At 4.0 kilometers (2.5 miles), the Cedar Trail is the longest hiking trail at the Pinery, an interesting loop with spurs to both Lake Huron and the Old Ausable Channel. It starts at the parking lot for the Visitor's Center, and heads west through oak savanna interspersed with red cedar. After a short distance, the trail splits and we turned right, and then turned right again at the next intersection, as well, to take the spur trail toward the lake. The main loop is wide and gravel-surfaced to provide accessibility, while the spur to the lake is narrower with slightly more topography, including a long staircase climbing over an old forested dune. The trail crosses over a park road before traversing more boardwalks over the dunes that lead to a viewing platform with benches and stairs down to the beach.
It was scorching hot out there on the dunes. The sun was strong and blinding, draining our strength. We went down to the beach and Frankie threw rocks in the water while Mary, Keith, and I gathered some rocks for an offering. Mary and Keith led us down the beach and up an unmarked path in the dunes to a dark little cedar grove where we enjoyed the shade and left the rocks with others already there, many invisible at first glance under fallen leaves. Mary and Keith found this spot many years ago, and it is quite magical. They re-visit it each year, but it was the first time they brought Frankie and I along. It was fun to see this neat little place we'd heard so much about.
We retraced our steps up the beach, over the dunes, and back down the spur trail to the main loop. We turned right toward the river and saw a green snake sunning in the trail. The spur to the river is very short, and the viewing area shaded and pleasant, except for a few too many flies. We took some pictures and moved on, looking forward to another leisurely picnic by the river.
This is a great trail!
|hairy puccoon (Lithospermum caroliniense)|
|smooth green snake (Opheodrys vernalis)|