confused looks as we jogged up to them in our running clothes, quickly stopped for a picture of the lake, and ran off. We had warmed up by then and were in good spirits. It seemed that every half mile, we would approach another beautiful lake. I couldn’t resist leaving the trail to run down a steep bank to get a picture of Condon Lake. Anna wisely opted to see the lake from the top of the hill. On my trek back up the hill to rejoin Anna, I realized my legs would appreciate me taking fewer pictures.
It seems that at the four-mile mark of every trail run, it becomes harder to pick up your feet. You have to stay focused enough to get over some of the tree roots or bad things will happen. Today, the trail was carpeted with beautifully colored leaves. Unfortunately, that meant the roots that can be found on the path were hidden. It wasn’t long before Anna tripped and fell, then it was my turn, then Anna once again. Nothing was hurt but our pride. We joked that this hike should be titled “A beautiful Michigan Fall”.
We exited the trail at 16-mile road having enjoyed another wonderful section of the trail. Our next section will bring us to the Lake County line and the end of our journey. Please get out and enjoy the trail. The scenery is as good as it gets. You won’t be disappointed.
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