July 25, 2016
There was a nice sunrise as I packed up camp.
I began the descent from Rattlesnake Hill.
I reached Rattlesnake Creek.
There was a short section of road walking.
The trail went back in the forest.
Then went through some clearings.
I neared a two track and heard a noise. It was an elk. I couldn't get close enough to get a good picture, but it was exciting.
The trail went back and forth through clearings.
There was a somewhat distant view over the trees.
There was a sign indicating that the Black River Bridge was closed.
I reached Tubbs Creek which was flowing well.
There were lots of badger holes near the trail.
I reached the detour to avoid the dangerous Black River Bridge. I decided to go ford the river.
Black River Bridge
Crossing the bridge could be quite dangerous.
I had enough water, so I continued on the HCP when I came to the junction to the Town Corner Lake Campground. I passed a few day-hikers.
A short side trail went to a lookout with a bench.
Back on the HCP I came to another bench.
The HCP crossed the co-located northern spur of the Shore to Shore Trail and Midland to Mackinac Trail
I came to the other side of the detour. Here's a map.
I hiked through some pleasant open areas.
I came to the only recent logging area of the hike.
The junction to Round Lake Campground. The loop was nearly complete as I made my way to Pigeon Bridge Campground.
I reached the Pigeon Bridge Trailhead and another adventure was complete.
Overall, I didn't have high expectations for the HCP but I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of scenery and wildlife. It seems that the area is starting to recover from all the logging activity and there was only a brief section of recent logging. It's a fairly remote hike that crosses few paved roads and other hikers. I think this hike is best completed with high mileage days. I anticipate that shorter mileage days would result in some uneventful and non-descript days. It's still doable though if you're interested in a long distance hike in the lower peninsula.
At times, finding a backcountry campsite on the HCP will be challenging. By spacing the distance, I was able to camp at probably the two best places on the loop: Canada Creek Shelter and Rattlesnake Hill. Water sources were typically available as indicated on the map, but I wasn't able to get water from Dog Lake. This is an area to be careful for ticks.
The HCP is a good option for experienced backpackers looking for a long distance hike. For those just getting started backpacking in Michigan, I recommend starting with something shorter and more scenic (Pictured Rocks, Sleeping Bear Dunes, Isle Royale, Porkies, NCT, ect).