at Sheep Ranch Pathway
Sheep Ranch Pathway
This trail just east of Baldwin is in two loops designed for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, but is mowed for hiking. It is no longer maintained for skiing. The entire trail is easy. With Leverentz Lakes campsite immediately adjacent it could be a fun place to spend a weekend.
The numbers on the map are arbitrary for the purpose of descriptions. There are no numbered junctions on these trails. There are two defined loops on the maps. The Lake Loop goes from point #2 to #3 to #5 to #6 to #2 in that direction. The River Loop goes from point #5 to #4 to #3 in that direction. Although the Forest Service FS maps are marked for that direction of travel, the grades are so easy there is probably no difficulty or danger in going either way. There are several discrepancies between the posted FS maps and the reality on the ground. I have included descriptions for both directions of travel on some of the segments.
Access the loops from the parking area just north of US 10 on Forest Drive.
Point 1 to 2 0.25 mile. Leave the parking area on trail through thinned woods. Pass through red pine plantation, cross under a power line and enter mixed damp woods with white pine and maple. Cross a small bridge with royal fern and cinnamon fern growing tall around it. The trail surface here is covered with sphagnum moss, so this area is very wet in the spring. Begin to angle north, and the trail becomes a little more dry. Point #2 is where the trail forks, with the right fork heading north and crossing campground road (to Point #3). The left fork goes toward the lakes and Point #6.
Lake Loop Counterclockwise
Point 2 to 3 0.5 mile. Almost immediately cross the campground road going north, go down a very small hill, cross a service drive and reach a fenced building, marked "Danger," with some noisy machinery inside, which will be on your left. The trail forks here. Take a right to continue to Lake Loop (the left turn is a short cross trail which takes you to the west side of the Lake Loop.) Continue north passing close by a wetland on your left. At 0.25 miles you will join with a two-track which will come in from behind you on the right. Follow this with a wet meadow below you on the east. Watch for a turn of the trail, very quickly, to the left back into the woods. There are quite a few trees in this section which are marked for cutting. The trail makes a slight jog to the right, down into the edge of a wet meadow and then back up into the woods again at 0.35 mile; this jog was created to relocate trail which was blocked by a fallen tree and this might be the only tricky place for skiing on the entire trail system. Descend slightly to reach a nice footbridge over a small creek, and immediately after that you reach Point #3. This area has been selectively logged.
Point 3 to 5 0.12 mile. Continue northwest through woods, and quickly reach Point #5. In 2010, between points #3 and #5, the trail is obliterated by logging and regrowth. The way can be found by looking for the blue trapezoids on trees, but the treadway is no longer clear.
Point 5 to 6 0.5 mile. You are now on benched trail with a slight rise to your right, and falling away to the left through ferns to the small creek. Pass a very large root ball from a wind-thrown tree. Take a sharp corner to the south; the trail here is rough, muddy and patched with old corduroy logs. Cross a small bridge. The trail is in a damp location along the edge of Big Leverentz Lake with lots of ferns. In 0.25 mile you will enter the north end of the campground by campsite #11 in a mowed space which says "no camping." Follow the road along the lake side of the turnaround loop, soon crossing the road on marked trail. The trail turns south along the east side of the campground road (the FS map erroneously shows this on the west side of the road). This comes back to the access road, and take the road to the left. Come to the junction of the short cross trail to the east side of the Lake Loop, but turn right on a less-used road to Little Leverentz Lake campsites. Take this road to the southwest past campsite #18. At the next road, west of the kiosk, is Point #6.
Point 6 to 2 0.2 mile. At the kiosk go east on the road (although the FS map shows an off-road trail here, it doesn't seem to exist), and pass the latrines. Past the kiosk the trail goes back into the woods on the south side of the road and parallels the road to Point #2.
Lake Loop Clockwise
Point 2 to 6 0.2 mile. Turn left to parallel the road, going west and you will emerge from the woods onto the road which leads to the kiosk for Little Leverentz Lake. Take the left fork of the road past the latrines, reaching a two-track to campsite #18. This is point #6
Point 6 to 5 0.5 mile. The trail turns north on a little used road, passing by campsite #18. Come to the dirt road to Big Leverentz Lake. You will see the trail across the road, but that leads you back to the opposite side of the Lake Loop. You need to turn left on the road. in a short distance the trail will leave the road to the right. Take this and it turns north to parallel the road beside the camp sites. Cross the road and enter the west side of a turnaround loop by campsite #11. There is a short pathway to the water edge. The trail leaves the road by a narrow pathway near the water, going north. This is a damp, muddy area with lots of ferns near the lake. Cross a small bridge. Soon take a sharp turn to the right and pass the root ball of a very large wind-thrown tree. Here the trail is benched and rises slightly on your left and falls away into ferns and a creek to your right. Reach Point #5.
Point 5 to 3 0.12 mile. Take the right fork to the southeast through woods, and quickly reach Point #5. In 2010, between points #5 and #3, the trail is obliterated by logging and regrowth. The way can be found by looking for the blue trapezoids on trees, but the treadway is no longer clear.
Point 3 to 2 0.5 mile. Almost immediately, cross a nice footbridge over the creek that feeds Big Leverentz Lake, and go up a small hill through selectively logged woods. The trail curves to the left and then drops down into the edge of a wet meadow at 0.15 mile and then climbs back up into the woods. This jog was created to relocate trail which was blocked by a fallen tree. This spot could be tricky for skiers. Reach a two-track with a wetland facing on the opposite side. Turn right, go down this road a few yards, and very quickly angle back into the woods to the right. Continue to the south, passing close by a wetland which is on your right. Come to a T in the trail with a fenced building marked "Danger" at the junction. Turn left. This building contains some noisy machinery. Cross a service drive, go up a very small hill, and reach the campground road. Cross the road, and you come immediately to Point #2.
River Loop Clockwise
Point 5 to 4 0.7 mile. There has been a large amount of selective logging done here in 2008 (treadway obliterated, but follow blue trapezoids on trees). Head northeast from Point #5, and cross an old two-track in less than 0.1 mile. Pass through red pine plantation which has been selectively harvested. Continue northeast; at 0.25 mile you cross Forest Drive, which is named Mud Trail on the maps. Almost immediately after the road crossing you turn north through more open areas. At 0.4 mile, cross 40th St. and soon enter small grassy openings. Before long the ground to your left will be much lower with ferns and other wetland plants which is the flood plain of the Baldwin River. (The road on the FS maps which angles from 40th to Brunson is either in the wrong place or does not exist.) Next you join an old two-track which angles in from behind you on the right and continues along above the river. Follow this two-track and begin climbing very gradually. At just over 0.65 mile there is a narrow side trail that hikers have made down to the river's edge- a good place to let your dog get a drink. Very shortly after this you reach Point #4 at a faint remnant of a 4-corners of woods roads. You need to pay attention because the old road continues on along the river, but the trail makes a hard right back into the woods to the south. The FS map indicates an overlook here but the view is pretty much obscured.
Point 4 to 3 2.2 miles.
Roughly parallel Brunson Road going south through mixed young woods and open areas, crossing a faint two-track. In 0.2 mile cross the corner of 40th St and Brunson Rd at an angle, following what would be an extension of Brunson to the south and then angling southeast into the woods again. Cross another road at an angle. This is all young trees- jack pine, white pine, and oak- grown up in a clearing. At 0.6 mile begin to turn left till you are going nearly northeast, but soon the trail begins to gradually make its way back around to the south and makes a sharp turn back to the west in an area that will be very wet in the spring. Enter woods that are a little more grown up. At 0.75 mile pass through a band of crowded young maple saplings, and then pass under a number of large hemlock with rough footing and muddy spots. Cross a wide, open swath that comes in from the right and ends at a brush pile, visible to the left. In a somewhat open area the mowed path makes a distinct jog left and then right again. But if the path is not recently mowed and you miss the jog you come almost immediately to Forest Drive (Mud Trail), and you can find the trail crossing just to your south. You are now 1 mile from Point #4. The FS map shows this crossing just north of the creek, but you are actually north of the short east-west road on the FS map. After the crossing you are again in older woods and turn south to cross two old woods roads in quick succession where more logging has been done in 2008 (treadway obliterated, but follow blue trapezoids on trees), then make an abrupt west turn away from Forest Drive (Mud Road). Pass through young woods, and then another red pine plantation following a straight row, and reach Point #3.
Access- both loops are accessed from an unsigned small parking area just off US 10 on Forest Drive (Mud Trail), by a 0.25 connector trail
Restrictions- no motor vehicles
Distance and time- 4.5 total miles of trail if you do every piece; I hiked the entire system in 2 hours while making notes
Trail Markers- blue, trapezoidal DNR markers for skiing, snoeshoeing and hiking
Condition of Marking- generally good, the trail was nicely mowed when I was there which helps. In October 2010 some sections that had been logged were not well cleared, and you had to look for the markers to find the way.
Treadway- wide for skiing, quite soft and sometimes uneven for hiking
Grades- mostly flat, a couple of very small grades
Most recent date this info personally checked on foot- October 2010
Back to map
Skiing- These trails used to be maintained for skiing. Now they are not groomed, and the parking is not plowed. Nevertheless, they still make for easy skiing, except that there are some trees down across the trail you will nave to navigate around. See trail descriptions under Hiking.
Snowshoeing- These trails have moderate hills at most and make for very pleasant snowshoeing. See trail descriptions under Hiking.
Follow the link for a description of the Leverentz Lakes Campsites
Handicap Accessibility- although this trail is wide and flat and kept mowed, it would be a real challenge even in a sports wheelchair because the ground is very soft, often spongy over much of the distance. In 2010 there were a number of trees down which would present real barriers.
Rest Rooms- latrines at campground, near the trail
Potable Water- hand pumps in summer at the campground, a little farther away than the latrines
Access- sand Forest Drive 100 feet off paved US 10, or from Leverentz Lakes campsites
Restrictions- no motorized vehicles on trail
Seasonality- no potable water in winter, trail very wet in places in spring
Ecosystem- mixed age forest at edges of small lakes, near small stream, and Baldwin River.
Other points of interest- Leverentz Lakes is immediately adjacent
most recent date this info personally checked- October 2010
Additional Facilities- small town services in Baldwin
Maintained by- the Michigan DNR
Baldwin, MI 49304