Suggested Trail Routes
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Bear Den (3.3 miles) is a trail loop entered from the Vandermark Trailhead via Intersection 40. Bear Den
rides the high ridges of the hills that form the Bear Valley. The bear may be mythical (or not!), but the
towering beech trees are real! Bear Den is suitable for all users, runners, hikers and bikers as it offers
frequent relatively gentle elevation changes and striking valley views.
Crown (2.6 miles) is reached from points of entry near the Orchard Hills Trailhead on either side of
Orchard Hills Rd. Crown climbs one of the highest hills of the trail system, over 400 feet above the
northern valley. From either point of entry an ascent to a long hilltop ridge along the north slope offers great vistas of the northern valley and Never Never Land. At Intersection 74 or 75 (depending on direction of travel) an option is available to circumnavigate the hilltop along a southside trail, providing a second opportunity to experience the scenic northern ridge.
Dear Run (3.8 miles) is a trail loop entered from the Vandermark Trailhead in either direction. It is a
winding path that hugs the lower terrain on either side of Vandermark Road, though it reaches one of the Pathway’s high points at Intersection 29. This offers a hilly challenge for hikers and bikers alike. A journey on Deer Run can be combined with Bear Den, providing seven miles of curvy pathways and hilly terrain - a good jog for those looking for a 10k route, and recommended to more advanced mountain bikers wanting to experience trails in the pathway’s interior.
Maple Leaf (2.3 miles) is reached from the Eckhardt Trailhead Kiosk path leading to Intersection 7. A
counterclockwise journey will encounter a huge maple tree, whose leaves are the trail’s namesake. Maple Leaf then winds through a pine and maple forest that offers an abundance of rolling terrain and views of the surrounding hills. At Intersection 17, the trail offers a diversion to the Overlook trail site and a view of the North Arm of Lake Bellaire.
Never Never Land (5.7 miles) is reached from the Orchard Hills Trailhead via the Outer Loop or The Wall
entry points leading to Intersection 80 and beyond, making the total journey closer to nine miles. Never Never Land is the most remote part of the Pathways. Frequented mostly by bikers and rarely by hikers, it is an experience of what the isolation of Michigan wilderness must have felt like many years ago! After the descent to the base of the north valley, the trail crosses a creek bed and then reencounters the rolling hills, steep inclines, and natural lands so familiar elsewhere in the Pathways.
Outer Loop (20.3 miles) is accessible from any Trailhead and provides a pathway to all that Glacial Hills has to offer. Outer Loop circumnavigates the outer boundary of the Pathways. It is most suitable for mountain bikers seeking the longest climbs, fastest descents, tightest trail, and greatest length. It also offers a challenge for intrepid hikers and runners who will encounter segments of the Outer Loop that are shared by other trail routes.
Users reaching Intersection 17 will encounter a marker for the Overlook trail. A westward path from that
marker leads to a view of a descending pasture and the North Arm of Lake Bellaire. There is a welcoming
bench to enjoy the view, a rest, lunch, or meditation before returning to the point of entry and back on
Pine Tree (1.5 miles) is the flattest trail that meanders through a pine forest. It is accessible from the
Eckhardt Trailhead at Intersection 1, and is composed of two linked loops, on the north and south sides of
the Eckhardt parking lot. The two loops are adjoined at the point of entry. Pine Tree is also known as the
Novice Trail, and is a great introduction for biking novice, and hikers who require a less strenuous trail.
The flat terrain and abundant wintertime snow make the route suitable for wintertime activities.
Rolling Hills (5.2 miles) is entered from the Vandermark Trailhead. Rolling Hills serves users who want all
the hilly fun but without long climbs and fast declines encountered elsewhere. West of Vandermark, the
trail ascends high on the hills that form the West Valley, offering great views of the valley below. East of
Vandermark, undulating hills mark the signature landscape of the pathways and provide a thrilling roller
coaster-like experience through the woodlands.
Snow Bike Trail
The snow bike trail is a groomed winter trail designed for fat tire bikes. The pathway varies from year
to year depending on annual snow conditions and user feedback. Signposts guide trail users and the
route map is displayed at Trailheads. Foot traffic is encouraged to use the non-groomed trails;
however, snowshoe users and cross-country skiers are welcome on the groomed trail. To preserve
trail quality, please use non-groomed trails if sinking into the groomed base 1/2" or more.
Switchbacks (2.3 miles) is accessible from two points of entry at the Orchard Hills Trailhead. Switchbacks
is a meandering pathway with rolling terrain of moderate difficulty, with several sloping switchbacks that
snake through the hardwoods for more gradual hill climbs These “switchbacks” offer a challenge and a
lot of fun in both direction of travel. Switchbacks can be easily connected with Crown and Bear Den to
extend the woodland experience.
The Wall (2.6 miles) is a trail loop that is entered from the Orchard Hills Trailhead from either side of
Orchard Hills Rd. Like Crown, The Wall ascends one of the Pathway’s highest hills but reaches a lower
ridgeline along the north side of the hill. At either Intersections 77 or 78 a steep descent leads to the
valley base. A U-turn at Intersection 79 will lead to a climb up “the wall” back to the hilltop and onward, returning to Orchard Hills. Optionally, a trek to Intersection 80 along a creek bed leads to the base of Never Never Land.
West Valley (3.4 miles) is accessed from the Eckhardt Trailhead via Intersection 7. A long ascent in the
clockwise direction leads northward along Glacial Hills’ outer boundary with great views of northwest
valleys. It then descends into the western valley over a series of peaceful trail segments near the valley’s
base, offering great views of the surrounding hills, ascending again to a winding trail that leads through a grove of conifers, seasonal wildflowers, and wild raspberry bushes to the Eckhardt Trailhead.