Join the largest community of outdoor enthusiasts.

Get Started
  • Stats
  • Activity
  • Completed
  • Recordings
  • Lists
  • Reviews
  • Photos
  • Profile
  • Recent Activity

    James Brutsche reviewed North Manitou Island Loop

    over 1 year ago

    Day 1 - loaded up on the ferry at the quant by busy fishtown in Leland, MI. The variance of backpackers was quite the sight to. I observed more coolers, lawn chairs, packages of bottle water, tiki torches and grills that I'm used to when backpacking for a weekend. I was beginning to think I got on the wrong boat. Surely these individuals weren't going to an island with limited resources with 30 packs of Busch light and BBQ smokers, but I digress. A volunteer met us at the dock and discussed the rules of the island before we ran off into the wilderness. We made quick time getting to fredericksons point on the southwest corner of the island (5+ miles). This was by far the best place on the island offering beautiful views of south manitou island, sleeping near dunes and the sunsets. The walk down to the beach was tricky but manageable.

    Day 2- making our way up the west and north side of the island resulted in a decent evaluation gain ~350 feet or so and passing through some bushy trails. We passed through two rustic sights (Davenport and Stormers) the latter having several old cars thrown about the forest. The rain begin resulting in a hasty pace to Paul Maeloski place (building on the map) which was nowhere to be found and soon we realized it was in the forest and destroyed. We attempted to connect with the secondary trial that loops back to the village and dock area but we soon lost the "unmaintained" trail. Leading us to bushwhack to the beach and follow the shore until we reach the village and double back to the campground. Day 2 we experienced most of the island encompassing ~14 miles.

    Day 3- wait for the boat and discuss with the patrons their perils and joys of the island, one poor adventurer had duct taped socks, quite the sight.

    Overall NMI is a beautiful island that embodies true wilderness. I'd encouraged anyone thinking of hiking to stick to the primary trails and avoid the secondary (unmaintained trails) unless you bring a machete. A beautiful place even with the misadventures!

    James Brutsche reviewed North Manitou Island Loop

    over 1 year ago

    James Brutsche completed North Manitou Island Loop

    over 1 year ago

    James Brutsche reviewed Adventure Hiking Trail

    almost 2 years ago

    Overall a very decent trail for a challenging
    Overnight hike. I made the drive down from Michigan after work on a Friday, it was quite the drive (5+ hours through Indiana backcountry). I made it too the Old Barn Shelter where I was greeted by no one around 1130pm. The shelter itself shelters your from the elements and offers a fire pit under the shelter. It made for a chilly night with a only 3 walls and an open entrance, however I'll take a 45 degree night in February anytime! After an early
    Morning I drove through O'Bannon Woods to take in some sights and cached three liters of water on Cold Friday Road in between the Homestead and OHio River shelter (most reviews recommended it and I wasn't taking any chances). I parked on SR-462 near the entrance of O'Bannon woods. The trail itself on day one (13+ miles) featured plenty of ups and downs and all arounds the ravines and valleys, slowly making your way towards the Ohio River. I crossed over several dried up creek beds that would be quite the sight during a heavy spring runoff. I chugged along and heard the unpleasant moans and groans of heavy machinery labor in the distance. Shortly thereafter signs posted detoured me to a fireplace (bushwhacked up a hill) which ran about a mile until a clearing with heavy machinery that is used for a logging operation. The trail met back up with the AHT and soon I traced the Indian creek shelter which looked inviting and the view down to the Indian creek was awesome. After some snaking through ravines I made it to a primitive shelter (more or less an emergency stop) and another mile later to homestead shelter where I broke for lunch. Crossing Cold Friday Road and refilling my water I was in for quite the uphill, however there was glimpses of the Ohio River through the February woods. After some laboring again ( you guessed it ravines) I made it to the Ohio River Shelter which is the prize of the whole AHT. The shelter was one of the nicest I've seen. I was thrilled, yet disappointed when I realized there was no one else at the shelter, allowing me
    To stake my claim to a nice corner within the shelter. A few hours of slacking around, gathering wood, and hoping the rain would hold off two guys showed up (the first people I had seen since leaving on Friday evening). The rain held off aside from a sprinkle or two and it make for a peaceful night watching the barges steam up and down the river from the high bluff. The sun set per usual on a mid-February night (6pm) which made for an early bedtime, however the wind really picked up. I was awoken from my slumber at 1am by the door being swung open by a heinous gust of wind that was straight from the evil dead. I stumbled to my feet worried the deadites would soon follow. I woke up several times from that moment as it was unsettling yet fascinating to hear the creeks and groans of the wind meeting the log cabin. I woke up around 7 and hurried to rush out of camp to make it back to my car in a reasonable time, getting out around 745a as the wind was subsiding however the drizzle began, a mist leading into a light rain for an hour or so making the trip down the bluff and towards the picnic shelter a little more interesting. After making
    Past the picnic shelter it became an uphill gain for a distance, until reaching the campground junction in which I intended to stop for water, but passed on it as I was doing pretty well I'm the 50-60 degree weather since my fill-up the day prior. The AHT snakes around the campground and a short mile later you are at the Old Iron Bridge that crosses the Blue River (more so a green river). The trail up to this point was marked extremely well, markers every 150-200 feet or on trees, however from the Old Iron Bridge to The Rendezvous point becomes a more rugged, less markers, and more trash. The trail follows the Blue River for a distance then you make a strenuous uphill trek to reach the Hog Barn Shelter. After the Hog Barn there's some
    More uphill followed by a junction in which you can continue north to the Old Barn Shelter or head South (East). I made it back to my car right around noon. Thus making my total trip of 23ish miles in 28 hours ( 11+ hours of hiking time). I usually average 2.5-3 miles an hour, the uphill and elevation gain defiantly added some time to this trip.

    Overall, an extremely pleasant and challenging trail that is perfect for an overnight. It would be quite the challenge to complete in one day given the toil on your knees. The lack of water on this trail wasn't as concerning as I thought it would be. If you're in a pinch you could filter from the Indian River or Ohio River (no clear way to get there, but manageable) or the blue River. All three rivers looked pretty cloudy, so maybe sticking to drop points would be better. In the whole trip, I saw 6 people, which really surprised me. This is a wonderful trail that is a mere 30 minutes from Louisville and a short distance from Evansville and Indianapolis. If more trails like th

    James Brutsche completed Adventure Hiking Trail

    almost 2 years ago

    James Brutsche saved Lake Superior Trail

    almost 2 years ago

    James Brutsche saved Shawnee Trail

    almost 2 years ago

    James Brutsche reviewed Mount Baldhead

    almost 2 years ago

    The stairs will kick your butt! The top of the hill offers pretty good views of saugatuck. If you make your way down the dune you can see Lake Michigan much better. It is extremely sandy. You can make it to oval beach if you head southwest on a trail after you make it to the top of the mt. Bald head

    James Brutsche completed Mount Baldhead

    almost 2 years ago

    James Brutsche reviewed Jackson Hole, Whitford, and Lawler Lakes Loop

    almost 2 years ago

    Decent day hike that can shorten into a 2 mile or lengthen into a 6 mile. I personally enjoy the 4 mile loop around both Whitmore lake and jackson hole. I park in the Whitmore Lake parking lot and make my way south and go in a counter clockwise loop. You soon past an old silo that is neat to poke around in. You'll make your way around the lake when there are two cabins and a well if you need some water. The trail links to post 5 which will either take you between the two lakes shortening the trip to 2 miles or proceed to point 6, 7, and 8. The trail does get somewhat confusing near the equestrian staging area but you can pick up the trail near the pit toilet. You'll make your way around the east side of Jackson hole and skirt the Fort Custer campground. After a short leg you'll end up at the parking lot.

    A very nice and relaxed 4 mile loop that is appropriate for all ages. Nothing crazy or outrageous. There is a small stream in between post 5 and 6 that requires some athleticism to keep your shoes dry.

    James Brutsche reviewed Hoist Lakes Foot Travel Area

    almost 2 years ago

    Pretty decent backpacking loop for a weekend. Stretch it into a Saturday afternoon/Sunday night in September. Good time of year to go, as it sounds like the ticks are a nightmare. Overall the location is pretty remote and quite the drive for me (Kalamazoo area) took around 3 1/2 to 4 hours. I enjoyed the remoteness of Hoist Lakes. I began at the eastern trailhead accessible from MI-65/72. Parking is $5.00 per day which is deposited in a self-service tube. I began the large trail loop south and made my way past north and south hoist lakes. These lakes were more or less ponds, but they were nice to look at. After making my way up a couple hills I made my way down to Bryan lake. During the duration of the hike I may have seen a handful of day hikers, however when getting to the Bryan lake their were plenty of hikers who appeared to have snagged the best spots. I found a nice site on the east side of the lake overlooking the largest lake in the hoist lakes area. After a pretty chilly night, I made my way north completing the trail in a couple hours. After completion I had a couple thoughts, the north side was more difficult, in which I would recommend on day 1. There wasn't too many sights on the north side however. The lakes were just okay, nothing spectacular. The trails are marked very well! The numbered poles with maps and nails showing your location made the hike enjoyable. Additionally marking the difficulty per post was helpful to gauge how hard each section would be.

    I would try this trail in another year or so.

    James Brutsche completed Hoist Lakes Foot Travel Area

    almost 2 years ago

    James Brutsche reviewed Deadman's Hill Trail

    almost 2 years ago

    Hiked the larger Jordan River Pathway (no trail listed) so I will double dip on this one. Deadmans Hill offers splendid views of the East Jordan Watershed and lowlands. The parking lot is a short distance from the hill up a gravel trail.

    The East Jordan River Pathway was a nightmare to say the least. The sign postage was terrible. They did not note the detour on the large board in the parking lot so I hiked until a reached a bridge that was half submerged, had to backtrack and side hike roads until I reached the state campground late, after dark. The following day it was much better on the northern side as the trial was labeled much better, however there was much overgrowth and decay. The highlight of the trail was when it hugged the river for a moderate duration, however there was too much walking through uneventful forest that could be hiked downstate in local parks. If you are looking for a rugged/bushwhacking trail this is your place. I don't mind trailblazing but this was unmanageable at times.

    Even if there was blazes every 1/4-1/2 mile that'd be a start. I'd be willing to give this longer weekend loop another chance in a year or so.

    James Brutsche completed Deadman's Hill Trail

    almost 2 years ago

    James Brutsche reviewed Portage Creek Bicentennial Trail

    almost 2 years ago

    Great resource in Portage, MI. Easy to access and a good workout. Usually pretty busy with roller skating, bikers, and joggers. Nice to see a great deal of wild life. Often see deer every time I run on the trail.

    James Brutsche reviewed Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

    almost 2 years ago

    Hiked Pictured Rocks 2 times now. Both times Grand Marais to Munising. Hiked beginning or May and mid September. Both hikes were amazing and wonderful. If you are going to hike Pictured Rocks you have to do the whole time, don't start at beaver creek or the chapel region. That is not due justice to this amazing and natural beauty. Almost all the campsites I've stayed at were great (au sable, coves, beaver creek, mosquito, chapel, pine bluff, seven mile creek) with the exception of cliffs (pretty lame and no clean water). The eastern half is sandy, dunes, hardwood forest and mostly uneventful from Michigan landscape. when you reach 12 mile beach you start to enjoy Lake Superior and may even take a swim, both times I went (May and September) I froze! The sites with creeks or streams are excellent. Once you get to coves (25ish miles into trip) you start really getting into the heart of pictured rocks. The views are astounding and chapel/mosquito areas are amazing. The side hikes in the area don't disappoint, although they can be muddy after a spring thaw. The trail after miners castle isn't very pleasant either with no access to water and swampy conditions that almost require a boardwalk for roughly the 8 miles back to Munising. The trail gets confusing in the cross-country skiing area after standpoint.

    Overall one of my favorite hikes. I usually take 5 days to enjoy the sights and nature. Can be done in 3 if you are quick. Only downside of chapel/mosquito area is no campfires, the pit toilets are a reward though!

    James Brutsche reviewed North Country Trail- Manistee River Section

    almost 2 years ago

    Easily one of the best backpacking trails in Lower Michigan. I've hiked this trail 5-6 times now and I always enjoy it. It is almost always busy on the Manistee River Trail side, campsites are often doubled or even tripled up. The waterfall site 2 miles south of the suspension bridge is my personal favorite. I always start on Saturday mornings at the Red River Bridge, I usually take the NCT (north side) as I enjoy getting more done in the first day and the campsites on the MRT are better. Be sure to pack water as it is quite the hike up, down, and around the ravines. Once in a while you'll see a mountain biker. In the first couple of miles there are some decent sights in the higher hills especially near reds hill. The nice part of the NCT is you can camp anywhere really, although camping in a ravine isn't too rewarding. You'll cross a couple of roads and reach Eldridge? Creek which offers water for the first time along with a decent campsite in some pines on the west side of the creek. After passing the Marilla trail junction you start heading to the MRT and finally get to see the Manistee River after about 9 miles of hiking in ravines. You cross over the Suspension Bridge and reach the MRT, I don't waste my time hiking to the campground (north trail) although if you're in a pinch for water you might want to as they offer a well. The MRT hugs the river for the duration of the southward trip back to red bridge. I try to set up camp after the suspension bridge and usually settle anywhere after the waterfalls (almost always taken unless you get there before 12-1p). I set up camp and usually fish for an hour or so and bathe in the river even if it's cold, very relaxing after a long hike. You'll more than likely set up camp with a couple neighbors unless you're a horrible trail person and want to be a loner. The sound of the river and the proximity of the campsites to water make for an easy night of sleeping. The next morning I usually wake up before first light and make my way south. The river is beautiful when there is a morning mist after a cold night. You can usually bust out Sunday morning in 3-4 hours and be back to your car before 10a-noon.

    A great trail that is well worth a drive anywhere that you live in Michigan. I'd even go as far to say one of the best weekend trails in the Great Lakes Region (Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana). The only problem I have is how busy the trail is and the garbage that has been accumulating over the last couple of years. It's not too crazy to see a group of young people hike down from the waterfalls parking lot with coolers and I even saw a guy with a Weber grill! Keep the great outdoors great guys.

    James Brutsche reviewed The Manistee River Trail

    almost 2 years ago

    Easily one of the best backpacking trails in Lower Michigan. I've hiked this trail 5-6 times now and I always enjoy it. It is almost always busy on the Manistee River Trail side, campsites are often doubled or even tripled up. The waterfall site 2 miles south of the suspension bridge is my personal favorite. I always start on Saturday mornings at the Red River Bridge, I usually take the NCT (north side) as I enjoy getting more done in the first day and the campsites on the MRT are better. Be sure to pack water as it is quite the hike up, down, and around the ravines. Once in a while you'll see a mountain biker. In the first couple of miles there are some decent sights in the higher hills especially near reds hill. The nice part of the NCT is you can camp anywhere really, although camping in a ravine isn't too rewarding. You'll cross a couple of roads and reach Eldridge? Creek which offers water for the first time along with a decent campsite in some pines on the west side of the creek. After passing the Marilla trail junction you start heading to the MRT and finally get to see the Manistee River after about 9 miles of hiking in ravines. You cross over the Suspension Bridge and reach the MRT, I don't waste my time hiking to the campground (north trail) although if you're in a pinch for water you might want to as they offer a well. The MRT hugs the river for the duration of the southward trip back to red bridge. I try to set up camp after the suspension bridge and usually settle anywhere after the waterfalls (almost always taken unless you get there before 12-1p). I set up camp and usually fish for an hour or so and bathe in the river even if it's cold, very relaxing after a long hike. You'll more than likely set up camp with a couple neighbors unless you're a horrible trail person and want to be a loner. The sound of the river and the proximity of the campsites to water make for an easy night of sleeping. The next morning I usually wake up before first light and make my way south. The river is beautiful when there is a morning mist after a cold night. You can usually bust out Sunday morning in 3-4 hours and be back to your car before 10a-noon.

    A great trail that is well worth a drive anywhere that you live in Michigan. I'd even go as far to say one of the best weekend trails in the Great Lakes Region (Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana). The only problem I have is how busy the trail is and the garbage that has been accumulating over the last couple of years. It's not too crazy to see a group of young people hike down from the waterfalls parking lot with coolers and I even saw a guy with a Weber grill! Keep the great outdoors great guys.

    James Brutsche completed The Manistee River Loop Trail

    almost 2 years ago

    James Brutsche reviewed Long Lake Trail

    almost 2 years ago

    Overall not the most exciting trail, lacks any wow factor along with being a point to point results in a lackluster trail.

    You can reach this trail at the western terminus/trailhead which is on gun lake road across from the gun lake campground and a short distance from the ranger station. There is a small parking lot that should be hard to miss. I choose the eastern terminus which starts at hall lake loop which can be accessed off of Norris road which leads to the Devils soup bowl. The trail (green markers) on the eastern end starts and is shared as the North Country Trail (blue markers/rectangles) for 1/2 a mile or so. You cross Norris road and long lake road as you head west. The NCT trail links with Chief Noon-a-day trail (white markers) and you continue west through the woods passing though pines and an clearing with purple thorns. You slowly descend until you reach 1/2 mile boardwalk which goes through low lying flood plains. You can see Long Lake from a distance but you never have an opportunity to get close until you reach the western terminus. The boardwalk itself is slippery so be careful as it is moss covered and appears to be old (still in very good shape!). After the boardwalk you have another 1/4 mile or so until you reach the trailhead. After reaching the trailhead you must turn back and make the 2.1ish mile hike back to Hall Lake Trail.

    You can camp at the modern Gun Lake Campground or at the rustic Long Lake Camp. Overall this trail was pretty easy, the marsh near the boardwalk would be teeming with mosquitos during the warmer months. Yankee Springs has plenty of better than this.

    James Brutsche completed Long Lake Trail

    almost 2 years ago

    James Brutsche reviewed Graves Hill

    almost 2 years ago

    As mentioned, this is actually the Hall Lake Trail Loop, roughly 2 miles long. Heavily trafficked. Most people on the trial are day use and with their dogs or small children. Very easily accessed by way of gun lake road onto Norris which is a muddy dirt road that also leads to the long lake center and Devils soup bowl.

    The trial itself leads through a mostly level trail that passes a small stream that feeds into Hall Lake. After a half mile or so you finally get to see Hall Lake and it doesn't disappoint. It's a beautiful lake with 2 islands that. I wish I could of ventured out to the island, but with the mild winter day (60 degrees) I didn't trust the ice. The trail hugs the lake for a while until it leads to graves hill. Graves hill does not have a lookout and doesn't offer anything too special in my opinion (unless I missed something). The trail has signs posted to link with the Devils soup bowl/Deep Lake Trail, although the signs say 15 minutes it's more like 5. I'd recommend any first timer on Hall Lake to make the short side hike to Devils Soup Bowl as it one of the highlights at Yankee Springs. The trial turns south after the Soup Bowl Parking Lot and you will pass Graves Hill Again and the terminus of Long Lake Trail. The trail will go up a hill or two and Norris road is usually visible/audible to you the west of the trial. The trail says an hour, but in reality you can complete it easily in 40-45 minutes.

    James Brutsche reviewed Deep Lake Trail

    almost 2 years ago

    I've hiked this loop 4-5 times now and I personally think it's the best trail at Yankee Springs. The actual loop can be reached from either the Devils Soup Bowl (accessible by a muddy road) or the mountain bike staging area that is directly off the main road and shares the deep lake rustic campground. I have chosen to link the hall lake trail with the deep lake trail to offer a longer more challenging day hike the last few times, no different today in mid-Jan. I began the trail at the Devils soup bowl and went clockwise (north to east) after a short leg for the woods you meet up with a muddy road that takes you on a straight route through the woods and a cleared game area. You pass a trailer park/campground? (Camping trailers and people there in the dead of winter suggests it a trailer park). You'll need to pay attention not to miss the trail on the south side of the road. After hugging the deep lake shoreline you have access to a fishing pier and the rustic campsites that I've known to be crowded with trailers and pop-ups. The trail hugs the lakeshore snakes around the campsites until you reach the first junction to loop with the deep lake trail or continue toward the mountain bike staging area. I usually hike on the mountain bike trail (sorry bikers! I promise to move out of the way) as it offers a longer hike and I personally like the area although it skirts the busy road on your left for a lengthy duration. You stroll through mostly hardwood forests and a few patches of pine before you link back with the soup bowl junction. I loop around the north side of the bowl to see a couple new sites before linking back with the graves hill/soup bowl parking lot.

    The Hall Lake trail is a short walk (5 minutes) which offers another 2 mile loop. Personally Hall Lake is my favorite lake in the area. With Hall Lake Trail and Deep Lake combined you can make for a nice 6-7 mile loop. Overall good hike for southwest Michigan. The soup bowl is a must see during the hike.

    James Brutsche completed Deep Lake Trail

    almost 2 years ago

    James Brutsche reviewed Yankee Springs Recreation Area Trail

    almost 2 years ago

    Completed multiple loops on a beautiful Mid-Jan day where the temps hit 60. Started at the Hall Lake/Long Lake Trailhead. Links with the Deep Lake Mountain/Hiking Trail past the Devils Soup Bowl (large depression/valley that highlights Yankee Springs). Once on Deep Lake Trail Loop in links with Deep Lake Road for 3/4 mile which is extremely muddy. It jets off of the road looping around a rustic campsite with plenty of sites that look to be frequented by campers during the warmer months. After snaking around the campsite and deep lake you link with the Mountain Bike Staging area. The trail then is shared with Mountain Bikers for a mile or two before linking back at the Devil's Soup Bowl. You can choose to link back with Hall Lake Loop at this point to complete a 6-7 mile loop or cross over to the Long Lake Trail that shares the NCT for 1/2 mile or so. you reach a slippery boardwalk and are offered limited views of long lake. After two miles on the trial you link with the Gun Lake Campground that offers modern camping or the rustic Long Lake campsite. Another 2 miles back to the junction with Hall Lake and you can complete the last mile or so. Overall you can stretch an afternoon at Yankee Springs to a 12 mile loop (4-5 mile there and back with long lake trail).

    Not a bad trail system, marked very well. bugs would most likely feast during the warmer months with lakes and wetlands in abundance.

    James Brutsche saved Waterloo-Pinckney Trail

    almost 2 years ago

    James Brutsche reviewed Fort Custer Recreation Area

    almost 2 years ago

    Very easily manageable trail in southwest Michigan. Be careful when hiking as mountain bikers frequent the loop. A great loop to get outside and enjoy a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.

    James Brutsche completed Fort Custer Recreation Area

    almost 2 years ago