For the third and final hike of our North Country Trail fall foliage camping and hiking trip, Megan and I decided to hike an out-and-back section of the Jordan Valley Pathway.
While the trail system offers a hikers the option of doing a short, 3 mile day hike or a longer, almost 19 mile backpacking trip, we decided to hike four miles out and four miles back along the North Country Trail so we could maximize the mileage needed towards earning our patches.
Because we wanted to be sure we wouldn’t miss out on the spectacular view, we decided to begin our hike from the parking lot near the Deadman’s Hill Overlook.
Although it was peak foliage season, I was surprised by the number of people who had come to visit the viewing area and hike the surrounding trails. The trailhead was actually quite busy, and parking spaces were scarce.
After taking in the views at the overlook point on Deadman’s Hill, we began our descent into the Jordan River Valley.
After making our way through the trees and weedy plants, we approached a sign for a scenic overlook point approximately 0.1 miles off of the trail. After some debate, we decided that hiking the extra 0.2 miles to see what it was might be worth it.
The muddy side trail led us to a wooden footbridge overlooking the valley with gorgeous views of the tree-lined hills surrounding us.
The rest of the trail offered glimpses of beautifully colored hills and trees as well.
We pretty much had zero regrets about doing this hike during peak foliage.
The gilded trees surrounding us provided enough shade to keep us cool, despite the warm (for Michigan in October) temperatures and sunny skies.
Next, we descended down a muddy slope and crossed a few wooden planks through what seemed to be a wetland until we eventually made our way to another scenic lookout point at a pond down in the valley. This might have actually been my favorite part of the trail.
After stopping for a few moments to admire the view and snap a few photos, we continued on our way.
It would have been wonderful to have stayed here longer, but since we wanted to get home at a relatively reasonable hour (and be off the trail before dark), we knew we had to get a move on.
Together we hiked until we reached the 4 mile point, then turned back.
We decided to stop in a random field for a quick water and snack break. I stood in the field sipping on water and eating my fruit snacks, soaking in the beautiful scenery.
Although the October sun was feeling a bit too warm after hiking over four miles at a brisk pace, our surroundings were reminiscent of an impressionist painting.
The hike back seemed to go relatively quickly, and we had no problem spotting the blue blazes along the path.
Probably the most challenging part of the hike back was climbing the hill back up out of the valley. Although it was a relatively long uphill climb that definitely made us break a sweat, it still made for an enjoyable hike, and we had no trouble maintaining a consistent pace.
When we finally reached the top of Deadman’s Hill, we went back to the overlook point to snap a couple more photos.
By that point, we were both pretty sore and tired after three days of hiking and camping.
We took a few moments to stretch out our legs and feet, then put on our camp sandals and got ready to head home.
Trail Distance: 18.7 Miles (with opportunities for shorter day hikes)
Highlights: Scenic Overlooks, Great Fall Foliage
Dog Friendly: Yes