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  • Difficulty - Moderate

Pigeon River Country State Forest: Green Timbers

Sturgeon Valley Rd.
Vanderbilt, MI 49795
Phone: 989-983-4101

Get Driving Directions:

Otsego County
Lat: N 45° 08' 49.31"
Lon: W 084° 33' 49.51"
Distance: 0.5 miles to 7.6 miles round trip
Trail Type: Overgrown two-tracks, foot path
Terrain: Rolling woods, Sturgeon River
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Nearest City or Town: Vanderbilt

Click Here to order a detailed map of Green Timbers.

The lure of Green Timbers is history, trout and, if your timing is right, large elk. This rugged 6,388-acre tract, part of the Pigeon River Country State Forest, not only has wildlife, scenic vistas and blue ribbon trout streams but is also crisscrossed with an unmarked trail system that appeals to hikers, backpackers and winter adventurers on snowshoes or backcountry skis.

The 1918 successful reintroduction of elk to Michigan took place just 1.5 miles north of the tract, and Green Timbers has remained an important area for the species. Eventually much of the tract was logged by the Cornwall Lumber Company and then burned and used for grazing by both sheep and cattle before being purchased and named by Don McLouth in 1942. In the 1950s, McLouth turned the area into an hunting and fishing retreat for McLouth Steel employees that included the construction of a series of log cabins near the Sturgeon River.

In 1982 the state took over the property as part of the Pigeon River Country State Forest and all but two of the cabins were removed. On the banks of the Sturgeon River stands the Green Timbers Cabin, while perched on the edge of a ridge, high above the Sturgeon River, is the Honeymoon Cabin. A wall in each structure was removed by the DNR to turn them into free-use, three-sided shelters.

More than half of Green Timbers is covered with second growth forest of aspen, oak, other northern hardwoods and white and red pines. The 10-mile trail system in the recreation area is basically two tracks and old forest roads; some well established and easy to follow, many little more than overgrown trails used mainly by elk and deer. The trails are not marked and do not necessary correspond to the map available at the Pigeon River Country headquarters.

The easiest route to follow, and thus the most popular one, is the trail from the Sturgeon Valley Road parking area to Green Timbers Cabin, a trek of 2.3 miles. From Green Timbers Cabin it is 1.5 miles to Honeymoon Cabin that is only slightly more difficult to follow.

Honeymoon Cabin is a much more appealing place to spend a night than Green Timbers and the easiest and quickest route to the log structure is to begin at a trailhead on Bush Road (also referred to as County Line Road on some maps). From this parking area an easy to follow two-track heads due south to reach the cabin in roughly a mile. Keep in mind that Bush Road is not plowed during the winter it is usually impossible to reach this trailhead.

The most popular angler access is the west end of Reynolds Road, reached from Sturgeon Valley Road via Hare Road. A small parking area is located here and from it a short trail descends to the Sturgeon River. The entire Sturgeon Valley watershed, including the Sturgeon River, Club Stream and Pickerel Creek, are popular among fly anglers for its healthy populations of brook, brown and rainbow trout.

The trails on the west side of the Sturgeon River are best reached from an Elk Viewing Area parking lot off Fontinalis Road or from the Bush Road trailhead and utilizing an old vehicle bridge across the Sturgeon River.

Trail Guide
Hours & fees

Click on highlighted trails for individual trail page:

Honeymoon Cabin  7.6 or 2.25 miles Hike
Reynolds Road Angler Access  0.5 miles Hike
Pickerel Creek 2.0 miles round-trip Hike

Click Here to order a detailed Green Timbers map.

Other than trailhead parking areas and the two free-use shelters, Green Timbers and Honeymoon Cabins, there are no facilities in Green Timbers. That includes campgrounds or even vault toilets or sources of safe drinking water.

The Pigeon River Country State Forest Headquarters (989-983-4101) is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. There are no vehicle fees to hike, bike or ski the state forest but there is a nightly fee to stay in the rustic campgrounds.

From I-75, depart at exit 290 and head south for Vanderbilt. In town turn east(left)on Sturgeon Valley Road and follow it for 7 miles. The main entry to Green Timbers is the stonegate trailhead on Sturgeon Valley Road, reached just before crossing the Sturgeon River. To reach the Pigeon River Country State Forest headquarters (517-983-4101) continue east on Sturgeon Valley Road for 5 miles and then turn north (left) on Twin Lake Road.

The easiest way to reach the Bush Road trailhead is to turn north on Pickerel Lake Road that is well marked with a state forest campground sign along Sturgeon Valley Road. Head north for 4 miles, past the entrance of Pickerel Lake State forest Campground, to a “T” intersection. To the east (right) is Grass Lake Road, to the west (left) is Bush Road. Head west and in less than 2 miles or right before Bush Road makes a 90-degree turn to the north, look for a parking area on the south side of the road.

For additional information stop or call the Pigeon River Country State Forest Headquarters (989-983-4101), an impressive log lodge on Twin Lakes Road.

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