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Shark Enterprises
Joan H. Young
861 W. US 10
Scottville, MI 49454
events@getoffthecouch.info
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this page updated 4/3/12

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at the Spirit of the Woods Conservation Club

Spirit of the Woods Conservation Club

Spirit of the Woods Conservation Club

The Spirit of the Woods Conservation Club maintains 43 acres as a nature preserve west of Brethren, along the wild and lovely Bear Creek. It has been open to the public, without charge since 1939. The club conducts educational tours for school children, and offers a Conservation Day Camp in season. There is a large clubhouse one the site. Mickey's Trail was constructed for specifically for accessible walking and fishing. There are trail maps in a box on the kiosk.

Mickey's Trail

This is a 0.25 mile trail constructed specifically for handicap access. See description under Handicap Accessibility

Meander (Horseshoe) Trail

The description begins at the bridge from the SE corner of the parking lot. The bridge surface is open mesh metal, so dogs may not be willing to walk across it. This trail follows a northward meander of Bear Creek, and must be completed with either the Lagerquist or the Ridge Trail. This trail is easy walking, and combined with the Lagerquist is a good walk for those who want to enjoy nature without climbing hills. There is one short steep hill.

This trail is now called the Meander Trail, but there are still signs with its old designation as the Horseshoe Trail. Very soon after crossing the bridge you come to a 3-way junction for the Meander, Lagerquist and Ridge Trails. Take the left-most branch and stay along the creek.

For the easiest route, return to the bridge by the Lagerquist, or for more of a challenge, take the Ridge Trail.

Access- from the SE corner of the main Parking Lot
Restrictions- Dogs must be leashed, no motor vehicles.
Distance and time- About 0.2 mile total on just this trail
Trail Markers- none
Treadway- natural surface
Grades- mostly flat, one short steep hill
Marking- just nameboards at Lagerquist Trail, treadway is easy to follow
Ecosystem- edge of wide meandering creek in mixed forest
Most recent date this info personally checked on foot- March 2012
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Comment

Ridge Trail

This is the longest trail, and the loop must be begun or completed with either the Meander (Horseshoe) Trail or the Lagerquist Trail. The description begins at the eastern junction of the Lagerquist with the Meander Trails, and assumes you have used one of those trails to arrive here.

Immediately climb a short steep hill staying close to the creek. Pass a large pine that has recently slumped off into the water. Try not to be too sad- the branches in the water provide nursery areas for fish. There is a bench in this section which is still high above the creek. The trail continues to follow the creek, with small ups and downs to cross fingers of higher ground.


After 0.3 mile, come to a junction where a trail makes an abrupt turn, back to the right and uphill (see picture). The trail also continues straight along the creek but soon peters out. Turn back and uphill, and climb to the top of a ridge. The land falls off on each side. Climb to join an old graveled road and turn right

Return quickly to the bridge.

Access- Begin with the Lagerquist or Meander Trail to hike clockwise
Restrictions- Dogs must be leashed, no motor vehicles.
Distance and time- About 0.5 mile total.
Trail Markers- none
Treadway- natural surface, single track
Grades- moderate hills
Marking- not difficult to follow as long as you watch for the two turns
Ecosystem- streamside through mixed forest, and sandy ridges
Most recent date this info personally checked on foot- March 2012
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Comment

Lagerquist Trail

This is a short connector trail, cutting off the long loop of the Ridge Trail.

You can also combine it with the Meander Trail. This is the only trail marked at both its ends.

Access- From the Ridge or Meander Trail
Restrictions- Dogs must be leashed, no motor vehicles.
Distance and time- About 0.1 mile.
Trail Markers- signs at both ends
Treadway- natural surface, single track
Grades- flat
Marking- just follow the treadway
Ecosystem- mixed forest
Most recent date this info personally checked on foot- March 2012
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Comment

Spring Loop Trail


This is a loop on the east side of Bear Creek. This trail is the least well defined, but it's worth the effort. There is a very small parking area along the club access road. From here, descend 21 steps to creek level. Climb a small hump of land and descend again. If you look back to the left as you descend you will see where the loop will return.

Continue along the creek making a sharp bend to the left. Very soon, the creek will bend to the right, but the trail continues slightly left. It's easy to lose the trail here. The land is slightly marshy, but look for a set of wooden steps up a small bank, and then you'll have the trail again.

Climb the steps, and continue straight ahead, although you may not see the treadway. Veer slightly left to the top of a low ridge, and you'll be on the trail. Follow the ridge as it angles right and climbs a hill. There are remnants of an old railing to guide you.

The trail meanders left and begins to circle back following a gully on the left. You will soon see Coates Highway and the Club signboard on your right. Where the ridge is narrowest, watch for a trail benched into the hill, falling off to the left. This is the return to the creek, and look right to see the steps.

if you continue straight, you will come to the end of the ridge and overlook the small parking area. It's tempting to slide down the bank, but this is really a bad choice. Eroding the sandy ridges is so easily done, and never repaired.

Access- From a small parking area between Coates Highway and the main clubhouse.
Restrictions- Dogs must be leashed, no motor vehicles.
Distance and time- About 0.6 mile.
Trail Markers- none
Treadway- natural surface, single track
Grades- moderate climbs
Marking- poor- pay attention
Ecosystem- creek edge and mixed forest
Most recent date this info personally checked on foot- March 2012
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map
Comment

Snowshoeing- One could snowshoe the Meander, Lagerquist, and Ridge Trails.

Fishing- Bear Creek is popular with anglers. The day I was there people we catching trout and steelhead.

Picnicking- There are a couple of picnic tables on the lawn of the clubhouse, and a fire ring. No grills

Rest Rooms- Latrine open year round
Potable Water- none except when clubhouse is open for an event

Historic-
Coates Highway was once a straight line through this property instead of making the curve north as you see on the map. At many locations along Coates Highway there are the large white markers such as this one which say, "The Dr. W.E. Coates Highway." Dr. William Edward Coates (b. 1870) was an influential medical doctor in Manistee County. He instituted testing of dairies for sanitary conditions, and established a tuberculosis sanitarium in Onekama. The road named in his honor extends from US 31 west across the county, through Brethren. For more see A History of Northern Michigan and Its People at Open Library.

There is a large stone with a plaque marked "Geomaere Waters, in memory of Warren N. Geomaere, Feb 24, 1917- March 17, 1993

There is a bench in memory of Laura Turner, and one marked "remembering Joan Reed."

Mickey's Trail is in memory of Miriam "Mickey" Berryman 1937-1997 "wife, mother, grandmother, friend. Her spirit lingers in the sound of falling waters... in the shade-filtered light of the woodland... in the unfolding loveliness of spring flowers... and in children's happy chatter as they discover the magic of a trail."

The footbridge over Bear Creek is in memory of Don Vickers

Handicap Accessibility

Mickey's Trail

This award-winning trail was built in honor of Mickey Berryman "conservationist, naturalist, teacher."


The trail is a loop following Bear Creek from the main parking lot. The trail is level cement, with four platforms extending over the creek for viewing or fishing.

To complete the full circle some of the dirt access road must be crossed.

The bridge to the
Ridge, Lagerquist and Meander Trails leaves from the southernmost point of this trail.

Access- From the main parking area
Restrictions- Dogs must be leashed, no motor vehicles.
Distance and time- About 0.25 mile.
Trail Markers- none
Treadway- mostly cement, platforms are wood, must cross dirt road
Grades- flat
Marking- just follow the cement
Ecosystem- creek edge and lawn
Most recent date this info personally checked on foot- March 2012
Back to map
Comment

Additional Facilities- Clubhouse is open during scheduled events. Small town services in Brethern 1.5 miles east.
Restrictions- Dogs must be leashed, no motor vehicles, no camping, no fires except in fire ring
Seasonality- open all year.
Maintained by-
Spirit of the Woods Conservation Club
P.O. Box 84
Brethren, MI 49619
231-477-5525

[Counties] Lake County Manistee County Mason County Oceana County

Coates Highway west leaves Brethren just north of the village. It is not directly opposite where Coates Highway goes east. Travel west for 1.3 miles, and turn south (left) on the dirt access road to the Conservation Club, just before crossing Bear Creek.

M 44.35212 W 86.04984

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