Hartwick Pines State Park
Geographic Location: northeast of Grayling, MI
Length: 1.2 miles
Difficulty: 1/10 (Easy)
Last Hiked: July 2012
Overview: A hike on paved trail through ancient white pine forest.
Park Information: http://www.michigandnr.com/parksandtrails/Details.aspx?id=453&type=SPRK
Google Map: http://www.mappedometer.com/?maproute=126635
Directions to the trailhead: South of the
, take I-75 to SR 93 (exit 259). Exit and go north on SR 93. The entrance to Mackinac Bridge is 2.2 miles ahead on the left. Turn left to enter the park, pay the entrance fee, and then turn right just past the entrance station to head for the Hartwick Pines State Park . Park in the large blacktop parking lot near the Visitor Center . Visitor Center
The hike: I almost did not come to
. I was nearing the end of a long hiking trip to the Great Lakes Region, and I had come down with a moderate cold complete with sore throat, runny nose, and sinus pressure. I felt terrible, and I thought about calling it a trip, but I decided to take on one more short hike. A few days later, I was very happy I did. Hartwick Pines State Park
Located in the heart of northern
Michigan, preserves the largest stand of virgin white pine forest in the Hartwick Pines State Park Lower Peninsula. The park’s name comes from Edward and Karen Hartwick, residents of Grayling in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. After Edward died while serving as an engineer for the U.S. Army during World War I, Karen bought 8236 acres of land near their home town of Grayling and donated them to the state of Michigan as a tribute to her late husband.
The initial land donation occurred in 1927. During the Great Depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built the park’s Hartwick Pines Logging Museum, another request of Mrs. Hartwick. Additional land purchases bring the total acreage to 9672 and make Hartwick Pines one of the largest state parks in the
The present-day park contains a 100 site campground and a large picnic area, but the majority of the land remains in its natural state. Many trails form an extensive network through the park, but the best trail may be the Old Growth Forest Trail, which features the virgin white pine forest. Ironically, this paved trail is also the shortest and easiest trail in the park. An interpretive pamphlet for this trail is available at the
. Visitor Center
|Trail map near trailhead|
Up to this point the trail has been traveling through second-growth beech-maple forest that was last logged in 1893, but now it enters the old growth white pines. Notice how much larger (in terms of height and girth) the trees are, and notice how sparse the understory is due to lack of sunlight. At 0.3 miles, you reach what remains of The Monarch. This white pine stood 155 feet tall and 12 feet in circumference before it died as a result of storm damage sustained in 1992. Today, only the trunk remains.
Hiking through the old growth
0.6 miles into the hike, a side trail to the park’s picnic area exits right; turn left to continue the loop. After topping a small rise, you reach the chapel associated with the Hartwick Pines Logging Museum. The log construction stands about 2 stories tall and makes an interesting sight in the middle of the forest.
Chapel in the woods
Hartwick Pines Logging Museum