The trail departs the parking area and immediately comes to a junction with the North Country Trail. Head right and begin the descent. You pass underneath a power line, where it pays to keep an eye out for blackberries and wild raspberries in late summer, and then enter a red pine plantation.
The descent gets more serious now and the trail even uses switchbacks, something you don’t see too often in Michigan, to drop down the side of this commanding ridge. At Mile 0.4 you arrive at a bench. The trail continues to descend via switchbacks and within 200 yards arrives at a second bench that marks the junction to the spur to Skyline Camp. The camp is a short but steep uphill climb to the free-use shelter, fire ring and a vault toilet.
Just beyond the bench or at Mile 0.6 is the posted junction where the North Country Trail continues straight while a short spur heads left to the observation platform perched on the side of the ridge at 1,072 feet. Trees and their foliage block part of the view for much of the year but you can still look out over rolling farm fields, other ridges and a large slice of Little Traverse Bay.
For the viewing deck junction the Skyline Trail continues to sidle the ridge briefly where the ruggedness of the area is very apparent from the steep-sided view you have from the path. Within 200 yards the trail makes a major descent towards the lower elevation of Brubaker Road and then levels out for a spell a half mile from the viewing deck junction. You make a final descent of almost 150 feet before popping out at Brubaker Road at Mile 1.8.
If you're returning from the observation deck then the trek is simply an uphill hike back to the trailhead, gaining almost 200 feet in elevation. Be thankful you’re not following the NCT and have to shoulder a backpack along this stretch.