Jordan River Valley

jordan riverJust north of Mancelona in Antrim County lies a truly wild area. A total of 18,000 acres of floodplain, forests, river valley and a sizable hill with a story of its own makes this a must see for any hiker in Northern Michigan. Called the Jordan River Valley this area is home to a variety of animals and habitats, the Jordan River, a designated Wild and Scenic River and Deadman’s Hill.

Officially Michigan’s first waterway to be designated a Wild and Scenic River, visitors who make their way down Deadman’s Hill to the bottom are privy to freshwater aquifer bubbling up from the ground, strange plants and grasses and a variety of animals including beavers, bears, many bird spaces as well as snakes, frogs and a variety of other water related species.

This first time I did the short loop, a three mile loop trail which makes its way down Deadmans Hill, to the river and then back up, I was surprised at the beauty of not just the top of the hill but the valley as well. Upon arrival to the river, we stepped out into what appeared to be more of a jungle than a river valley in Northern Michigan. Grasses which stood over 8 feet tall towered over our heads waving in the wind. We pushed our way through until it opened up into the valley itself and in a crystal clear pool of water to my right, a beaver swam under the water away from the sound of our footstep.In places where the trail was wet, if you stopped to listen, you could hear why. Springs of fresh water bubble out of the ground and create little streams and creeks which meet up with the Jordan River as it makes its way out of the Valley and off to Lake Charlevoix.

For the real adventurer that is looking for a longer hike, the Jordan Valley Pathway which includes part of the 3 mile short trail, runs a full 18 miles, 9 miles in and 9 miles out. A campground at the end of the 9 miles offers hikers a perfect place to enjoy spending a night in the wilderness of Northern Michigan. Part of this trail actually shares its path with the North Country National Scenic Trail, a trail which is yet to be completely finished but is slated to be a total of 4,000 miles from North Dakota to New York when it is done.

I went back to this trail some 10 years since the last time I hiked it and enjoyed the second trip just as much as the first. The wildlife, the serenity and the views are unequaled from most of the places I have been too in Michigan.

Notes: Camping in the area is only allowed in designated areas. Be sure to stop by the Jordan River National Fish Hatchery while you are visiting, its just down the road. Fall is a great time to see some amazing colors. Spring is a great time for beautiful flowers but expect some flooding. Summer is just incredibly pleasant.

Michgian DNR – ┬áJordan River Valley

Filed Under: Northern Michigan

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