From the Port Crescent modern Campground, you begin kicking off your shoes or boots and scrambling through the mouth of the Old Pinnebog River Channel toward the yellow post at the base of some small sand dunes. The yellow spur trail quickly rises to the first scenic vista and bench where you get a view of the old river channel, the chimney monument, and the campground below. From here, the blue loop begins, with posts descending south along the old channel or west through a wooded ravine. Turn right (west) to begin the most impressive section of the trail.
The trail passes through a ravine of sorts, forested in hardwoods, and away from the water and sand for 0.3 mile. Keep an eye out for blue diamonds on the trees, for the trail takes a sharp turn to the north to reach an overlook of the bay, shoreline, and the open dunes that border it. At Mile 0.7, you’ll reach the junction of the red and blue loops, marked by a large pole and another bench. Head south (left) to return to the yellow spur and reduce the walk to 1.7 miles; but continue west (right) for more views.
Follow the red poles and diamonds, and shortly the trail will emerge at another bench with a panorama of the mouth of the Pinnebog River, the sandy shoreline of the Saginaw Bay, and a long line of open and grassy dunes that stretch to the west. This vista is the best in the park, maybe in all of Michigan’s Thumb, and even more remarkable considering the flat fields of corn and navy beans you drove through to get here. At your feet is a steep slope of sand leading down to the river, while on the opposite riverbank are usually a handful of anglers trying their luck for perch or panfish. If it’s September or October, they are probably fishing for Chinook salmon that spawn upriver.
The trail continues along this sandy bluff above the river until it reaches one final bench at Mile 1.1, where you can see much of the Pinnebog River Valley and the wetlands that border it. At this point, the trail swings to a southerly direction, and then to the east, becoming a walk through woods. Follow the red diamonds carefully, for there are numerous unofficial paths cutting through the open forest of oaks and maples. If it’s early or late in the day, hike quietly and be alert; deer are occasionally seen feeding along this stretch.
At Mile 1.5, you reach the organization campground (vault toilets and a picnic shelter) and then the junction at the old iron bridge, now used only by hikers and skiers to reach the second trailhead and parking area. Entering from the north (let) is the cutoff spur. Continue along the blue loop by dropping down toward the bridge to pick up the trail that skirts the old channel closely. Eventually the trail begins to climb gently again, and within a half mile tops off at the first overlook and bench, where the yellow spur leads back to the campground.