Just 30 miles south of Grand Rapids, the Yankee Springs Recreation Area offers 30 miles of hiking trails through 5,200 forested acres. This short trail begins in the heart of the park, just north of Gun Lake Road, and joins the North Country Trail 0.2 mile from the trailhead. Although this route only follows 0.6 mile of the North Country Trail, this new (still unfinished) trail stretches 4,600 miles from New York to North Dakota.
From the trailhead, the trail rolls through a dense pine and maple forest. After 0.3 mile, you’ll follow the wooded shoreline of Hall Lake for 0.25 mile before the route’s most difficult segment: a 100-foot climb to the top of Graves Hill. Maples replace pine as you leave the lakeshore and when leaf-cover is sparse, the rocky hilltop offers great views of the surrounding countryside. Bear north from the hilltop for a 0.6-mile out-and-back to the edge of Devil’s Soup Bowl. The tree-lined bowl is one of only a handful of dry kettle formations in Michigan and there’s an easy hike around it’s rim that might be worth the extra 15 or 20 minutes. The return trip takes you back over Graves Hill, rejoins the North Country Trail briefly and proceeds along a rolling, heavily wooded path west of the lake toward the trailhead.
-Mapped by Ted Villaire