OverviewBriar Hill is a hill that stands at a mere 1706 ft above sea level in Wexford County in Manistee National Forest in the state of Michigan. It is the sixth highest county highpoint in Michigan.
Getting ThereGetting there can be an adventure if you're not familiar with the area and don't have a good local map as there are alot of backroads in this area. I'll try to explain the roads I took to get there. I'm sure there are other ways to get there though. From US 131 just south of Cadillac, MI take exit 176 and go West on M-115. Take M-115 approximately 15 miles and turn left onto 21 1/2 RD. Travel .4 miles on 21 1/2 RD and turn right onto a dirt road named 24 RD. Take 24 RD past some fields and in about 1.2 miles turn right at the T intersection. You will want to turn right at this junction onto 19 1/2 RD. This road is not signed, and you are only on it for .1 miles before it dead ends into Michael Dr., where you are going to go left. This road is also not signed at this intersection. Travel on Michael Dr. 1.9 miles and turn left on FR 9784. Stay on the main path until you reach a fork with FR 5007 going to the right. Take the fork to the right and when you reach a sign that says "Street Closed 1000 FT" you are getting close to the "trailhead" on the right hand side of the road.
Red TapeYou can visit the highpoint any time of year, but some of the forest roads are seasonal. I took my 4wd truck in August and decided to park it on one of the forest roads and hike the rest of the way in. The road was pretty sandy and I didn't feel like testing out my roadside assistance coverage to see if they would come out and get me back in there.
There are no signs for the trail or on Briar Hill itself except for a survey marker on the summit.
Also, be aware that there is another Briar Hill in the same area just a couple miles north of the county highpoint off of M-115 next to The Briar At Mesick Golf Club.
The TrailThe main trail leading to the summit is an abandoned road that is blocked off by a huge sand/dirt pile. Go around the pile and follow the main path. Once you get near the ridge line you have to start navigating your way around big sand piles that have been placed there by loaders or dump trucks. These sand piles pretty much block the entire road, so you can either bushwack your way around them or go straight over top of them if you don't mind filling your shoes up with sand. Once making your way past the piles follow the path along the ridge until you come to the grassy summit of Briar Hill. On the summit there are remnants of four old metal footings where there appears to have been a tower of some sort. I'm not sure if there used to be a radio tower, fire tower, or maybe even a lookout tower. There is also a survey reference marker just off of the summit area. I thought it was interesting that Briar on the marker was spelled "Brier" Hill.
External LinksManistee National Forest
William Mitchell State Park
DNR website about William Mitchell State Park which sits right in between Lake Mitchell and Lake Cadillac
Caberfae Ski-Golf Resort
Website for the local ski-golf resort in the area.