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Bald Mountain: White/Blue Loops
Spring peepers? How about spring walkers? Like the small woodland frogs that burst into chorus on the first warm day of May, there's many of us out there who suddenly drop everything for a walk in the forest when March's finally pass through.
Is there nothing finer in May than a hike in the woods?
Probably not. There's no bugs, there's no scorching temperatures that slow you down in August, there's few people. What you will find are trilliums, marsh marigolds and other wildflowers bursting into bloom, trees greening the forest after a long winter of white and brown and, of course, the high piping whistle from a chorus of spring peepers.
When the temperatures finally break 50 degrees or – gosh forbid - hit 60 degrees in late April or early May, the White Loop is a fine choice for your first hike of the spring in Oakland County. Part of the Bald Mountain’s North Unit Trails, White Loop is only 2.1-mile long but by adding Blue Loop the outing becomes a 3.6-mile hike that stays in the woods the whole time and passes views of five lakes as well as numerous ponds, streams and wet areas. Peeper country.
From the trailhead at the corner of Harmon and Predmore Road – post No. 1 - you enjoy a good view of Heart Lake then head south to follow White Loop as the path curves around the lake. Within a quarter of a mile you arrived at Post No. 2 and the park's pair of rustic cabins that are perched on a low hill overlooking Tamarack Lake. Beyond the cabins, the White Loop turns into a wide path that winds over one hill after another, past tall pines and moss-covered boulders.
Within a half mile of the trailhead you arrive at post No. 3, marking the departure of the Blue Loop. This 1.7-mile spur heads south before swinging west and climbing a ridge that use to serve as the park’s sledding hill (post No. 4). You then head north past Carpenter Lake and cut through an interesting marsh area before returning to the White Loop at post No. 5.
Head west (left) at the marked junction to continue with the White Loop and quickly arrive at a view through the trees of Chamberlain Lake and then a junction. The trail that heads west (left) is a quarter-mile spur that leads past Chamberlain Lake and ends at a DNR access site off of Miller Road.
White Loop swings sharply to the east (right) and heads back, climbing two long hills and then descending past a pair of intriguing marshes. In mid-summer, these marshes are buzzing with mosquitoes or deer flies. But April and May are nice. You can pause and search the edge of the swamp for the first tadpoles of spring without first arming yourself with a can of Deepwoods Off.
The outing ends with yet another hill past Shoe Lake, the fifth undeveloped lake along this loop, and then returning to the car park located above at Heart Lake.
The park’s main day-use area are the picnic and swimming facilities around Lower and Upper Trout lakes. The area is reached from M-24 and contains a beach, bathhouse and picnic area on Lower Trout Lake and additional picnic tables, grills and shelters that can be rented on Upper Trout Lake. Bald Mountain also features a pair of 20-bunk rustic cabins reached from Harmon Road in the north unit. The cabins, a short walk from the parking area, are within 100 yards of each other in a wooded area overlooking Tamarack Lake. Nearby is the White Loop trail.
The park is open year round and a vehicle permit or annual state park pass is required to enter.
Bald Mountain is 7 miles north of Pontiac and can be reached from I-75 by departing north on M-24 (exit 81). Turn east onto Greenshield Road to reach the park headquarters.
North Unit trails are located east of Lake Orion. From I-75, depart north onto M-24 (exit 81) and in seven miles turn east onto Clarkston Road. Follow the scenic dirt road as it jogs across Paint Creek and pass Orion Road. Turn north (left) on Adams Road and then east (right) on Stoney Creek Road briefly and then north (left) on Harmon Road which leads into the park. There are four trailheads and parking areas to the loop, including one at the end of Harmon Road, another near the corner of Predmore and Lake George Road, and a third further north on Lake George Road. The trailhead is a half mile north on Harmon.
Call the park at 248-693-6767 or stop at the office located at 1330 E. Greenshield Rd. For a cabin reservation contact Michigan State Park Central Reservations (800-447-2757; www.midnrreservations.com).
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