Trail Trekker Challenge, Report #5: Shauger Hill Trail

30 November 2016

Shauger Hill Trail won’t leave you gobsmacked by jaw-dropping coastal vistas or hilltop views of the countryside, says writer Bob Butz. But if you like your walks “woodsy,” this gently rolling 2.4-mile footpath located off Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive is the perfect little stroll.

I would love to report that we saw lots of super cool wildlife while hiking Shauger Hill Trail. Like maybe a black bear, some deer or even a porcupine. Heck, a dang chipmunk or a woodpecker—anything—would have been worthy of note.

But that wasn’t really a surprise or the goal. We set out in April to tackle the Trail Trekker Challenge as a family. In our family unit, there is a 14-year-old boy and his little sister who sees any walk in the woods as a chance run around and loudly explore. And to my way of thinking, this is how it should be.

A Nice, Easy Hike

[source: nps.gov]

The family was looking for an easy hike after “the disaster” (according to my kids) that befell us the week before on Sleeping Bear Point Trail where we got ourselves ever so slightly turned around.

We didn’t see another car in the Shauger Hill parking lot on that particular Saturday back in June; nobody out on the trail, either. Maybe that’s because Shauger Hill—located just off M22 on Stocking Scenic Drive just south of the Dune Climb—is better known for the quality of cross-country skiing the trail offers in the snowy months, after Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive is officially closed.

Note: As one of the Lakeshore’s few designated “cross-country ski trails,” no pets are allowed during the snowy months—December 1st through March 31st.

I’m grasping for something great to say about Shauger Hill, something to make you want to go there and check it out. For some, maybe the chance to experience one of the Lakeshore’s less popular (see “less crowded”) trails is enough. For my wife Nancy and me, the 2.4-mile loop definitely gave us the quiet to talk about nothing in particular and concentrate simply on covering ground—walking for walking’s sake while the kids were running around well up ahead.

We didn’t have to stop and make way for other hikers or because something picturesque demanded that we break the conversation and pleasant rhythm of walking to retrieve our camera phones. And sometimes that’s a good thing.

You can get spoiled hiking trails at the Sleeping Bear Dunes, especially when it comes to expecting jaw-dropping views wherever you go. So, yes. Unlike many of the other Lakeshore hiking paths, there aren’t any big, scenic payoffs that await the hiker who tackles Shauger Hill. No stunning views of Lake Michigan or captivating lookouts of Sleeping Bear coastline. What the trail gave us is simple and there for anyone—a nice, woodsy walk, which sometimes is just what the mind and body needs.