Wildwood Hills Pathway
Located in the upland forests along the hilly border of Cheboygan and Emmet Counties, Wildwood Hills Pathway is an 11-mile trail system of three loops that is true to its name. The pathway winds through a heavily forested tract of rolling hills and is composed primarily of abandoned two-tracks and even old railroad beds, resulting in wide paths with easy curves and gentle ascents.
The area was the site of Wildwood, a town that dates back to 1880s when Old State Road was constructed between Petoskey and Onaway so loggers could access the timber in the area. Originally called Mentor Corners, Wildwood received a post office in 1882 and by the turn-of-century was a good size town with a school, stores and a lumber mill. When the trees were depleted, Wildwood became a ghost town and today little remains of it other than a name on topographical maps. Old State Road eventually became Mitchell, Wildwood and White Roads.
Wildwood Hills Pathway was developed in the 1970s for Nordic skiers but the mountain biking boom of the 1980s turned the trail into a popular destination for off-road cyclists. Hikers and snowshoers are also welcome to enjoy the trails but its primary users are cross-country skiers and mountain bikers.
In the winter Wildwood Hills is groomed for classic skiing in a clockwise direction and all of its segments are rated either Easy or Moderate in difficulty. There are a few steep hills but bypasses allow you to ski – or pedal – around them.
The pathway is bisected by Reams Road and crisscrossed with other dirt roads or forest two-tracks. Wildwood Hills is well posted with maps at most junctions and easy to follow. At the south end of the trail is a connection to the Lost Tamarack Pathway that is no longer posted as such.
Mountain bikers will also find Wildwood an easy to moderate ride as less than 2 miles of the pathway is single track. Two trailheads serve the pathway and from the West Lot, the most popular staging area, Loop 1 and 2 is a 5.7-mile outing, Loop 2 is 4.5 miles, Loop 3 is 7.5 miles and the outside perimeter of the system is 8.7 miles. From the East Lot Loop 1 is a 4.6-mile outing, Loop 2 is 6.9 miles and Loop 3 is 9.9 miles. What is described below is the outside perimeter from the West Lot.
Wildwood Hills lacks the panoramic views so many other trails feature in this rugged corner of the Lower Peninsula. But the hardwoods and pines make for a pleasant ride, especially in early October when the fall colors are peaking. Its inland location and heavily forested hills also allows snow to persist here longer and later in the winter when warm temperatures melts it elsewhere.
|Difficulty - Moderate|
|Groomed Classic Skiing|
|Mountain Bike Single Track|