Early Spring Hike Reveals Surprises

Early Spring Hike Reveals Surprises

Spring fever had struck. I needed to hike and thought Loda Lake Wildflower Sanctuary would be a good place to explore and get my walking legs broken in. I didn’t think I would see many wildflowers, because even the daffodils weren’t up yet, but it was sunny and warm.

The sanctuary, located in the Manistee National Forrest about five miles north of White Cloud, didn’t disappoint. All the paths were still brown with last fall’s leaves, but that let every piece of green stand out. The first leg of the Wildflower Trail along Loda Lake was particularly beautiful because the lack of leaf-covered trees allowed the best vistas at several points. The water was a deep blue and reflected the shore’s landscape. There is hope for summer.

Other paths were equally interesting. While bugs and butterflies were absent (I didn’t miss the first), we did hear the frogs calling for partners and the scream of my hiking companion after seeing a harmless small garter snake sunning on the path.

For bird lovers, the boardwalk across the bog is a great place to watch many species frolic especially from the seating area in the middle. From the end of the boardwalk, the dirt wildflower trail heads to the north and connects with the Birch Grove Trail. To the south is a cultural trail and a fenced pollinator garden and access to the Birch Grove trail to the south.  

We didn’t venture outside the Loda Lake grounds and followed the trail back to the parking area off Felch Avenue, just north of Five Mile Road. The Wildflower Trail loop is 1.2 miles with 22 marked locations of flowers and trees. The accessible trail and boardwalk is a 0.2 mile.  Another choice is hitting the Birch Grove Trail which is a connector to the North Country Trail and miles of other possibilities.

Because this was our first hike, we weren’t prepared to do more than the Wildflower Trail which is about an hour if you stop to check out the markers. We’d left our water bottles at home in our haste to get out before the sun disappeared.  We will be back in a few weeks to check out those May and June flowers and other wildlife surprises. Hiking is always a great way to shake winter’s dust from your mind.

By Wendi Sinicki

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About The Author

Wendy Sinicki

Wendy Sinicki has been checking out the trails, paths and scenic dirt roads in Newaygo County since she was looking for a way to tire out her kids when they were toddlers. They are now out of college and she has more time to explore, but instead of running, she just walks. When not outside, she enjoys writing and reading.