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Pigeon River Country SF Green Timbers: Honeymoon Cabin
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Honeymoon Cabin is the most popular destination in Green Timbers, especially if you want to spend the night. The cabin, perched on a high ridge above the Sturgeon River Valley, is not nearly as dark or run-downed as Green Timbers Cabin. On a clear evening the sunsets can be stunning.
If planning to overnight, carry in a tent on any weekend outing then use the shelters for cooking or as a place to gather at night. Also keep in mind that there is no source of drinking water at the cabins and no stream near Honeymoon. Carry in what you need for Honeymoon Cabin or be prepared for a steep descent down the ridge to the Sturgeon River.
Most people hike in from Sturgeon Valley Road, a trek of 3.8 miles. An alternative route is from Bush Road, an easier hike of roughly a mile and both routes are described below. In the winter you’re limited to starting from Sturgeon Valley Road, which is plowed by the county.
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Sturgeon Valley Road to Honeymoon Cabin
Distance: 3.8 miles one-way
The Green Timbers trailhead along Sturgeon Valley Road is marked by stonegate entrance and a locked yellow gate that prevents motorized users from entering Green Timbers. The trail to the first shelter is an old two-track that for the most part is straight forward and easy to follow. It heads north along through the forested valley along the Sturgeon River though you rarely see the river itself in the beginning. You're enclosed by ridges to the west, however, that rise almost 100 feet above the trail.
At Mile 2, the trail reaches a "T" junction. To the west is Club Stream and the marked boundary for Fontinalis Club, a private hunting and fishing club. Head east and in a quarter mile you’ll descend to a wide bridge across the Sturgeon River. On the other side, at Mile 2.3, is Green Timbers Cabin, a one-room log structure with one wall knocked out to turn it into a public-use shelter.
From the back of the Green Timbers Cabin, one trail skirts Pickerel Creek and another immediately begins climbing into the nearby hills to the northeast as a two-track. Look for the trail that heads into the hills and follow it. You actually break out on the backside of a ridge, in something of a narrow valley, so protected from those murderous winter winds that deer have packed the snow with dozens of bedding area.
In the valley, you hike north for 0.75 mile to a “V” junction. The spur to the northeast is a faint trail that leads to a parking area on Honeylocust Trail. To the west is a trail that begins climbing a 1,050-foot ridge. The ridge is steep and the quarter mile to the crest with a full pack on is no picnic.
But at the top or 1.5 miles from Green Timbers Cabin, looking all the world like a mountain-top chalet, is Honeymoon Cabin. This classic log shelter has a large stone fireplace on the back wall. Outside is a freestanding fireplace. What use to be the front of the cabin now opens up to a deck perched over the edge of the ridge. Looking down, the slope drops suddenly for more than 100 feet. On the horizon you can see the entire Sturgeon River Valley in what is one of the most stunning panoramas in the Lower Peninsula.
Bush Road to Honeymoon Cabin
Distance: 1.12 miles one-way
This route to Honeymoon Cabin is from the north and the most challenging part is just getting to the trailhead on Bush Road. If it has been raining hard, think twice about driving the forest roads that lead to Bush Road unless you have four-wheel drive.
From the small parking area, an old two-track heads due south and is marked in the beginning by an earthen beam to prevent motorized vehicles from entering Green Timbers. The trail is very easy to follow as it follows the rolling crest of the ridge forming the east side of the Sturgeon River Valley. The terrain here is hilly and heavily wooded. At Mile 0.5 you reach a junction with a trail heading west right) that is not nearly as distinguishable as the two-track you’re on. This trail sharply descends the ridge to the floor of the valley and within 0.4 mile reaches a bridge over the Sturgeon River.
The two-track continues south and at Mile 1 is a junction with a well define two-track that extends east (left) to a parking area on Honeylocust Trail. A couple hundreds further south and you arrive at Honeymoon Cabin.
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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