Hiking the Crooked Lake Trail

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After weeks of patiently waiting for the trees to transform from lush and green to firey shades of red and yellow and orange, it was finally time for Patronus and I to head out on an adventure together, just the two of us.

It was already almost 1:00 P.M. by the time Patronus and I reached the trailhead.  After taking a few minutes to get our packs situated, the two of us headed off into the woods.

Despite it having rained all weekend, the trail was relatively dry.  We made our way past a lake and through some trees, onto a long boardwalk through a marshy area, then back into the woods to tackle some rocky hills.

We passed a couple of mountain bikers who were finishing up their rides on the Potowatomi Trail.  The mountain bikers in the area were generally pretty good about sharing the trail and alerting hikers and trail runners to their presence, however having Patronus with me was definitely a plus because he could hear them coming well before I could hear or see anything.  He doesn’t like to bark at anyone else on the trails, but he definitely does perk up a bit when he hears or sees something he wants to investigate.

The first stretch of the hike was a bit chilly, so I was glad I wore long pants and a fleece.

One of our favorite parts of the trail was a small stream running through the forest with a little foot bridge going over it.  As you can see, Patronus was hoping I would let him go for a swim.  (Sorry Patronus!  Maybe another time, when it’s warmer…)

When we reached somewhere around the halfway point of our hike, we decided to take a quick break.

I like to stop and give Patronus a water break every couple of miles, so I gave him a chance to drink some of the water I brought.  While he usually loves drinking out of my hydration pack, he only took a few sips and decided he was generally unimpressed with it this time.  I think he was a little annoyed that I wouldn’t let him drink out of the stream instead.

While we were chilling by the bench, a couple of other hikers caught up to us.  They both gave Patronus a few pets and we chatted for a bit before it was time for us to continue on.

The fall foliage was in full swing as we made our way further down the trail.  Although there weren’t a lot of particularly scenic lookout points along the way, our path was lined with beautiful shades or red, green, gold, and orange.

Pro Tip:  If you’re hiking on a trail with a lot of rocks and/or exposed roots like this one, and especially if you’re clumsy and awkward, make sure to wear good hiking footwear and bring your trekking poles if you have them!  Colorful leaves blanketing the forest floor are undoubtedly pretty, but they also obscure some of the trip hazards you might otherwise be able to avoid.

The last two-ish miles had some more good hills.  Some of the downhills were kind of steep, but thankfully Patronus did a good job slowing down to match my pace.

We took one more quick water break when we reached a bench overlooking Pickerel Lake.  Neither one of us was all that thirsty, but since we had kept a good pace for the entire hike, it was nice to have a bit of a breather and to take a few moments to soak in the warm golden sunshine and beautiful fall colors.

After crossing over a narrow wooden bridge and heading back into the trees, we eventually came to a road crossing.  There were signs for the parking lot, so I knew that we didn’t have too much further to go.

We passed (and said hello to) a couple of trail runners, then continued on until we reached the lake we passed when we first got on the trail.  I snapped a few photos of the lake while Patronus stood watch, looking incredibly regal.  Of all the jobs Luke and I give him, I think “guard duty” is probably his favorite!

Eventually, it was time to finish hiking out the rest of the way.  We were pretty close to the trailhead, so within a few minutes we were out of there.

The two of us hung out for a bit at a picnic table near the trailhead, drinking some water and having a snack.  Patronus enjoyed some of his favorite peanut butter treats, while I had a sweet and salty cashew bar.  As you can see, he was a bit drooly and decided to lay down in some leaves while I was getting his snack ready.

Eventually, our munchies were gone and I started to cool off.  We explored the park and drove around listening to music for a bit, then headed home.

Hike Details:

Trail Distance:  5.1 miles
Difficulty:  Moderate
Highlights:  Hills, Foot Bridges, Lake Views, Colorful in Fall
Map:   Michigan DNR
Dog Friendly:  Yes


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