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North Higgins Lake SP: Beaver Creek Trail

Trail Details

County
Roscommon
Regions
Northwest
Latitude
N 44° 30' 54.72"
Longitude
W 084° 45' 23.40"
Distance
1.5 to 6.5-mile loops
Trail Type
Multi-purpose trail
Terrain
Forested ridges, wetlands and Beaver Creek
Difficulty
Moderate
Nearest City or Town
Roscommon
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The trail system At North Higgins Lake State Park totals almost 9 miles, with the premiere forming 6.5-mile Beaver Creek Loop while cross-over spurs create the 1.5-mile Upland Nature Loop and the 3.8-mile Bosom Pines Loop. The first two loops are groomed and tracked for skiers and snowshoers, Beaver Creek is more of a backcountry adventure. In the summer, visitors often combine a hike or mountain bike ride with a visit to the CCC Museum. 
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Description
Faced with ravished land cut and burned over during Michigan’s logging era, the state legislature set up the first state forest in 1903 in Roscommon and Crawford Counties. The lawmakers then established the Higgins Lake Tree Nursery that was staffed in the 1930s by the CCC. The nursery was closed in the early 1960s but has since been restored as a historic site. In 1985, CCC alumni spearheaded the construction of the Civilian Conservation Corps Museum, a reproduction of a CCC barrack.

Located in North Higgins Lake State Park, most visitors arrive in the summer and combine a hike or mountain bike ride with a visit to the museum and the tree nursery.

But some trails are just better in the winter. Beaver Creek Trail, the park's 6.5-mile loop that begins at the  CCC Museum and extends north to its namesake stream, is one of them.

After the first heavy snowfall, crushed gravel paths become a groomed cross-country ski trail that is wide enough for snowshoers to use it without marring the carefully laid tracks. In February, the patches of recent clearcuts appear like white meadows covered with prints from whitetail deer and coyotes to porcupines and snowshoers who can’t resist romping through the deep, unbroken snow with their rugbeaters.

Pick your season.

The trail system At North Higgins Lake State Park totals almost 9 miles, with the premiere forming Beaver Creek while cross-over spurs create the 1.5-mile Upland Nature Loop and the 3.8-mile Bosom Pines Loop. The first two loops are groomed and tracked, Beaver Creek is more of a backcountry ski.

Forestry Heritage & History on the Iron Belle
North Higgins Lake State Park has also been added into the Iron Belle Trail’s 828-mile bike route from Belle Isle to Ironwood. Called the Cradle of Forestry Heritage Trail, the DNR completed the first phase of this 20-mile segment in 2017 when a 2-mile paved path was built along North Higgins Lake Drive to the CCC Museum Trailhead,

This summer a crushed, gravel path from CCC Museum was incorporated along the west side of the Beaver Creek Loop. Plans call for continuing it north to the paved Grayling Area Community Pathway and an existing spur to the Forest Visitor Center at Hartwick Pines State Park.  When finished the Heritage Trail will link the two museums and feature a series of enhanced interpretive signs depicting the state’s forestry history.

 
Amenities & Services
Camping
Difficulty - Moderate
Dog Friendly
Groomed Classic Skiing
Groomed Skate Skiing
Multi-use Trail
Mountain Bike Single Track
Trail Guide

The museum is closed after September but in the winter many skiers still begin their outing by striding through the nursery, stopping to read outdoor displays or peek through the windows of historic buildings.

The loops begin in the hilly section of the park as a moderately rolling trail that climbs to post No. 2 and then descends to post No. 3 at Mile 1.4, the start of the Beaver Creek Trail. Gone are the hills and within a mile so is the wide, crushed gravel trail, replaced by a natural footpath through the woods.

The next 3 miles are the backcountry section of the trail system, an easy ski through a forested lowland featuring some impressive pines. Twice you cross Beaver Creek and then skirt the wetlands that the stream flows through. In the spring and summer, this can make for wet and muddy conditions. In the winter the wetlands are a joy to ski and a great place to spot wildlife, particularly deer.

At Mile 4.8, a junction marked by post No. 6, you return to the Bosom Pines Loop with its rolling pines and groomed trail. You enjoy a steep downhill run and then face a long slog to the highest point of the trail system at 1,300 feet.

Enjoy the view of Higgins Lake from up here and take time to check out the remains of the Cistern. The 105,000-gallon underground concrete tank was built in 1911 for irrigation of the Higgins Lake Nursery. A ram pump moved water from a pond near Higgins Lake uphill into the cistern and gravity returned it to irrigate the seeds and tree beds below.

You get to experience that gravity in the final leg to the parking lot, a half-mile, 120-foot descent that, in the winter, is an effortless glide on a well-tracked trail.

Facilities

Located within the state park are the Civilian Conservation Corps Museum and the Higgins Lake Tree Nursery, detailing the important contributions this CCC has made to Michigan\'s forest resources, and the MacMullan Conference Center situated across North Higgins Lake Road. Both are open on a daily basis throughout the summer and fall.

The park also has a 174-site, modern campground, dayuse area with a beach and a boat launch, all situated along the north shore of Higgins Lake. At the trailhead are vault toilets and parking.

Hours & Fees

North Higgins Lake State Park and its trail system is open year-round. The Higgins Lake Nursery and CCC Museum are open Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., from late May through Labor Day weekend.

A Michigan State Parks Recreation Passport is required for park entry to the park, the trails, dayuse areas or visit the CCC Museum when it is open. There is also a nightly fee for camping.

Directions

North Higgins Lake State Park is near Roscommon, 15 miles south of Grayling, along North Higgins Lake Drive. The park is reached from US-27 or exit 244 from I-75.

Information

From more information contact North Higgins State Park (989-821-6125) or go online to the websites of the state park or the Higgins Lake Nursery and CCC Museum. For campground reservations go online to Michigan State Park & Harbor Reservations or call (800) 447-2757.


Geo-referenced maps from MichiganTrailMaps.com range from $1.99 to $2.99 each.

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