Birch Grove Schoolhouse Offers History, Comfort Along the North Country Trail

Birch Grove Schoolhouse Offers History, Comfort Along the North Country Trail

I love hiking, and the North Country Trail has 65 miles of trail in Newaygo County through pine, oak and maple wood stands, around lakes and rivers and even over swamps and wetlands. All of my explorations have been on day trips exploring different sections at a time.

I keep thinking about doing a through hike and spending the night on the trail. My hiking partner and I have discussed what we need and even have thought about routes. To ease into the overnight portion, I’m lobbying for using the Birch Grove Schoolhouse as an overnight location. I can ease into being laden with as much gear knowing a bed and bathroom will be available at the end of the day.

NCT Birch Grove Schoolhouse sign detail

The other reason to enjoy the camping comforts is experiencing the history of the trail at the 100+-year-old schoolhouse. In the 1980s, the building was the first headquarters of the North Country Trail and is at the original halfway mark on the trail between Crown Point, NY and Lake Sakakawea, ND. Vermont is in the process of adding trails that will connect the North Country Trail to the Appalachian Trail and the midway point will change. However, the schoolhouse will still be a cool place to stay overnight while hiking. Many Boy and Girl Scout groups have used it for base camps.

Costs for a night’s stay are $10-$15 per person depending on if you are a member of the North Country Trail (and why wouldn’t you for great tips, advice, and testimonials as well as easy access to trail angels). It is a small price to pay for running water, stove, bed, and roof. The West Michigan Chapter of the North Country Trail does a fantastic job maintaining the schoolhouse and trails in Newaygo and Kent Counties. Reservations are required to use.

For more information about renting the schoolhouse, check out the North Country Trail website: https://northcountrytrail.org/trail/michigan-lower/birch-grove-schoolhouse/ or a brochure on the facility is here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_onHgSDf1j2NzVaS0FMbDZYNmplcWtMd1NFckpsdWQ3Wldz/view

Before I sleep in a tent, I will check the availability of the Birch Grove Schoolhouse! I wish there were more opportunities along the trail for roofs and beds.

by Wendy 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.