Thursday, October 1, 2009

Reid Lake Foot Travel Area

Resources – Backpacking in Michigan by Jim DuFresne University of Michigan Press
Map –
Web Site –

Reid Lake Foot Travel Area includes over 9 miles of hiking trails. Almost all the trails are wide enough for side by side hiking. There is very little deadfall over which to crawl. The trails are marked as well as any I’ve ever hiked with ample blue diamonds along the trail and full trail maps at every trail intersection, complete with a nail marking the “you are here” spot. Each intersection is numbered and the sign posts have arrows directing you to the next numbers. The camping sites were nice, with fire rings, and every approved site had a toilet nearby. The RLFTA is a convenient 4 hours from the Detroit area. We took I75 north and split off to the east on US23 to Harrisville where we turned west on M72. The trailhead is clearly marked and is right off M72 about 19 miles from Harrisville. This trailhead includes a very clean outhouse. This trip was planned with a short lead time and little to no training was required. Trip was done by Norm and two sons, Paul and Marshall. Paul had done the trip before. We all had hiking boots but Paul had done it in athletic shoes in 2008. We hiked on September 25 – 27. The trees were just beginning to change colors.

Short Half – We arrived at the trail head and were walking by 3:15. Our objective was a campsite near Little Trout Lake, approximately 3.5 miles. The segment from point 1 to 8 was closed so we took the slightly longer route past points 2 and 7. Then we proceeded to points 9 and 10. This basically took us down the East side of RLFTA. The segment from 10 to 11 was closed but we walked that way anyway. We found that the dam that forms Little Trout Lake had been washed out. The nice wooden bridge was askew in the bottom of the canyon left by the washout. Based on the water marks on the trees, the lake was down about 8 feet. There was a narrow stream leaving what is left of the lake and flowing through the canyon. Previous hikers had bridged the stream with logs, so we proceeded across and on to the campsite just beyond point 11.

We arrived at the campsite at 5:15. We dipped water just at the log bridge and filtered it for dinner and breakfast. Ate freeze dried and played trivia until Norm started to get chilled and we all climbed into our sleeping bags. We had heard “normal” owl calls during dinner but after we turned in we also heard the blood curdling screech owl calls. They sound too much like a human screaming in serious pain, and make you question the wisdom of sleeping outdoors. We also thought we heard coyote yips at one point. We had no varmints invading our food even though we didn’t hang it.

Up to Reid Lake – We had oatmeal and freeze dried eggs for breakfast at about 8:30 and were walking by about 10:00. We proceeded south around to point 12 and then north to points 4 and 3 and then down towards point 6, approximately 4.5 miles. This took about 2:20 with one short break. The first mile after leaving camp was all up hill, although not very steep. This morning’s hike seemed to have more uphill than downhill. How does that work?

We set up in a nice large campsite on the south side of Reid Lake, overlooking the lake. There was another site just to the west which was occupied but we did not even hear the couple that was camping there. There are four docks on Reid Lake and one seemed to be occupied by a couple who just walked in the mile from the highway to fish for the day. We saw a few day hikers around the lake as well. After dinner Norm watched a beaver swim along the shore. We had freeze dried dinner and played trivia again. By 7:30 we started turning in. We heard the same variety of owl calls again tonight. No varmints at this campsite either.

Back Home – We arose about 8, packed and walked back to the car via points 7 and 2. The mile walk took us only about 20 minutes. We changed into clean clothes and drove into Harrisville where we had a wonderful breakfast. We were back home in time to watch the Lions or the weekly NASCAR race.

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