Thursday, June 27, 2013

Hiawatha National Forest: Haymeadow Falls (Blog Hike #389)

Trail: Haymeadow Falls Trail
Hike Location: Hiawatha National Forest: Haymeadow Creek Dispersed Campsite
Geographic Location: northeast of Rapid RiverMI
Length: 1.1 miles
Difficulty: 2/10 (Easy)
Last Hiked: July 2012
Overview: A short loop hike to small Haymeadow Falls.

Directions to the trailhead: From Rapid River, take US 2 east 2 miles to CR 509.  Turn left on CR 509.  Take CR 509 8.5 miles to Haymeadow Campground and Haymeadow Creek.  The hiking trail parking is on the right just after crossing Haymeadow Creek.

The hike: Located on a seldom-traveled rural county road in prime logging land, tiny Haymeadow Creek Dispersed Campsite features 15 sites in a single campground loop.  The dispersed campsite is only open April 15 through December 1 because most sites are occupied by anglers seeking to try their luck in the adjacent creek.  Indeed, Haymeadow Creek is renowned as a clear-flowing high-quality trout stream.
            Also in the creek is Haymeadow Falls, a series of small staircase waterfalls accessed by the 0.9 mile Haymeadow Falls Trail described here.  The trail connects the dispersed campsite on the south bank of Haymeadow Creek with the hiking trailhead on the north bank of Haymeadow Creek.  Thus, you can hike to the falls as an out-and-back from either of these starting points, or you can form the loop described here by hiking 0.2 miles along the campground road and paved but rural CR 509.           
Trailhead: Haymeadow Falls Trail
            Starting at the hiking trailhead, an odd-shaped brown wooden sign marks the point where the trail enters the forest.  The single-track dirt trail dips through a steep-sided ravine before curving right.  The dark, moist pine and birch forest on this side of the creek represents northwoods hiking at its best.
            The trail heads northeast toward the waterfall, gradually descending toward the creek most of the time. At 0.3 miles, the trail crosses a wet area on a long wooden footbridge/boardwalk.  Large quantities of ferns live in the understory here.
Boardwalk over wet area
            At 0.5 miles, you cross Haymeadow Creek on a long, springy wooden bridge.  A safety sign warns that no more than two adults should cross the bridge at the same time.  The bridge did seem rather shaky on my visit, but it got me across the creek without incident.
Trail bridge over Haymeadow Creek
            Now on the south bank of the creek, the spur trail to the waterfall exits to the left and proceeds a short distance upstream to the falls.  To be honest, this waterfall is not that impressive.  There are several ledges that span the entire width of the creek, but each ledge is only 3 to 5 feet high.  Nevertheless, the falls are more entertaining than a flowing creek, so enjoy them for what they are.
Haymeadow Falls
            Back at the bridge, continue straight on the downstream trail to head for the campground.  At first the trail stays very near the creek bank with the pleasant gurgling creek on your right.  A large number of roots appear in the treadway here, so watch your step.  At 0.8 miles, the trail curves left to intersect what appears to be an old logging road, where you need to turn right to stay on the trail.  A wooden post with arrows marks this point.
            At 0.9 miles, the trail comes out at the trailhead in the dispersed campsite.  Angle right on the gravel campground road and follow the road out to the paved county road.  Turn right on sunny CR 509, cross Haymeadow Creek on the highway bridge, and arrive back at the hiking trailhead to complete the hike.

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