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HomeAdventureMichigan Trail Adventures™The Splendor of Michigan's Wilderness

The Splendor of Michigan’s Wilderness

Ogemaw Hills North and South Full Loops – West Branch, MI

The Ogemaw Hills trail system is located near West Branch, Michigan, and offers an exhilarating adventure for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. Nestled within the majestic beauty of Au Sable State Forest, these captivating trails wind through pristine woodlands, showcase breathtaking vistas, and provide an opportunity to immerse yourself in the splendor of Michigan’s wilderness. Whether you’re a hiker, a mountain biker, or a trail runner, this trail system is sure to ignite your sense of adventure. The trail system is rated as moderate, and we agree with this rating.

This was our second visit to this trail system. The first visit was two years ago and was on a very hot and humid day and our boy Rooster was suffocating due to the density of the brush at his height level, so we cut it short. Our second adventure was this past May on a crisp and cool 57-degree day. It was the perfect hiking conditions. We took the North and South loop trial for a total of 10.3 miles of glorious hiking!

The North part of the loop winds through a mixture of dense forests, rolling hills, and offers a few beautiful vistas. It’s known for its more challenging terrain, featuring rocky sections and a few steep climbs and descents. As you traverse the trail, be prepared to encounter the serenity of towering pines and occasional wildlife sightings.

During the summer months, the forest is alive with vibrant wildflowers and fauna. The North Full Loop is particularly popular among mountain bikers. We ran into a few on this day but basically had the entire trail system to ourselves. This was the case during both visits.  

The South Loop terrain offers a more diverse landscape. This loop takes you through picturesque meadows, peaceful wetlands, and lush woodlands. The South Loop is well-suited for hikers and trail runners, providing a mix of moderate climbs, gentle descents, and scenic resting spots along the way.

Along the entire trail system, you will happen upon scenic viewpoints that provide sweeping panoramas of the surrounding forests and landscapes, rewarding hikers and bikers with captivating vistas that are worth pausing to appreciate.

As I traversed certain sections of this trail system, I couldn’t shake the overwhelming sense of insignificance. The towering pines and dense forest embraced me as I journeyed through, emphasizing the profound presence of nature and the humbling realization of one’s own smallness within it.

The forest also exudes an unmistakable air of foreboding. As you venture through its depths, your imagination is unleashed, allowing it to conjure vivid and unbridled narratives. The dense atmosphere engulfs you, crafting a disconcerting amalgamation of eerie unease and curiously comforting sensations. It is the very embodiment of a forest where you can envision a tale akin to that of Hansel and Gretel materializing before your eyes. At every twist and turn, you remain poised to stumble upon an ancient cabin inhabited by a forest-dwelling witch. If one were to envision a haunted forest, Ogemaw Hills would undeniably fit the bill.

Rooster finds immense joy in this expansive trail system, where he can bask in the pure delight of being a dog. The trail is thoughtfully marked with signage reminding owners to keep their furry companions on a 6-foot leash. It’s important to be considerate of fellow trail users while granting your canine child the freedom to fully embrace their natural instincts.

The trails are well-marked with signage and maintained by dedicated trail stewards, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience for all visitors. The Au Sable Forest is a cherished natural treasure with reason.  It’s a spectacular trail system. Responsible recreation ensures its preservation for future generations to enjoy.

As always, when out in the woods hiking in Michigan, bring bug spray, you will need it. You are going to need PLENTY of water on this trail. We went through two gallons of water for two people and a dog on a 57-degree day. You are going to expend a lot of energy on this trail. So lace up your boots, hop on your bike, or strap on your trail running shoes – an adventurous journey awaits amidst the captivating trails of Ogemaw Hills.

Tamara Graham
Tamara Graham
With an adventurous spirit and a burning desire to make the world work for all of us, Tamara encourages others to embrace self-love, compassion, empathy, understanding, and an ever important sense of humor. With over 30 years of diverse marketing experience, including a decade in publishing, she brings a fresh and innovative perspective to the industry. Her concept revolves around experiential magazines that captivate both online and in print. Tamara's visionary project, LIVE. LOVE. LOCAL. MICHIGAN™, unveils the wonders of our breathtaking home state, igniting love and admiration among Michiganders for where they live. By fostering this deep connection, she inspires a genuine appreciation and love for where we live!
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