Hikers invite others to enjoy the nature of Lake County

LAKE COUNTY — On Dec. 5, the Spirit of the Woods Chapter of the North Country Trail Association took in a five-mile hike on Lake County's Timber Creek Trail.

The Spirit of the Woods chapter has been hosting hikes in the western Michigan area since 1998. During that time they have crisscrossed several counties, including Lake, to take in some of the state's most scenic offerings.

"We try to do a hike on the first Saturday of every month," said Loren Bach, the Spirit of the Woods chapter president. "Because of the 2016 centennial of the North Country Trail, we'll be doing all of our upcoming events on it. There was also a challenge from the National Parks Service to hike 100 miles in 2016, and we're going to try and meet that goal."

The group is inviting others to join them on their hikes as they begin the winter season. While some may be put off by the cold weather, the Spirit of the Woods hikers say the weather can add to the enjoyment.

"I think a lot of people think it's too cold or too damp to have fun, but once people get out there I think they'll find it's fun to be out moving in nature," said Bach."If we have snow we might change it to a snowshoe or cross country skiing outing instead."

The path the hikers took on Dec. 5 was five miles long moving through rolling terrain. It started at a pine plantation and then transitioned into an area comprised of mixed hardwoods such as maples and oaks. Hiker Greg Wojtowicz, who also adopted this area of the trail, said the area was radically different a few decades ago.

"If you looked around this area in the early 1900s, this whole place would have been empty due to extensive timber harvesting," said Wojtowicz. "Everything around us has grown back since then or been replenished by conservation efforts."

Besides getting to enjoy the great outdoors, the hikers say there are numerous health and spiritual benefits to these treks as well.

"We like to get away from the real world and enjoy the ways nature can re-energize you," remarked hiker Joan Young. "There have been a bunch of studies which verify what I've always thought even a short time outside can greatly reduce stress."

More information on the Spirit of the Woods group can be found at northcountrytrail.org/spw or by calling Loren Bach at (231) 510-1983.