Michigan in fall
We finally managed to clear our schedule for a week-long trip to Michigan. We were hoping for good weather and beautiful fall colors — Michigan mostly delivered.
Our first four nights of camping were at Rifle River State Oark — north and west of Saginaw. The maples and birch streets were in full color — some even beginning to drop. The camping sites in the Spruce rustic campground were huge, level, and private. We had no neighbors, in fact were the only campers one night, but we would not have seen them in any event.
The hiking was easy and pleasant. On day 1, after a visit to the observation tower, we hiked about 2 miles on the Scaup lake trail. Day 2 we did a nearly 6-mile loop from our campground to the swing bridge with a return to a bridge near the Ranch campground. Very little elevation change. Wide leaf and pine needle covered trails. No other hikers. Day 3 we did a 2-mile loop north of the observation tower. This was a bit more challenging as there were lots more ups and downs and gravel on some steep declines. Still enjoyable.
Three of our four nights David built a large bonfire and cooked our dinner. There was plenty of downed wood and his electric chainsaw made short work of cutting it up.
The campgrounds at Rifle River (there are four of them, 3 rustic and one modern) have interesting fire rings: Two pieces of metal culvert pipe with concrete poured between them. After a good fire the concrete becomes very warm and radiates heat to those sitting by the fire.
After four nights on the Rifle River we decided to move to Petoskey State park four hours away on Traverse Bay off Lake Michigan. The good news is that the drive revealed more outstanding trees, but it was raining hard by the time we arrived and the rain continued into the night and into the second day. We did manage a short walk to the dunes and the beach after dinner on the first night. There was quite a surf on the beach and we looked for a few of the special rocks to be found here. Petoskey rocks are smooth fossilized coral that has tumbled in the surf.
When the rain briefly broke in the late afternoon of our second day we took a nearly two-mile walk along the beach with a return to the campground through the woods. This is one of the nicest beaches I have seen along any of the Great Lakes.
On our trip home that we divided into two days, we made many stops for picture taking of the amazing trees — mostly maples. There was rain on the northern portion, but much drier as we moved south. A night at a Walmart near Kalamazoo Michigan was followed by a short ride home the next day.