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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 2/26/11

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at Big M

Big M Trails

Big M

Big M covers a circle of hills that is about 2.5 miles by 5 miles. It is located east of Manistee within the Manistee National Forest, There are over 30 kilometers of marked ski trails, and an outer loop system with an additional 39 kilometers for mountain bikes and snowshoers. In the summer all the trails may be used for mountain biking. Also, the North Country Trail runs through the area, cutting across the outer loop system from south to north. All trails can be hiked whenever there is not snow. The average snowfall at Big M is 130 inches a year. The trails are maintained and groomed in the winter by the Manistee Cross Country Ski Council, a volunteer group which partners with the National Forest. They request a donation of $8 for a day of skiing, which can be deposited in a post with a slot near the lodge.

This is the site of the former Ward Hills Ski Area which closed in the 1970s. The ski runs (now closed) and XC trails were laid out by John Capper, who was well-known for ski trail design. Big M stands as a tribute to his skill and it is one of the largest XC ski trail systems in the Midwest.

There is a large warming shelter, with a wood stove and picnic tables inside, which is open during ski season.

The primary uses of these trails are for
Skiing and mountain bike riding. See trail descriptions under Hiking, and also under Bicycling.

Skiing- The following trails are groomed for skiing by volunteers. See descriptions under Hiking.
Corkpine Trail - Easy
Lumberjack Trail - Easy
Ryberg Road - Easy
Camp 24 Trail - Medium
Big Wheel Trail - Medium
Double Bit Trail - Medium
Oh Me II Trail - Difficult
Catamount Trail - Difficult

Big M has revitalized their trail marking over the past few years. All trail junctions within the inner loop of trails have maps with clearly numbered posts showing you where you are. Many junctions include a marker indicating the shortest route back to the parking lot. The outer loop trails may require you to pay better attention. Most mileages are taken from the Forest Service map.

The numbered circles on the map correspond to the numbered junctions of the trails. The green circle denotes easy trail, the blue square- medium difficulty, the black diamond- difficult. The kiosk at the parking lot is Point 1.

Corkpine Trail

Begin the Corkpine Trail at Point #1. Go to Points #34, #35, and back to #1. This creates a long, narrow south-north loop. Loop length 2.2 km. Ski rating- Easy. Direction of ski travel counter-clockwise.

Point 1 to 35 Ski time 2 minutes. Leave on the level through small oaks bearing left. Come to a junction that indicates to reach the outer loop you should take the right fork. This is because it is the shortest way to the outer trail system. Reach Point 35.

Point 35 to 34 inner side Ski time 10 minutes. Continue on level trail through oak woods. Reach Point 34 Here the outer loop trails leave with a turn to the right beginning to climb away from the Corkpine. Take the left branch to continue on the Corkpine Trail. When I was last at this junction it was marked incorrectly.

Point 34 to 35 outer side Ski time 16 minutes. Take the left branch to continue on the Corkpine Trail. In 4 minutes take a sharp turn to the right. Udell Hills Road is visible ahead through the oak and white pine. Continue on the level reaching a T in 11 minutes. Take a sharp left and you will see the post for Point 35.

Access- From the parking lot.
Restrictions- No motorized vehicles, snowshoeers should walk beside the groomed trail, dogs should be leashed and not allowed to walk in groomed snow-covered pathways.
Distance and time- 2.2 km, I skied it in 28 minutes.
Trail Markers are YELLOW
Condition of Marking- The trails are marked only in the allowed direction of travel for skiing and biking. The color of marking is seen in yellow dots found on white or light gray trail marker diamonds. Not all markers will have both colored dots, or actually even one.
Treadway- packed sandy forest soil to loose sand
Grades- level
Most recent date this info personally checked on foot- skied 2011
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Lumberjack Trail


Begin the Lumberjack Trail at Point #1. Go to Points #2, #3, #4, #5, #12 #13 #14 #15, and back to #1. This creates a long, narrow north-south loop. Loop length 3.2 km. Ski rating- Easy. Direction of ski travel counter-clockwise, with some sections on the western side being bi-directional to reach other trails.

Point 1 to 2 Hiking or skiing time 5 minutes. This description of the main loop begins at the parking lot, which is Point 1. The trail follows the fence enclosing the parking area, then turns north and forks. Take the right-hand fork. There is a sign here gives the name of the trail with red letters, the color of the trail marking. Go NE on the level mostly through mixed forest, but including a small red-pine plantation. Reach Point 2. The Sweedish Fiddle Trail turns off here to the right.

Point 2 to 3 Hiking or skiing time 1 minute. Continue straight until you reach Point 3. This is the junction with the Double Bit Trail which turns left. Continue straight. (You could turn left and go to point 14 and then return to the parking lot for a very short loop.)

Point 3 to 4 Hiking time 12 minute. Skiing time 7 minutes. Predominantly mixed oak and maple with some white pine. Continue north on flat terrain and a hill will begin to rise on your left, but the trail stays below it. Reach Good Road (a dirt track), where there is a stop sign. Continue across on the level, and soon cross the E extension of Ryberg Road. Reach Point 4 where the Bindle Stiff Trail returns from the right.


Point 4 to 5 Hiking time 8 minutes. Trail continues north for just a short way and then begins to turn to the NW and to ascend a very gradual, short slope which soon levels off and wanders through a mixed woods on a wide low ridge. In 5 minutes make a small dip down and up, and begin to turn the corner at the top of the loop, and in another minute you will be definitely heading south through a series of small dips and rises. Enter a red pine plantation, climbing slightly and continue with pines on the left and a clearing on the right growing up in young aspens. Reach Point 5.

Point 5 to 12 Continue south on the level for about 2 minutes.

Point 12 to 13 Continue south on the level for about 2 minutes and reach Ryberg Road.

Point 13 to 14 Hiking time 13 minutes. Cross the road and begin a gradual rise through mixed woods. Reach the top of the ridge and descend gradually to the south, veering SW on a railroad berm. There were multiple spurs here of a logging rail line. Reach a stop sign and cross Good Road in 7 minutes. For some reason the trail makes an odd little bump to the west before crossing Good Road. Start curving back to the east and return to continue straight south. Join a remnant of an old railroad berm at an angle to the right. A hill rises to the right with level bottom land on the left. Reach a fork in the berm, and the trail continues on the right hand track. Reach Point 14. At this point you can cut straight east to reach the east side of the Lumberjack Loop.

Point 14 to 15 In just 2 minutes you reach Point 15 where the Double Bit Trail leaves to the west in a right turn, and the Lumberjack turns left to return to the parking lot. The trails at this junction are not well marked. If you are coming from the south you need to turn right to stay on the Lumberjack, and to continue straight will put you on the Double Bit. Pay attention!

Point 15 to 1 Hiking or skiing time 6 minutes. Continue on the level, angle right and join the rail bed again (you can also see it continuing back to your left), which will seem to disappear in a few minutes. Cross a clearing, note where an old downhill ski run crosses the trail, cross another clearing with a tree-stump fence on the south edge. You will now see the parking lot and quickly rejoin the beginning of the Lumberjack Loop and return to point 1.

Access- From the main parking lot.
Restrictions- No motorized vehicles, snowshoeers should walk beside the groomed trail, dogs should be leashed and not allowed to walk in groomed snow-covered pathways.
Distance and time- 3.2 km , I hiked it in 51 minutes.
Trail Markers are RED
Condition of Marking- The trails are marked only in the allowed direction of travel for skiing and biking. The color of marking is seen in red dots found on white or light gray trail marker diamonds. Not all markers will have both colored dots, or actually even one.
Treadway- packed sandy forest soil to loose sand
Grades- nearly level, small rolling hills, just slightly more difficult than the Corkpine Trail
Most recent date this info personally checked on foot- February 2011
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Ryberg Road Trail


Begin the Ryberg Road Trail at Point #13. Go to Points #21 and #19. From there you can join the Camp 24 Trail, or Double Bit. It is a straight east-west road. Trail length about 1.2 km. Ski rating- Easy. Direction of ski travel both ways.

Point 13 to 21 Hiking time 11 minutes. Leave the Lumberjack Trail at Point 13 turning west on what is obviously a fairly straight road. (The road also goes to the east, but this is not indicated as part of the trail.) The road is deeply rutted in loose sand. Pass through an area that had been selectively logged a few years ago. There are a number of attractive beech trees to the left as you approach Point 21.

Point 21 to 19 Hiking time 12 minutes. Follow the road on the level to Point 19.

Access- No direct vehicle access. Begin at Point 13 on the Lumberjack Trail.
Restrictions- no motorized vehicles, snowshoeers should walk beside the groomed trail, dogs should be leashed and not allowed to walk in groomed snow-coveblue pathways.
Distance and time- Ryberg Road Trail is about 1.2 kilometers; I walked it in 23 minutes. Some trail maps show it as 2.7 kilometers, but it is unclear where Double Bit and Ryberg Road overlap which trail is assigned the mileage. As I have described it, Ryberg Road must be shorter than 2.7 km.
Trail Markers- are BLUE
Condition of Marking- The trails are marked only in the allowed direction of travel for skiing and biking. The color of marking is seen in blue dots found on blue or light gray trail marker diamonds. Not all markers will have both colored dots, or actually even one.
Treadway- Loose and eroded sand road with deep ruts
Grades- flat
Ecosystem- Mixed forest with sandy soil
Most recent date this info personally checked on foot- Oct 31, 2008
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Camp 24 Trail


Begin the Camp 24 Trail at Point #5. Go to Points #6, #7, #8, #10, #20 #11 #12 where it rejoins the Lumberjack Trail. It is an odd-shaped loop oriented mostly east-west with one northern projection. Loop length 3.6 km. Ski rating- Medium. Direction of ski travel counter-clockwise.

Point 5 to 6 Hiking time 23 minutes. Leave the Lumberjack trail at Point 5, heading slightly uphill into young aspens and winding upwards for 3 minutes until you enter mixed deciduous woods. Curve to the right and then left around the toe of a hill, still gradually climbing. The climb continues with small dips, in a meandering route. In 5 minutes you will be at the top of the climb. Follow the top of the ridge and turn to the right to parallel a former clearcut growing up with small saplings. In another 6 minutes the trail makes a definite turn to the north. Begin a gentle climb up the next ridge up a shallow valley, and reach the top of that ridge in 2 minutes. Cross the ridge and start down in another minute. This descends to a dip and then climbs again, but with no turns so it should be well within the capabilities of an intermediate skier. At the top of that ridge turn left and head SW and begin the outer west edge of this loop, climbing in a wandering path up to Point 6 and the junction with the Big Wheel Trail.

Point 6 to 7 Hiking time 2 minutes. Continue, slightly uphill, twisting and turning through the trees in a wide path- watch for trail markers. Reach Point 7 and junction with the Big Wheel Trail.

Point 7 to 8 Hiking time 2 minutes. Trail is level through open deciduous woods. Reach Point 8 and the junction with the Oh Me II Trail.

Camp 24 trail description is not yet complete.

Access- No direct vehicle access. Begin at Point 5 on the Lumberjack Trail.
Restrictions- no motorized vehicles, snowshoeers should walk beside the groomed trail, dogs should be leashed and not allowed to walk in groomed snow-coveforest pathways.
Distance and time- Camp 24 Trail is 3.6 kilometers; I walked it in XXX minutes.
Trail Markers- are GREEN
Condition of Marking- The trails are marked only in the allowed direction of travel for skiing and biking. The color of marking is seen in green dots found on white or light gray trail marker diamonds. Not all markers will have both coloforest dots, or actually even one.
Treadway- Packed sandy soil
Grades- Rolling hills
Ecosystem- Mixed forest with sandy soil
Most recent date this info personally checked on foot- Oct 19, 2008
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Big Wheel Trail

Begin the Big Wheel Trail at Point #7. Go to Point #6 via a long loop to the north and returning south, where it rejoins the Camp 24 Trail. It is a finger projecting NNE from Camp 24 Trail. Loop length 1.8 km. Ski rating- Medium. Direction of ski travel clockwise.

Point 7 to 6 Hiking time 23 minutes. Leave the Camp 24 Trail at Point 7. Descend in an undulating manner through mixed woods. There is a caution sign at the central portion of this descent where it becomes moderate with a slight turn at the bottom- the most difficult hill of this loop. Low intermediate skiers may want to skip this one. Continue to descend through mixed woods over rolling terrain. At the bottom of this hill you will be in mixed woods with a lot of witch hazel and going straight north, reaching a pine plantation on the left. Here the trail is fairly level with the land sloping off gradually to the west. In 9 minutes you enter the red pine plantation with maple understory on the level and turn right to cross the SW-NE top of the loop. A white house and outbuildings may be visible through the trees to the left, although they are more behind than beside you. In 6 minutes you make the turn to the south undulating across small ridges through forest with witch hazel understory reaching the bottom of a valley. Climb out of this valley through a pretty and open beech-maple forest with occasional oak. Reach Point 6.

Access- No direct vehicle access. Begin at Point 7 on the Camp 24 Trail.
Restrictions- no motorized vehicles, snowshoeers should walk beside the groomed trail, dogs should be leashed and not allowed to walk in groomed snow-coveyellow pathways.
Distance and time- Big Wheel Trail is 1.8 kilometers; I walked it in 23 minutes.
Trail Markers- are YELLOW
Condition of Marking- The trails are marked only in the allowed direction of travel for skiing and biking. The color of marking is seen in yellow dots found on white or light gray trail marker diamonds. Not all markers will have both coloyellow dots, or actually even one.
Treadway- Packed sandy soil
Grades- Rolling hills
Ecosystem- Mixed forest with sandy soil
Most recent date this info personally checked on foot- Oct 19, 2008
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Double Bit Trail

Begin the Double Bit Trail at Point #3. Go to Points #14, #15, #16, #18, #19, #20. From there you can join the Camp 24 Trail, or Ryberg Road. It is a lozenge shape oriented east-west. Trail length about 2 km. Ski rating- Medium. Direction of ski travel clockwise.

Point 3 to 14 Hiking time 2 minute. Leave the Lumberjack Trail at Point 3, turning left. Level trail to Point 14.

Point 14 to 15 In just 2 minutes you reach Point 15 where the Double Bit Trail leaves to the west in a right turn, and the Lumberjack turns left to return to the parking lot. The trails at this junction are not well marked. If you are coming from the south you need to turn right to stay on the Lumberjack, and to continue straight will put you on the Double Bit. Pay attention!

Point 15 to 16 Hiking time 6 minutes. Leave the Lumberjack Trail at Point 15 going straight. (If you want to stay on the Lumberjack Trail you must turn right.) Begin a gradual climb up a shallow valley through oaks. Reach Point 16.

Point 16 to 18 Hiking time 7 minutes. Continue to climb up the valley, then angle to the right and the climb becomes steeper with a few undulations. In 7 minutes you begin to descend and cross a SW extention of Good Road at the bottom. The trail climbs again to Point 18.

Point 18 to 19 Hiking Time 5 minutes. The Catamount Trail leaves straight ahead at this junction. Turn right to remain on Double Bit. Cross Good Road on the level through open forest of oaks and maples. In 5 minutes you come to a stop sign at Ryberg Road, Point 19.

Point 19 to 20Hiking Time 12 minutes. To continue straight puts you on Ryberg Road, but the Double Bit turns left and then curves almost immediately around to the right again on the level in a broad shallow valley. Up beyond the ridge to the right is a clearing growing up in saplings. Continue on the level to the NE paralleling the saplings, but gradually wend your way farther to the left and begin following a valley to your left. In 9 minutes you are approaching a valley which you can see ahead and the trail begins slightly downhill and curves to the bottom of a dip and up the next ridge. At the bottom of that ridge reach Point 20.

Point 20 to 11 Double Bit makes a very short jog to the left and joins Camp 24 Trail at Point 11.

Point 20 to 21 Here there is a very short level spur which connects to Ryberg Road at Point 21 in the middle of a large clearing.

Access- No direct vehicle access. Begin at Point 16 on the Lumberjack Trail.
Restrictions- no motorized vehicles, snowshoeers should walk beside the groomed trail, dogs should be leashed and not allowed to walk in groomed snow-covewhite pathways.
Distance and time- Bouble Bit Trail is about 2 kilometers; I walked it in 35 minutes. Some trail maps show it as 1.6 kilometers, but it is unclear where Double Bit and Ryberg Road overlap which trail is assigned the mileage. As I have described it, Double Bit must be longer than 1.6 km.
Trail Markers- are WHITE
Condition of Marking- The trails are marked only in the allowed direction of travel for skiing and biking. The color of marking is seen in white dots found on white or light gray trail marker diamonds. Not all markers will have both colowhite dots, or actually even one.
Treadway- Packed sandy soil
Grades- Rolling hills
Ecosystem- Mixed forest with sandy soil
Most recent date this info personally checked on foot- Oct 31, 2008
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Oh Me II

Begin the Oh Me II Trail at Point #8 on the Camp 24 Trail. Go to Point #9 via a finger to the north and returning south. Then swing south to and back north, where it rejoins the Camp 24 Trail at Point #10. Loop length 4.9 km. Ski rating- Difficult. Direction of ski travel counter-clockwise.

Point 8 to 9 Hiking time 14 minutes. Leave the Camp 24 Trail heading west and almost immediately come to a caution sign at the top of a short but very steep downhill to a dip which immediately comes right back up, turn a corner and go immediately down and up again on a slope slightly less steep. In 5 minutes you will be at the top of that slope and make a hard right, turning abruptly back to the north and reach the top of the ridge. Angle slightly back to the left and in 3 minutes begin a gradual descent over undulating ground and go through a small pine plantation. Begin angling to the southwest on the level, and then gradually climbing on an old road. When you enter young woods the terrain becomes slightly more rolling, and then climbing. Reach Point 9 and the junction with the Barber Chair Trail.

Point 9 to 10
Hiking time 30 minutes. Begin with undulations climbing to the height of land in 7 minutes. There is a valley filled with small trees to the right. Continue on the level through open woods and angle to the right while the young woods curves towards the left and you will pass through the aspen saplings going south in about 4 more minutes. Enter deciduous woods and turn right, to the west on the level. In a minute cross a logging access road that drops to the right into the area that was clearcut. Continue across the road and note attractive views of a facing hill across the clearing to the right. Follow near the south edge of the clearing and gradually climb, continuing west. With low rolling hills through open woods on the left make this an attractive section. After 5 minutes reach the end of the clearing. An old road curves off at an angle to the right but continue on the left fork, which is essentially straight. Almost immediately take a hard left and begin a gradual climb through the rolling hills. The climb increases, becoming moderate and reach the top in 3 minutes. Take a sharp left and head east along the top of the ridge, continuing level for 3 minutes, and then abruptly drops off the ridge. The drop is not too steep but has several humps as it drops. Climb up again immediately and turn northeast to the right. You are now headed back toward Camp 24 Trail. There are next two moderate downs and ups. At the bottom of the second one, recross the logging road. The trail undulates and in 8 minutes come to the top of the hill. Descend to a valley in a clearing on the left with young maple, aspen, and sassafras saplings and mixed woods on the right. The trail undulates and goes through an arm of the sapling area, climbing gradually. In 5 minutes you leave the saplings and enter open mixed woods. Continue to climb to Point 10.

Access- No direct vehicle access. Begin at Point 8 on the Camp 24 Trail.
Restrictions- No motorized vehicles, snowshoeers should walk beside the groomed trail, dogs should be leashed and not allowed to walk in groomed snow-coveblue pathways.
Distance and time- Oh Me II is 4.9 km; I walked it in XX minutes.
Trail Markers are BLUE
Condition of Marking- The trails are marked only in the allowed direction of travel for skiing and biking. The color of marking is seen in blue dots found on white or light gray trail marker diamonds. Not all markers will have both colored dots, or actually even one.
Treadway- Mixed forest with sandy soil
Grades- Rolling hills with moderately steep grades
Most recent date this info personally checked on foot- Oct 19, 2008
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Catamount

Begin the Catamount Trail at Point #18 on the Double Bit Trail. This trail is a long, three-legged loop ranging south from the Double Bit. One leg projects north, one south, and one east with a northward bend. It rejoins the Double Bit Trail at Point #16. Loop length 5.8 km. Ski rating- Difficult. Direction of ski travel counter-clockwise.

Point 18 to 17 Hiking time 27 minutes. Begin going west and climbing to the top of a small ridge with a couple of switchbacks. Reach a caution sign as the trail turns to the SSE, and the trail drops fairly steeply, but with a couple of turns in the trail. You would not want to try this unless you are a good skier. In 5 minutes, cross the SW extention of Good Road and soon turn right to the southwest on rolling hills. Begin climbing slightly through mixed maples. In another 5 minutes, turn to the west and begin the southward leg of the trail. You can now see an old clearcut growing up in aspen through the trees to the right. Continue to climb gradually through a very shallow valley. The trail begins to angle more to the southwest. In 4 minutes you cross the top of a ridge, and descend immediately with a turn at the bottom. Continue SW and cross another 2-track. Begin to climb again gradually, and then moderately. Turn more southerly. There are several switchbacks to reach the top of the ridge. There is a small dip down and up but this side of the southern arm is mostly level. <--1537--> In 9 minutes reach the SW corner of this arm. Make a turn to the SW with a view to the WSW and see a ridge of hills. Begin to climb gradually, becoming moderate but quickly reaching the top of the ridge which you follow with the land falling off on each side of the trail. You will see a valley parallel to the trail on the right with the facing hill quite close by In 3 minutes reach Point 17.

Point 17 to 16 Hiking time 48 minutes. The Bullwacker Trail leaves the inner loop at Point 17. Turn left and go downhill on a long, moderate drop with trees, mostly maples and white pine, close on each side of the trail. You are now heading northeast. Join an old road and angle north at the bottom of the slope. In 6 minutes, make an abrupt turn to the left and then back to the right, passing through a small clearing with bracken fern, and in a minute come to a definite Y. The Catamount Trail takes the right hand fork. The trail now begins to curve around to the east to begin the east leg on mostly level terrain. Begin a gradual climb up a long shallow valley. In 9 minutes make the turn to the northeast climbing moderately steeply to the top of a ridge and then down the other side and up the next one. Make a switchback turn on this climb, reach the top and descend slightly. In 6 minutes you will be definitely be going north along a ridge top that falls off to valleys on both sides. Descend off the toe of the ridge on a moderate slope with trees close on each side. Cross a small saddle between two ridges and ascend the next ridge. In 3 minutes reach Capper's Corner. Here the eastern leg of this trail reaches its limit and turns west, descending a short steep hill with a turn and bump in the middle. It becomes gradual, but the turn makes it difficult, and there are trees close on each side of the trail. The slope continues its long descent. In another 2 minutes make a bend to the left and continue around till you are traveling southwest and climb gradually over a small ridge. Descend into a dip, and climb again over another ridge. Two more dips and ridges, with twists and turns make this a very interesting route for accomplished skiers. Finally begin a longer ascent up another shallow but narrow valley. The climb becomes moderate and turns to the west and then northwest. There is a caution sign and then a moderately steep descent, with a turn, on the connection to the northern leg of the Catamount Trail. At the bottom it abruptly begins to ascend again. At the top of the ridge turn right and go north with a gradual descent down the shoulder of a ridge with the land falling off on both sides. Reach the end of the ridge and make a short, moderate descend with a bend through a shallow saddle and back up another hump. There is now another caution sign as you drop steeply and straight down off this ridge. Near the bottom the descent becomes more gradual, levels out somewhat and begins long, low undulations. In 17 minutes turn to the east and begin a moderate climb up another valley, becoming steeper at the head of the valley. At the top turn left, north, along the top of the ridge. Leave the top of the ridge with a moderate slope and descends on a wide path. There is another caution sign here. The trail takes a turn to the left and heads down a short but steep slope. At the bottom angle to the left. Continue a gradual descent with undulations, and then angles right again as you reach Point 16.

Access- No direct vehicle access. Begin at Point 18 on the Double Bit Trail.
Restrictions- No motorized vehicles, snowshoeers should walk beside the groomed trail, dogs should be leashed and not allowed to walk in groomed snow-covered pathways.
Distance and time- Catamount is 5.8 km; I walked it in XX minutes.
Trail Markers are RED
Condition of Marking- The trails are marked only in the allowed direction of travel for skiing and biking. The color of marking is seen in red dots found on white or light gray trail marker diamonds. Not all markers will have both colored dots, or actually even one.
Treadway- Mixed forest with sandy soil
Grades- Rolling hills with moderate to steep grades
Most recent date this info personally checked on foot- Oct 31, 2008
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Bicycling- All trails are open to mountain bikes in the summer, but the outer loop trails are more specifically designed for bicycling.

Descriptions of bike use of the inner loops are taken from a flyer produced a number of years ago by the Big Udell Trail & Tarmac Eco [bicycle] Riders. For complete descriptions of the inner loops see Hiking

Corkpine Trail (for biking)

"Kinda lame. The only real reason to take this trail is to get to Bullwacker which is part of the outer loop."

Lumberjack Trail (for biking)

"This is a fairly uninspirational trail. However to get to most of the good trails at the Big M you need to go on Lumberjack. The trail is relatively flat and wide. There is one small downhill around a mile in."

Ryberg Road Trail (for biking)

"The name says it all. It is a two-track road and not very cool at all." [deeply rutted and sandy]

Camp 24 Trail (for biking)

"This is a fun trail. The terrain is rolling without any major climbs, only rolling hills. There are several great trails off this loop so this is a great trail to head out on."

Big Wheel Trail (for biking)

"Crank up the travel on your suspension. This trail starts out with a fast bumpy descent. After the downhill, the trail slowly starts to head back uphill until you hit Camp 24 again. There is a cut off in the pines at the bottom of the downhill that will get you over to Gabriel's Horn. [I'm not sure this cut-off exists.]"

Double Bit Trail (for biking)

"This is a good trail but the clearcut left it somewhat scarred. Dave's Lookout [not sure where this is] isn't much of a lookout anymore but the climb up is gradual and the descent is really fun."

Oh Me II (for biking)

"The weak of heart need not apply. There are two really steep fast downhills that are a ton of fun."

Catamount Trail (for biking)

"This is probably the best trail at the Big M (as long as you are in ok shape and don't mind going fast on downhills). There are multiple big climbs and descents. In the middle of the loop you can cut off and catch the Bullwacker Trail. About 3/4 of the way around Catamount is the trail out to Capper's Corner. Head out there if you want a great view. The best part is the descent onto Double Bit which drops you down a long hill that will bring you almost back to the Big M parking lot."

Sweedish Fiddle Trail

A Sweedish Fiddle is a crosscut saw.

I have not yet personally followed this trail. It begins at Point 3 and continues to Points 22 and 23. Return to the Lumberjack Trail from Point 23 to 4 via the Bindle Stiff Trail. Or continue to Gabriel's Horn

Description taken from a flyer produced a number of years ago by the Big Udell Trail & Tarmac Eco [bicycle] Riders.

"This trail really, really stinks! It is flat and very bumpy. The area had a fire in recent years and the plant life is uninspirational."

Access- No direct vehicle access. This trail begins at Point 2 on the Lumberjack Trail.
Restrictions- No camping, travel in designated direction. Hunting IS allowed- wear blaze orange during open seasons.
Distance and time- ?
Trail Markers- are YELLOW
Condition of Marking- not sure
Treadway- not sure
Grades- not many
Ecosystem- not sure
Most recent date this info personally checked on foot- not yet
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Bindle Stiff Trail

A Bindle Stiff is a laborer who carries his blankets.

I have not yet personally followed this trail. It begins at Point 4 and continues to Point 23. Return to the Lumberjack Trail from Point 23 to 22 via the Sweedish Fiddle Trail. Or continue to Gabriel's Horn

Description taken from a flyer produced a number of years ago by the Big Udell Trail & Tarmac Eco [bicycle] Riders.

"This trail is not any fun but it can get you to places that are fun. The only reason to take this trail is because it leads you to Gabriel's Horn and can get you back to NCT, Shanty Boy and the M55 Trailhead. Bindle Stiff is flat and bumpy. All I can say is grin and bear it because it is the best marked way to the cool outer loop trails on the north end of Big M."

Access- No direct vehicle access. This trail begins at Point 4 on the Lumberjack Trail.
Restrictions- No camping, travel in designated direction. Hunting IS allowed- wear blaze orange during open seasons.
Distance and time- ?
Trail Markers- are YELLOW
Condition of Marking- not sure
Treadway- not sure
Grades- not many
Ecosystem- not sure
Most recent date this info personally checked on foot- not yet
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Gabriel's Horn Trail

Gabriel's Horn is a large camp horn used by cooks to call the men to eat.

I have not yet personally followed this trail. It begins at Point 23 and continues to Point 25. The easiest access is via the Bindle Stiff Trail.

Description taken from a flyer produced a number of years ago by the Big Udell Trail & Tarmac Eco [bicycle] Riders.

"This is a fun and not too hilly trail. There are some sharp but short climbs on the middle section of this trail and a gradual hill from where it crosses Firetower Road to NCT. It is a good connector trail to NCT from Big M (or vice versa)"

Access- No direct vehicle access. This trail begins at Point 23 on the Sweedish Fiddle Trail or Bindle Stiff Trail.
Restrictions- No camping, travel in designated direction. Hunting IS allowed- wear blaze orange during open seasons.
Distance and time- ?
Trail Markers- are YELLOW
Condition of Marking- not sure
Treadway- not sure
Grades- not many
Ecosystem- not sure
Most recent date this info personally checked on foot- not yet
Back to map
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Shanty Boy Trail

A shanty boy is a logger.

I have not yet personally followed this trail. It begins at Point 25 and continues to Point 26. The access is via the Bindle Stiff Trail and Gabriel's Horn.

Description taken from a flyer produced a number of years ago by the Big Udell Trail & Tarmac Eco [bicycle] Riders.

"This is a fun tight section with one major climb in it. Most of the trail is going up and over small hills and winding around in stands of poplar trees. At the top of the big climb you go out on a ridge and are treated to a great view to the north and the wes of Udell Hills. After the view you drop into one of the better descents in the Udell Hills trail system"

Access- No direct vehicle access. This trail begins at Point 25 on the outer loop at the end of the Gabriel's Horn Segment.
Restrictions- No camping, travel in designated direction. Hunting IS allowed- wear blaze orange during open seasons.
Distance and time- ?
Trail Markers- are YELLOW
Condition of Marking- not sure
Treadway- not sure
Grades- not many
Ecosystem- not sure
Most recent date this info personally checked on foot- not yet
Back to map
Comment

Road Monkey Trail

A road monkey is a man who was supposed to keep the sleigh roads free of manure and other impediments.

I have not yet personally followed this trail. It begins at Point 26 and continues to Point 28. The access is via the Bindle Stiff Trail, Gabriel's Horn, and Shanty Boy.

Description taken from a flyer produced a number of years ago by the Big Udell Trail & Tarmac Eco [bicycle] Riders.

"This trail isn't much fun to ride. It is relatively flat and if it ever gets broken in will be fairly fast. The problem is that it isn't broken in and not many people ride it so you have to hop logs." [remember that this description is several years old]

Access- No direct vehicle access. This trail begins at Point 26 on the outer loop at the end of the Shanty Boy Segment.
Restrictions- No camping, travel in designated direction. Hunting IS allowed- wear blaze orange during open seasons.
Distance and time- ?
Trail Markers- are YELLOW
Condition of Marking- not sure
Treadway- not sure
Grades- not many
Ecosystem- not sure
Most recent date this info personally checked on foot- not yet
Back to map
Comment

Sky Pilot Trail

A sky pilot is a traveling preacher.

I have not yet personally followed this trail. It begins at Point 29 and continues to Points 30 and 33 . The closest access is via the Bullwacker Trail.

Description taken from a flyer produced a number of years ago by the Big Udell Trail & Tarmac Eco [bicycle] Riders.

"This trail is a thrill to ride. Definitely one of the most fun sections of trail in the Udell (when you are going down it). The trail is a couple of feet wide and when the National Park Service put it in they built up little berms on each side of the trail. The berms have eroded away in many spots but there are still many fast corners that you can rail around using the berms. To top it all off, there is a nice jump (with a great landing) at the bottom to cap off a great downhill."

Access- No direct vehicle access. This trail begins at Point 29 on the outer loop at the end of the Road Monkey Segment.
Restrictions- No camping, travel in designated direction. Hunting IS allowed- wear blaze orange during open seasons.
Distance and time- ?
Trail Markers- are YELLOW
Condition of Marking- not sure
Treadway- not sure
Grades- not many
Ecosystem- not sure
Most recent date this info personally checked on foot- not yet
Back to map
Comment

Cheat Stick Trail

A cheat stick is a log scale stick.

I have not yet personally followed this trail. It begins at Point 33 and continues to Point 32. It is a connector between the Bullwacker Trail and the Barber Chair Trail.

Description taken from a flyer produced a number of years ago by the Big Udell Trail & Tarmac Eco [bicycle] Riders.

"This trail is fairly uninteresting in itself. It connects some of the better outer loop trails though and makes a great connector. There are no major climbs and it is mostly tight singletrack."

Access- No direct vehicle access. This trail begins at Point 29 on the outer loop at the end of the Sky Pilot Segment, or from the inner loops via the Barber Chair Trail
Restrictions- No camping, travel in designated direction. Hunting IS allowed- wear blaze orange during open seasons.
Distance and time- ?
Trail Markers- are YELLOW
Condition of Marking- not sure
Treadway- not sure
Grades- not many
Ecosystem- not sure
Most recent date this info personally checked on foot- not yet
Back to map
Comment

Fire Tower Trail

Visit the site of the Udell Fire tower.

I have not yet personally followed this trail. It begins at Point 30 and continues to Points 31 and 32. It connects with the Cheat Stick Trail and the Sky Pilot Trail.

Description taken from a flyer produced a number of years ago by the Big Udell Trail & Tarmac Eco [bicycle] Riders.

"The trail winds up and down and around a few valleys below the fireower before making its way around the climb up to the tower. If you continue up and over the top you will be greeted with a fast descent down to Barber Chair. Near the bottom of the descent there is a stump by the left hand side of the trail that you can use as a killer jump with a nice landing."

Access- No direct vehicle access. This trail begins at Point 30 on the outer loop on the Sky Pilot Segment, or from the inner loops via the Barber Chair Trail
Restrictions- No camping, travel in designated direction. Hunting IS allowed- wear blaze orange during open seasons.
Distance and time- ?
Trail Markers- are YELLOW
Condition of Marking- not sure
Treadway- not sure
Grades- not many
Ecosystem- not sure
Most recent date this info personally checked on foot- not yet
Back to map
Comment

Bullwacker Trail

A bullwacker is an oxen driver.

I have not yet personally followed this trail. It begins at Point 33 and continues to Points 17 and 34. It connects the Cheat Stick Trail and the Corkpine Trail.

Description taken from a flyer produced a number of years ago by the Big Udell Trail & Tarmac Eco [bicycle] Riders.

"A good chunk of this trail is on the side of a hill and is off-camber. It makes things a little more interesting. There is one really good climb and two nice downhills on this trail. One of the downhills is so great it has gotten the unofficial nickname of 'G. Bomber.' The G. Bomber starts out with sweeping corners and then shoots down an old two track. The grade is steep enough and the hill is long enough that you can see 40+ mph. Bullwacker is one of the better trails in Udell expecially if you finish off on Corkpine instead of starting on Corkpine. There is a cut-off part way around that will allow you to hop onto Catamount which is a fun diversion also."

Access- No direct vehicle access. This trail begins at Point 33 on the outer loop on the Sky Pilot Segment, or from the inner loops via the Corkpine Trail
Restrictions- No camping, travel in designated direction. Hunting IS allowed- wear blaze orange during open seasons.
Distance and time- ?
Trail Markers- are YELLOW
Condition of Marking- not sure
Treadway- not sure
Grades- not many
Ecosystem- not sure
Most recent date this info personally checked on foot- not yet
Back to map
Comment

Barber Chair Trail

A barber chair is a split on a stump resulting from an improperly felled tree.

I have not yet personally followed this trail. It begins at Point 9 and continues to Point 32. It connects with the Cheat Stick Trail and the Oh Me II Trail.

Description taken from a flyer produced a number of years ago by the Big Udell Trail & Tarmac Eco [bicycle] Riders.

"This is a short by really beautiful trail. It connect the outer loop trails and Oh Me II." There is a large number and variety of ferns.

Access- No direct vehicle access. This trail begins at Point 9 on the Oh Me II Trail and connects to the Cheat Stick Trail and the Fire Tower Trail
Restrictions- No camping, travel in designated direction. Hunting IS allowed- wear blaze orange during open seasons.
Distance and time- ?
Trail Markers- are YELLOW
Condition of Marking- not sure
Treadway- not sure
Grades- not many
Ecosystem- not sure
Most recent date this info personally checked on foot- not yet
Back to map
Comment

Picnicking- You could bring a picnic and eat in the lodge where there are tables, but the lodge may not be open in summer. There are no tables outside. There is a campfire area with benches. No grills. There is a wood stove in the lodge.

Scenic Views- There are some views from the outer edge of the Oh Me II Trail

The Catamount Trail offers a view from the far SW corner of the southern leg, and another at Capper's Corner

There is a great view of the lodge from the top of the Capper s Peak just west of the lodge.

Handicap Accessibility- latrines are accessible- concrete pad is level with surrounding grass area, no lip at door. Little slope from the parking lot. The lodge is less accessible. To reach the building you must go uphill from the parking area over bumpy grass, dirt and gravel. There is a step up to the porch, of 1 to 5 inches depending on your approach. There is no lip at the threshhold of the porch to the interior.

Rest Rooms- latrines open all year
Potable Water- summer only by hand pump near the information kiosk

Access- via paved Udell Hills Road. Access road and parking area for 25 vehicles is paved. Handicap parking space.
Restrictions- pets must be leashed, no camping. Fee required. National Forest daily or yearly pass (self pay site), Golden Age, or Interagency Senior Pass accepted. $8/ day donation during ski season requested by Manistee Cross Country Ski Council to be deposited in a hollow post near the lodge.
Seasonality- Lodge may be locked in summer, no water in winter. Lodge has only natural lighting and can be quite dim inside.
Ecosystem- Wooded, sandy hills and ridges. The area is an unusually circle of bumpy ridges surrounded by relatively flat terrain.
Other points of interest- the North Country Trail passes through the Big M region
most recent date this info personally checked- see individual trails
Additional Facilities- warming shelter for skiers with wood stove, campfire area with benches
Maintained by- Manistee Cross Country Ski Council
Manistee Cross Country Ski Council (ski trails)
Michigan Mountain Biking Association (bike trails)
Spirit of the Woods Chapter of the NCTA (North Country Trail)
More- Manistee District of the Manistee National Forest
call 231-723-2211

[Counties] Lake County Manistee County Mason County Oceana County

Take MI-55 east from Manistee for 9 miles. Turn south on Udell Hills Road (watch for a brown sign indicating the turn). In 4 miles you will turn right into Big M. The paved parking area is reached in about 1/4 mile.

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