I hiked the entire length of the North Country Trail (NCT) in the Yankee Springs Recreation Area over three weekends in Aug-Sep 2010. Although I had previously hiked this portion of the NCT, since that time a new piece had been added to replace the part where it ran concurrently with the horse trails. I have nothing against horses personally, but we (hikers) were required to make way for them and there is also the problem of horse "land mines" on the trail. Also, since they are bigger and heavier, they really can tear a trail up. So, having a trail with no horses is a good thing!
For the three days I did these hikes it was nice, meaning it was hot but not too humid. Also, since there are so many trees the sun was never a problem. I started at various trailheads: two in Yankee Springs: Norris Road, at the southeast edge and Gun Lake Road, at the western edge; and one in the Barry State Game Area (M-179, just north of Yankee Springs). There were good parking areas at all of these trailheads.
Descriptions are given in the NY-to-ND direction.
For day one (28 Aug): starting from Norris Road I hiked north and west past Hall Lake, joined the Hall Lake Trail (a circular loop west of the lake), ascended to the "summit" of Graves Hill, and ended at a junction of the NCT, the Hall Lake Trail, and the Long Lake Trail.
For day two (06 Sep): from the Gun Lake Road trailhead I took the Hall Lake Trail to the trail junction, continued on the NCT with the Long Lake Trail, switched to join the Chief Noonday Trail, left the Chief Noonday Trail where it proceeded to its (separate) trailhead on M-179 (Chief Noonday Road), and ended at a major park road.
A signpost in Yankee Springs
For day three (12 Sep): having started from the NCT's Barry State Game Area trailhead on M-179 (Chief Noonday Road), I hiked to the park road, continued past the (unused) Bassett Lake Road parking area, and followed woods road and trail back to the northern edge of Yankee Springs on M-179.
The trail is generally well-blazed, and there are also signposts in Yankee Springs. The best signposts are where there are multiple park trails west of Hall Lake. There is also a tiny road connector on Gun Lake Road. The trails are generally dirt, though sometimes sand. The woods road in the most northern part is sandy like a dune!
The re-routing from the horse trails is a deviation from map MI-02. This is indicated in the main section MI-02 page, and best described on the North Country Trail Association's Chief Noonday Chapter website pages.
South of Gun Lake Road
NCT wooden bridge
From the Norris Road trailhead parking area, the trail enters woods at a NCT kiosk and descends to cross some wet areas on a bridge and plank boardwalk. Shortly thereafter, the NCT crosses a horse trail (which before the re-routing it used to run concurrently with), and this starts the deviation from the map. The trail continues to Gun Lake Road, proceeding through some gentle elevation changes.
The NCT ascends a bank and turns left (west) onto Gun Lake Road for a very brief road connector, then turns right for trail again, after passing Hall Lake.
North of Gun Lake Road through Chief Noonday Trail
Hall Lake, from just north of Gun Lake Road
After turning right off Gun Lake Road to return to trail, the NCT continues north by Hall Lake (there was some boating and fishing going on this day) until the Hall Lake Trail joins. The Hall Lake Trail has its trailhead about 10 minutes walk west off Gun Lake Road.
From where they join, the trails climb the slope of Graves Hill, which is probably the highest point in Yankee Springs. The trails do not actually go to the "summit", just to a junction with a spur trail (a 1-minute hike). From there, the trails descend to another junction which is one of the ends of the Long Lake Trail . At this place, the NCT leaves the Hall Lake Trail for the Long Lake Trail, and the Hall Lake Trail continues its loop to its trailhead on Gun Lake Road.
The NCT and Long Lake Trail continue together until they reach a junction with the Chief Noonday Trail. The NCT then joins the Chief Noonday Trail and goes generally north until they diverge from one another. From there, it is only a short distance to a park road.
South of M-179 (Chief Noonday Road)
Eastern Box Turtle
From the park road, the NCT continues generally east for a while. It crosses Bassett Lake Road, which is not much more than a woods road at this point, and then continues further east until it comes to a woods road. At that point, the NCT follows the woods road (very sandy!) mainly north until the NCT becomes a trail again, and shortly arrives at the northern edge of the Yankee Springs Recreation Area. The trail turns right onto a very short road connector, and that's where the NCT in Yankee Springs ends.
The M-179 (Chief Noonday Road) parking area is actually in the Barry State Game Area, just across the road and east.
See the attached albums. Time and travel order are obviously not the same. Pictures with:
"HLT" are from where the NCT runs concurrently with the Hall Lake Trail
"LLT" are from where the NCT runs concurrently with the Long Lake Trail
"CNT" are from where the NCT runs concurrently with the Chief Noonday Trail
20100828 1132, 1133, 1134, 1138, 1139, 1140, 1146, 1150, 1154, 1157, 1201, 1201a, 1202, 1209 NCT-HLT, 1211 NCT-HLT, 1218 NCT-HLT, 1220 NCT-HLT, 1223 NCT-HLT, 1233 NCT-HLT, 1238 NCT-HLT;
20100906 1440 NCT-HLT-LLT, 1441 NCT-LLT, 1446 NCT-LLT, 1447 NCT-LLT, 1449 NCT-LLT-CNT, 1450 NCT-CNT, 1457 NCT-CNT, 1513 NCT-CNT, 1519a, 1522;
20100912 1227, 1228, 1231, 1240, 1250, 1258, 1304, 1307, 1314, 1316, 1320, 1321
20100912 1127, 1134, 1143, 1146, 1154, 1158, 1201, 1210, 1220, 1225;
20100906 1529, 1532, 1538, 1612 NCT-CNT, 1618 NCT-CNT, 1626 NCT-CNT, 1633 NCT-CNT-LLT, 1636 NCT-LLT, 1637 NCT-LLT, 1644 NCT-LLT;
20100828 1239a NCT-HLT, 1248 NCT-HLT, 1250 NCT-HLT, 1253 NCT-HLT, 1259 NCT-HLT, 1302 NCT-HLT, 1326 NCT-HLT, 1331, 1332, 1337, 1341, 1348, 1351, 1355, 1400, 1402, 1420a
There are also some scenery pictures.
- 20100828 1202 lake (Hall Lake)
- 20100828 1212 lake (Hall Lake)
- 20100906 1533 turtle (Eastern Box Turtle)
- 20100906 1533a turtle2 (Eastern Box Turtle)
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